Fort Baker Pier fishing report —

Ken Jones

Staff member
I decided to stay a couple of days in the Bay Area following the derby at the Marin Rod and Gun Club. My first visit would be to the Fort Baker pier.

Date: August 12 — 8:25-2:25 PM — Primary bait was pile worms; secondary bait was small pieces of market shrimp (I only had a few pieces), ghost shrimp (a few pieces), and squid (a couple of casts).
7 Walleye Surfperch
2 Striped Seaperch
1 Cabezon
1 Shinerperch
1 Northern Anchovy

The primary goal was perch but I was willing to modify the goal dependent upon what was biting. As soon as I started walking onto the pier I noticed an inshore angler pulling in a perch. I said, “good job.” He said, “the perch are biting, why don’t you join me?” And I did. We would fish for several hours together and it turned how he was a friendly, experienced and excellent angler, one who out fished me that day. He told stories of fishing the local piers, fishing in his kayak (and where the big rubberlips are found), and fishing in his boat. He said he was out this day to catch some fish for his neighbor. He was primarily catching walleye surfperch but also caught a number of blackperch (and I didn’t). His rig was a high/low with size 6 hooks, same as mine. His bait was small pieces of market shrimp but unfortunately I only had a few pieces left over from some ancient bait I had pulled out of my freezer at home. I thought the pile worms would be as good or better than the shrimp but I was wrong, the fish preferred the shrimp that day.

A short while after starting to fish I noticed a large group out toward the end of the pier. It was a dozen or so anglers equipped with chairs, BBQ’s, and lots of equipment. The end railing was pretty full with rods. I also noticed what looked like a big bat ray so I walked out for a look. A big ray, over fifty pounds in my estimate, was lying upside down on the concrete. Nearby was a soupfin shark, also dead. I have no problem with people keeping bat rays if they intend to eat them but I hate to see them killed for the sake of killing them. I asked one of the guys in the group what they were going to do with the ray. He replied that a nearby Chinese gentleman who was fishing for jacksmelt had asked if he could have it to take home. I walked over and talked to the gent for a few minutes and he said yes, he liked to eat bat rays and was going to take it home. OK.

As it turned out the same angler who had caught the first ray and shark managed to catch two more rays on his heavy sliding sinker rigging and squid bait. He was also the only one in the group to catch a fish although all seemed to have similar tackle and bait. All three rays wound up being put on their back in a straight line as trophy fish (which bothered me) but the angler who had said he was going to eat the ray said he was now going to eat all the rays.

As for the perch fishing, it slowed. I did walk out to where the pier widens and tried a few casts under the pier, which has always gotten me fish, but I noticed this time the water was saturated with small, pinhead-size anchovies. One had the audacity to impale itself on my size 6 hook. It wound up being put on my heavier rod and used a live bait (but the crabs got it). I also noticed the crabbers who were pulling up rock crabs but few were keeper-size.

The day was slow but not dull. I had never seen the pier with as many people as that day. Most were tourists. Literally thousands of bicyclists (my estimate) came riding down the bike trail from the Golden Gate Bridge and most seemed to stop by the pier to take a selfie of themselves with the famous bridge in the background. Many headed out onto the pier. Although most were speaking foreign tongues, I did have nice talks with several including a couple of couples from Taiwan and Norway. I always enjoy playing mini-tour guide and pointing out the history of the area where I am fishing and this day was no exception. The number was amazing. Of course years ago you didn’t have too many tourists renting bikes on Fisherman’s Wharf, riding down the streets through San Francisco and Chrissy Field, and then up, on, and over the Golden Gate Bridge. At the far end they head down the bike trail to Fort Baker and most seem to stop before heading on to downtown Sausalito and the ferries that will take them back to San Francisco. I prefer a car. But it certainly made the day interesting.

IMG_4842.jpg IMG_4857.jpg IMG_4816.jpg IMG_4835.jpg IMG_4833.jpg IMG_4825.jpg IMG_4848.jpg However, mid-afternoon I decided to visit a pier I hadn’t been to in too many years—the McNears Beach Pier.