Hey there! Piers in SF bay questions!

Hey there, this is my first post here!

I live in Oakley, and take the family to the Antioch pier (Antioch/Oakley regional shoreline pier, locals call it "bridgehead") as often as I can, as it's only abut a five minute drive. I'm trying to branch out to catching some more diversity of species- there's only so many 8~12" stripers you can throw back in a week. I've been looking at trying out some more places that are easily accessible, and would like to scout out some more locations that may have more variety so that I can actually start eating what I catch. I have a three year old and a seven year old so preferably kid friendly is a huge plus. I would love to target croaker, jacksmelt, surfperch, stripers (of course) and rockfish specifically, as well as leopard sharks and rays. I've fished the Alameda rockwall before but it's really not the best place to bring a three year old who likes to explore and run up and down the length of a pier.

I work this Saturday in Redwood City until 1030PM, and was planning on checking out pier 7 in SF with a relative before I run home for the night, and he will be meeting me there via BART. The pier looks like it might be worth a day trek but was going to check it out in person to get an idea of accessibility, parking, etc. I also hear that pier 14 is worth a shot, but can't find much information on it. From what I understand most of the piers on the Embarcadero have mostly rays and sharks at night, so a medium/heavy rig would be okay to use. Is there still much else to catch at night there, such as rockfish, smelt, etc? I'm thinking of bringing frozen squid and frozen anchovie, since I'll have to store it at work before the trip. Squid primarily because I'd love to bring home a ray or small leopard.

Any tips or help would be appreciated. What size weights, etc. Maybe someone local might could give some insight.


Reel Newbie

Well-Known Member
Consider crabbing at the municipal pier, there’s usually some crabs there, and some smaller fish species. Parking is also fairly available. Pier 7 in my opinion is usually just a jacksmelt pier, with a bunch of locals loading up towards the end, not sure about night fishing. Pier 14 usually has very few fishermen, the railings and pilings are weirdly placed, but I’ve never caught any fish there in the 3 times I’ve been there. Very little parking on the embarcadero at peak hours, would be lucky to find street parking. Fort point might be a good bet, but I haven’t really fished there, but I do know that plenty of people fish for halibut and striper there. I would think that fort baker is about the same as fort point.
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I believe Fort Point is not good for kids, b/c no railing.

Pier 7 good for crabbing. small fish and sharks and ray at the end - good place for kid, just keep eye on him - too many people. Parking usually sucks, had to pay on Broadway and Embarcadero parking lot on week days.

If you go fishing at night, look Peninsula bay piers.

Red Fish

Senior Member
Pretty much what others have stated Anthony. Overall, there is a lot more action at Oakley Pier than a lot of SF Bay piers.
Really depends on the surroundings you want. There are many piers that you could go to that would be pretty clean and safe for young kids but you might not catch much. One that comes to mind is Emeryville Marina Pier. There are some others like San Antonio Pier in the Oakland Embarcadero at 16th Avenue. There’s even a little pier in Alameda, Fortman Marina in the back of the Yacht harbor. These little piers provide clean, quaint, safe surroundings that you can drive right up to and be about 10 steps from your car. Many times, you will be the only one there. The catch is usually: bat rays, smelt, shiner perch.

SF Waterfront piers are crowded with tourists and used to be inundated with homeless (possibly some still sleeping on a pier bench). Vanness Street Pier has been seeing some striper and halibut. Along Pier 2, 7, 14, and 32 (if still available to enter): a lot of baitfish around all of these piers (smelt, shiners, mackerel, sardines, shad (when they are around). The bait is usually beginning to mid pier. Check the depths (as you will notice it is considerably deeper at the end of these piers). If you fish the ends of these piers, they are deep, swift, and require heavy lead to hold (maybe 8 oz or so). And fish above the bottom (or start your hook four feet above the weight) as there are a lot of bait-stealing crabs. If you do actually crab fish, be mindful that you cannot keep Dungeness (only red and brown rock crabs). There are striper and halibut at all of these piers too if you can fish the right depths (and of course sharks and rays too.).
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Thanks for the info guys!

As a follow up- I ended up going to pier 7 after work on saturday, picked up my cousin at Embarcadero BART around 1130PM, and parked on Steuart street. We didn't have much gear so we walked the block or so down to the pier, and set up at the very end. Current was moderate with a short cast out, 4oz was adequate for the furst hour or so, and then it became increasingly difficult to hold bottom. We ended up with 6oz to 10oz weights, depending on how far out we cast. We used a mix of conventional medium to heavy rods, and squid as bait. Keep in mind we were there late at night, so I'm sure daytime results would have differed.

Crabs stealing bait was an understatement- we pulled one up nearly every cast, and some absolute lunker dungeness crab are plentiful there. I tried tying different rigs, but even with a few feet above bottom before the hook we kept losing bait for pulling in crabs. I eventually made up a loop rig (sort of a crab snare but without the bait cage) with six loops and tying a piece of bait off directly (legal beagles- no hook was present on this pole for the take of crab) and continued to catch plenty of dungeness, as well as some red rock crab.

I tried to rig up some top-water rigs at varying depths from the surface, from six inches to several feet with no luck.

We eventually decided to pack up around 445AM, and only ended up keeping a 6" or so red rock crab, so at least we didn't go home empty handed. I would have preferred to catch some actual fish (plenty of nibbles, but no actual strikes) but I am definitely gearing up to target crab specifically next time I'm out at this pier. Rock crab have only a low to moderate yield as far as meat, but they are plentiful and tasty :)

Some notes-

-This pier is notable for the nice view at night, lovely night even if the fish action was low.

-It's unreal how many dungeness are at this pier. Too bad you can't keep any :(

-There is parking nearby, and if you don't mind walking, there is even free parking if you are crafty and look at unusual places. At nighttime this is less of a concern, however.

-A large amount of small 2-3" schooling fish (anchovies?) were very active just at the edges of the shadow of the pier cast by the lights. If you bring a net on the end of a four to six foot pole you could probably get a pretty good amount of live bait. Something to keep in mind if you are here early(late?) enough and had the need.

-If you have crab gear and like rock crabs this may be a good pier to bring crab pots or snares to at night.

-There is adequate seating (plenty of benches) but no pole holders on the pier, or places to cut bait.

-As mentioned, end of the pier is deep, and current at the end is pretty strong. An assortment of heavy weights from 6-12oz wouldn't be unusual to bring along. If you go halfway out or so 2oz is plenty, and the crab action seems to change little.

-Area can be a bit messy- plenty of trash is around, and the trash bins at the end of the pier were beyond stuffed to capacity. We took a few minutes to clean up when we left, and put our trash away in the less-full bins near the middle of the pier. Every little bit helps!

All in, this was a fun and interesting trip. I would love to go for crab specifically next time- I think a crab snare or trap with an additional pole rigged for fish would be a nice idea. I was not prepared for how many crabs were here! This was my first time keeping red rock crab (and tasting it, for that matter) and I enjoyed it enough (delicious steamed!) that I would love to bring back a bunch next time! I definitely want to come back next time I'm off on a weekend and check it out during the day, and maybe some other nearby piers. Maybe next weekend, depending when/where I work for my extra shift. I'm in San Bruno, Redwood city, or Mountain View on the weekends for one day, and Mountain View Monday through Friday.

Pier 14 was gated off, so I'm unsure if it's closed, or just closed at night. I was parked closer to it, too :)

Fortman Marina sounds like a good bet with the kids too.
Thanks for the report. Maybe you've unlocked the secret of San Francisco fishing: park at night!

How was the pier environment? Would you feel comfortable going alone at this time of night?
Eh, I saw one transient all night, and lots of tourists. It's pretty well lit so I wouldn't be too afraid to go by myself. I tend to always bring someone if I can help it though just out of habit though.
It might be late, and it is not any close to San Francisco, but if you want a kid friendly pier try the Santa Cruz one, specially at the very end, that cannot be accessed by cars. Good fencing, sea lions and plenty of entertainment from there. Perfect for small perch, croakers, anchovies, and sometime a mackerel. I even saw the other day a guy getting a grass rockfish.