John Sheridan Observation Pier (Day Glo Pier)— Richmond

Ken Jones

Staff member
I had the chance to finally fish this pier yesterday with Redfish, at least for a couple of hours. No success on the fish but one new pier added to the list and we'll get the fish next time. A short write up and pics —

Sheridan Observation Point Pier aka Dayglo Pier


In the early 2002s, I began to get reports on the Dayglo Pier in Richmond, which, as I understood it, was not a public pier. In response, I did not include it in Pier Fishing In California, 2nd Edition. Later I found out that it might qualify as a public pier.
The location of the pier is at the Sheridan Observation Point Park, a small park that has few amenities to attract people with the exception of the great views and this small pier.
Most anglers aren’t too concerned with the amenities, they mainly care about one thing—will the pier’s waters yield up some fish? The answer seems to be yes and that’s why a steady group of local anglers used the pier.
However, there is/was somewhat of an elephant in the room, a problem that does not appear to be going away anytime soon. It’s the fact that the water around the pier is the most polluted water in San Francisco Bay and the fish that are caught should probably not be eaten That toxic pollution explains the nickname that was given to the pier—the day glo pier.


Environment: The short pier reached out into the water from Sheridan Point (aka Ford Point), a point that fronts on the waters of the Richmond Inner Harbor.
To the right (west) of the pier is the Harbor Channel used by ships to get to Port Terminals No. 2 and 3 as well as other wharves. Toward the end of the channel is a wastewater plant.
Water moving past the pier to the left (east) flows along the Ford Channel before entering into the Inner Harbor Basin and Marina Bay.
Although the pier extended only a short distance over the water, a fairly good water depth can be achieved with a decent cast and that’s where the bigger fish, sharks and rays, normally call their home. Currents although usually mild can be strong dependent upon the tides.
The pier had nice railings (that is safe for children), while the surface is wooden. Amenities are limited to a few benches and a trash can; no lights excepting a light near the cars, backlighting to some extent.
At one time, adjacent to the pier, on the left, was a small dock that could, at times, see a few perch hanging under it for protection; its waters were reachable with a short cast. It’s now gone. The shoreline on both sides of the pier is mostly riprap rock intended to armorize and protect the shoreline from erosion.
The area has been known for a long times as Richmond’s Industrial Village, an area characterized by heavy industry that at one time included the huge Ford Assembly Plant and Kaiser Shipyard. That early industry is at least in part responsible for the pollution that remains in the benthic muds and water of the area.
The worms and the other organisms that live in the toxic mud are eaten by bottom feeding fish. Those fish ingest the toxins and they in turn have toxins in the fatty parts of their flesh. People who eat that flesh in turn ingest toxins. Not a good mix.
As a consequence, those fish should not be eaten. But some people refused to heed that advice. Hopefully they did the following: (a) Cleaned the fish well removing all guts and innards that contained toxins; (b) Cooked the fish by broiling or bbq’ing the fish. That will melt some of the fat in the tissue and it will fall away with the cooking. Hopefully, they never coated and fried the fish, a method that simply keeps the toxins in the flesh; (c) Eat the fish in moderation since it’s impossible to remove all toxins from the flesh. But, as said, the best approach was simply not to eat fish caught in the area. Catch and release was a good slogan for the pier.
A definite plus at the pier are some great views of San Francisco and Oakland.


Fishing Tips. It sounds like the action at the pier is generally only fair although at times it can see some good fishing. Early fish counts done by the Department of Fish and Wildlife at the pier showed the number one fish to be kingfish (white croaker) followed by jacksmelt and perch. Usually those Fish and Game surveys did not report rays and sharks. Reports to Pier Fishing In California mostly highlight a different story, the fishing for sharks and rays, which can be excellent at times.
As for the white croaker, there numbers seem to be far, far down, in fact almost non-extent at times (perhaps the toxins caught up with them as far as reproduction?). However, if seeking out the white croaker, a simple high/low rig with size 4 hooks is used. Pieces of anchovy or sardine (any oily fish) for bait usually produced the best results. Cast out from the pier, a good cast trying to reach the deeper water in the channel (straight out and/or to the left) and let the rig sink to the bottom. Be prepared for a bite as soon as the bait settled. A slow retrieve after the bait hit the bottom can also work; fish will sometimes follow the bait almost to the pier. People can just cast out, rest the rod on the railing, and wait, but that produces fewer fish.


The jacksmelt are different from most of the fish at the pier because they inhabit mid-water depths. Thus using two-three small hooks (size 8-6) fished under a float is the way to go. Pile worms were the best traditional baits but sometimes the smelt seem to like small pieces of shrimp and other times strips of squid. It is best to be prepared with a variety of bait.
For those seeking out perch, the best bait generally is pile worms, ghost shrimp, grass shrimp, or small pieces of market shrimp on a high/low rig with size 6 or 8 hooks. If in a pinch for bait you could also try night crawlers but they will soften up fairly quickly. Anglers fish for perch in the inshore waters by the pier or try a cast along the shoreline rocks.


Stripers are one of the prize fish and anglers used a variety of techniques and baits. Traditional high/low rigs using a size 2 to 2/0 hook and pieces of fish (anchovy, sardine, herring, etc.) will catch the linesides if they are around. Live bait utilizing one of the plastic fish finder rigs or a Carolina-rig will also work. Live shinerperch, bullheads (staghorn sculpin) or small gobies are proven baits. Many of the regulars prefer using an artificial lure. Hair Raisers were the traditional lure of choice but they’ve been replaced by a plethora of lures, everything from soft plastics to spoons to crankbaits like Rat-L-Trap (and others).
Sharks are one of the most common fish at the pier and many a large one are caught. Most of the sharks would be brown smoothhounds or leopard sharks but smallish-sized 7-gill sharks, spiny dogfish, and even soupfin sharks will make occasional appearances. All will bite on an oily and/or bloody fish such as sardine and mackerel and most are taken on high./low rigging using size 2/0-4/0 hooks or baitfinder rigs. Leopard sharks like a live bait and love midshipman as bait if you can find them.
Rays, big rays, are a common visitor to the pier. Small rays of 10-20 pounds make up the majority but many of the older mama bat rays (every big one is a female) will sometimes approach or even exceed 100 pounds in weight. The “mud marlin” are fun to catch and provide a sometimes exhausting fight. The rays will hit on fish bait but have always shown a preference for squid. For all the sharks and rays the nighttime hours were the best.


Ferry. The one BIG change during the past few years has been the introduction of ferry service from the adjacent building just down the shoreline from the pier. It’s hard to judge but there’s little debate that the water and shoreline are affected by the comings and goings of the boat.




Pier Facts

Public Pier? Listed as an observation pier so may require a license.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day?

Facilities: A large free parking lot sits adjacent to the pier. There are several benches and one trash can. No fish cleaning station and no lights although a light in the parking lot provides a little back lighting at night.

Location: Found at the end of Cutting Blvd. in Richmond

The Pier Rats Speak — Posts from the Pier Fishing In California Message Board

Date: June 11, 2002
To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board
From: cougar
Subject: Richmond (dayglo) pier

Where was black marlin when I needed him? Name of pier per songslinger...from 3pm-7pm...2 baby sharks + one 3’ big brother and 2 big daddy’s...thank goodness Paco my new Latino friend was hanging out...after huge initial hit and nice fight, walking fish to rocks while Paco is awaiting w/bare hands...snap...but 4 1/2 ft. 30-40pd. obviously discombobulated...noses up to rock and Paco reaches down and grabs by the tail drags up on rock and slips...he gets up and grabs shark again and brings up to pier...unreal this dude was ballsy to say the least...after seeing sharp thorn on back fin we couldn’t believe he didn’t get pricked...normally I will throw back sharks but Paco insist on keeping it...he goes to his car, grabs knife, sharpens on rocks, and proceeds to clean and slice into steaks...stuffs cooler and heads to Antioch...hour later bam, yank pole and thought I lost it. Other pole gets a hit and I grab it...reel in and its a baby shark, unhook him and throw back...go over to big rig thinking i need to redo bait and holy moly....zzzzzzzz...start getting spooled to the Matson ship across channel...after 10-15 min....finally get monster to the rocks and another fellow helps land him....4-5 ft..30-40 pounds. Got pics in Instamatic and threw him back... After lactic acid in right arm settles down...I decide to pack it up and head home...this one had spots on it but no stripes...not sure what it was…these beasts have a cool way of playing possum.. well here’s to Paco and his carne asada fish tacos....later daze...

Posted by Songslinger

Yeah, Great stuff! Bait?

Posted by cougar

Sardines on 9.0/hk w/ 30pd. Spider line/40pd. leader...on Joisy flounder rig...and 15’ surf rod...catch ya on da flip side ...later daze...

Posted by Bayfisherman

So you're cougar. First time I saw a fellow board member. I got there just after you landed the monster. I was the guy in the yellow CAL hat. Anyway, I stayed to 8:00pm. Used squid on a sliding rig and had two bites one of which I missed the other turned out to be a 25” smoothhound. By the way, Cougar was using sardines for bait, because he had given the fellow who helped him land the last shark some.

Posted by cougar

Bayfisherman...thanks 4 helping land the beast, especially enjoyed the way you just picked the sucker up out of the water by its head w/no time I'll carry more thread...congrats on the smoothhound..

Posted by Red Fish

Good catch. I believe the “Richmond Pier” is better than Emeryville right now. Years ago before the fishing pier was built there, that place was loaded with perch in the pilings of the dilapidated dock that was used to load cargo containers onto the trains.

Back then, my Richmond buddies and I would sit there on the shore and cast towards the broken structure. Mainly perch, but sometimes we would cast out and get a leopard.
Note: there are always some big leopards around an area where perch are around because this is one of their primary natural baits. Perch is a top bait for leopards. I used to use whole shinerperch (deadbait) or strips of a larger perch on a huge hook with the hook exposed. Works wonders. Also, there are stripers there from what I'm told, so if you use a shiner, you have a chance of hooking one of those puppies as well.
Point Molate was a leopard shark paradise as well until they decided to block most of the access to the Whaling Station area. Fish On!!!!!! Red-

Songslinger later commented: “Cougar and I gave it the sobriquet because anyone who ate a fish there could read by his own light.”

Note No. 1. At the end of the shoreline on the left side is the old Ford Assembly Plant that opened in 1931—the largest automobile assembly plant on the West Coast.
In World War II the plant was retooled and began producing jeeps and tanks, a task that lasted until the end of the war; car production resumed in 1946. In 1955 manufacturing moved elsewhere and the building saw several different uses until 1989 and the Loma Prieta earthquake. It was basically destroyed and abandoned at that time.
In 2004 the building was purchased and revitalization began that has resulted in several awards. The Craneway Pavilion, a 45,000 square foot section at the southernmost section of the building now offers the largest event space in the Bay Area.

Note No. 2. The Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park surrounds in an inverted L-shape building the old Ford plant. The entrance is on Harbor Way South. If you’re a history buff, as I am, it’s a fascinating and somewhat different look at American history.

Note No. 3. The other side of the National Historical Park sees another city park, the Lucretia Edwards Shoreline Park. The park “honors the wartime contributions made by Bay Area Shipyards during World War II.” Included is a plaza that highlights Kaiser Shipyard where 747 Liberty and Victory ships were produced for the United States Navy.

Note No. 4. The waters of the Harbor Channel sit to the right (west) side of the park. Across that channel sits an industrial area (including the Point Potrero Marine Terminal) but what stands out is a large old Navy ship. It’s the SS Red Oak Victory, the last surviving Victory ship built by the Kaiser Richmond Shipyards in World War II. It’s open for tours and run by the Richmond Historical Society.

History. It seems a little hard to believe today but the entire Richmond shoreline was at one time a pristine bay front environment, land that ended in tidal marsh at the edge of the great estuary—San Francisco bay.
It was land used but little changed by the Huchiun tribe of the native Ohlone Indians.
With the development of Oakland and San Francisco in the second half of the nineteenth century, more and more people and more and more business moved into the area.
Then, in the early 20th century, as Standard Oil and the Santa Fe Railroad moved into the area, an even greater transformation took place.
Eventually the area around Richmond’s Inner Harbor area became primarily an industrial area, often with heavy industry and much of the shoreline was lost to public use.
The heavy industrial use peaked in the ‘40s during WWII but continued into roughly the 1970s when more and more plants began to close. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 quickened the pace of closures.
At the same time, more and more people were fighting for public access and eventually this park, as well several others, were opened to provide that access.
The park and pier were originally designed as a site for observation, hence its name, but the pier today is given the name “Marina Fishing Area Boardwalk” and it’s used by a steady stream of anglers.
The pier was closed for a short period of time in January 2016 when someone started a fire on the pier that resulted in a large hole that necessitated repair.
It was closed again during 2019-20 while the ferry landing was being constructed.


Red Fish

Senior Member
The write-up on this is good Ken. Night time, like many other shark/ray spots produces more of them.

Over 25 years ago or (maybe 30) I used to fish John Sheridan Observation Point (that we would just call South Harbor Way or Ford Plant, every cast to the right would be 1 or 2 kingfish (white croaker) coming in on your line (similar to around The Port of Oakland).

It used to close right after dark (now is 24 hours and still remember breaking off lines on mystery fish (bat rays or maybe some larger shark) right after dark when the security guard would ask me to leave. 1 time the security guard asked me to leave and closed the gate. Lucky for me that he only wrapped the chain around the gate and did not put a lock on it because I thought I was locked in for the night!

By day, perch straight down on the right in front of the rocks; I believe mostly pile and black. Smelt are around there when the tide is coming up and moving but there were years when there was nothing in there as there was quite a bit of sludge leaching from the Richmond Inner Canal that leads into there from Cutting Blvd. This place was deemed the most polluted part of the entire San Francisco Bay by the EPA.

On South Harbor Blvd (right before is intersects with Regatta Street going to the Richmond Marina) many fisherman would enter into the factory there and fish the bank that was covered with shiners and some black perch. I would just seek shiners there for live bait. Seemed to be dozens when I can never remember catching any at the pier itself.

Never have seen (1) striper caught at the pier and have heard of 1 a maybe 2 people in 30 years ever mention they caught a halibut there. Never witnessed a 7 gill caught there and barley ever saw a keeper leopard caught there. Reminds me very much of fishing Grand Street Dock in Oakland.

I used to use this pier a few years back to practice distance casting with my Squidder and Penn 525 as there are markers in the water as it is a boat exit route west from the Richmond Marina.

Now, there is ferry boat traffic and more ships than I remember in the harbor as it is the east end of the Port of Richmond.

Forget JSOP Pier if there is any wind about, as that place is fierce when it is windy and the wind hits you head on! There are much better places to fish a mile to your left and a mile to your right. This is really just a serenity spot that you can drive right up to ( BigRich loved it).

Here's one for your history book Ken. Lacy Peterson's body was down in that dredged canal with cement shoes on. I figured Scott left out of Berkeley Marina, powered that little boat around until he marked something over 15' of water, which is the dredged out area right of the pier that is 40.
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Red Fish

Senior Member
Okay Ken on this one (index finger pointing above). I guess Ken Cougar didn't really know his fish species. Back then, and before then, when I said the security guard would kick me out right after dark, I would get broken off, perhaps bitten off? I didn't really use the gear I do now and I don't believe I used wire or anything in excess of 50# for leader material. That being said, Ken Cougar describes a spiny dogfish shark and a leopard shark.
Anything is possible in there KJ, including a whale, but I haven't seen that. BTW - yesterday there were two porpoises swimming together breaching a couple times right out in front of Ferry Point Pier. Never have seen or heard about a soupfin or 7 gill at JSOP Pier (in 30 years) but the possibility would have been greater in 2002 and before as that placed was loaded with kingfish. And anyone that fishes shark and is worth his weight in salt as a real shark fisherman in SF Bay would know that hands down kingfish is the best soupfin bait bar none (with midshipmen included in that conversation). A lot of spiny dogfish migrate into the SF Bay in the winter.

Last Note: When I said " I believe the Richmond Pier is better.." from the archived post above, I meant Ferry Point Pier (not to be confused with John Sheridan). I fished the area of the Ferry Point Pier long before the pier was built parking my navy blue Chevy 20 van parallel to the rocks at the base of the pier (unfortunately, you can't drive right up to the location like you used to be able to do).
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that's near Craneway Pavillion. My company has their company party there every year. The tiny pier looks fishy but I know the area is polluted.
Very. The ferry churn does not help with the overall murkiness and funk, either. It was never a pristine place--oil, rendering, plating, automotive, shipping effluence--and in the last five years has grown worse.

If you look at the shoreline will see no vegetation on the rocks. The water is treated with herbicide for the sake of container ships as well as marina slip occupants.

Sharks and rays come into the deep channel. I've caught and released a legal striper there within the past few months. Before the ferry, the area was good for black perch action on light tackle, though only the bravest soul would keep those glow dark fish. glo, as the man said.

Up until 6 weeks ago, I would go there early mornings and pick up some live bait in the cast net. It was not wide open abundant, but it sufficed for the day's quarry. Always relocated.

I'm not going back. One morning, while I was throwing the net, this car flew through the parking lot and stopped directly behind my car of my car, blocking it. I was parked in one of the few slots that explicitly states the parking is for shoreline access. The car was not marked in any way; it was private vehicle. The occupant got out and was wearing a jumpsuit of some kind, but had no badge. I had no idea who he was, and I asked him to move his car. "You got attitude? You got issues?" he snapped as he advanced towards me.


I'll say here that at no time did he provide identification and I did not know he was a security guard until he got in my face. Actually, he was a security guard in charge of watching part of the Craneway building, where there was construction going on indoors. Well off his watch. Anyway, he told me to leave and I refused. He said he was calling the police and I said, politely, I would wait. So he called his supervisor first and then the Richmond police. You see the picture below. He then moved his car. The police officer arrived ten minutes later. By then I had secured my bait and was ready to scoot. The officer spoke with the guard and then came up to me. Now here is the incredible part:
the officer told me he would arrest me if I did not leave because I was trespassing. He said it was private property and my parking could be, and was, revoked.

So... It helps when you know you are in the right and you can prove it. I showed the police officer the sign in front of my car. The one that said my parking spot was reserved for shoreline access. Then I showed him the sign on a light post that said "security on premises" and nothing else. I also pointed out it was public parking lot for ferry riders. Then I requested that he call his superiors. He did and I was told I could stay. "Wouldn't dream of it," I said pleasantly.


Red Fish

Senior Member
If you want to go back, go back. There isn't much of anything there for me except a memory of fishing days past. As mentioned, a mile to the left and right of there is way better fishing.

There have been people just hanging out in the parking lot during the day in the far back not even fishing, but there is public shoreline parking in designated areas. I don't believe there is a sticker or anything on the cars' dashboards currently that designates ferry parking patron, but I could see that happening in the future.

Seems kind of like a prediction of how fishermen will be treated at Berkeley Pier if/when it opens up again.

Oh, BTW - a sista 'gave me the business' about parking (a mile to the right of there) when I was with my lady fishing at night a couple years ago. We went back and forth. She finally said, "You are right, you can fish here, but you can't park here." It's that area near where folks "drift" cars. Saw her that 1 time (where my lady said I shouldn't go back) and I haven't seen her since and I've fished there a few dozen times at night since then. Ken Jones knows where this spot is, as I have taken him there, but Ken didn't want to go back there this visit because it is 'not an official' pier.
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