Licenses for Pier Fishing — History

Ken Jones

Staff member
Licenses for Pier Fishing

Pier Fishermen Need No License

The new State law requiring people fishing for game fish to secure a license has caused considerable agitation among pier fishermen. It has been rumored around that all people fishing for salt water or fresh water fish would have to take out a license.

A letter received by George Cline from the State Game and Fish Commission clears up this misunderstanding and will put the pier fishermen at ease. The letter states that only people fishing for game fish and members of the Rod and Reel Club will have to secure a license. The game fish includes all fresh water fish and certain salt water fish. The tuna, jewfish and other game fish at Catalina will be protected by this law and yellowtail come under the ban.

People fishing off the piers will not have to secure a license. All saltwater fishing for profit is exempt from this tax. This license is to help protect the game fish and to raise funds for the purpose of keeping up the hatcheries and restock the fishing grounds. Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1914

Fishing Boats and barges were empty and Pine Avenue pier deserted by all but a handful of fishermen as a result of the State Fish and Game Commission enforcing the old law requiring licenses for ocean angling; scores of tourists announced they were going to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida where taxation was not required. Long Beach Independent, February 8, 1930

Pier Fishing Puzzle Solved — Newport Beach — Questions of fishing licenses were answered today to the satisfaction of anglers.

Anyone may fish from piers of Newport Beach and Balboa, or other coastal cities, without purchasing a state license, according to notice received from J.P. Cassidy, assistant secretary of the California Fish and Game commission. It is required that sport fish caught in surf-fishing be thrown back into the ocean. Fishing from sport boats requires a license. Santa Ana Register, March 2, 1938

Move Called Slap At ‘Poor Man’s’ Fishing
Santa Cruz sportsmen were alarmed Friday over the proposal of Assemblyman Harrison Call of San Mateo to submit a bill to the state legislature which would require salt water fishermen to pay $1 for an angling license to fish from wharves or in the surf in California.

The assemblyman, chairman of the assembly interim fish and game committee, said the bill, which would tax anglers who fish off the local municipal wharf $1, will be introduced at the 1942 session of the legislature. (Under existing laws, there is no license required to fish off the wharf or in deep sea for non-game fish).
Call said the plan is “exactly what the sportsmen and commercial fish and game interests in California want in the way of a new law,” the United Press reported.

Merle Briggs, president of the Santa Cruz Rod and Gun club, said that “on the surface the bill sounds like a good thing. The fish and game commission spends money to protect these fish that are caught from the wharf, they fight for preservation of sardines, and I feel that those who fish should pay something for that right.”

Secretary Mike Morelli of the same organization took an opposite stand on the proposal. Morelli pointed out that the enforcement angle of the bill would be a problem and he pointed out also that a fisherman, by buying a $1 license, would be eligible to fish for game fish, which now costs any angler $2.

Present law, which permits fishing without a license from piers, requires that no game fish be taken. In order to catch game fish a $2 license is required. The proposed law would probably be to the liking of San Francisco’s 60,000 striped bass fishermen, Morelli said, in pointing out that they are now required to buy a $2 license.

Malio J. Stagnaro, active in all sportsmen’s affairs, said he was against any move to tax “poor man’s fishing,” as deep sea fishing for non-game fish is called. “It is all wrong to charge for poor mans’ fishing,” he said. “Deep sea and wharf fishing has always been regarded as poor man’s fishing and with a license required, you will see the number of fishermen decrease greatly. He pointed out that if the proposed bill should become a law, anglers could wade out into the mouth of the San Lorenzo river and fish with a $1 license, half the price of a regular license.

The San Lorenzo river, mecca for anglers during the winter steelhead run which starts in January, will be able to be fished for $1 in its tidal water areas. However, it would cost $2 to advance up the stream to do any angling for the same fish in fresh water.

Senator H. R. Judah, declining to comment on the bill until he had read it, said he wants to talk with Assemblyman Call in regard to the motive of the bill. “There is a growing sentiment in Sacramento opposing taxation of inherent rights of Californians and this would apply to those who fish from wharves and surfs of the state,” the senator added.

One sportsman said he believed the proposed bill was written to favor southern California anglers who do not have streams nearby from which to fish for fresh water fish. Most of the angling in the south is done from barges and small boats. Fishing for game and non-game fish would appear legal under the early interpretations of the proposal, he said. Santa Cruz Evening News, November 7, 1941

Sports And Wharf Fishermen To Need License After Friday
Deepsea sports and wharf fishing will probably drop 25 to 50 percent when a new fish and game law, passed by the last state legislature, goes into effect Friday, Malio Stagnaro of the Stagnaro Fishing corporation predicts.

The law will require persons 16 years of age and over to buy a $2 fishing license before they can legally drop a line into salt water here and throughout the state.

After January 1, the license fee will increase to $3, Stagnaro said, adding that the assembly bill, 610 and 745, will affect not only pleasure fishermen who may only practice the sport here once a year but also aged and convalescents.

It will put an end to the last tax fee privilege of the people of California and will retard business in the entire Santa Cruz bay area, Stagnaro pointed out. Already, according to the commercial fishermen, many people have called the wharf protesting the law in the last four or five days. “This act will not be felt by the commercial fishermen, but will, without doubt greatly hinder the sports and poor class of fishermen,” Stagnaro added. Santa Cruz Sentinel, September 19, 1947

A bill is before the state legislature to allow pier fishing without the customary $3 license fee. That will make great copy for another sermon which we'll do in our next column, entitled "What’s Wrong With the License Setup?" —Andy Anderson, Fishin’ Along The Coast,The Long Beach Independent, June 1, 1951

Governor Signs Non-License Public Pier Fishing Bill

Sacramento, June 21 (AP)—A bill permitting you to fish in the ocean from a public pier without a license was signed today by Governor Warren. But the fishing must be for fun, not for profit, says the new law, proposed by Assemblyman Gordon R. Hahn, R., Los Angeles. The statue goes into effect in September. Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 21, 1951

Anglers who frequent the Santa Cruz Wharf for fishing the year around are wearing broad smiles in anticipation of free fishing beginning September 1. Governor Earl Warren last week signed the measure which will permit public pier fishing without a license, as long as the fishing is for fun and not for profit. Those who fish for profit must continue to purchase a license.Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, June 24, 1951

No License for Pier Fishing

Thousands of persons who annually enjoy fishing in ocean waters at Princeton and in San Francisco bay waters forming the eastern boundary of San Mateo county, will not have to provide themselves a state fishing license if the fishing is done from a public pier, State Attorney General Edmund G. Brown had ruled today.

The ruling will affect particularly those who fish from the Patroni pier at Princeton and those who fish from the Redwood City municipal yacht harbor piers. An estimate made at Hazel’s Seafood Tavern at the entrance to Patroni’s pier, Princeton, was that more than 24,000 persons annually fish from this pier. The average is 15 to 20 daily and more than 400 each on Saturday and Sunday, almost the year round. No estimate was available at the Redwood City harbor. At the present time smelt, perch, flounder and king fish are being caught in abundance at the Princeton pier.

Brown made his ruling at the request of the state division of fish and game to clarify changes in fish and game provisions made at the last session of the legislature. He said ocean waters of the state include all enclosed bays along the coast which are contiguous to the ocean, such as Humboldt, Tomales, San Francisco, San Pedro and San Diego bays. Also included are open roadsteads such as Santa Monica, Monterey and San Luis Obispo bays. San Mateo Times, October 10, 1951

Anglers Need No License On Piers—Fishermen of distinction. That’s what you might call anglers who fish on public piers in ocean waters, because these anglers are not required to have a state license to fish. However, if the pier is not open to the public then a license is required.Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1960