May 2022 Fishing Report, Southern California (#274)

Ken Jones

Staff member
California Pier Report

May 2022 Fishing Report, Southern California (#274)

Remember that the lobster season closed on March 16.

San Diego County Piers

Imperial Beach Pier – We still need a reporter. How To Get There: From I-5 take the Palm Ave. (Hwy. 75) exit and follow it to where Palm Ave. and Hwy. 75 divide. Follow Palm Ave. to Seacoast Dr., turn left and it will take you right to the pier.

Ocean Beach Pier — Shirley at the Ocean Beach Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier said most of the attention lately has been focused on the mackerel that seem to be in good supply. She said some small rockfish have been caught on the bottom along with another triggerfish. No report on how the croaker, halibut or sharays are hitting. How To Get There: From the north, take I-5 to the Sea World Dr. exit and follow it until it turns off to Sunset Cliffs Blvd. From the south, take I- 5 to the Nimitz Blvd. exit, then follow that road to Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Follow Sunset Cliffs Blvd. to Newport Ave., turn right and follow the road to the pier parking lot.

Crystal Pier – Pam, at the bait shop on the pier, reports that action is still slow. An occasional school of mackerel moves through the area providing “some fish but about the only thing seen in fair numbers recently have been leopard sharks and bat rays. How To get There: Take I-5 to Garnet Ave. then take Garnet west to the foot of the pier.

Pepper Park Pier — No report. We need a reporter! How To Get There: From I-5 take the 24th Street off-ramp west to Tidelands Avenue and go left (south) on Tidelands to the end.

Bayside Park Pier — No report. We need a reporter. How To Get There: From I-5 take the J Street off ramp and go west. Take J Street to Tidelands Ave.; turn right. Take Tidelands to Sandpiper Way; turn right. Take Sandpiper to Bayside Parkway, turn left and follow the road to the park.

Embarcadero Marina Pier — No report. We need a reporter! How To Get There: From the I-5 south, take the Front Street exit south to Market (just stay on Front Street, it runs into Market), take Market west to Harbor Dr. Turn left on Harbor Dr. and take it to 8th Ave., turn right onto Convention Way (formerly Harbor St.). Follow it a short block to 5th Ave. and the pier. It seems that with the new Convention Center the city is constantly working on these streets near the pier and renaming them; if you get confused remember that the park and pier are immediately to the southwest of the Convention Center. From I-5 North, approaching from the south, take the J Street exit, then go straight, three blocks up to Market, turn left and take it from there.

Ferry Landing Pier (Coronado) — Need a reporter although bass (kelp, sand and spotted) always seem to be around as well as a mix of sharays (mostly round stingrays and bat rays). How To Get There: From San Diego, take the Coronado Bay Bridge (Highway 75) to Coronado. Once over the bridge you are on Third Street. Simply follow it to B Avenue, turn right, and follow it to the front of The Old Ferry Landing — the intersection of First Street and B Avenue. The pier sits behind the shops in the complex.

Shelter Island Pier — It sounds like the main fish continue to be mackerel. We had one PFIC fish report from TheFrood on 4/18, “Nice pier, clean, and people were pretty friendly. Couple anglers that insisted on using swimbaits or spoons and snagging seemingly every person along the pier (was decently crowded, I don't know why they would cast out almost parallel to the pier. Happened twice with two different anglers.) Myself, I fished from 11AM to about 6PM. Wind was pretty strong and couldn't seem to make up it's mind which direction it was going to blow. Personally I didn't catch anything or even get any bites on my Sabiki or dropper loop baited with shrimp. Moderate numbers of macs were being pulled up, and saw one barely legal halibut pulled in.” How To Get There: Take I-5 or I-8 to Rosecrans (Hwy. 209) and go west, turn left at Shelter Island Dr. and follow the road until you see the pier and the entrance to the parking lot.

Oceanside Pier — A report from my friend Bill said the pier is surrounded by red tide, which has slowed the fishing. A few fish are still being caught but it’s been a big drop from a couple of weeks ago. The good new is that the red tide appears to be clearing. Meanwhile, expect a few sardines in the top-waters out at the end along with some herring (queenfish) at mid-depth. No halibut have been reported but some good-sized skates have been taken along with a few small leopard sharks. He says they are beginning to dredge the nearby harbor and that usually when they start doing that the croaker bite (spotfins and yellowfins) picks up. Fingers crossed that the red tide leaves! How To Get There: From I-5 take Mission Blvd. west to Pacific, turn left and follow it to the pier.” How To Get There: From I-5 take Mission Blvd. west to Pacific, turn left and follow it to the pier.

Oceanside Harbor Pier — The pier has reopened but no report this month. How To Get There: From I-5 take the Harbor Dr. exit off the freeway, follow it and it will wind down to the harbor; where the road splits stay to the right on North Harbor Dr., and follow it to the pier.

Orange County Piers

San Clemente Pier — Skyler at Hogan's Bait and Tackle (34320 Pacific Coast Hwy. says things have slowed recently due to red tide conditions. People are still taking the normal species but the numbers are definitely down. Inshore in the surf area some corbina are showing up while the shallow water area still kicks out some yellowfin and spotfin croaker and a few perch. Mid-pier sees a few halibut while the end is producing a few mackerel and an occasional bonito. No report on the sharays although some leopard sharks should be showing up. How to Get There: From I-5 take any of several exit streets west to El Camino Real, follow it to the center of town, and from there take Del Mar down to the pier.

Dana Harbor Pier — Skyler at Hogan's Bait and Tackle (34320 Pacific Coast Hwy. says red tide conditions are also is the harbor area with a corresponding drop in fish. Best action lately has been on bass in the bay with both bait and soft plastics producing the bass (a mix of all three varieties). A few croakers and small sharays should also be available. PFIC received a report from TheFrood on the 23rd that said, “Fished the last hour of the incoming tide and a couple hours of the outgoing. Didn't get a nibble, and nobody else on the pier got a nibble. Tried a Sabiki while soaking a dropper loop with a fresh smelt (caught at Redondo) on it. Not even crabs nibbling on the bait for the entire time I fished. Smelt was as pristine as when it first went in with the exception of where I had hooked it. Finally left for home around 8:30 pm or so.” How To Get There: The pier is located in the Dana Cove Park area of Dana Point Harbor. From the Pacific Coast Highway take Green Lantern Road south to the harbor, turn left on Cove Road, and follow it to the pier.

Balboa Pier — This pier is also experiencing some red tide although our reporter Snookie says it isn’t too bad. Angers continue to pull in mackerel at the end but she says they are small ones, rarely over ten inches in length. Generally too big for bait and really too small to eat but everything is kept. Apparently not much is happening inshore although Snookie did hook a keeper halibut the Thursday before I called on a live smelt so a few flatties are still around. So, currently slow but things should improve. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway take Newport Blvd. which will turn into Balboa Blvd., follow it west to Palm Street. Turn right and follow it to the pier and the adjacent parking lot.

Newport Pier — Generally the action mirrors, for the most part, that seen at Balboa although when the fishing is hot the mobs will be bigger and the railing space more limited. Warning — Snookie reported the pier will be closed for a month to demolish the restaurant out at the end. But, no specific dates as of yet. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway take the Newport Blvd. turn off and proceed west watching for signs directing traffic to the pier. The pier sits at the foot of McFadden Place.

Huntington Beach Pier — A PFIC report from evenluck on 4/19 said, “Went to Huntington Beach Pier on Monday morning and fished from 7AM-11AM. When I arrived the end of the pier was just tailing off of a solid mackerel bit. As I was rigging up people were pulling up Sabikis full of mackerel both trolling and fishing with a float. Unfortunately the mackerel bite slowed significantly after I rigged up and was replaced with big jacksmelt. Had fun catching larger jacksmelt and a few mackerel mixed in. The bite was very slow on the bottom so most of the action was experienced by people using floats or my choice retrieving rigs just below the surface of the water. Best bite on these types of fish was on the south side of the end of the pier. At around 9AM, an angler at the end hooked a small thresher shark and got it all the way to the pier but lost it as he was trying to gaff it to bring it up. Moved to mid pier for the last hour of fishing just behind the bathrooms on the South side. Fished a live smelt with not detectable bites although upon retrieving my bait, it had been bit by something (possibly a crab). Only bites we could get in this part of the pier were small smelt right near the base of the pier. Glad to go back to this pier. I had forgotten on spacious, clean and nice it is!” A second PFIC report from evenluck on 4/26 said, “Met a couple friends in the morning. We all arrived later than planning and really didn't start fishing until 8AM. Fishing was slow. We started inshore with only intermittent bites from smelt. Then we went to the end to try to get on a more reliable bite as one of my friends had never caught a fish before. Finally after showing my friend who is from Brazil how to slow retrieve a small hook Sabiki, he landed a smelt. Always exciting when someone catches their first fish. He wanted to keep the fish, so I re-rigged with a small hook Sabiki to try to load up on enough smelt to justify my friend's wife heating up a pan of oil for a fish fry. Intermittent bite at best but I was able to catch a mackerel, a shiner perch, and 8 smelt before we had to leave at 11AM. Went back to the pier at 6:15PM and found a fairly wide-open bait bite for about 15 minutes where 5 different fish were biting: mackerel, sardines, smelt, anchovies, and small lizardfish. Landed about 10 fish in 10 minutes and went home with a few mackerel a handful of sardines and an anchovy. Been a while since I was at a local pier with a wide-open bait bit like that. It was exciting even though the fish were small. How To Get There: Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) to Huntington Beach and the pier.”

Seal Beach Pier — Liz at Big Fish Bait & Tackle, 1780-C. Pacific Coast Hwy, said fishing’s been OK with corbina and croakers showing inshore and mackerel and small sharks showing out at the end. Apparently no red tide. An early in the month report to PFIC from FishmanFishman on 4/5 said, “Pier crowded for a Tuesday. By 6 a.m. front of pier full of fisherman seeking smelt and mackerel. Between 8 - 9 a.m. queenfish moved in and fisherman landing 3, 4 and sometimes more at a time using Sabiki with cut bait. After the run, fisherman left with full buckets. I caught and released 3 thornbacks, 1 batray, 1 legal size sandbass. Bass hit live smelt. Overall a nice morning on the pier.” How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway simply take Main St. west and follow it to the pier.

Los Angeles County Piers

Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier — Liz at Big Fish Bait & Tackle, 1780-C. Pacific Coast Hwy, said about the only reports recently were on the mackerel (she sells Sabiki’s) but a few croakers should be available inshore and halibut have been hitting in the area. Got a PFIC report from josedelgado73 that said, “Had an opportunity to fish for a few hours at Belmont Pier Friday Afternoon/Evening. The far end of the pier was closed to fishing due to a sailing competition, but there was plenty of room on the rest of the pier. Wind was an issue, but we managed to bring up a few mackerel and one smelt. Not a lot of fish, but it was fun nonetheless. I spoke to a few of the regulars and they provided information that makes me want to fish the pier again soon.” How To Get There: From the north take I-405 to the Lakewood Boulevard turnoff, and then go south to 7th Street, turn west (right) until you come to Ximeno Ave. and then turn left. Follow it to Livingston Dr. and go west. You will see signs by Ocean Ave. and Termino Ave. indicating the pier. From the south take the Pacific Coast Highway to 2nd. Street (Westminister becomes 2nd. Street when it crosses PCH), go west, follow to Livingston Dr. Follow it to signs by Ocean Ave. and Termino Ave. indicating the pier and parking lot.

Shoreline Aquatic Park Piers (Long Beach) — Expect the usual—tomcod (white croaker) and mackerel casting out from the pier, sargo and perch fishing the inshore waters. How to Get There: From downtown Long Beach, take Pine Avenue south to Shoreline Drive. For the northernmost pier #1 follow Shoreline Avenue west and follow it around the lagoon to where the street ends. For the southernmost piers #2-#5 follow Shoreline Drive east to the markings for Shoreline Village, continue past the shopping complex, and follow the road out to near the end of the peninsula. You will see the piers.

Pier J Piers (Long Beach) — White croaker are available most days as are a variety of fish. How To Get There: From I-710 follow the signs saying S. Harbor Scenic Drive. From downtown Long Beach follow Queens Way past the Catalina Landing and on to the Queens Way Bridge over the water and take the S. Harbor Scenic Drive.

Cabrillo Pier (San Pedro) —Alex at the Rusty Hook, 245 N Gaffey St., San Pedro, is on a ten-day fishing trip but we have a couple of PFIC reports. On 4/18 FishmanFishman reported, “Fished Cabrillo Beach pier this morning for the first time. Mackerel and jacksmelt were running steady. Double hook ups common. Caught and released short halibut. Highlight of the trip was my personal best bat ray caught on squid. Wingspan was 48 inches, guesstimating the ray weighed between 80 to 100 lbs. Took four fisherman to haul up the ray after it was netted. The ray was released. Also while fishing got to watch a Grey whale(s) swimming around. Apparently the whale(s) has been in the harbor for about a week. Also saw a pod of dolphin corral some baitfish. Frenzy occurred with dolphins and birds feeding on the trapped fish. The location of pier next to breakwater is very unique. Sandy bottom with lots of kelp is also attractive to a variety of fish. A very enjoyable morning of fishing. I think I'll return one day to this pier. Hopefully catch other types of fish! A second report from FishmanFishman on the 26th said, “Fished a couple of morning hours until noon today. Caught and released a Shovelnose Guitarfish that measured out to 22 inches, a short 14 inch Halibut and several Jacksmelt and Mackerel. All fish caught with anchovy. Overall a slow bite. Weather was overcast and cloudy. No wind. But still happy to be out on the pier.” How To Get There: Take the Harbor Freeway (I-110) south; it will turn into Gaffey St. Follow it to 22nd Street and turn left. Follow 22nd St. to Pacific Ave. and turn right. Follow Pacific Ave. to 36th Street and the entrance to Cabrillo Park.

Green Pleasure Pier (Avalon, Catalina Island) – Expect the normal species—kelp bass, rock wrasse, senorita, opaleye, halfmoon, and sheephead. How To Get There: The trick here is to get to Catalina. Ships and helicopters make the journey several times a day from the Port of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Newport Beach. Information is available on all of these by calling the Avalon Chamber of Commerce on the Pleasure Pier (213) 510-1520 or the Visitor's Information & Service Center (213) 510-2500. Once in Avalon there should be no problem in finding the pier, which is located at the foot of Catalina Avenue.

Cabrillo Mole (Avalon, Catalina Island) — Expect the normal species—kelp bass, rock wrasse, senorita, opaleye, halfmoon, and sheephead and ocean whitefish but recent reports have shown somewhat slower than normal fishing for the pier. A PFIC report from evenluck on 4/29 said, “Took my Dad to Avalon to fish Cabrillo Mole on Sunday. We took the 6AM Ferry. He returned on the 2:45PM, I came back on the 7:45PM. Most of the day we fished with Hi-lo rigs with size 6 hooks using a mix of mostly market shrimp with a lug/bloodworms and an occasional piece of squid. We also met a nice young lady Amber who was on the island with friends and was more interested in fishing than what her friends were doing, so I lent her a pole and the three of us enjoyed fishing together. I also spent some time catching live bait and fishing mostly with live senorita wrasses on either a dropper loop or a Carolina rig at the base of the pier. Hooked a few notable fish this way and finally landed a keeper-size calico bass and lost a couple really good sized fish to the rocks and kelp. I would characterize the bite as below average. The bite casting out away from the pier was slow. Close to the pier there was a reliable bite but it was mostly smaller reef fish like senorita, rock wrasses, blue perch and garibaldi. We also caught a few giant kelp fish and a couple opaleye on the day. Notably absent on the day was ocean white fish. I caught a couple keeper sized sheephead and released the smaller one (12") and kept the larger (13"). The most exciting catch of the day for my Dad was good size Opaleye that gave him a great fight close to the pier and required assistance to hand line over the rail. Did not see any evidence of bonito on the day but no one was really targeting them until the end of the day when I saw a couple anglers throwing stick baits with no bites. I stopped fishing at 6PM and went to the landing to clean fish near the water and pack up.”

Redondo Beach Pier — Cortez at the Redondo Beach Tackle on the pier said mackerel fishing has been good and some days are also seeing a decent bite on the bonito. PFIC received a report from The Frood on the 23rd that said, “Fished this pier on Saturday. Caught a goodly number of jack mackerel and topsmelt using a sabiki. I was on the southern rail. People on the western rail casting out towards the sea were catching Pacific mackerel on Sabikis, frequently 3 to 6 on a single hookup. Some of the mackerel hooked up were good-size. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway, take Torrance Blvd. west to the foot of the pier and the parking lot.

Manhattan Beach Pier — No report this month. How To Get There: From Sepulveda Boulevard, turn west on Manhattan Beach Drive and follow it to the pier.

Hermosa Beach Pier — No report this month How To Get There: Take the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) to Pier Avenue and follow Pier Avenue west to the pier.

Venice Pier — No report this month Get There: Highway 1 to Washington St., turn west and follow Washington St. to the pier.

Santa Monica Pier — Unable to get through for a report. How to Get There: From I-405 take Santa Monica Blvd. west to Ocean Ave. Turn left, go to Colorado Ave., and turn right onto the pier.

Malibu Pier — Ginny at Wylie’s Bait & Tackle (18757 Pacific Coast Hwy Malibu) said the pier has seen fair fishing with some mackerel and a few small perch and leopard sharks but not much else. Thresher action should be heating up but usually June 1 is about the time it starts up. How To Get There: The pier fronts on the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) so just drive until you see it.

Paradise Cove Pier — Ginny at Wylie’s Bait & Tackle (18757 Pacific Coast Hwy Malibu) said anglers report a variety of fish including quite a few halibut, some kelp bass, an unusual black rockfish, and bat rays. How To Get There: Take Highway 1 to Paradise Cove Dr., turn west, and follow the road back into the parking lot. It’s very expensive unless you buy a meal at the restaurant and then you are allowed to fish for, I think, three hours.

Ventura & Santa Barbara County Piers

Port Hueneme Pier — Boyd Larson at Hyun’s Tackle, 3695 E Harbor Blvd. Ventura, said jacksmelt, mackerel and small perch should be available. How To Get There: From Highway 1 take Hueneme Rd. west until it turns into Port. At Ventura Rd turn left and follow it to Surfside Dr. Turn left again and follow it to the park.

Ventura Pier — Boyd Larson at Hyun’s Tackle, 3695 E Harbor Blvd., said the barred surfperch action inshore is really good while walleye surfperch, yellowfin, and spotfin croaker also add to the mix. For all of these use lugworms, blood worms, or sand crabs (which are available if you dig down next to the pilings at the start of the pier). Blackperch aka buttermouth are showing down around the pilings. Queenfish are starting to show all along the pier and with them come the halibut and many have been taken including five keepers this past week. Smelt and sardines are showing mid-pier to the end but mackerel action remains slow. Sharay action is still slow although there are a lot of thornback rays and there were two confirmed hookups with thresher sharks this week. How To Get There: From Highway 101 take the Seaward Drive exit west to Harbor Drive, turn right and follow it to the pier.

Stearns Wharf — Ben Miller at Hook Line & Sinker, 4010-5 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, reports a really good bite on mackerel at the pier along with lesser numbers of sardines. Sounds like it’s non-stop on the mackerel. However, he says it is slow on the bottom species, [perch and halibut). There do continue to be good numbers of crabs taken at the pier. Boyd Larson at Hyun’s Tackle, 3695 E Harbor Blvd. in Ventura, said the afternoon bite has been on fire for sardines and mackerel while jacksmelt, shinerperch and sanddabs are available throughout the day. Halibut are available but mainly on the finger pier behind the Sea Center. He says if you want a halibut use live bait or drag/troll an anchovy along the bottom. Crabs also remain in high numbers, both rock crabs and spider carb. Do remember that is you use a raised crab hoop net you need to get a new $2.42 crab trap card. How To Get There: From Highway 101 take Castillo St. or State St. west to the beach and follow signs to the pier.

Goleta Pier — Ben Miller at Hook Line & Sinker, 4010-5 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, reports that Goleta has been the star of local piers. Excellent action on several species and nice variety. Inshore some corbina have shown up including a 17 ½-inch fish while barred surfperch are also found in fair numbers. Inshore to mid-pier sees a lot of halibut although most have been shorts while perch are caught by the pilings. The end is producing both Pacific and Spanish mackerel but not quite as many as at Stearns. The pipe reef, as usual is producing a lot of small rockfish along with some bass and other fish. Boyd Larson at Hyun’s Tackle, 3695 E Harbor Blvd. in Ventura, said Goleta has been on fire with lots of fish and lots of variety. Inshore good numbers of barred surfperch are showing in the afternoon, big perch to 15-inches. Inshore and shallow water areas are also producing halibut, about five a day with many keepers, while Boyd caught a 31-inch white seabass in the same inshore area. Perch are also being caught, mainly by the pilings—blackperch, walleye and shinerperch, with mussels and shrimp being the best bait. Both small and large queenfish are showing under the pier (which attract halibut). The pipe reef (west of the pier where you see kelp) is producing the usual small brown rockfish but also kicking out some grass rockfish, olive rockfish, kelp bass, cabezon, and legal-size sheephead with mussels being the best bait. Meanwhile the end area is producing mackerel in the afternoon as well as sardines off and. Boyd said he also caught an unusual 10” Pacific herring that was a little too far south from its normal grounds. As far as the sharays, Boyd said quite a few shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) and leopard sharks have been taken along with some 7-gill sharks. One of the 7-gill sharks was huge and even the combined effort of a group of anglers couldn’t get it up onto the pier. Last but not least are small squid that are making an appearance some nights, not a lot but enough to keep it interesting. How To Get There: From Highway 101 take the Hwy. 217/Airport exit. Follow it to Sandspit Rd. and the Goleta Beach Park turnoff. Follow this to the park and the pier.

Gaviota Pier — The pier has now been closed for eight years—and counting. Beginning to wonder if it will ever reopen. So much for state government and the California Parks Dept.!!! How To Get There: From Highway 101 simply take the Gaviota State Park turnoff down to the beach and pier.


Active Member
Goleta Pier:
Saturday, April 9th: A good number of sardines and mackerel in the water at end, caught a bunch.
Sunday, April 24th: Pelagic bait had gone but saw a really nice ~15" barred surfperch landed from the breakers at sunset.


Well-Known Member
I went to Shelter Island pier last Saturday. It was a very slow fishing day. I saw a decent sized shovelnose guitar fish caught. Small rays being caught on bait (anchovy).

I had no luck using shrimp. Switched to jigheads and plastic and no action either. I spent some time mid pier, the end, and the area between the pier and floating dock.

The environment there is very chill.


Well-Known Member
I'll be at San Clemente pier early AM on 5/7... Well, that's the plan anyway. Hopefully arrive between 5 and 6 AM. BTW, the snack bar/bait shop is still closed. Apparently it is going to undergo a remodel and update done by the same group that did the mid-pier bathrooms...


Well-Known Member
Me too. Coming down to make a couple of videos. Plan to be at the Crystal Pier and possibly the Ocean Beach Pier but I always make a point to check out the Shelter Island Pier.
I'm going to be fishing in SD now. So I plan to check out OB, Pacific, and Crystal pier. Since I have a license I want to surf fish more often though.
Imperial Beach pier has been getting less and less fisherman friendly. The surf zone is usually blocked off to fishing even though no one surfs or swims there and surfing and swimming isn't allowed within ~75 feet of the pier. Thats about the first 1/3 of the length of the pier. The end, around the restaurant is closed to fishing so that the restaurant can have people eat outside(remaining legacy of the 'vid). Now the local government is coming up with BS reasons to keep it closed forever. Coincidentally the mayors wife claims she was harrassed by anglers catcalling her or something behind the restaurant so they are using that to justify keeping it closed to fishing. I'll put money on it that that did not happen and somebody is lining somebody's pocket. I don't go out of my way to go fish there now and will not be patronizing the restaurant. The surf zone and the end are the best producing spots. I was there on Fri afternoon and saw 1 croaker, 2 mackerel and 3-5 smelt caught in about 3 hours throughout the whole pier


Well-Known Member
Went to Crystal Pier the action was mostly quiet. Some mackerel were caught but in small size and it was infrequent.

The waves at Crystal Pier can get really intense. Lost about 5-7 lures / rigs.