Pier Fishing In California Website 25 Years Old — Evolution of Pier Fishing In California

Ken Jones

Staff member
(Not sure the year of this thread but perhaps 2007, the tenth anniversary of the site. A somewhat wild and wacky thread)​

“Da Rats made me do it”

Pier Fishing in California: the Book, Website, Message Board, and way of life.

Da “Rats” made me do it! When I first collected a few of the PFIC threads and thought of a book, I sent copies to some of the regulars. Their response—you need more about yourself in the book and though I saw this as a book about them they expected me to write additional thoughts.

I suppose every old scholar has had the experience of reading something in a book that was significant to him; but which he could never find again. Sure he is that he read it there, but no one else ever read it, nor can he find it again, though he buy the book and ransack every page.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Actions and unintended consequences. You can change the term unintended to unforeseen, unexpected, inadvertent and whatever additional adjectives can be found in a Thesaurus. Actions produce consequences, sometime good, sometime bad, and often the consequences are totally unexpected. Such was the evolution of Pier Fishing In California from being a simple little book about pier fishing into a heavily used website, a “tome-like” second edition, and a series of books resulting from that same website including this book—The Pier Rats Speak.

It began simply enough in late 1980 when I decided to write a book about fishing in the Bay Area. I owned a small coffee shop in Boonville, up in the Redwood Country of Mendocino County, and found myself writing an occasional magazine article about fishing. At the time I fished the whole panoply of the area’s piscatorial offerings. Frequent were the journeys early in the morning to catch a boat for salmon or rockcod. A little more leisurely was the journey over the hill to Manchester and Point Arena for some surf, rock or pier fishing. Still though, pier fishing was my passion and had been since 1962 when I first began to fish Newport Pier. Unfortunately there were not enough piers along the Mendocino-Sonoma coast to fill the pages needed for a book. Luckily I had a backup, or so I thought.

I had lived in Pinole in the East Bay part of San Francisco Bay Area for ten years and had fished on most of the Bay Area piers. There were certainly enough piers in that area to substantiate a book. I had the records of all my fishing trips, had the time to do some research, and found out that the research included fishing. What more do you need? Soon I was typing away (yes, this was before computers made the job oh so much easier). And yes, I needed to make frequent trips down to the bay for research. The task was to visit every pier and to fish them a multiple number of times so that I could truly become acquainted with the fish of each pier. Tough job but someone had to do it.

Soon the fishing (research) was done and by early in 1982 I had a manuscript styled somewhat similar to Ray Cannon’s old book Fishing the Pacific, a favorite book of mine when I was growing up.

There was only one slight problem, another book—Mike Hayden’s Bay Area Piers—happened to hit the bookstores first. There was no need for two books limited to Bay Area piers and I kicked myself for not finishing the book a little earlier.

The manuscript went into the office file and there it set for many years. However, in 1988 I began to reconsider doing a book; this time it would be about the piers of the entire state. I had lived in Orange County for several of my early high school years. While there I had fished the piers of Orange County and a few in Los Angeles. I had then moved to San Diego and soon was fishing the piers in that county. When I moved from San Diego to the Bay Area in 1979 my folks were still in San Diego. That meant several trips each year down to San Diego and a chance to visit and fish the Central Coast piers during the journey. Almost by chance I had fished the piers in almost every part of the state.

Something made the light turn on and I realized it would not be that hard to expand my original book into a true statewide book. This of course required additional research (and fishing) on the piers along the coast, but I made the sacrifice. Finally, late in the summer of 1991, I finished the manuscript before leaving on yet another pier hoppin’ trip down the coast to San Diego. I submitted the manuscript to two publishers the Friday I left on the trip—with little actual expectation of success. Everyone said a new, independent, unpublished author should expect MANY, MANY rejections before possibly finding a publisher who would want your book. That was assuming a publisher actually wanted the book.

Upon arriving home two weeks later I was startled to see a letter and a contract from the owner and publisher of Marketscope Books. He wanted to publish the book. I, of course, was in shock but soon signed the contract and we began the process of revision and change (including a name change) to meet the format he desired. That book became Pier Fishing in California, 1st Edition, the name being chosen to match several other books the publisher had in a series—Bass Fishing in California, Trout Fishing in California, Saltwater Fishing in California and Freshwater Fishing in California. The 214-page Pier Fishing in California was published in 1992 and soon two beautiful wall mountings of the cover were installed—one at my home office and one in my classroom for all my students to see.

There I thought the matter would end except for two things. The first was my frustration that most fishing groups and publications routinely ignored piers and pier fishing. Rarely if ever did you even see a mention about pier fishermen although I knew that they were a large percentage of California’s saltwater fishermen. The second important fact was the use of the Internet and the plethora or new sites—many that were fishing sites—that were showing up. None were pier fishing sites.

However, I had little money to hire an expensive web designer and even less knowledge about or access to such a person in the hills of Anderson Valley. But fate or something awful close stepped in. I had begun to teach at the high school in Boonville in 1987 and one day one of my students approached me with an idea for a site. Martel DuVigneaud was that student and he was and is (in my opinion) a wizard on computers. In fact, he was the student that the computer teacher would go to with her questions. After lengthy talks we decided to launch Pier Fishing in California, the web site, and Martel’s handiwork became a site in February of 1997. It was a unique site, a visually appealing site, and really had only one minor drawback, a terrible address.

Pier Fishing in California
A web site dedicated to the regulars (pier rats) who fish on California's piers!


Initially, the site had a series of pages—Monthly Fish Report, Pier of the Month, Fish of the Month, Fish Picture Page (for bragging by viewers), Tackle Tips (by Ron Crandall), a Links Page and a monthly page of emails and discussion I had with viewers.

From Day One I had said I wanted the site to be free of advertising even though eventually I would have a merchandise page offering T-shirts, hats, cloth reel covers, and a fish hat rack made by a friend. But no advertising on the pages and a clean looking site.

However, students get older and leave school, as did Martel. Although he continued to do the site I needed a new Webmaster. Happenstance (or fate) put me together with Rich Reano in the summer of 1999. I had traveled to San Diego and while there called up Rich who was the regular reporter for the Ferry Landing Pier. Would he like to have lunch? It was the least I could do as thanks for his help. Over lunch we discussed fishing, the site, his ideas, and the fact that Martel would soon be leaving. Although it turned out Rich worked in the computer business, I was totally surprised when I returned home and found a letter from Rich. He was interested in being the Webmaster and immediately was offered the job.


Soon there were new, beautifully designed graphics and within a few months the addition that would become so important—a message board that today has seen literally hundreds of thousands of threads on almost every conceivable pier fishing topic and many that have no relation to pier fishing, fishing, or almost anything that a normal fishing message board has. It was and is the most visited page on the site and eventually gave impetus to the series of books titled The Pier Rats Speak (unpublished).


Over the years the site has won several awards but perhaps the one of which I am most proud is its ratings in a book called Fishing Online: 1,000 Best Web Sites written by Craig Buddo and published in 2004. Although 1,000 sites scattered throughout the world would seem to be a lot of sites, his scale for judging was quite high. PFIC was one of 18 sites considered the best “Best Saltwater Fishing Sites,” one of the 20 “Best California Sites” (which even included newspaper sites) and one of 12 sites commended for “Better Forums”— California, Freshwater and Saltwater. When I looked at the sites that didn’t make the list I was even more impressed with the job Rich had done.

In a post on the message board that I made announcing the selection, I said the following: “According to the author... he rejected over 10,000 sites while keeping the 1,000 or so in the book. Of these, 310 received a “top rated” classification based upon: (1) good numbers of general articles or coverage of specialist topics; (2) up-to-date fishing reports and news; (3) good online tools and resources for trip planning; (4) pleasing design and regular maintenance. And, he said there are literally hundreds of broken-down fishing sites clogging up the WEB.” Proud then, proud now.

In 2003 the concerns about pier anglers being under represented led to the formation of United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC). It has become the primarily voice of California’s inshore fishermen and I was honored by being chosen as the first president of the organization. Even though there is a specific upsac.org website, the PFIC message board continues to be the best conduit of information about that organization.

It was followed by the publication of Pier Fishing in California, 2nd Ed. in 2004, a 516-page opus that was updated and expanded. Included were several stories and pictures from the web site and even a section of threads from the PFIC message board.

Over the past decade the message board has perhaps been the main attraction that keeps the regulars coming back. Some faces do change, some questions have been asked and answered hundreds of times, and some people question the wisdom of posting favorite spots given the Internet and cell phone. Nevertheless, it seems the site always retains a core group of literate, knowledgeable anglers. Flames are (usually) kept at a minimum, obscenity is banned (as are posts about other types of fishing, at least on the main message board), and the site remains a one that can be viewed by expert or beginner, young and old.

Of course the fishing reports and tackle tips can sometimes get boring so, the topics can at times drift off into some strange directions.The following thread was the result of a response to a now forgotten post and help explain why I titled this introduction—“Da Rats made me do it.” Like it or not I’m da “Poppa Pier Rat” and feel many of the various threads—and the pier rats who made the threads come alive—deserve to be honored and remembered.

Date: November 16, 2005
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Ken Jones
Subject: Which sounds better (in response to your comments)?

“Kenny J and the UPSAC Playahz”? or “Jonesy and the What-UPSAC Dogs”

Posted by baitfish... LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I gotta go with Jonesy and the What-UPSAC Dogs
Adam. Support UPSAC and help preserve pier and shore fishing for future generations.

Posted by Red Fish — Either Will Work But you have to change it to Ken-J or KJ and whomever. Kenny J or Jonesy sounds a little too Will Smith and I think you are a lot more hardcore than that, LOL

Posted by eelmaster — Kenny J! Very Hunters Point. Are you signed to GLP?
Monte, Support the UPSAC

Posted by Ken Jones — GLP? Is my age showing?

Posted by eelmaster — Na, more of a post for 20 somethings. GLP was a small indi label (out of Hunters Point) started in the early 90's. It went on to gain a distribution deal with Interscope records, giving it national distribution and main stream radio play. It also helped to break the mold, from a production standpoint, by producing instrumentals utilizing Korg Synth rather than ASR's that had been the main stay for sampled production. Anyway, way off topic. But I thought a few folks would find the comment funny.

Posted by Ken Jones — Korg Synth, ASR's: new species of fish?

Posted by eelmaster —ASR Artistic Shark Rigs...Korg: Ken Obviously Reels in Ganstas

Posted by baitfish — A Salmon Released? A shark 'Rangled

Posted by Red Fish — Are you an A&R person Eelmaster???? (A&R) Artist and Repetoire [someone that cultivates new talent for a record label]. Or, have you been hanging in the hood!! As, you almost caught me with all those acronyms; but not quite. Ken, most people from the streets wouldn't necessarily know those acronyms, so, you are not out of touch. The only reason I know them, is because I used to be involved with the Bay Area record industry second-hand (as far as rap music and hip-hop). Okay, easy one: (GLP) is the Get Low Playaz a clique of rappers as a collective from Hunters Point (you know where you like to fish at Evans Ken; People like JT the Bigga Figga, his cousin, San Quinn and Rappin' 4-Tay , plus a few more. They are pretty much "old" now and new-blood is on the horizon. Okay, you got me at first with this (ASR) thing but it obviously must stand for All Sampled Record as interpreted by context and the reference to an old, old, keyboard, the mono-phonic mini-moog, later manufactured by Korg that is used to play bass-line melodies. Class dismissed!!!!!! Red Fish

Posted by eelmaster — Agressive and Rude? That's me! Na, man. Not an A&R guy. Former musician and wannabe producer. Somehow corprate America pays better. ha! BTW ASR= ASR10 was a popular sampler for Hip Hop producers back in the dizzle.

Posted by santa — Jonesy an da Waz-UPSAC Dogs

Posted by unclesteve —Heavy K and da Boys heh... bored at a training seminar right now. — K UNIT, K JONES W/ AN ATTITUDE
Fishing — It's a Lifestyle

Posted by dompfa ben — How bout DJ Jazzy Jones? Although I'm voting for Jeff's What UP, SAC??
Less drama...more DOMPFA!

Posted by unclesteve —DJ Jazzy Jones & Da Fresh Fish?

Posted by baitchucker — K Dizzy Jay - Fo SHIZZLE!!!

Posted by StripeSideChaser — Papa Rat and da boyz?

Posted by StripeSideChaser — Da Papa Rat Posse!

Such is the message board—irreverent, often off topic, sometimes way above my head — and fun.

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Ken Jones

Staff member
I know looking back can be dangerous but it dawned on me today that February of 2022 is the 25th anniversary year of PFC and I don't think to many fishing sites can make that claim.

We've seen three totally different looks to the site over the years, and a lot of the original members have moved on to different sites, but it's still my baby and if nothing else I think we have preserved the original goal of helping anglers improve their knowledge of angling. I also think we have done so in a family friendly manner. We no longer have the number of PFIC registered members we once had, and we see FAR FEWER fishing reports, but I know that many, many people still watch the site and I hope they use what they see to become better anglers.


Well-Known Member
Wow I'm impressed with Red Fish's Bay Area Hip Hop knowledge. Never got that involved in the scene to know what he is referring to but it all sounds legit to me!
I know looking back can be dangerous but it dawned on me today that February of 2022 is the 25th anniversary year of PFC and I don't think to many fishing sites can make that claim.

We've seen three totally different looks to the site over the years, and a lot of the original members have moved on to different sites, but it's still my baby and if nothing else I think we have preserved the original goal of helping anglers improve their knowledge of angling. I also think we have done so in a family friendly manner. We no longer have the number of PFIC registered members we once had, and we see FAR FEWER fishing reports, but I know that many, many people still watch the site and I hope they use what they see to become better anglers.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'

Bob Dylan

'Twas ever thus. This site emerged at a perfect moment in cyber history. Personal computers had migrated from nerd rooms to living rooms (thanks to breakthrough o/s by both Windows and Macintosh) and AOL made it simple to access the Internet, which in turn feasted on the trend and grew enormous. It was a wide open time for Usernet and creativity, and having your own website was fun and often informative. Early social networking focused on positive data, sharing knowledge instead of spreading venom.

I had already purchased the orange-covered PFIC book (a gem; a masterpiece) and found the website literally moments after we bought a pc for our household. I contacted Ken Jones and we had some excellent email conversations. He introduced me to A Word A Day, an enjoyable resource that augmented my vocabulary. Then I became a message board member and was fortunate enough to contribute and (more importantly) learn from and share a fellowship of like-minded anglers. I've witnessed (and testified!) all three message boards. So many names, so many moved on or passed away. Then again, time itself has moved on considerably in 25 years. Our culture has changed; attitudes are different and ethics are subject to convenient revision. There are a myriad fishing channels on video, and message boards like this are shrinking. It's only Progress and it's inevitable; you always get the good with the bad. I still put up the occasional fishing report, but I am apprehensive about angling spots getting overrun and littered, if not fished out. Even so, I do enjoy the reports here (mostly from the other California) and admire the eagerness with which they are posted. New generations...

Happy Anniversary, Ken. Well done!
Ken, pier rats will eventually return to piers again when they retire from kayaking, boating, and cliff climbing to remote rock fishing spots. Congratulations on 25 years educating the pier rat nation.