Remembering the Isle of Redondo.

Ken Jones

Staff member
I only fished from the barge Isle of Redondo once, on August 17, 1982, and did not have what I considered a successful trip (since I was really hoping for more rockfish) but it was still a fun time. We left the dock at 6 p.m., fished from 6:30-11, and arrived back at 11:30 p.m. The catch: 48 Pacific mackerel. 2 vermilion rockfish and 1 squarespot rockfish.

Isle of Redondo 10.jpg


Open-Ocean Barge Hooks Fishermen : Anglers Feel Lure of Isle of Redondo

June 01, 1986 |GEORGE STEIN | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

A lazy, hazy day of fishing may not have the glitz appeal of a night out in Tinseltown, but for folks who like the smell of salt air, the reek of bait and the tug of a fish on the line, the Isle of Redondo has an appeal of its own.

The Isle, the sole survivor of a fleet of stationary fishing platforms that were anchored in the open ocean off Southern California, opened its season Saturday and demonstrated the special attraction it has for fishermen from San Fernando to Anaheim.

For many of the first anglers to board the Isle, it was a pre-dawn awakening and a fast trip along vacant freeways to Redondo Beach to make the 7 a.m. departure.

In Glendale, Juan Duran, 25, a chemical company driver, felt the Isle's magnetic pull at 4:30 a.m. as he wolfed down a big breakfast that his wife had fixed for him. She asked if she should plan fish for supper. "No, I might not catch anything," Duran told her.

Meanwhile, throughout Southern California, 82 other fishermen--a cultural cross section including a Palos Verdes Estates lawyer, a retired Air Force colonel from Anaheim, a thin black kid from Wilmington, a hefty security guard from Artesia, a father and son from Panorama City, a group of Armenian anglers from Pasadena and Glendale, a construction worker from San Fernando--headed for Redondo Beach as well.

Aboard the Isle, as poles began bobbing with fish, the catch varied as widely as the fishermen.

Matt Matsumoto, 52, an unemployed Silver Lake resident, was one of the first to haul in a fish--a ling cod measuring just over 22 inches.

"That's amazing!" commented barge master Mark Willey, 19. "I haven't seen one of them out here in a long time." Barge master Randy Mansfield, who was watching, confided that he was happy merely to see something caught alive with fins. "The first day you're always a little frightened," he said.

A few caught spiny little rock cod--"Ta dah!" announced retired Air Force Col. C. Edward Shepherd as he held up a four-incher--and several took in sea bass. But, as expected, mackerel made most of the action Saturday.

The sea was calm and the barge's catamaran hull rode easily on the little swells that rolled across the ocean.

But it was not always so. Older, less-safe ships went to the bottom regularly in the old days.

"Years ago," longtime barge operator Frank Hale recalled, "there were barges off of Malibu, off of Venice, off Santa Monica, off Ocean Park, off Redondo Beach--every harbor had a barge.

"Back in the early '20s, they put the old sailing vessels off there. You could buy them for nothing. You get a water taxi and you were in business. There was no regulation, no nothing. The good days. On those days, they wouldn't dry dock them and paint them and the worms would get them. The bad weather would come and they would wash ashore. Then they would go back and get another one."

Tragedies Recalled

Hale recalled that before World War II, several people aboard the Olympic were killed when a Japanese freighter plowed into the old sailing vessel, which anchored over the Horseshoe kelp bed, a well-known fishing ground dangerously close to the shipping lanes into Long Beach harbor.

And he remembered the wild April day in 1951 when the Retriever and Bud Uhler went under."We couldn't get him off. We tried," Hale said.

The wind was howling at more than gale force and waves 15 feet high tossed around the 65-foot rescue boat like a child's bathtub toy, he recalled. The Coast Guard tried and also failed to make a rescue. In the morning, the Retriever was on the bottom and Uhler's body, still wearing a life jacket and life preserver, had washed up on the shores of Redondo Beach.

'We Took a Gamble' — On Dec. 2, 1968, the Sacramento--the world's largest fishing barge, an 89-year-old vessel that used to ferry commuters across San Francisco Bay--sank two miles off Redondo Beach where the Isle of Redondo now anchors.

"We took a calculated gamble--that we wouldn't have a very serious winter storm--and lost," said Jack Baker, who ran the barge operation then.

In winds of 30 knots and seas of eight feet, Baker piloted the boat that took the crew and fishing passengers off the Sacramento.

"Passengers were hanging over the side throwing up. The crew wanted to stay aboard but I would not permit it," he said. "It was getting dangerous. The wind was increasing steadily." The storm intensified during the night and sank the barge.

Nowadays, the Coast Guard insists on strict safety regulations. The 534-ton Isle of Redondo, which was built in 1980, is inspected as a passenger vessel, and its owners moor it in sheltered waters during the stormy winter months. The Southland's only other fishing barge, Frank Hale's Annie B., is anchored full time in the sheltered waters of Long Beach Harbor.

The tight regulations have led to safer operations but, Baker and Hale said, they are also responsible for the collapse of the barge fleet as the expense of meeting them grew too costly.

The excitement aboard the Isle these days is tamer than fighting winter storms. It's all in the fishing.

After an hour, Juan Duran had something to show his wife. He had caught a 3 1/2-pound sea bass--the biggest fish yet landed.

"I'm going to eat it tonight," he said.

I never had any idea of the concept of barges existing off So Cal coast for fishing - thanks for sharing this. Curious how much did it cost to fish off this barge?

Ken Jones

Staff member
My first barge fishing trip was on the "Georgia" that ran from the Newport Pier. It was on June 2, 1962 and cost the princely sum of $4.00. Fishing was very slow and somehow I caught a yellowfin croaker.


My next barge fishing trip was on the "California" out of the Redondo Beach Pier, an all night trip with my son. We left the pier at 7 p.m., fished 7:30-5 a.m., and were back at the pier at about 6 a.m. It was a great night with 54 bocaccio, 14 Pacific mackerel. 5 sablefish,1 rosethorn rockfish, 1 blue rockfish, and one white croaker, We were fishing deep-water by the canyon. I'm not sure of the cost but I think it was around $7. No picture.

Next up was the trip discussed above on the "Isle of Redondo in 1982.

The last trip on a barge was on the "Anne-B" on May 16-17, 1988. I took a group of my high school students on the barge that ran from the Port of Call in San Pedro (where we caught the boat to the barge), the Belmont Pier, and the Seal Beach Pier. I don't remember the cost but the fishing was once again slow—11 queenfish, 9 white croaker and one Pacific mackerel.

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Shortly thereafter barge fishing ended along the coast. Most of the barges were simply old boats (some really old boats) that were no longer useful for their previous service and were simply converted into fishing boats. In some areas they were nearly as popular as the Sportfishing boats that ran from the same piers.

Ken Jones

Staff member
More barges ran from the Redondo Beach Pier over the years than any other pier.

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The "Sacramento"


The "Lahaina"

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The "New California"


The "Olympic"


The "Rex" was offically a fishing barge but got into trouble when it began to allow gambling on the boat.

Memories for sure. I fished both the Redondo and Annie B with my father and grandfather. Great times. Almost always fresh bait and good galley food. We had quite a few bonito runs on the Annie B and a few yellowtail off the redondo from time to time. Mainly mackerel though and sand bass tossing towards the breakwall. Miss those days. Good ol Jed Welsh was on the Annie B a couple times we were aboard.


Senior Member
I moved to Los Angeles in 1979 and did not know anything about the piers or the barges close-by.

I was mostly fishing for trout in Sierras until one day walking on the Manhattan Pier and seeing the fisherman.
It was then when I switched to piers and discovered "" website.
Rest is history.