Boyd's Pier Rat Autobiography — Pier Rat Name: PierHead
Personal Information And Occupation:
Born under the sign of Sagittarius in Santa Barbara, CA mid WW2. Spent my formative years under the cloud' of the atomic bomb — the good nuns did their best to comply with the mandatory duck & cover drills without unduly alarming their younger charges but it left a lasting impression of how temporary and insecure all life is - my outlook is clearly Carpe Diem (seize the day). And fishing became my escape from 'adult' reality as well as my entry into the world of nature.
During the early 60's I attended UCSB off and on while exploring first the civil rights movement and later the free speech and anti-war movements. Attended the Joan Baez Institute of Non-Violence in Carmel Valley; read Thoreau and Gandhi; practiced meditation and Yoga; hitchhiked the Big Sur coast and lived in a commune. Got lost in the haze of the Summer of Love and re-emerged in 1969 as a social worker in post-riot East and Central L.A. after completing my B.A. in Religious Studies.
By the mid 70's I was married and living the 'good life' in the new planned community of Mission Viejo. By the end of that decade I was divorced and living in Mammoth Lakes with my young son and trying to run the welfare department there in an increasingly hostile small-town atmosphere. Returned to LA to manage several restaurants and other pick-up jobs until signing on for a 20 year rollercoaster ride at GTE in customer service and sales. Retired in 2000 and now working nights as a DSL equipment installer doing contract work for Verizon in their central offices. Still unmarried and enjoying it! But if the right person came along I could easily assume the title of the Old Fisherman with the Catch of His Life.
Years of Hardcore Fishing:
13. Prior to my father's passing in 1989 fishing was more of an escape than an active exploration. I had been estranged >from my parents since my marriage - I had made a poor choice for a life's companion and found it hard to admit. In early 1989 I called my father (my mother had died some time before) to effect a reconciliation and invited him to go fishing with his grandson and myself. But when we got there we found him on the kitchen floor felled by a stroke. I still remember opening the refrigerator later that day and seeing the bait he had prepared for us to use. And the memories of a childhood filled with fishing adventures came flooding back along with the tears of regret for the estrangement. I returned to SB to take care of him until his death later that year but, due to his incapacity, we never fished together again. After the funeral my family and I went to Goleta Pier and soaked some bait in his memory. From that moment on I found myself filled with a desire to take fishing seriously...
First Memories Of Fishing:
My first fishing trip was with my Dad and my two younger (twin) brothers around 1950. He took us down to Stearn's Wharf in SB after spending the previous evening sitting around the kitchen table with him learning how to clean the poles and reline the reels that he hadn't had much chance to use following his marriage (5 children — 4 living at that time) some 15 years earlier. Stearn's, in the 50's, had an abalone processing plant right at the end of the pier with an enormous pile of discarded shells and big buckets of guts. There was also an anchovy offloading siphon pipe with a large fish-spilling tear in the side that chummed live bait into the water below. We could hardly contain ourselves and Dad reigned us in a very forceful manner for 'our own good' — my ears burned for the rest of the day from that first lesson in pier safety! We caught a full gunnysack of what he called horse mackerel — enormous fish at least 24” in length. I was hooked. From that day on it was a weekly ritual to go fishing. On my own block alone there were 10 boys and 4 girls — quite a sight as we paraded the two miles down to the Wharf on our bikes with fishing poles in hand.
Favorite Piers (And Why):
Stearn's Wharf and Goleta Pier. My boyhood was spent at the Wharf... it was where my father had first fished with his father and where my maternal grandfather had his lumber company in the 20's. And fishing at Goleta for halibut had become my father's favorite form of outdoor recreation as my mother's incapacity increased during her final years. But, in actuality, any wooden pier anywhere on the coast. In fact it was my fascination with wooden piers that led me to pierfishing.com... I had wanted to write a book documenting the history and social import of wooden piers in honor of my father. Of course the first hit on the search engine was this site! Needless to say the book had already been written by the master himself. Finding this site completed a circle that had been broken by the estrangement and my father's death ... I felt like I had been reunited with the fishing community. In jimbojack's words: 'Like coming home'.
The first fish of any new species! My first halibut — lost around the pilings at Stearn's wharf when I was 9. The 5# Bass at Cachuma Lake taken on a Black Bomber at twilight in a secluded cove shortly after my mother's last call for supper during the summer of my 10th year. The 3.5# cabezon that tumbled me off the riprap and initiated me into the Rincon Rock Diver's Club. A 3# Calico Bass which nailed a frozen anchovy floating on the top of the kelp reef at Goleta before I had a chance to recast. The 3 10#+ Shovelnose caught in a two hour period off the end of the Goleta Pier. My son's first fish memorialized in papier-mâché by his 4th grade teacher. My granddaughter's sand dab caught at Goleta. And last, but not least... the salamander fished out of the creek behind Mission Santa Barbara using a bent pin and a berry from a pyracantha bush when I was 7... my first successful catch!
Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (And Why):
Every trip is memorable in some way — especially now that I am approaching my 6th decade! It used to be that the memories were created by the fish caught but in the last 3-4 years I'm noticing that people are increasingly at the center of those memories. I've always done poorly with names but since making an effort by introducing myself and keeping a list of the names that I have accumulated there are almost 20 people who I recognize at Goleta alone — not to mention the increasing number of Pier Rats I am running into. But overall — I have to say the Catalina Get Together 2002 is my most fondest memory to date. And apparently I am not alone in that given the number and nature of posts on the subject since our return!
Words Of Wisdom For Pier Rats:
There is more to fishing than catching... slow down and enjoy the whole of creation. You only go around once.
Boyd at our first Catalina Get Together in 2002.