San Leandro Marina drama?

So I spent the weekend fishing San Leandro Marina.Saturday & most of Sunday we fished by the pole holders along shore. Ppl were catching sharks...smooth hounds & leopards...good sized ones too. High tide & low tide,didnt matter. The folks fishing there & the activities remind me of Monterey Wharf when Mackeral are thick fits in my catagory I call "Party Piers". The oh so lovely smell of the kindest green tattoos the air & the clanking of glass bottles getting dropped in a plastic bucket....the excitement that follows the words "Fish on". I am completely comfortable . My new favorite pier? Its possible. Then one after another these youngsters in little racer cars come thru the parking lot & lite em up doin donuts in 2 particular spots in the parking lot. Then they leave. Well Im not surprised. This area of the Bay Area is infamous for sideshows & such. The donuts continued til after 10pm. Then Sunday afternoon we are BBQing for my birthday, theres familys & children & the Party Pier was waiting for night to hit. So I see a cop posted up in the far corner. I see little racer cars come in eager to leave rubber marks in those same 2 spots but that cop is donut blocking & so they leave. This one cop was there into the late night leaving every so often to do a round over by the little pier & back like a mall security guard spends their day doing. We moved over to the little pier around 8pm. I sat in our truck setting up my line & observing the cop & racers. And once that cop was out of sight to do a round some crazy racer would quickly do a donut, screaching tires & filling the air with toxic smoke & poof! They were gone by the time the cop could get there. And nvr did the Partiers hide the herb or bottles frm the cops as they drove by. They know the cops are not there for them....its those racers. I decide I am no longer comfortable fishing there & we leave. I live in San Jose so I go fishing to get away from the drama. I dont like having to watch my back more than I watch my pole.

So whats up with all this? Theres so much more than just racers corrupting this fishing spot that you could easily get caught up in the wrong place wrong time & end up catching a case or something.

Its disappointing because its not us fishermen who are blowing up a great spot. Soon the cops, the city is going to get tired of it & end up closing it at sundown or even worse....closing it to all activity but walking thru. Us fishermen respect where we fish becuase we know if we trash the place,disrespect neighbors & businesses or put ppl in harms way by being careless that we are only giving ppl a reason to shut dwn our fishing spot. A few of my favorite South Bay lakes have been closed to fishing for these very reasons.

I dont get what the reason is to do donuts right efing there! What is the big deal?!? If you interfere with my hobby it must be ok if I interfere with your pointless donut hobby then too right?!? I just dont get it...

Red Fish

Senior Member
But the bay area lakes & piers are not all that bad. Oyster point, pacifica pier, sierra point & sandy wool lake in milpitas after a trout stock can get a tad thugish though. Maybe sometimes quarry lakes in fremont
I have fished all those areas at one time or another save SWL. The idea is to pick the time to go to certain places. Sunday afternoon is/has always been full of families at SLM. Weeknights, if you can swing it, are the best. Otherwise, I would go to places like Bay Farm Island where I can catch the same stuff and more without the nonsense.
For instance, I have been at SLM in the dead of winter catching stuff... too cold for fools..
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What's your story about ARW? I've never had any issues there.

I have a feeling this is going to be good.
Oh wow! Well 1st yrs ago some youngster(early 20s) was murdered by a gang member. Theres RIP graffitti at the beggining of the wall. And i have heard a few stories of ppl getting jacked for their gear there. One guy wouldnt give up his gear so they got huge chunks of concrete & smashed his car all up. I nvr found out if he ended up with his gear or not. But i heard thats why it closes at sundown now. The parking lot is perfect for robbing ppl being its so secluded & not really any lights. Plus ppl over there are less likely to get involved if they saw something. No one wants to be a target
What's your story about ARW? I've never had any issues there.

I have a feeling this is going to be good.
Ive nvr personally had any problems but then again I dont exactly look like Id be too easy to rob. Plus my fiance has got the whole dont-mess-with-me, prison tattoos, good-luck-if-u-try-anything persona goin on. Not to mention our best fishing 90lb blue nose is always with me or in my car waiting for me.Also we are always ready to um deer hunt if it comes dwn to it. Now adays its smarter to have the ability to protect u & your family than not.


New member
I don't doubt some sketchy things have gone down there, especially after dark. Pretty much any place in the Bay Area can be like that, sadly. As somebody who fishes there, let's just say "a lot," over the last 5 years I haven't seen anything even half-way as concerning as what you described in San Leandro. that I think about it, everybody should stay away from that place. Especially on weekends and two hours before and after high tide. There's bullets, knives, and kayaks all over the place!!! ;)
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Red Fish

Senior Member
I am going to save some space and offer a reference “to piers and safety” from Ken Jones 2nd Edition of PFIC. Of all I know about actually fishing all of the San Francisco Bay Area piers, Ken actually chose to publish something I wrote about pier safety.
Now, years later, I have to agree: my contributions about pier safety are probably more valuable than any fishing reports I have provided on PFIC over the last (18) years.

Ken Jones

Staff member
From Pier Fishing In California, 2nd Ed. Chapter 19 — The Pier Rats Speak

Here you go Robert (Red Fish)

Violence and Piers

There have been several discussions regarding the safety of fishing at night from piers— both in southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. Although I have generally said it is safe, I have also tempered my advice by saying that some piers should be visited as part of a group if you plan to fish at night. As a general rule, people will not bother you if you do not bother them, but there are a lot of "crazies"—some certifiable and some non-certifiable—who need little or no provocation to start a ruckus. You're better protected if you are part of a group and there is no reason to take unnecessary chances when it comes to your safety.

Date: June 12, 2000
To: Pier Fishing in California Message Board
From: Enoch
Subject: Is It Dangerous To Go Fishing At Night?

(Edited) I have often fished at Berkeley Pier at night and I have seen local teenagers pick fights on the pier at times. I have also seen police cars patrol on this pier by driving forward to the end and then "back out" all the way to the bathroom. There even was a time when I saw a guy walking on the pier with a baseball bat in his right hand and a paper bag (maybe some alcohol) in his left hand. I think he was carrying the bat to protect himself.

Last month, my girlfriend told me that a Bay Area news report said some guys in the area were crabbing at night and one of them got killed when they were trying to go home. The guy was shot by a group of drunk dudes in a parking lot where their car was located. These crabbing guys saw some drunk dudes were sticking a knife into their tires and got into an argument. Then one of the crabbing guy was shot and killed. After my girl told me this sad news, she doesn't want me to go fishing at night time no more.

Well......Is it really danger to go fishing at night these days? Or maybe I should carry an automatic in my fishing tackle. I wonder...

Posted by Albert

An automatic, eh? Say you win an argument with one. You're not going to be fishing (or doing anything else) for a long time. Make your girlfriend happy and spend your evenings with her instead of on the pier.

Posted by Enoch

Albert: I was just kidding about the automatic....Can you see? Get real!!

Posted by TC

A fisherman was shot by some drunks at the Van Ness Ave pier in S.F. sometime back. That place should be avoided at night.

Posted by FISH HEAD

I figure your chances of getting shot at night are just as good as in the daytime. Berkeley has got to be the safest pier in California if not the world. "If you don't bring none, you won't get none." Guns are for cowards. An "Ugly Stik" is all the weapon you need. A wise man once said, " don't question drunkards slashing tires in the parking lot." (I think that was Confucius.) Fish On!!!!!!!!

Date: November 2, 2000
To: Pier Fishing in California Message Board
From: stinkyfingers
Subject: Violence on the Piers

I have not seen this topic addressed yet: Has anyone seen or heard of people running into trouble on piers? Such as any shootings, fights, beatings, gang-activity, etc.

I ask because sometimes I'm concerned for my girlfriend's safety when I take her out fishing at night. We do a lot of nightfishing and while we haven't had any problems yet, sometimes I've been less than comfortable (with having a large group of thugs walk out onto the pier drinking, etc.).

Just curious because as many of us know, some piers are desolate areas at night and you can come across less-then-desirable people. (maybe yet another reason for us to have "pier-rat-hats") Please share your input with me. Thank you...

Posted by baitfish

I take my wife with me all the time, but I usually take her to safe areas. I fish primarily in Malibu, so there are enough sheriffs and a general community distaste for "bad types". I have never run into anything more than a harmless bum looking for a smoke. But since I don't smoke, that conversation ends pretty quickly. The best thing you can do is to pick a safe well lit area, when sometimes that isn't available, best thing to do is bring lights with you so people can see you. But agree with the hat thing and hopefully we will see it soon. Tight Lines, Baitfish

Posted by Finkelstien (edited)

You ask about trouble on southern piers ....the only trouble I have seen is what I have caused by telling people that they should throw back their catch because it's not legal. The piers you should fish when you get in the southland are Balboa, Seal Beach, or San Clemente. All are very safe and well lit at night. My girl friend goes to sleep while I fish so you can see she doesn't feel threatened at all. Once in awhile you have a group of thugs walk down the pier but they always pass by because of the unspoken fishing rule....we stick together, now I ask you who wants to mess with a group of people that have knives, cut bait (so our hands are already bloody), handle wild animals (fish), and are crazy enough to be out after dark... hahaha. Really don't worry -- the piers are safe at night. In fact Seal Beach pier has a police station at the foot of the pier

Posted by Matt

I have witnessed lots of fights on Pacifica Pier during salmon season. Guys who have a little bit of beer in them and a short temper really like to put on a scene, whether it be verbal or physical. Guys will get pretty scary so I try to stay very quiet and small. I have run into trouble there at night too. This one drunk (but quite large) guy tried to threaten me with a knife. Yeah, he really has to prove himself by killing a 17-year-old kid. Real mature. Anyway, yes there are plenty of jerks out there to make the fishing experience unsavory, but the key is numbers. My advice is to always have a group of people or at least a friend with you. Or just avoid it completely and leave when necessary. Not worth risking your life over though, so remember that at least.

Posted by stinkyfingers

Matt, ...some fisherman also have a permit to carry a concealed weapon (CCW license). Trust me, I'd never let a 17-year-old kid get threatened by anyone, let alone with a knife -- those are grounds for deadly force in self-defense in the eyes of the law.

Posted by Black Marlin

Compadres -- I have witnessed a couple of incidents on the Martinez Pier, as well as the Ft. Baker Pier. If I am fishing at night, I am fishing for sharks or sturgeon, and I have a 31-inch Tennessee Worth baseball bat that I use to knock these monster fish out with. I could also use that bat to knock out anyone who threatens me with physical harm. While I only use violence as a last resort, sometimes you have to go to the last resort. Also, if I am fishing with North Cackalackie Matt or Dominick the Enforcer, the grizzled bastard shoreliner posse, I will just have one of them throw the person over the rail into the water. Once you throw a member of a group into the water, they tend to back off if you let them know they are next, either all at once or one at a time. Just avoid guns at all costs because we all need to live to fish another day. Either that or ignore the ten shot clip law so you don't run out. Give 'Em Hell!!!! Black Marlin

Posted by stinkyfingers

I've been waiting to hear from you, Nate! I know you wouldn't stand for any sh*t. Do you want to elaborate on the incidents at Martinez and Ft. Baker? That's kinda what I wanna hear about -- how severe situations have gotten. It's good to hear that we've got some good-natured tough-guys out there on the piers... P.S. (so far I've only heard of one situation that would call for severe measures...)

Posted by Baitfish

I don't think that the answer is to carry a gun, too many complications. I do highly suggest carrying a bat if the area calls for it, and bringing friends when you fish. Also if the guy is drunk, apparently unarmed, and he goes a little too far, put out your hand like you are going to shake it A drunk person's instant reaction is to shake it. Pull him forward and decide to either chicken win him or do what Nate said and throw his a$$ over the side. I would only suggest this if you know you can do it. Practice with a jerk friend of yours that is a bad drunk. Tight Safe Lines, Baitfish

Posted by Dion

Peace, brothers and sisters. Make love and not war! Pier violence rarely happens. Only narrow minded people will resort to fighting first. A good suggestion is to bring your friends with you when you fish at night. Strength is in numbers and people are less susceptible in picking on you if they know that you are part of a crowd.

Posted by bioboy

Check out the Balboa Pier and Newport Pier. They are high traffic piers because of the restaurants on them. Usually they are open somewhat late and workers are inside quite late. I have never had any problems there late at night.

Posted by fisherdude

I've fished those piers and many others in the Southland. Orange County is not an oasis from the violence of society anymore. I've had a bad incident on both piers. One, a crazy senior man claiming he was a Marine, the other situation was a group of East LA gang punks. It came down to me and my Big fillet knife and I'm glad they decided to leave the pier. I hate that this is the way our society is. I just want to fish, respect the people, environment and have a safe enjoyable time. Having said these things, understand the pier is just like going anywhere in public. There are good people and very bad ones. The police can't be everywhere at once, but don't live in a box. Everyone deserves to use society's great resources. Use your best judgment and be very safe fellow PIER-RATS!

Posted by Sport Barbless

Stink, I'd love to say, "Pack" for the attack! But I think a swift turn of the pole to the face, many, many times until it breaks might do. This act may make you famous, and send a message that pier fisherpersons are not an easy or night. Or, if that doesn't help, make sure your girlfriend's lungs are in good working order!

Posted by Red Fish

Something to think about. The only time I went fishing at night with a girlfriend was at Alameda Beach. Alameda is such a great place.

Fish and girls and safety. The biggest problem you get with that is guys staring at your girl or making comments which makes you want to be the violent one (lol). I THINK I've grown to be a little more tolerant of that sort of attention and take it more as a compliment than a threat. But in general I fish alone at night.

The places I will go: Berkeley Pier, Martinez Pier, 7th St. (Port View Park), Eckley Pier, Antioch Bridge Pier. I have been at 7th St. and Martinez where I have been the only person on the pier on occasion. And Berkeley when there has been about 3 people total spread through out the whole 1/2 mile.

Oh, you just reminded me. A fisherman was murdered at San Mateo Pier a couple of years ago before it closed down and that case is still unresolved. (San Mateo is isolated under the bridge and was the longest pier in California.) Also, one fisherman at Berkeley told me a tale of a fisherman being thrown over the rail at Pacifica during salmon season a few years ago, but that story is unsubstantiated.

I'll have to admit I have been spooked a couple of times while I was fishing alone. If I really got a gut feeling an area was unsafe, I wouldn't fish it. Someone would really have to be a lunatic to mess with a fisherman anyway.

I recommend carrying a fish gaff, a fish billy, or the combination fish gaff/billy club if you want to give yourself a little reassurance. I use to carry my little league 29-in aluminum Adirondack(?) bat with me that was 20 years old, but it is in better use now as I passed it on to one of my buddy's nieces that plays Little League. (I'd probably get hassled more by the cops than anyone else carrying around a bat with no ball and glove). It that doesn't work for you, beat em' down with your Ugly Stik like they stole somethin' (lol)!!!!! FISH ON!!!!! and watch your back!

Posted by Scooterfish

I have seen several pretty bad situations on piers, and unfortunately, all of them involved fisherman fighting with fisherman. I have actually seen someone's rig get thrown into the water (that happened at Coyote Point years ago, saw two guys, they were friends I think, one had cast over the other's line one too many times, they were drunk, someone overreacted...)

I was at Pier 7 in SF one Saturday afternoon this summer, and there was an incident that really ticked me off. A man was fishing with his girlfriend. They were in their mid-forties. The guy was pretty loud, but not drunk, just loud and talkative. A much younger guy, perhaps 17 years old, accidentally cast across this guy's line (not even tangled, just cast over the top of the guys line). The kid was trying to cast a bass lure of some kind and made a bad cast (happens to all of us!)...The older guy jumps up, runs over to the kid and grabs the end of his pole and whips his knife out, then cuts the line clean. They older guy then gets in his face and yells REALLY loud (so the whole damn pier can hear) "You cross my f@#$ing line and you lose your rig, kid, that's the way it works here". The kid does the right thing and walks away after telling the guy he didn't think it was right or fair of him to do what he did. A few minutes later the young kid's teenage girlfriend came back and grabbed the older guys rig and tried to throw it in the water (she was a fireball redhead!) It actually started to get physical between the older guy and the kid's girlfriend until a tourist threatened to call the police, and then everyone walked their separate ways. I approached the older guy a while afterwards and told him I thought he was way out of line... he started seriously spouting at me that he was a veteran Marine, he's been fishin' all his life and that he paid "good money" for his tackle and he didn't need me telling him how to protect his tackle. I'm a good 8" taller than this guy and 100 pounds bigger but he's on his toes trying to get in my face. I walked away after warning him to think wisely and carefully about how he reacts if I happen to cross his precious line...

I have also seen a man at the Pacifica Pier cut 6 or 7 lines in a row. He had hooked a salmon and he just cruised down the rail cutting peoples lines with his scissors. Needless to say, nobody volunteered their net when the time came and the man didn't land that salmon. When I see stuff happen like that, I'm embarrassed to be a fisherman. Fishing is supposed to be fun, that's the bottom line. Anyone who takes fishing THAT seriously should have their head examined...

Posted by Red Fish

Good for you Scooterfish... A good story about the marine. That guy really gives the GOOD marines like (Gomer Pyle USMC) a bad name. Plays into the myth, "drunk as a sailor." You were really brave to stand this guy off. People like that really have a problem. If he did something like that to a kid that cast over his line by accident, then the guy must really have problems and not be happy with his own life. Other than that, he may really have a SCREW loose. You know, some guys never are "the same" when they come back from combat. Maybe this guy was a P.O.W. or "shell shocked," in this event you could have been putting yourself in danger.

I guess I have been lucky with having trouble free days of fishing. Well mostly! One time three years ago my karma was messed up on a freshwater trip at Lafayette Reservoir at my usual lunker catfish spot at the end of the handicapped T-dock. The long and short of it is that there was just the two of us at the end of the dock with this guy's wife and son (about 6) about 20-ft away. He was already in the spot fly fishing in close between 9 O'clock and 12 O'clock. My hole is at 3 O'clock. I asked him if it was all right for me to cast on the right hand side of him, but he ignored me (as if he didn't hear me) and said nothing. I had my line out still fishing with my rod sitting on the right side of the rail. The guy then purposely strips my line out of the water with his fly line (he had not caught anything and had been there all day). I say very calmly, "hey, I think you got my line." He continues to now violently rip my line out of the water with his fly and fly line. I go to get my rod and reel my line in and the guy mutters, "stupid." I ask him, "are you calling me stupid, are you calling me stupid?" Well, I kind of lost it. I was kind of mad now and I was muttering things like "all I wanted to do is come fishing at my same #$@?ing spot and relax and now you $%7@ed that up."

The guy's wife says she's going to call the police because I am cursing in front of her son. I say, "go ahead, your husband starting it by calling me stupid." So she leaves to go call the police on me. While she's gone somehow the guy and I made up (he actually hugged me.) The guy's wife came back shortly and said, "the police are on there way." The guy tells his wife it's O.K., and she leaves again to intercept the police before they come.

How's that for a story. Not violence, but definitely bad fish karma. When I came back home and told my girlfriend at that time about it, she got mad and said she wanted to beat that guy's butt. I told her, "that's O.K.!!!" (That was the same KEEPER X-girl whose son I use to take to that same fishin' hole.) FISH ON!!!!!!!! and be polite (LOL).

Posted by monkfish

When people become belligerent....I just leave...there are always other places to fish. That's why I never fish party boats on weekends if I can help it. Piers can be even worse....and I just don't see the point in getting in an altercation over a fish when most of us can catch more than we could ever possibly eat. (Although I could see getting pretty belligerent if someone did something like poach a big black seabass or something.) As someone else mentioned, if the pier is too darn crowded, there are jetties, the beach, and even these little city parks have carp up to 30 lbs. in them. Of course, then you might run into some nuts like I did...two skinhead banger types smoking something, then having loud, verbal arguments with the park ducks...then trying to get me on their side in their "conversation" with the flock of ducks who were trying to get the heck away from them. All you can do is smile...nod your head...and walk away. You know...even with a group of may surely be able to get rid of some belligerent crazy or intimidate some creep away from you...but whose to say he doesn't go back to his car and pull out a Tech-9, glock, or whatever. You can never really assume someone isn't packing these days. I'd rather be a safe chicken than a statistic any day.

Posted by Red Fish

I agree. I definitely am not one to go looking for altercations. I am only going to fight to protect myself from harm or death. Your ability to reason is your biggest defense (weapon) I feel. Sometimes when I really feel I am danger, I will think very quickly on my feet. If I determine someone is REALLY a nut, I will probably get REAL quiet on them. One thing is always keep someone in your line of sight. (I don't mean stare them down). Just be aware of where they are at all times.

Also, don't let people walk up to you with out saying something to them first. (I mean within in two arms length of distance.) If they don't respond or seem threatening, just put your hand on your gaff and casually start playing with it like "your a nut." You know, jabbing it into the rail. Try to make your move causally and non-reactionary and don't seem intimidated even if you are.

A lot of these nuts prey off of invoking fear into individuals. If you appear fearful, it gives them a rush (a sense of power, believe it or not). I always say, "what's up," or "how are you doing" when someone walks into my space. By not speaking to them you alienate yourself. I know a lot of people may wonder why I say hello to them when I don't know them. It is more of an acknowledgment that I see them than anything else.

I am not that big myself (but I'm not that small either). I'm 5' 10," 160#'s and wear glasses. Not too intimidating. But I hold my own. Maybe because I feel I have something to prove? I am the smallest out of my two brothers, both older. You know, the ex-football, ex-bouncer types. So, I'm no Billy badass, but I will defend myself if I am attacked. I despise bullies probably more than anything.

It's easy to say what you would do if something happens, but you really don't know what will happen until it does (if it does.) You're right monkfish, no fishing spot is worth trouble (I didn't catch any catfish that day, but I learned a lesson). The guy was much smaller than I was, maybe HE felt intimidated?

I was intimidated at Pacifica at night last year and I was with a buddy. He has a rare heart disease which has stunted his growth to 4' 10" (all his brothers are 6'). My buddy (not a fisherman) wanted to make our annual night run to Pacifica to hang out and watch me fish while we shoot the breeze. We were the only two people on the pier and this guy starts walking towards us from the distance (not carrying any poles) by himself at 2 a.m. in the morning. The guy was about 6'5, 240-lbs. He keeps walking and walking towards us and all I can think about was the story about the guy who supposedly was thrown over the rail into the Pacific Ocean at Pacifica. I was telling my buddy to look tough but he was spooked, I was spooked and I started to get shivers up my spine as this guy still approached us on the deserted, poorly lit pier at night. Finally the guy walks right up to me (in my face) as I take a step back and says something about fishing. He was really drunk, and asks me if he could fish one of my rods. I said, "sure go ahead." I was so relieved that he meant us no harm. He said he comes there all the time and gave me some tips on what to do. I listened of course, he was 6'5" and pretty grizzly lookin' (lol). The guy was apparently having a fight with his old lady and came out for a walk to think. Go figure.

I've had similar experiences fishin' at Eckley and Martinez when I was by myself. (everyone knows me at least by face at Martinez now, day or night). Usually, they are the locals and I am the outsider.

Excellent Fishing Tip: I have found the BIGGEST guys are usually the nicest people.(the enforcer types) Their stature alone demands respect sometimes. Many are very tough and don't really mess with smaller guys for no reason. Kind of like the hockey goalies. They are more the protectors of the smaller guys (the heroes). These guys are confident in who they are and will usually only fight with an EQUAL gladiator if anyone at all. It's always the medium sized guys with a chip on their shoulder and somethin' to prove that are causing most of the problems.

At 36, even though I don't have a family of my own, I feel I am too old to fight for no good reason. I would ONLY fight to protect myself or my family.

Closing: I do not advocate violence at all as a means of solving anything, but look at this country. Violence has been a means of conflict resolution from day 1. "Can't we all just get along." (Rodney King) A nice ideology, I wish it could be a reality.

Man, this is too cerebral for me. "Can't we all just get back to fishing." (Red Fish)

Posted by monkfish (edited)

A few of your piers in No. Cal seem tougher than down here....but than again like I said...I can't stand crowds anyway so I'm not around for tempers to flare. Fishing to me is to have fun and relax and if it causes me anxiety...for any reason, I'll do something else that day. However, I hear what your saying and totally aware of your surroundings and your space always...and being friendly always helps. If someone is pi.... off and looking to vent, a friendly greeting usually disarms them...usually. That story about that big guy is pretty funny...reminds me of a time once when I was fishing for bass alone, in this park late at night, this big guy dressed like a banger with his hood on is walking towards me, ....getting closer and closer....I can't see his face cause he's just an ominous silhouette in the light. I'm thinking sh--! I'm going to have to scrap with this guy or something and as he gets closer I'm getting more nervous and trying to pump myself up, getting my knife ready. Then he walks right up to me, takes off his hood, and says, "hi, do they really have fish in here?" and its just some big, curious high school kid.

Posted by nauta (edited)

More than ten years ago, three friends of mine and I went pier fishing at night on the Santa Cruz Wharf (we were still in high school, young and fresh). It was around 1:30 o'clock in the morning, no one on the pier except us. Suddenly, a man appeared and he was walking toward us from some distance. I saw one of my friends pick up the bait knife and hide it behind his back. We were laughing at him, and told him that nothing would happen. And this friend of mine said how do we know? Finally, this unknown man walked past us and went toward the end of pier.

I'm grown now and if the above incident happened again, I would make sure my bait knife is in reachable range. In my personal opinion, I believe fishing at night time on piers now is not as safe as before (but, I still like to go pier fishing at night because I need to work in the day time).

Less than half a year ago, I went to the Berkeley Pier at night with some friends. We were pier fishing out there. During that night, an incident happened. It was a few light poles away from us. A couple of young teenagers were fighting each other. This began when one boy mistakenly stepped on another boy's fishing rod (their voices were loud, I just barely heard what they argued.) As they both argued, one boy in one party said to the other party "you just wait here." Then a few minutes later, he brought a bunch of boys and then they started to chase each other and beat each other around. I was totally in shock of what I saw. It looked like a Hong Kong gangsters' movie replay. I was kind of mad, because after more than ten hours of hard work I was trying to enjoy some piece and quiet and this happened. As I was going to call the police (trying to dial 911 with my cell), I saw two police cars drive on the pier. Suddenly, all the damn noise disappeared. These two police cars drove past us and toward the end of pier. A few minutes later, these two cars "back out" all the way to the entrance (nice driving skill). After that, everything calmed down and was back to normal.

Through the years, I have fished at the Santa Cruz Wharf, Capitola Wharf, Berkeley Pier, San Mateo Pier, Dumbarton Pier, Pacific Pier, Oyster Point Pier etc. In my opinion, I think Santa Cruz or Capitola is the safest place to hang out. It could be because these piers have restaurants on them and the Santa Cruz Pier is time restricted.

Posted by finkelstien

Maybe it's just me but it seems most of the violence occurs in northern California by the reports from everyone. Just an observation.

Posted by Red Fish

In general, I think that L.A. has more organized crime and gang activity dating back to its earliest days. L.A. is still a faster paced metropolis than Oakland or San Francisco, but we're gaining on you. We're much more country than you guys, especially Oakland and Richmond (lol). Maybe your gangster activity is just more publicized with Hollywood and all?

I believe (with no statistical count) that crime in Oakland and Richmond is WAY down. I believe highly in part to the selection of police chiefs such as Joe Samuels. (You guys vied for him for L.A. chief a couple of years ago after Mayor Jerry Brown let him go.) Your loss is our gain!

If you THINK about it, take in account where your pier is located. I mean for instance if it is located somewhere like, uh hum, Malibu!!!!

I have only EVER in my life heard about the ONE guy at San Mateo being killed in this area, and that's it.

The majority of boisterous, drunken activity on piers in this area (Berkeley) comes from over-exuberant CAL Berkeley students on weekend binges (lol). Sorry Albert!!!! just kidding.

FISH ON!!!!! and throw up a peace symbol if you see a gang banger on a pier!

KJ — A response I made to a thread on "Pier Behavior" about the same time (and I admit I haven't fished on a Bay Area Pier at night, alone, for many, many years. In looking back perhaps it was sort of a Pollyannish response —things have certainly racheted up even more during the past couple of decades.

This has been an interesting discussion! In all my years of fishing the piers I have never been involved in, or witnessed, a fight on a pier. I have seen people get upset from tangles, or people cutting into someone's space — poor pier behavior but no fights. However, some people are jerks and violence has occurred at many piers — just like in everyday society. In fact, there was apparently a murder at the Ravenswood Pier and that is why that pier is now closed.

I see the role of pier rats as being that of educators — teaching neophyte anglers how to fish, lending a hand or advice when needed, helping to see that fish and game laws are observed, etc. I only see pier rats as policing the piers in a limited fashion, and certainly not engaging in any type of violent acts; that's the kind of thing we're trying to stop.

In regard to this particular individual: (1) Take a copy of the fish and game laws booklet with you the next time you visit the pier. If he breaks a law hand him the booklet and mention that he should read it because it may save him a big fine. DO IT IN A POLITE MANNER. If he refuses the help simply let him be but don't be afraid to call Cal Tip. (2) If he grabs your pole, or someone else's pole, politely but firmly let him know that such actions are unacceptable. If he continues, notify the authorities. I believe this original message concerned the Seal Beach Pier and I believe there is a police sub station at the foot of the pier. I would talk to the officers there, get their input, and see if they could help.

It's unfortunate that actions such as this interfere with what should be a relaxing recreational activity but people will be people and some are smart while some are stupid, some are good while some are bad — at least in their actions.

Hopefully though, over a period of time, the actions of our pier rat fraternity can lead to better behavior (and of course more successful fishing).
Tight lines for all, Ken
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New member
Now that was some vintage dialogue! It was fun to read all those crazy stories. Fortunately I have none of my own except to say I have experienced the stranger-making-a beeline-for-me phenomenon many times, as I'm sure most fisherpeople have. My biggest frustration is people who are too friendly and chatty and won't go away and let me fish in peace. If I'm soaking bait, fine - talk away. If I'm doing a more active type of fishing (lures, fly fishing) then I start to get growchy. I have learned that wearing a face shield dramatically cuts down on people starting up conversations. And then sometimes I start a conversation up and I forget about the thing covering my face, which usually produces a lot of uncertain responses until I realize how I must look. I had a long conversation with two nice police officers on Pier 7 not long ago before realizing they might want to get a look at me. I pulled-down my face shield and gave them a big smile and they smiled back and moved on. The only other situation where my manners wane is when I'm faced with answering the ubiquitous "any luck?" question for the 27th time on a fishless day.


Well-Known Member
Hmm Interesting. My experiences were mostly on the Imperial Beach pier but there are things I could mention about the Ocean Beach pier. A lot of Skinheads hung out there in the 90s. They use to mess with the Asian people fishing there. One time there was an old drunk Vietnam vet saying that he had the skills to rig the pier to blow up. I was like K... I was thinking that as long as he was here laying on the pier, I was ok. Nowadays a bunch of homeless people hang around OB.

Imperial Beach Pier was a whole lotta sketch back in the 70s-80s. It wasn’t pretty like it is now. There were biker gangs, meth heads, drug houses, white spremesist, crazy’s, drunks, etc. It was like the Wild Wild West. Scary looking people would frequent the local bars. I remember some guy tried to sell drugs to my dad. A couple of weeks later, I heard on the news that some guy got stabbed and killed.

One time I was evening fishing with my mom and older brother. I was around 8. The pier was still the old pier with the flat railings. There was some chick accompanied by a group of guys. They walked up. Then, when they came back past the girl was balancing on the pier railing. She might have been high. I couldn’t hear but the guys were egging her on to do something. They continued to walk down. I’m minding my business fishing. Then, in the corner of my eye I see this shadow drop from the top of the pier. That girl jumped from the top of the pier to the hard wet sand below. I’m sure she broke some things. I could barely make her out on the distant sand. The group of guys slowly walked up to her, seemingly, with no concerns and walked away. An ambulance came shortly but I can still hear that girl screaming in pain over the crashing waves.

On a lighter note once saw a guy in a wheel chair chasing some kids while he wielded a 9” knife. The kids were F ing with him but he got arrested. I also saw a fight between a couple of guys who couldn’t fight. Now that was hilarious. It looked like a couple of over weight babies slapping each other BUT these were grown men.

Recently, a couple years now, I learned why I need low cost gear. I had my Calcutta 400 and some pretty International Abu Ambassadeurs with me. Most of my rods are custom too. So everybody is looking at my gear. These three youngsters come up to talk. They look like street gang members. The Filipino family fishing next to me look like they shaking in their boots. I say what up! And I position myself to where they’re all in front of me. Left hand in front, in case they try to grab my rods. Right hand cocked. They find out I got that “Hood slang” also and the situation seems to deescalate. We talk more about fishing and about the guy who got the yellowtail. Then we’re cool after that. They even offered me some chips. Lol The Filipina lady gives me this, “My Hero!” look and I’m just like... K...