September 2019 Fishing Report, Southern California (251)

Ken Jones

Staff member
September 2019 Fishing Report, SoCal (#251)

Still waiting for a couple of reports but I wanted to get this posted. The report will be updated when I receive them.

Remember — Lobster season is closed and any lobster caught by accident on hook and line must be returned to the water.

San Diego County Piers

Imperial Beach Pier – Waiting for report... 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 — Michelle at the Ocean Beach Pier Bait Shop & Café, on the pier said a lot of fish were being caught but she didn’t have much knowledge as to what they were. She mentioned a lot of mackerel, spotted bass (?) and sharks out at the end late at night, but that’s about all she knew. We’ll wait for some reports. 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 – Vincent at the Crystal Pier Bay & Tackle said action has been fair, nothing spectacular but everyone is catching fish. Vincent said people are getting croakers, yellowfin and a few spotfin, on the bottom along with the usual small sharks and rays. Top action features mackerel (although it’s not hot action) along with sardines and anchovies some days. He said several yellowtail have been caught including the 53-pounder and that a yellow had just been lost the morning I called. They are around the pier, you just have to be lucky enough to hook one — and skilled enough to land it. 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 although there should be a few mackerel and bass. 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 although some croakers and sharays should be available. 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 although mackerel and bass (kelp, sand and spotted) should be hitting along with some sharays. We still 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 (a variety) always seem to be around as well as a mix of sharays (mostly round stingrays). 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 — Minh, at Angler’s Choice (1910 Rosecrans St.), says he’s not getting many reports but the mackerel bite has been good most days and various bass—spotted bay bass, kelp bass and sand bass should be available on the bottom. He says the shark anglers are also seeing good action with a mix of sharays — bat rays, shovelnose soupfin (at night) and others. 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 — Bill at the Oceanside Pier Bait and Tackle shop on the pier, said overall action has been slower than normal but people are getting fish. He said the big news is that a couple of bonito were finally caught even though they were small bonito; he’s hoping for a late run of the bonies/boneheads. Mackerel are available but you have to be there at the right time. They are not showing up in the morning or during the day but if you come out at night you might get a hundred (so bring your glow-lights). He said some calico bass are hitting down around the pilings mid-pier on anchovy or worms (if you bring them). As for halibut, it’s been pretty slow although a girl fishing for croaker, and using bloodworms as bait, managed to pull in a legal-size halibut the prior week. Inshore, there are a few croakers and small, baby-size bat rays but the inshore area was closed for three weeks while surfing competition was going on. Unfortunately, that was when the croaker action (in the same area) had just started to heat up. Croaker anglers were croaking in anger. In addition, he said a few opaleye have been taken by anglers using bloodworms. I asked about sharks and he said some continue to be taken at night. He did say one guy hooked a decent-sized leopard shark one day that circled around a piling at the end. The guy jumped in the water to retrieve his shark rigging while tourists gasped in surprise. Apparently he removed the hooks from the shark’s mouth and climbed up the ladder at the spot. Bill said it’s basically what the regulars do when an illegal fish is hooked at the end. They however usually work together as a team and one climbs down the ladder to the fish — giant (black) sea bass or great white shark (and many have been hooked). They try to remove the hook or at least cut the leader near the mouth of the fish and then let it go before climbing back up the ladder. He said they even did that with a hammerhead shark hooked a couple of years ago. 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.

Oceanside Harbor Pier —Wally at Pacific Coast Bait & Tackle (2110 S. Coast Highway), said things are still slow in the harbor. Mainly it’s croaker, bass (kelp bass and spotted), and a very few halibut. 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 — Josh at Hogan's Bait And Tackle (34320 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point) said it’s not hot action but decent action. Inshore a lot of yellowfin croaker are showing up along with lesser numbers of spotfins and surfperch. Most are being taken on lugworms. Mid-pier to the end sees some mackerel but no bonito to date and though a few halibut are taken most are sub-legal size. There are some bass being taken, both kelp bass and sand bass, and most are taken down around the pilings on lugworms or (for the bigger bass) frozen anchovies. Ray and shark action remains slow while one legal-size sheephead was reported as well as a few giant (black) sea bass that were hooked and released. Josh said there is a lot of dirty, green-colored water this year and is seems to have impacted the fishing. 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 — Josh at Hogan's Bait And Tackle (34320 Pacific Coast Hwy, said the action is all about yellowfin croaker (good numbers) as well as small kelp bass and perch. Once again he advised using lugworms. 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 — Our reporter Snookie said, “I have been fishing three days a week again now that my knee is okay again. We have been catching lots of keeper halibut. Most have been about 23 inches, but that is okay. We have some white seabass too, just not big enough. The bonito have been around some of which have been fairly big, but most are in the smaller range. This week we had two guys that were getting thresher sharks at the end of the pier in front of Rubys. I watched them on Tuesday and they threw back two that they had gaffed. That made me mad, but I did not say anything. They also overhead cast right in front of the no overhead casting sign. These two are what we used to call Shark and Ray Club People. They used to be quite dangerous. Anyway, they took the two sharks that they had kept and went to Davey's Locker and tried to sell them. They got arrested!!! Sometimes things work out well. For the past few days we have had difficulty catching our bait. Hope that improves soon.” 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. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway take the Newport Blvd. turnoff and proceed west watching for signs directing traffic to the pier. The pier sits at the foot of McFadden Place.

Huntington Beach Pier — Stacey at Let's Go Fishing (on the pier), said action fair. A few croakers are hitting inshore while mackerel show up one day and sardines the next. A couple of white seabass were taken on live sardines while sharkers at the end continue to hook a few thresher sharks. Big and small rays show on the bottom. How To Get There: Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) to Huntington Beach and the pier.

Seal Beach Pier —Jimmy at “Big Fish Bait and Tackle in Seal Beach” reports that anglers are seeing some yellowfin and spotfin croakers inshore, while mid-pier to the end is producing a few small halibut and bass together with decent numbers of mackerel and sardine. 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 Pier — Jimmy at “Big Fish Bait and Tackle in Seal Beach” reports some decent fishing for halibut mid-pier for those using live smelt for bait. Inshore sees some corbina and croaker (yellowfin and spotfin). Mackerel and sardines are plentiful mid-pier to the end along with a few sharks (shovelnose and gray smoothhound) and small rays. 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 — No report this month but expect some perch, sargo and croaker while fishing the inshore shallower waters while mackerel, white croaker, sharks and rays should be available with a cast out from the pier. 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.

Cabrillo Pier (San Pedro) — Alex at the Rusty Hook (245 N Gaffey St., San Pedro) said halibut is still the name of the game. Quite a few are being taken (one guy reported seven one day) but unfortunately most are shorts. The key with the regulars continues to be the use of a pearl white-colored Zoom Flukes (or white-colored Berkely Gulp Jerk Shads) with a drop shot rig. Alex says a few sharks and rays also show up but not much is hitting on top, only a very few mackerel and no bonito. Angers do continue to pull in a few bass and perch when casting over toward the rocks on the ocean side of 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) – EgoNonBaptizo reported on a visit on June 11: “I made the move to the GPP at around 12, and began fishing for opaleye. There were not very many around, but I managed two after picking through dozens of short calico. I also caught an amberstripe scad, the first that I had seen in several months. Around 3 pm, the bite for all fish slowed substantially, and I decided to try somewhere else.” Typically it's the normal mix of fish — rock wrasse, senorita, opaleye, sheephead, halfmoon, and kelp bass. Use sea-worms, frozen peas, mussels, and market shrimp. 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) — A report on PFIC report on 8/30 said the Mole is closed and will be for eight months.

Redondo Beach Pier — Sunny, at the Redondo Pier Tackle (on the pier), said mackerel are hitting. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway, take Torrance Blvd. west to the foot of the pier and the parking lot.

Hermosa Beach Pier — No report this month although the mackerel should be around as well as some croakers inshore, small sharks and rays, and some flatfish in the mid-pier area. 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 although mackerel should be found mid-pier to the end as well as some croakers and small sharks and rays. How To Get There: Highway 1 to Washington St., turn west and follow Washington St. to the pier.

Santa Monica Pier — John at the bait shop towards the end of the pier reports overall fairly slow fishing although quite a few leopard sharks have been showing lately. Nevertheless, the normal species are being taken — in the surf area it’s corbina and yellowfin croaker, while mid-pier a couple of halibut were taken, and mid-pier to the end has seen mackerel. Not as much under the pier lately. He also said the lobster poachers are starting to really come out at night, a yearly occurrence for just about as long as I can remember and a black mark on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (who knows it takes pace). 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 biggest news continues to be on the number of thresher sharks being taken at the end of the pier. She continues to sell the wire leaders and the big hooks that are used for the threshers. She said she got a report and saw the picture of a striped bass taken at the pier, a fairly good-sized striper that weighed upwards of 20 pounds. She also got a report on one horn shark. Apparently the mackerel have slowed a little but the kids continue to take good numbers of small perch (mainly walleyes) using Sabikis, while inshore anglers continue to see good numbers of corbina and continue to complain about how hard they are to hook. She said the beaches are packed. 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 she continues to hear reports about bat rays and leopard sharks being taken at Paradise; some of the bat rays are apparently pretty good size while the leopards range from babies to ones that are about three feet long. How To Get There: Take Highway 1 to Paradise Cove Dr., turn west, and follow the road back into the parking lot.

Ventura & Santa Barbara County Piers

Port Hueneme Pier — Waiting for a report... 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 Hyuns Tackle (3695 E harbor Blvd.) who’s a regular at the pier said most of the action right now is surf oriented. He says it’s a combination of yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, corbina and even shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) and leopard sharks. All are hitting at the shallow end section of the pier. Top-water action is slow with mackerel occasionally making a showing but nothing steady. And, even the normal shark and rays action is slower than normal — although a couple of threshers have been taken. He said there are still some fish out toward the reef at the far right corner of the pier (last three light poles); included might be some brown and grass rockfish. 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 — Mike at the Bait Shop (on the pier) said it was the best August he’s seen in ten years. Leading the hit parade was thresher sharks with over a hundred for the month. Every day saw at least three threshers. Biggest was a thresher with a body of 6 ½ feet, which with the tail would be about a 12-foot fish. In addition to the threshers were an amazing number of shovelnose sharks (guitarfish) and angel sharks in the 3-5 foot range. Last but certainly not least was great halibut fishing with 2-3 legal-size fish a day and many more sub-legal size fish. He said a couple of college-age guys using swim baits limited out several days in a row. Surprisingly, the mackerel fishing although decent was not anything great but he said the mackerel were accompanied by small-sized smelt — perfect live bait for the bigger fish. Kelp bass too were plentiful, mostly under-sized fish but 3-5 legal fish per week. All in all a GREAT month BUT he said things were starting to slow. 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 — Mike at the Bait Shop (on Stearns Wharf) said the fishing at Goleta was very similar to that at Stearns although with far fewer threshers, maybe 1:3. Good numbers of threshers, shovelnose sharks and angel sharks at the end (and I imagine some good-sized bat rays and dogfish at night). Inshore to mid-pier saw good halibut action but top water mackerel action was only so so. One difference is the pipe reef that parallels the right side of the pier. It almost always yields up a mix of rock loving fish, mostly rockfish (led by brown rockfish) but also kelp bass, perch and a few sheephead. Just bring extra sinkers if you’re fishing the reef. 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 continues to be closed while the state moves with typical glacial speed and bureaucratic response in efforts to actually get it open. How To Get There: From Highway 101 simply take the Gaviota State Park turnoff down to the beach and pier.
Ginny at Wylie’s Bait & Tackle (18757 Pacific Coast Hwy Malibu) said the fishing has been real good. Lots of mackerel and perch are available for the Sabiki crowd while some corbina are showing inshore as well as some bass further out on the pier. she’s getting reports on mackerel, jacksmelt and lots of small perch along with a few sharks and small rays. How To Get There: The pier fronts on the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) so just drive until you see it.
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