SoCal Pier Rats — Growin' Up A Pier Rat

Ken Jones

Staff member
I'm actually finally finishing the book Growin' Up A Pier Rat. I have a chapter on what it means to be a Pier Rat, the Evolution of a Pier Rat, Some Professionals, Some Writers, the Elders, and chapters on SoCal and CenCal/NorCal Pier Rats. Here's the chapter on SoCal Pier Rats.

BTW, I still have a couple of weeks to add more stories if someone would like to add their story. What to include: Years Fishing, First Memories of Fishing, Favorite Piers (and why), Favorite Fish (and why), Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why), Words of Wisdom for Pier Rats, Etc.

Pier Rat Name — bajadave

Years Fishing: I’ve fished most of my life that I can remember. My father started me fishing on a pier first then surf. First Memories of Fishing: Fishing with pop at the Port Hueneme Pier before it was completed around 1967-68. I would jig for live bait for my father with a Lucky Joe rig It was a light rig with 12-lb test. I was jigging up and down when I snagged a thresher shark that had been cruising right under the pier where I was jigging. He made a blistering run to the south and jumped right out of the water. That’s when we noticed what it was. Suddenly it made a turn and came back to the pier and then under and headed north. My father grabbed my rod and fought it from the opposite side of the pier. My father had a buddy who had a gaff, so he picked up the line from the other side of the pier and my father dropped the rod down and picked it up on the other side. My father fought him and won the battle, we gaffed it and brought it onto the pier... a 125-lb thresher shark. I’ll never forget that fight and fish! Favorite Piers (and Why): Port Hueneme Pier. It has everything you need: bait, food, restrooms, lights and fish cleaning stations, and it’s close to home. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): The above story and loading up our wagon with all our fishing tackle every time we went to the pier. Seeing corbina from the pier in the surf line and always catching fish—calico bass, sand bass, cabezon, surfperch and sometimes halibut.

Pier Rat Name — blast29

I'm a lifelong Californian who goes back to the days when we had “Atomic Bomb drills” in Elementary School (dive under your desk, face away from the window, curl up, cover your head) and when backyard Atomic Bomb shelters were all the rage. I survived that. Years Fishing: I've been fishing off and on for more than 40 years. First Memories of Fishing: My first memories of saltwater fishing go back to the old Redondo Pier with my father when I was about five or six. I don't really remember much about what we caught, but I’m sure they must have been small (perch, maybe tomcod). At that age, I was really there just to spend some family time at the beach. I also recall going up to Pismo in the ‘50s, where we would go clamming. The world famous Pismo Clams were both plentiful and huge back then, and we would set one day aside to go out to the nearby sand dunes, dig a shallow BBQ pit and enjoy a wonderful fresh clam picnic lunch. Favorite Piers (and Why): The old wooden Redondo Pier—Although I haven't fished there in more than 20 years (actually, it doesn’t exist anymore. Redondo still reigns supreme in my memories and in my heart. It's where I started fishing and where I “grew up” as a fisherman. We used to catch bonito all day in the late-‘50s and ‘60s on light setups with Mitchell 300’s using live anchovies that we bought for a nickel. I also remember the time when my little brother leaned over the railing to look at his line and his glasses just sort of slipped off and fell into the ocean. Then there was the time I was on the hamburger run and drenched my friend Mike with Tabasco sauce. (I know that sounds juvenile, but I was a juvenile at the time, and it was really funny. His hair nearly stood on end!) As I grew into my teens, I gravitated to the breakwater, the “short rocks,” the barge (the “Sacramento,” if I recall correctly) and the “City of Redondo” half-day boat, but every now and then, I still went back to the pier. I haven’t fished the new concrete pier. It’ll never be the same, not without the old splintered seating, the carved up railings and that smell of decades of anchovies, shrimps, mussels and whatever else ground into the wood. My current favorite pier is Hermosa, where it's clean and convenient and the fishing can be very good at times.

Pier Rat Name — Bray28

I grew up in San Clemente fishing off the pier every day of my summer vacation from school and then on the weekends. No one ever took me fishing when I was young, I just got into it myself. I like fishing everywhere. Years Fishing: 20. First Memories of Fishing: the first fish I ever caught was a buttermouth perch off the San Clemente Pier with line and a soda can, a trick I learned by watching a homeless person. Since that day fishing has been my greatest passion. Favorite Piers (and Why): San Clemente Pier. It’s the pier I grew up on and holds more memories than any other place. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): There are so many but the best has to be this day I was sitting down on a bench eating pineapple and I heard my drag start going slowly but steady. I jumped up and went over to my rod and saw that something didn’t even know it had a hook in its mouth. I set the hook and after an hour later and two trips up and down the pier I landed my biggest bat ray ever. It was 151 pounds and big as me.

Pier Rat Name — Breakwall Don

Years Fishing: 40. First Memories of Fishing: Herring caught from Venice Pier using feather rigs with chrome sinkers. Favorite Piers (and Why): The piers of today are not producing fish counts like years before. But years ago Redondo Beach Pier was good. The Redondo rocks were even better. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why) Catching huge piling perch from the catwalks of Pacific Ocean Park, using mussel for bait.

Pier Rat Name — Camaros

Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Let's see, when I was a teenager many moons ago, my father (he is not a fisherman, but a diver), took me to the Huntington Beach Pier to go fishing. He said he had a present for me and pulled out of his pocket a clear, plastic vial with a couple of holes in it. He then showed me some dried blood tablets that came with the vial, to put in it. You attached it to your line, put in the dried blood tablets and went fishing. After about 10 minutes, he “accidentally” kicked my rod (I didn’t know that at the time) and I grabbed the rod and set the hook!! Guess what? I caught a mackerel!! Ha ha, I will never forget that!!

Pier Rat Name — Catfish

Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): I must have been around the third grade. My friend Tad’s dad had taken us to Newport Pier. I remember fishing a multi-hook rig (a Sabiki perhaps?) and was pulling up 3 to 4 mackerel at once. I remember the best setup that I used that day was a Sabiki with a chrome jig on the bottom as a weight. I was catching a mack on almost every hook, including the jig on the bottom. I remember having so much fun! I then got the jig stuck on one of the pier pilings and lost the rig. I distinctly remember feeling bad. I now wish that I could repay my friend's dad for that experience. I guess the next best thing would be to offer similar experiences to other people. Therefore, I try to help others enjoy fishing as much as I can.

Pier Rat Name — CK

Years Fishing: 30. First Memories of Fishing: Fishing with my dad and grandfather on the Gaviota Pier and using one of my mom’s earrings with a hook attached to catch mackerel after losing all our lures to some large macks. Favorite Piers (and Why): Port Hueneme—halibut, halibut, and halibut. It also happens to be just about one mile from one of the best places for Mexican food in the free world. Gaviota Pier—because of the memories associated with the place. The old timers that used to frequent there and have long passed. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Camping at Gaviota as a kid and fishing with an old local who would rig up a Sabiki with 6-7 hooks. When nobody else on the pier was catching anything he would put the pole up to his ear and talk to it. He would say things like “There you are” and twitch the pole. Sure enough he would reel up his line and have a fish on every hook. He was a fishing God to us as kids and we always looked forward to going to Gaviota to see him. I never knew his name and never had the chance to ask my grandfather who he was. From what I understood and caught from some of their conversations, they used to work the oil rigs in Alaska together when they were younger. I miss the both of them tremendously.

Pier Rat Name — Corbinaman1

Years Fishing: 20. Favorite Piers (and Why): Aliso Pier because I caught my first bonito ever there when I was about 14. I cast an anchovy out and got a great hookup, but the hook snapped in half. So I put a bigger hook on, cast to the same spot, and hooked up a 2-pound bonito. My drag on my wimpy Zebco pole broke, so my buddy hand lined the fish up the pier and I got it! It seemed that everyone on the pier came over to watch me fight the fish. I was stoked! Favorite Fish: Bonito from piers. Pound for pound they are the toughest fish out there! Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Definitely catching my first ever bonito in the story above at Aliso Pier... too bad there is no more pier there... had good memories there! Last summer I caught my first ever bonefish off the Dana Point Harbor Pier (on sand crabs); that was an unusual catch for me. Also last summer, catching 12 Giant Squid off the Dana Harbor Pier (yes, they were in the harbor for a few days. Thanks Snookie! It was a night I won't forget.

Pier Rat Name — dufish

Favorite Piers (and Why): Redondo’s big pier ever since I saw this guy back in 1974 reeling in a huge bonito that ended up being a 15-lb bluefin tuna! Favorite Fish: opaleye, golden trout, calico bass, sand bass, WSB, sargo. Heck, anything tasty caught from a rock or pier. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): The time my pal Sam and I fished Manhattan Pier with a cooler full of live anchovies bought from the MDR dock kept alive by a battery air pump/aquarium combo. Sam’s 10-lb ‘butt, me a few boneheads, and one 7-ft shark who followed up my queenfish bait and looked awfully white.

Pier Rat Name — eddog

Years Fishing: I have fished all my life since the day I was able to hold my own fishing rod. First Memories of Fishing: When I was fishing with my dad and hooked on to something big on my dad’s pole and it was actually dragging me on the pier. I didn't even say a word until my dad was looking for me. Dad finally took the pole from and fought it for a while then lost it. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Most memorable was this year’s trip to Gaviota. My friends and I had the best trip yet. We hooked up to 10 threshers, 7 bat rays, 1 white seabass 22” and 3 smoothhounds; it was an awesome day.

Pier Rat Name — epriemel

Years Fishing: Started pier fishing at about age seven. Started going to Baja about 25 yrs ago. Now I spend at least 3 months a year living & fishing the East Cape region of Baja California. First Memories of Fishing: Going to the Newport Pier while spending summers at my grandma's house at Marcus & 36th St. in Newport Beach. Sitting for hours at a time catching smelt on her boat dock with some Velveeta cheese, treble hook, and a few feet of mono. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Catching a 60-lb. bat ray off Newport Pier, using my first real saltwater setup, a Penn Jigmaster with 20-lb. test. In November 2004 I purchased my first lobster hoops. Caught twos legal bugs the very first time out.

Pier Rat Name — EWWWWW

First Memories of Fishing: Going to Catalina for an Indian Guides trip. I stayed on the d... pier for 10 hours a day and ever since I haven’t stopped fishing. Favorite Piers (and Why): Dana Point Harbor because I landed a 20-lb white seabass and several legal halibut. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Landing the 20-lb white seabass at DP Harbor. I was only 13 years old and the fish seemed half my size.

Pier Rat Name — fishbud

First Memories of Fishing When I first arrived in the US when my uncle use to take us fishing off the Point Mugu Pier (when it was still up) catching walleye and barred surfperch, mackerel, and bonito. Oh, how I've missed that pier... Favorite Piers (and Why): Old: Point Mugu Pier when it was still operable. We've caught many different types of fish there like mackerel, flounder, perch, bonito, jacksmelt, bass, crabs, big squid, octopus, etc... Current: Well, I only fish off Hueneme Pier a few times a year, but hopefully I can do it more often. Got to try Ventura and Goleta in the near future... Still have to go with Point Mugu... I’ve caught most of my fish there of different varieties.

Pier Rat Name — fishin909

First Memories of Fishing: My father taking me to Redondo Beach Pier on my 5th birthday. I felt the fish pulling my line and I was hooked. Favorite Piers (and Why): Redondo Beach Pier... because it was the first pier I ever fished. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): When I was 5 my father bought me a 7-foot rod combo. He took me to Redondo Beach and put an anchovy on my hook and I caught a 2-lb. mac. It was the first fish I ever caught and I’ve loved it ever since.

Pier Rat Name — frankythefish

Years Fishing: Ever since I can remember. My father used to take me to Hermosa Pier in a stroller. Ever since I could remember, I was always making bait for him. I finally started going on my own when I was about 13. Favorite Piers (and Why): Hermosa Pier: I grew up on it... literally. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trip (and Why): Hermosa again... one day my little sister bugs me to go fishing. It’s mid-October and I’m thinking we may have a shot at some early season perch. We go and as we arrive there, it’s really overcast and slightly nippy. I’m thinking “great, perfect weather for perch!” because all the big ones I’ve caught have come in that weather. So we get there and the pier is light to moderately packed. After about 30 min or so, it starts to rain. Everyone leaves the pier. My little sister and I are the only ones on the pier. We brave the rain for a while and then decide to pack up. As we do, the sun breaks through a pocket in the clouds. So there is this eerie gloom/bright blast of rays thing going on with no one else in sight. So we decide to stay. Best idea ever. As soon as we drop our poles in the water, we are into barred surfperch in the 2-lb. class non-stop. Between us we caught about eight of them. Huge slabs. All on 4-lb. test. We also had two corbina mixed in with one going about 19”. My sister and I were so elated. She and I still talk about it to this day. She actually pulled in the biggest of all the big ones and her response was “yey!!! Mine’s bigger than yours!!!” Every time I think of that moment I have to sit and smile because of how happy she was that day. I’ll never forget it. Words of Wisdom for Pier Rats Always take the time to entertain kids/teenagers/adults/elderly/anyone at all even remotely interested in fishing whether you know them or not. Just today I was on the Santa Monica Pier and this 60-year-old Japanese lady comes and asks if she could borrow my fishing pole. I was a little leery about it but before I could answer she said “don’t worry! I know how to use it!” so I said all right. She takes it and whails my lure out there pretty far. Very impressive especially because it just caught me off guard. Anyhoo, we are both fishing bonito and talking at the same time. I’m hooking bonito and unfortunately she wasn’t. I was trying to coach her, but to no avail. So I let her play a few of the ones I was hooking. I have never seen a middle aged/elderly lady so ecstatic before in my life. She was having a blast fighting those bonies. That right there made my day. Fishing is a really big thing to a lot of people and can potentially be a really big thing to people that don’t know it yet. We often get caught up in keeping things hidden from other people about, “where the big ones are at” or “secret spots” and what not. That is totally cool. Fishing is great by itself but what makes it special and memorable are the people you are with when you catch that big one, find that secret spot, or just catch a few drag-pulling bonito.

Pier Rat Name — jbgritz

Years Fishing: I started fishing when I was old enough to hold a pole. I stopped when I was about 45 years old. Now that I have two grandchildren (3 and 5) I decided to start again. First Memories of Fishing: From the time I was five until about 10 years old, my father always took me trout fishing at Big Bear Lake and Lake Gregory. One day after church we drove to Santa Barbara (from Burbank) for a Sunday brunch on the pier (the Harbor House). People were catching mackerel from the pier and we had our trout poles in the trunk of the car. My dad let me fish and the smallest mackerel were larger than the largest trout I ever caught. From then on we became pier fishermen (and some barge fishing). Favorites Piers (and Why): Malibu. My dad was 47 years old when I was born. That means that when I was thirteen, he was 60. In spite of his age and in spite of the fact that he worked 52 hours a week, he still would get up at 4 a.m. and drive us to Malibu from Burbank (about a 1 1/2 hour dive—no freeways then). We would always be the first on the pier when it opened. We would always catch big bonito and huge halibut. I usually fished for halibut and the biggest one that I ever hooked filled up the entire space between the pier pilings. We fished at least once a month (usually twice a month). My father died 22 years ago, but he was the greatest guy that ever lived. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): The first time I fished with a lure. My dad and I were at Malibu Pier. It was still dark but we could hear fish jumping out of the water all around the pier. The sun was just coming up with enough light so that we could see hundreds of bonito jumping after anchovies. I cast out my piece of iron and caught a bonito. I was hooked. Too bad that type of fishing doesn't happen much any more.

Pier Rat Name — JFB

Favorite Piers (and Why): Crystal Pier where I caught my first halibut and my first shovelnose all in the same day Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): The second time I went to Crystal Pier, at the time I was nine years old, I forgot my fishing pole at home so I went and rented a pole, bought some hooks, and some frozen squid. My parents dropped me off at the pier at 11 o'clock. On my first cast I pulled in a 2.5 lb. sculpin. The bite slowed down after that, we caught a couple mackerel but that was it. Right as I start to think about heading home my rod tip starts to dance. I pick it up and pull back hard. It felt like I was reeling in a piece of plywood (which I had done before), then I saw a white flurry below the pier, my first flatty! It measured 34-in and weighed 17-lbs. I saw a local rat catching sand bass with a jig and a grub; I asked to borrow one. Six casts later, I had landed six sand bass to 4-lbs and kept the two largest. After the bass stopped biting, I threw out a mackerel tail on a high/low rig. About ten minutes later I had a shovelnose on! After a fun battle I landed the fish and thought about heading home after a final cast. But luck was with me that day on my final cast I hooked up with a monster shovelnose. Ten minutes past and I hadn't gained any ground on the fish. Finally after a half hour I had it at the base of the pier. After we gaffed it and hauled it up we measured it—58-inches, at the time it was larger than me. It would have been a perfect day, except I had to walk a mile back to my condo. It took me almost an hour but me, my rod, and 20 some lbs. of fish made it home.

Pier Rat Name — Jim C

Years Fishing: 50 years. Started out fishing on the Santa Monica Pier. Became pinhead on the Indiana. Worked on and off as cook and deckhand for 20 years at Redondo Beach, Dana Point, San Diego. Favorite skippers were Joe Schilling, Roy Peters, John Dipley, Barnie Barnes, Homer Lightfoot. First Memories of Fishing with Grandfather on Santa Monica Pier. Favorites Piers (and Why): Berkeley—Best halibut fishing

Pier Rat Name — Joromaca

First Memories of Fishing I can remember joining a city recreational program one summer back in the mid 60's called “Tacklebusters” where a bus would go by a few parks and take us kids fishing to a local lake or pier or out on the barges that were popular back then. Even remember one kid getting “sea sick” on a half-day boat while we were still tied up to the dock! Favorite Piers (and Why): Belmont—where my first experience with bonito was one in which the fish actually leapt out of the water to engulf the anchovy as it was sliding down the line. Also because this pier along with Seal Beach Pier is where my daughters have won numerous rods and reels and prizes during the annual summer fishing derbies. Darn... they have reached the max. age limit. Also Redondo—for the teriyaki sticks—and where I hooked into my biggest fish ever... a thresher that I didn't land but kept everyone on the pier entertained for a good 35-45 minutes. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): See above and I will also include the Catalina Get Together as one I hope not to forget for many years to come because of the camaraderie and seeing as how I won all that $. [Joromaca won the first PFIC Get Together at the Cabrillo Mole in Catalina in 2002]. Words of Wisdom for Pier Rats: Leave everywhere you have been better than you found it, treat everyone you meet with kindness, generosity, and respect, and be willing to help those with less experience and who are more unfortunate than yourself.

Pier Rat Name — JROD89

First Memories of Fishing Watching my dad and older brothers fish at San Clemente Pier when I was a very young. Favorite Piers (and Why): Huntington. Although I think it is the biggest tourist trap ever, it is where I learned to fish. I also like San Clemente because it is quiet and peaceful with decent to great fishing as well as variety. I mostly fish Huntington, Newport, Balboa, and San Clemente because they’re closer but I will jump at the chance to go to other piers. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): TRUE STORY, I was at Huntington one day. I had a medium sized pole with 10 or 12-lb test and a whole anchovy fished on the bottom. I was busy setting up my second pole (not paying attention to the one with the line in the water). All of the sudden I look over and see the pole fly into the water! I was angry with my self as well as embarrassed. I could see the pole being pulled through the water out towards sea. One angler had the idea of casting out with heavy line to try to catch the runaway pole so he did. When he got the pole to the pier we let the drop net down to land the monster. It was a 3.5-foot shovelnose. I let the man keep it because he saved my pole.

Pier Rat Name — just4thehalibut

First Memories of Fishing: Fishing Oceanside Pier for bonito in the middle of the night with my mom and dad. The pier was much longer then, and I remember having nightmares about falling into the ocean because the pier moved so much! Favorite Piers (and Why): Oceanside (my first), Newport Beach (if fishing isn’t good, I can go shopping!), San Mateo (caught my first bat ray there... too bad I didn't know you could eat them at the time!). Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Was about 12, fishing Oceanside Pier, and the bonito where boiling everywhere. Had a green and yellow bonito jig with a rubber ball float. I was killing them, and all the adults around me were not having as good of luck. They hated me, but I was having fun with a fish on every cast!

Pier Rat Name: kp

Years Fishing: I've seriously fished since we came from Germany in ‘78. I always had wanted to fish in Germany but the laws are so tough over there that my dad was not able to get me a license. So when we came over here I was in Heaven. My mom used to drop me off a Santa Monica Pier at 6 or 7 on Sunday mornings and pick me up again about 12 hours later. First memories of fishing: The first time I fished was off a boat dock in Yugoslavia. My dad was repairing his bosses boat so we decided to make a vacation out of it. I had borrowed a fishing pole and was fishing off the end of a boat dock using bread as bait. I caught one fish that I'm guessing to be either a mackerel or bonito. It put up a great fight but we were finally able to net it. I was hooked! Favorite Pier: Aliso Creek Pier. No longer standing. It was never too crowded, the water was always super clean and I never got skunked there. Favorite fish: Has to be halibut. Such a pain to catch but great to eat. Most memorable pier fishing trip: I don’t think there is just one. When I started pier fishing as a kid they were all great. Santa Monica had plenty of large bonito and mackerel. There were also plenty of perch hanging around. Words of wisdom for pier rats: No wisdom here. Just remember catch and release.

Pier Rat Name — landingcrewman

First Memories of Fishing: Catching my first large (100+lbs) bat ray and my first 10-lb bonito, all at Newport. Favorite Piers (and Why): Newport—that’s where I learned the ropes from the shark and ray club, and Oceanside—that’s where I joined the Oceanside Pier landing crew and caught lots of fish. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Newport—my first 100+lbs ray (almost fell in the drink no railing back then); Oceanside- that’s where I taught my sons how to fish the right way

Pier Rat Name — LazarusX3

First Memories of Fishing: Fishing all day with my uncle when I was young, and eventually getting bored of just sitting around, not catching anything, so I told my uncle that I wanted to go play at the beach. I began reeling in my line, when I suddenly couldn't reel anymore. I thought that maybe I snagged the pier, but when I asked my uncle to help me reel, it turns out that there was a fish on the end of it (don't know what kind, it was so long ago I forgot). Favorite Piers (and Why): Newport because I caught more fish there than any other place; Balboa, because when fishing at Newport eventually turned up less fish for me, Balboa was a good alternative; Hermosa and Redondo, because I first fished there when I was a child; and Santa Monica, because it was the most fun, in general, for a young child. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Fishing at Newport, and catching buckets of mackerel, sometimes catching several on one line at the same time.

Pier Rat Name — longboardrder

Favorite Piers (and Why): Newport because that is where I began my pier fishing. I first started going there when my dad would go surfing before I started to surf and I would fish because there wasn't anything better to do. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): One day at Newport about 10:00 a.m. in the middle of winter a school of barred surf perch swam under the pier. They were about football sized all about 1-2 lbs. And there were just thousands off them. If you could get your bait in there you could get instant hookups. They passed fairly quickly and I thought that was that but about 15 minutes later another school about the same size past and it was the same thing all over — good times

Pier Rat Name — Mr. Bojangles

First Memories of Fishing: Busting my new telescopic rod my dad bought me down at one of the Shoreline piers. I swore I had a fish and I kept loading up on the rod till it snapped! Favorite Piers (and Why): Redondo Pier... That’s where Mr. Bojangles lives. Favorite Fish: Bonito... AKA “Mr. Bojangles” Pound for Pound the best fighting fish out there! Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Belmont Pier... This is where I fell in love with fishing — two-three nice-sized bones on at once. The good ‘ol days.

Pier Rat Name — nomoresculpin

First Memories of Fishing: My dad catching mackerel and croaker. I would always get my line caught in the pilings of Oceanside Pier. Favorites Piers (and Why): Oceanside Pier because you can catch fish anywhere on the pier if you know how and also the variety. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): In high school when I took some friends fishing for the first time and catching a bucketful of mackerel. Also—out fishing my dad and two of his friends when I was a kid at Ocean Beach Pier.

Pier Rat Name — pesk21

First Memories of Fishing: First pier fishing memory was at Aliso Pier in 1991, fishing with my dad, mom, and sister. A school of bonito came around and I was introduced to my first real fight (a fish that actually pulled out drag) on my first fishing pole, a 5-foot trout pole. My dad actually had to hand over hand it up to the pier, I will never forget the look on my dad’s face, he was even more proud than I was. Favorite Piers (and Why): Down south, my favorite is San Clemente Pier, in the summer I used to hangout there and catch fish after fish all day and night from perch croakers inshore to bass short barracuda and bonito at the end. Up North, I have only recently gotten acquainted with Goleta Pier, but thus far it has been great. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Ha! This one takes me back. It was early summer 1996, my mom dropped my buddy, Adam, and I off (we were 15 at the time) at San Clemente Pier around 10 a.m. one morning and told us she’d be back to pick us up by 6 p.m. We had planned on it being a day of fun at the pier, wide-open type fishing. Man we couldn't even buy a bite that day. Well around 4 p.m. the heat was getting to us and we were going delirious, so we started clowning around. As a group of people came down the pier Adam grabbed my line and stepped on it while I yanked back on my pole, looking like I had a huge fish. We both started talking really loud, to get the groups attention (we planned to let the line go, and pretend that we lost it, as soon as they looked interested). Well the group came over and Adam let the line go, the whole group let out an “awwwh”... we snickered and of course instantaneously something grabs my line, something BIG... it’s pulling out line like crazy on my 25-lb setup! Me and Adam are shocked, and yelling in excitement (which must have seemed really weird considering we had just appeared to have a fish on and weren’t nearly as enthusiastic). Anyway, after fighting the fish for a good 8-10 minutes, I finally get the fish to stop and start to gain back line on it; meanwhile a nice size crowd is gathering so I don’t want to disappoint. The fish must have been just out of sight when it decided to make a last ditch run, and as luck would have it my drag didn’t give and the line snapped (the crack of the whip sound still haunts me) and the crowd lets out another disappointing “awwwwh!” Didn't even get to see what it was!!! I reel up the line in disbelief and find that there were large abrasions in the line right where it snapped, probably caused by our little game of trick the tourists. Somewhere God must have been snickering. Never again did we play that game nor mention that incident, yet it is definitely etched in my memory forever. Words of Wisdom for Pier Rats: Take a kid fishing, it may just change his/her life. And for you younger guys, take a friend fishing, I can't believe how many people I have been able to open up to fishing. Fishing can be a great bonding experience. “Life is like fishing, everyone has a different approach and a different purpose, yet we all fish and live under the same sun, so respect others and their ways.” “Live and fish at your own pace, after all when your day of fishing is at an end, as with life, all you're left with is your memories.”

Pier Rat Name — PierBum714

First Memories of Fishing: Went fishing with a friend at Seal Beach Pier and all he had was a pair of light tackle fresh water poles with 8-lb test, some small split shot sinkers, and some small hooks. For bait we stopped at the local 7-11 and bought some frozen anchovies. Baited up and within half an hour caught an 18-in. halli. Had to toss it back but after that I was hooked on pier fishing... wanted to catch a legal and eat if for dinner. Favorite Piers (and Why): Balboa pier, Newport Pier, Huntington Beach Pier, Seal Beach Pier, Belmont Pier. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): July 8th, 2002, my friend’s birthday. We decided to go fishing on a 24-hr fish-a-thon, 5 p.m.-5 p.m. It must have been our lucky day because we caught and released between the two of us over 40 spotfin croakers over the 24-hr fish-a-thon. I’ll never forget it.

Pier Rat Name — PierPower

Favorite Piers (and Why): Gaviota because I seem to always have a couple of good runs every time I go there. I haven’t had the chance to fish a lot of piers (Santa Monica, Ventura, Gaviota, Avila, and Port San Luis) so I tend to get the most action at Gaviota. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): The first time I went to Gaviota to meet eddog and his brother. Being into bass fishing at the time my dumb@ss only brought a 7-ft. medium-action spinning rod (Ugly Stick) and 7-ft baitcaster. So I showed up like I was going to fill a bucket up with sardines not knowing of the monsters that could be landed with the right equipment. So I arrived in the late afternoon to meet eddog who was going to teach me on the ways of Catching TOADS with my chump gear, and before I could even set my stuff down he set the hook on something big with his 12-ft surf rod (set up with either a Jigmaster or levelwind) and I was blown away. If anyone bass fishes on the site you know how exciting setting the hook is. Well it is 100 times better on a huge rod and on a huge fish. So after getting my mind blown he helps me rig up my light tackle for just about anything that bites and I catch about a 10-15-lb shovelnose on 10-lb with my Ugly Stick. I about pushed that rod to the limit but landed my first saltwater fish. Now at this point my girlfriend is whining because I brought the rod for her so I rebaited and threw it back out. 10 min. goes by and bam a puffer shark about the same size as the shovelnose hits my bait, and being the good boy friend that I am I let my girl set the hook and land the fish. At this point in my first pier experience I am stoked so eddog had to show up my beginners luck by hooking up a massive bat ray that three of us couldn't even get out of the water (only one fin came out. At least a 4 1/2 foot wing span). So that night I went to bed a happy camper and the following morning eddog rigged me up on one his big rods. This is the part that floored me the most. I get a good run on the clicker and a little panic sets in. Never using a Jigmaster, eddog had to train me on the job. I flipped the bail over and turned the clicker off then I had to reel a tad for the leader to hit the weight (we cast our weights out then slide a leader down with live or cut bait) then eddog said “set the hook” and I hammered it home. But eddog didn't tell me they pull back, so when I set the hook I just about got flung on my face. I was a diehard Pier Rat after that (even though I got spooled my first big hook up). The following week after this trip I started buying saltwater tackle.

Pier Rat Name — Pier Rat

Years Fishing: Since 1989 when I was five years old. First Memories of Fishing: Redondo Pier fishing for mackerel. Favorite Piers (and Why): Newport Pier because it’s near good surf, jetty and bay locations. Balboa pier when the bonito are biting. 72nd street jetty for Halibut and Newport bay jetty for bass. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): My first trip as a kid at Redondo Pier. My dad my brother and I caught so many mackerel it filled a trash bag. Looking back it seems anti-conservation but for a five year old hooking up on so many hard fighting mackerel it was a blast.

Pier Rat Name — Ray Hawk

First Memories of Fishing: I remember when my dad introduced me to fishing. My dad took the whole family to Embarcadero Pier in San Diego. He introduced me to the basics and I caught on quick and have been a hardcore fishermen ever since. My dad would get the family together and invite the neighbors and we would make it a day at Embarcadero pier. People would catch buckets of mackerel. Back in the days, this pier would be the spot for HUGE bat rays. Favorite Piers (and Why): If I had to pick a favorite pier, it would be Shelter Island Pier. Fishing has not been the same since they took out the old wooden pier and replaced it with the concrete pier. During the 1980’s, this pier was the best pier to fish. I recall when I was a kid, this pier would be wide open on mackerel, queenfish, bonito, etc. Hopefully these days will come back. But it is still a nice pier to kick back, fish and relax. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): I have had so many memorable fishing trips. I only wish I had a camera or some kind of camcorder to record my trips.

Pier Rat Name — reelly hooked

Favorite Piers (and Why): I only fish a few piers (don’t have a car yet), but the one pier that I've caught tons of fish from is Belmont Pier in Long Beach. I love that pier because it’s really low, and most of the times it's very productive. I've practically caught every fish that can be caught in that area from this pier. Another reason this is my favorite pier is because this is the first pier I started pier fishing on. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Well I was at Belmont Pier and this was when I was about 10 or 11 years old, but I was fishing for mackerel with a Krocodile. You would just jig it up and down about 3 or 4 feet under the water and the mackerel would just go crazy for it, well anyways I had one of those cheap Zebco combos from Big 5 with about 12 or 15-lb test on it. While watching my Kroc under the water and the mackerel just swooping back and forth trying to snatch it I see this big long fish just swim up and snatch the Kroc. I didn't know what it was at the time but dang did it pull hard. My pole bent and the line went straight under the pier. I didn’t know how to set my drag back then so after a few seconds the line snapped. That was my first encounter with a barracuda, and a big fish. I can still remember it so clearly the ‘cuda just cruising and then wham!! straight for my Krocodile.

Pier Rat Name — SD Fisherman

First Memories of Fishing: Fishing from Crystal Pier with my dad and older Sister around 1986-87. We didn't catch too much as I can recall except for a few smelt and mackerel. However, I do remember a kid catching a BIG corbina in the surf at about mid-pier. My dad was a commercial Lobster Fisherman in the 70’s and I think he wanted to get me hooked on fishing! According to him, I was raised on fresh lobster, halibut, bass, and abalone. Well, who would've guessed that I would become a FISHING ADDICT!!! Favorite Piers (and Why): Crystal Pier, for sure. I remember walking along the beach at about five years old and seeing the pier pilings strewn about Pacific and Mission Beaches from the big storm that ruined the pier in the early eighties. Of course, after it was rebuilt, I had my first experiences while fishing from the newly elongated pier. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Being dragged around by a big shovelnose from Crystal Pier in August of 2001. I had no crab net to bring up this beast and was forced to cut the line after I brought him to the surface after a fun fight. Oh well, hopefully he's still out there to fight another day!!

Pier Rat Name — Seabass Seeker

Favorite Piers (and Why): Gaviota, lots of fun memories there, afternoons spent with my family, huge mack runs and monster bat rays. Goleta, my “home” pier. I know this pier like the back of my hand. I’m usually there in the summer when the warm water brings in the fish. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Goleta Pier August 2003, my uncle and I started fishing around 7 p.m., we had a steady bite of rays, sharks, shovelnose... all at the end of the pier. Before we notice, it’s 1 A.M.!!! My uncle’s Baitrunner sings hooking into another nice bat, while I go get the crab net. I started pulling and felt quite a bit of weight on there. Either I had the mother of all crabs or (as I was afraid) a seal. After getting it halfway up, a couple of guys helped me pull it over. Turned out to be a 53” seven-gill, in a crab net!!!

Pier Rat Name — Shark Assassin

Favorite Piers (and Why): I don't quite know how to answer that, I have a tie up of San Clemente, Balboa, Seal Beach or Newport. Some of my other early memories were when I fished Seal Beach Pier—catching guitarfish longer than I was tall. Favorite Fish: sharks. I love them. Sharks are what I love to catch, they’re my favorite fish to read about, plus they’re almost always fun. Leopard sharks are always fun. They’re absolutely beautiful, and fight good. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Ah, I have countless trips that I could consider memorable, but that'd take up too much space. Here's just a few: I was out fishing at Seal Beach Pier a long time ago, when I fished maybe 9-10 times a year. I had just gotten to the pier, rigged up and placed a frozen whole ‘chovy on the hook. Of course, my dad remarked, “You'll never catch anything with a bait that big.” Dropped the line down, BAM. Fish on! I reeled in the line after a good fight, to find an 18-20-lb shark, as what I now identify as a Sevengill. Released the shark, put another ‘chovy on the hook. Dropped it down to catch ANOTHER shark, also a sevengill but of smaller size—maybe 10-lbs. Also released. I had caught these two sharks, before my dad had even wet his line. Oh so envious was he! Not long ago, I was fishing from San Clemente Pier, I brought along a long rod to fish from the far off structure. Hearing about recent catches of bat rays, I placed a whole squid on the line. Dropped it out, not a huge cast, but not against the pier either. A few moments later I heard my line peeling off like crazy. Clicked the Baitrunner off, to find the fish (presumably a ray or of considerable size leopard shark) still pulling line off like crazy, appearing to have no stop. I tightened down the drag a little, to have little or no effect. It was still ripping line off like crazy, and by now I was half spooled, my 25# SoftSteel on my Baitrunner 6500 looking quite thin, I was handing the rod to my old man so I could yank the bell off when the line suddenly stopped. After some time later (lots of line to reel in) I found my knot had came loose! Blimey! Words of Wisdom for Pier Rats “Get out; fish, hunt, play baseball, football, tennis, whatever. Just get out. Embrace the beauty that is nature around you. Observe the life abroad, keep it in your memory. Always take heed to everything around, keep in mind to tell that loved one that you love them. Because one day this will be all gone, and then only will you realize how short life is, and only then will you yearn for it again.” — Shark Assassin

Pier Rat Name — skimfisher

First Memories of Fishing: Going to Newport Beach and summer when I was in high school catching smelt and using it as bait for halibut. Then by afternoon, I'd put the fishing gear away and skimboard into the surf. By evening, it was back to fishing

Pier Rat Name — Skinner

Years Fishing: Since I was five or so roughly 20 years ago. First Memories of Fishing: Fishing with my grandpa and uncles including sinker at the Point Mugu pier eating cold pizza and choc. milk. Favorites Piers (and Why): Mugu but it is no more. I mainly fish Ventura and Goleta. Goleta produces more fish but Ventura has the size. Favorite Fish: Fish to eat are halibut and lingcod. To battle would be a big bat ray. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Ventura pier—I think it was the summer of 2001 Sinker and I arrived at dark set up using whole squid and big poles fished till daylight and caught 40 + or- spiny dogfish and all 4-footers. We only went home when we ran out of bait. Words of Wisdom for Pier Rats: Don’t fall in.

Pier Rat Name — Slash

First Memories of Fishing: My first fishing memories involve a Southern California pier. I was so young, I wasn't aware of the pier’s name—only that I was at The Pier. Dad equipped us kids with bamboo poles and assured us that if we kept the bait in the water, we would catch a fish. I wasn't able to sit still enough to do that, but it didn't seem to matter. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): My most memorable pier-fishing trip was to the Cayucos Pier in the fall of 2003. My friend Dale and I were enjoying a peaceful morning soaking bait at various points along the pier. A spot opened up at the end of the pier, so we moved down there to take advantage of it. Dale had baited his Sabiki rig with cooked bacon after getting an earful from me for using such “unsophisticated” bait, but he was the only one catching fish at that time. They were too small to keep, so they all went back into the water—until he caught a small shiner perch. That one I kept to use for bait. I had just finished reading Ken’s book and I was ready to try my hand with live bait. I made up a trolley rig using the little perch and sat back to see what would happen. After 20 minutes of nothing but a little twitch (which I put down to the movement of the bait), I decided to see if my perch was still alive. When I picked up my rod, it was heavy. Darn! I'm caught on kelp! No, something started swimming around on the other end of my line—Fish On! I reeled it in and, as I watched from up on the pier, an ugly face with a wide mouth that had my line coming out of it emerged from the water. As it got closer, I could see the blue markings on its flank—lingcod! Wow! I was sure that I would have to throw it back, it didn't look like it was long enough to keep, but it sure was heavy! We got the fish up on the deck to measure it. It wouldn't hold still and nobody wanted to put their hand in that mouth full of half-inch teeth. I solved the problem by putting the toe of my shoe in its mouth to hold it down and, while we put a tape along it, I could feel the fish chewing on my foot. 24-1/2 inches—a keeper! That was a great day. Words of Wisdom for Pier Rats: “When you discover something you like, enjoy it! Wallow in its pleasure before it goes away in our ever-changing world. Yet, do not be afraid of change. Embrace it. For, without change, we would never discover that new thing.”

Pier Rat Name — Socalman

My introduction to any type of saltwater fishing was at the Newport pier, around 1957. I was just a young kid so I do not remember exactly. For several summers our family vacationed in the Newport-Balboa area. By the time I was 11 I was allowed to go fishing on my own at the piers. Yes, plural. Sometimes I would walk up the coast to Balboa, sometimes down to Newport. I recall catching many bonito, mackerel, some barracuda, one good-sized halibut, and a small yellowtail and probably more perch than I cared to count. I will always remember the bait and tackle shop where I would use my tickets and buy a live bait or two. After many years away from fishing piers, I recently took a trip to Newport. I chose a spot that seemed close to where my father first took me as a kid and spent a few hours. I am not sure if I caught four small perch, I believe they were barred surfperch or the same little one four times! After a few fun hours I headed home, happy and waiting for the next day to get back down. Retirement gives me that opportunity.

Pier Rat Name —Surf and Pier Al

First Memories of Fishing: Fishing with my Dad on Venice Pier of the 1970s. Favorite Piers (and Why): Venice Pier of the 1970s, for the pretty good fishing, and the camaraderie and eccentricities of the “regulars.” Redondo Sportfishing Pier, near the “bubble hole” for the great view of the bubble and feather action by the upwelling. Santa Monica Pier for the whole experience of the 80s. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Late night pinback (spiny dogfish) and stingray fishing on the old Venice pier with nylon covered trolley rigs baited with whole squid and 6/0 heavy hooks, for the experience and the rush. Not an enlightened time, though. The sharks and rays were not released, or treated well. Don’t miss that part of it.

Pier Rat Name — tackleholic

First Memories of Fishing: Night run of barracuda off Redondo Sportfishing Pier and trying to squeeze into a pier of packed adults towering over me. Favorite Piers (and Why): Redondo Sportfishing. Just the variety of fish you could or you used to be able to catch off there plus it’s low to the water and not a lot of people fish it that much. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): No one particular, just fishing off of Redondo when they still sold live bait and just having schools of marauding bonito pass under the pier. Hooking up possibly my biggest bonito off a pier (estimated 6 lbs.) on a cheapie Kmart ultra-light special. Having it strip me to the spool about five times with only the spool knot holding it on, then regaining line each time, only to have a seal get it and reeling in just the head to what I would estimate was a 6-lb. bonito.

Pier Rat Name — TROJANFAN571

Years Fishing: 40. First Memories of Fishing: Venice Pier with my dad and my hooking up with four bonito on one line. Killer time!!! I miss fishing with him!! Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): I was eighteen years old and a high school buddy and I decided to fish Redondo Pier at midnight. Only us and two other nuts out there!! One of these guys decides to cast overhand, doesn't see his buddy behind him—treble hook in forehead (ouch). I had to snip the end of the hook off to get it out. Guy was nuts. Covered with duct tape, he fished on. Classic—remember, no overhead casting (signs are for a reason)—fish on!!

Pier Rat Name — usage pj

First Memories of Fishing: My earliest memories are, naturally, of fishing off the San Clemente Pier. I have a nice photo of my 11-year-old self proudly holding up a 5-6 pound California sheephead that I'd just caught off the pier. When I get around to scanning it I'll post it here... 35 years later, and I'm still proud of that fish! Favorite Piers (and Why): I like Pacifica because the kids usually catch something there, if the swells are down. Seacliff used to be my favorite until they closed the far end. I caught my one-and-only bat ray there about 15 years ago. Nostalgically, the San Clemente Pier will always remain my favorite due to the many summers I spent there as a youth. I even have a large framed photo of the pier above my computer taken March 1st 1983—the day the pier broke. Most Memorable Pier Fishing Trips (and Why): Probably the time I caught the sheephead of San Clemente pier (see above). I was so stoked about that fish that I had my grandma cook it, and I brought it home on the airplane the next day, on a big foil-wrapped platter, sitting on my lap. I remember returning the next summer and proudly finding the photo of me with my fish still sitting in the window of the bait shop.