Stories from the Pine Street Pier #2 — Long Beach

Ken Jones

Staff member
Pine Avenue Pier #2 (Long Beach) Fishing 1904-1934

Kingfish Run Not So Lively
Snag-hook Wielders Catch Fair Messes of Pompano, but Hook-and-line Contingent Contents Itself With Few Kingfish

Those of the anglers who figured that the rains would put a damper on the phenomenal run of fish in San Pedro Bay, which has gladdened rodsters the past month, hit the nail quite squarely on the head, for yesterday’s catches were decidedly below grade. Anglers have come to regard the kingfish game as poor unless at least a hundred of them can be taken in a day’s fishing, and few got half that number yesterday, though out of the three hundred, more or less, who were fishing on the wharves, some got forty or fifty apiece.
The snag-hook contingent was busy jerking its quota of pompano out of the channel, but found the catch decidedly inferior to that of a week ago. The hook and line pompano fishers had very poor sport of it, indeed; the day was raw and windy, with the rain about 10 o’clock, and conditions could hardly have been more unpropitious. If there is ever an excuse for using a snag hook in catching pompano it might have been found yesterday, for the fish were there, but did not care to bite. —Los Angeles Times, February 8, 1904

Unknown Fish

A queer and unknown variety of fish was caught from the wharf by an Eastern tourist this morning. It was four feet long and weighed sixteen pounds. It had the body of a tuna and head of an albacore but along the back fin and tail is a thin yellow streak, while the lower fins are tipped with yellow. None of the local fishermen are able to identify it. —Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1904

A big run of five and six-pound albacore at Long Beach wharf kept the hand-liners busy at that point, and turned the outer end of the wharf into shambles, literally slippery with fish gore. These small albacore frequently come close inshore, but are of little use except upon the hook, like all the mackerel tribe they put up a tremendous fight, and give the man behind the rod a good time. —Los Angeles Times, February 28, 1905

This Crawfish A Grand-Dad —
Mammoth Redjacket Taken At Long Beach —
Huge Specimen is Taken by Veteran Fisherman With Line Thrown From The Pier

Long Beach, July 7.—Frank Deffley, a veteran fisherman who has a stall under the wharf, while hauling in a line last night, thought for a few moments that he was pulling up the bed of the ocean, but when the hook reached near the surface of the water concluded that it was an octopus and began figuring how he could let go without cutting the line, for he had no desire for an encounter with a devil fish.
Fortunately it was not, but the monster is undoubtedly the patriarch and great-granddaddy of all the lobsters. It was safely landed and filled a tub made from a half barrel. From the tail to the head measures thirty inches, with a body twenty-four inches in circumference. The main feelers are each over eighteen inches in length and the feet, from which the claws are missing, over a foot long.
Its weight is eighteen pounds and its age problematical, but the fishermen who observe lobsters at all, stages think it at least fifteen years old. The monster was presented to the aquarium where it is on exhibition. —Los Angeles Times, July 8, 1905

Gigantic Lobster Caught At Long Beach
Long Beach, July 7.—Frank Deffley, one of Long Beach’s oldest fishermen, made the prize catch of the season last night. He thought he had a young whale when he began to haul it in, but when his prize reached the surface he saw it was a giant lobster. He succeeded in landing it and placed it in a barrel. The crustacean weighed eighteen pounds. It measures thirty inches from head to tail, its body is twenty-four inches in circumference and the main feelers are eighteen inches long. The feet are over a foot long. Its age is probably about fifteen years. —Los Angeles Herald, July 8, 1905

Biggest Fish Of Season Caught At Long Beach

[A nice Christmas present - KJ] Long Beach, Dec. 25.—The biggest jewfish of the season, weighing 255 pounds, was hooked off the pier here today and, according to the lucky angler, Rochester Sandusky, who recently came to this city from Rilola, Ill., it was the first fish he ever caught.
A great crowd was on the outer wharf at the time the big fish was caught and enjoyed immensely the spectacle it afforded in its mad efforts to get away. Ed Forest went out in a skiff and brought the creature to the landing. The fish was strung up in Will Graves’ fish market. It was six feet long. —Los Angeles Herald, December 26, 1906

Long Beach Fisherman Gets Record Stingaree

Long Beach, June 1.—William Crowder, a West Long Beach fisherman, today caught a record-breaking stingaree, weighing 110 pounds and measuring four and one-half feet across the back. The sting was five inches long. This monster goes ahead of the stingaree which was caught off the local pier Wednesday and which was hailed as the biggest of the season. That one weighed sixty pounds. —Los Angeles Herald, June 2, 1907

A great big Iowan and a shovelnose shark, the former fishing in the ocean for the first time and later making a desperate struggle to escape, entertained loungers on the pier today. The Iowan was joshed unmercifully until he was fighting mad, but landed his prize after it had hopelessly entangled twenty-five fish lines in its struggles. —Los Angeles Times, August 4, 1907

Monster Jewfish Caught Near Long Beach Pier
Giant weighs 350 Pounds and Is Thought To Be the One Which Recently Towed Men to Sea

Long Beach, Jan. 13.—In the stomach of a 350-pound jewfish caught by Clarence Owen near the pier, there were found three lobsters, weighing respectively one pound, two and two and a half pounds. The lobsters had evidently been swallowed but a short time before. Their shells were not even cracked.
In the mouth of the monster were found several hooks and it is thought possible it was this jewfish, and not a whale, which towed James Harvey and Frank Paschall three miles out to sea in their skiff a week ago, when they went to examine their setline. About twenty-five hooks were broken off their line. —Los Angeles Herald, January 14, 1908

White Sea Bass Seen In Large Numbers Near Wharf In Long Beach

Long Beach, May 29.—During the last four days there have been many schools of yellowtail about the outer wharf and anglers have had excitement-a-plenty. With numerous strikes, however, only a few of the fish have been landed on the pier. Those caught have weighed from ten to fourteen pounds.
White sea bass have also been plentiful about the wharf. Pompano were caught during the week by the hundreds. A few halibut were taken this week. —Los Angeles Herald, May 30, 1908

Electric Shark Shocks Two Persons On Pier

Long Beach, April 8.—An electric shark weighing eight-four pounds was caught yesterday west of the pier by Harry Pedlar and was landed upon the outer wharf after shocking two of the men who assisted in hoisting it up out of the water. [Probably a Pacific Electric Ray - KJ]
Pedlar claims that he found the same shark on a setline west of the pier yesterday and that when he gaffed the monster he was so severely shocked that he had to let it go. The shark is on exhibition at the Volk fish marker. —Los Angeles Herald, April 9, 1908

Fishermen Enjoy Plenty Of Sport
Schools of Yellowtail Are Seen Near Beach
White Sea Bass Seen In Large Numbers at Long Beach—Many Halibut Caught

Long Beach, May 29.—During the last four days there have been many schools of yellowtail about the outer wharf and anglers have had excitement a-plenty. With numerous strikes, however, only a few of the fish have been landed on the pier. Those caught have weighed from ten to fourteen pounds...White sea bass have also been plentiful about the wharf. Pompano were caught during the week by the hundreds. A few halibut were taken this week. —Los Angeles Herald, May 30, 1908

An oil shark 6 feet 4 inches long, caught on a small line by Charles Lisk, put up a long and game fight off the pier and was not landed for half an hour. —Los Angeles Herald, June 3, 1908 [Soupfin sharks were often called oil sharks - KJ]

Conditions for the past week… Long Beach—Good. Corbina, yellowfin, mackerel, trout, smelt, croaker, pompano... Mrs. George Williams caught a needlefish four and one-half feet long off the outer wharf this morning. —Los Angeles Herald, June 14, 1908

Anglers Swarm On Pier, Fishing Being Excellent

Long Beach, July 15.—Every day the pier is lined with anglers and most of them are having good luck. Bobbing for herring has paid big dividends on the capital and labor expended, and croakers are biting well.
“If you want a place to sit and fish off this pier you pretty nearly need to have a reserve seat,” said one man today as he forced his way to a place on the guard rail and sent out his line with a whirr.
Surf fishing and fishing off the outer wharf are more popular just now than have been for several months. Many well-filled baskets are carried home daily by young and old. —Los Angeles Herald, July 16, 1908

Anglers Enjoy Immense Sport With Sea Trout— Every One Has Good Luck

Long Beach, Sept. 9—There was never a greater day for sea trout fishing than this. All day long anglers have lined the pier and the outer wharf, and for a while this morning trout were pulled out with astonishing frequency, every fisherman or fisher-woman getting from four to twenty fishes. Capt. E. B. Counts of the Pacific fish market sold nearly 500 sardines for bait. From the platform in the rear of the market eighty trout were caught before noon. —Los Angeles Herald, September 10, 1908

Two Denizens Of Deep Captured In One Haul
Five-Pound Sea Spider Clings to Nine-Pound Lobster

Long Beach, Sept. 25.—One of the strangest catches ever made off the outer wharf was that of a nine-pound lobster to which clung a five-pound sea spider, with long, strong tentacles. The fight which the two denizens of the deep started before the lobster got the hook was continued on the platform of the Pacific market after fisherman Clarence Owen landed them.
The spider made a number of passes at the lobster, and the latter made futile effort to thrash the enemy with its many-pronged tail, the lobster’s best weapon. The lobster was the largest caught here this year. —Los Angeles Herald, September 26, 1908

Long Beach improved wonderfully last week and yellowfin, corbina, pompano, mackerel, herring and perch rewarded all who cared to wet a line at this delightful resort. —Los Angeles Herald, June 26, 1909

Rat-Tailed Stingray Caught

Long Beach, July 31.—A monster stingray, weighing about thirty-six pounds, but minus its stinger, was landed on the outer wharf this morning after a fierce struggle. The stingray, which was of the variety known as the rat-tail stingray, was hooked on a small tackle by George Munger, and in its range on finding itself securely fastened, struck at one of the pilings of the pier, and its stinger was imbedded and broken off in it. The queer fish, with a tail about a yard long, attracted much attention on the pier, where it was exhibited as an “ox-rae,” or “sea devil.” —Los Angeles Herald, August 1, 1909

Many Fish Caught By Busy Anglers — Long Beach Pier Scene Of Activity

Long Beach, Dec. 23—It would be difficult to exaggerate the excitement occasioned here today by the sudden and unexpected visit to these waters of immense schools of herring, croaker and pompano. Early visitors to the pier were surprised to find that their hooks remained idle for only a second after being thrown into the water. The good news spread and by 10 o’clock the west side of the lower deck of the pier and also the guard-rail around the outer wharf were crowded with anglers. From then on until tonight the fish continued to bite, and around the feet of each fisherman or fisherwoman a great pile grew at a remarkable rate. Visitors to the outer wharf had to step high and carefully if they went along the west promenade of the lower deck to avoid stepping upon the catches. Croaker and herring were the fish caught with rod and line. Big catches of pompano were made with nets. —Los Angeles Herald, December 24, 1909

Woman Captures Octopus On Hook — Visitor at Long Beach Embraced by Her Catch and Then Promptly Faints

Long Beach, Dec. 9.—When a devil fish, or octopus, which measured three and one-half feet from tip to tip suddenly wrapped one of its tentacles about her ankles, Mrs. Jessie McDonald, a visitor here from Tucson, Ariz., fell over in a prompt and justified swoon on the pier. The woman had hooked the devil fish while angling for surf fish. She had difficulty in getting it loose from a piling under the pier, but as she raised it through the air it hung limply and she did not realize what she had caught.
As soon, however, as the octopus was dropped on the pier it became lively. It threw out one of its eight arms and caught Mrs. McDonald about the left ankle. The fair angler felt the pressure tightening, and covering her eyes she screamed and fainted.
A man fishing a few yards away ran toward her with his bait knife in his hand and with difficulty severed the tentacle of the octopus. Then unwrapping the section that was about the woman’s ankle, he used Mrs. McDonald’s rod in pushing both pieces of devil fish overboard. As the body of the octopus fell into the water the octopus squirted out the inky fluid which was secreted in its sac, blackening the water all about it.
When Mrs. McDonald was revived she was in such a state of nervous prostration that she had to be assisted to the home of the friends whom she is visiting, on Elliot street. —Los Angeles Herald, December 10, 1910

Angeleno Hooks Jewfish That Weighs 270 Pounds

Long Beach, Dec. 28.—A jewfish estimated to weigh 270 pounds was hooked this morning by John Miller, a Los Angeles man, while fishing off the end of the outer wharf. The monster made a threshing fight of it but was gaffed finally by Clarence Owen.
Owen’s right hand was torn badly between the thumb and forefinger by the snap of the leader, when the fish made a sudden lunge, and medical attendance was necessary. —Los Angeles Herald, December 29, 1910

A horn shark, eighteen feet long, made himself at home around the outer end of the wharf this morning and created consternation among the owners of light tackle, who hastily reeled in their lines. [Hard to say what kind of shark this was. Few local sharks reach that size excepting basking sharks - KJ] After some time spent in the vicinity, most of the time moving on the surface of the water, the ugly fellow gave a flirt of his tail and headed for the southeast. —Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1911

365-Pound Jewfish Is Landed at Long Beach

Long Beach, June 12.—John Leach, an employee of the Pine Avenue Fish Market, broke a Southern California record yesterday at the end of the Pine Avenue Pier by landing a jewfish weighing 365 pounds. —Santa Ana Register, June 12, 1914

Mackerel, herring, pompano, bass, croakers and sea trout are being caught from the end of the municipal pier. —Los Angeles Times, July 21, 1916

Huge Stingrays Caught

Visitors on the end of the Pine Avenue pleasure pier were treated to the sight of two of the most unusual deep-sea monstrosities ever drawn out of the Pacific at this port today.
Albert Jewell, night man in charge of the municipal fish market, set out his lines as usual last night for black sea bass and sharks. When he pulled them in this morning he brought to gaff what are believed to be two of the largest stingrays ever captured in the Southland.
The ordinary weight of a stingray is five pounds, but these tipped the scales at fifty-nine and seventy-five pounds. respectively. Large crowds gathered during the day to view the big sea denizens.
The sawtooth bones that makes the ray a most dangerous creature were more than five inches long on the big fish, while the average “business end” of these hostile salt water inhabitants is less than an inch.
The two stingrays put up a game fight and it was only after an hour’s struggle and manipulation that they could be hauled to the surface. Even after being gaffed they lashed out viciously with their barbed tails. —Los Angeles Times, May 24, 1918

Fisherman Hooks Body

Long Beach, Aug. 17.—Fishing off the Pine Avenue pier here last night, William Richie hooked what he thought would be a record catch. Just before his line broke he caught sight of a human body. Today police recovered the body of Tony Toodoroff, Bulgarian. Toodoroff was drowned August 8 while bathing in the surf. —Santa Ana Register, August 17, 1921
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SC McCarty

Well-Known Member
A horn shark, eighteen feet long, made himself at home around the outer end of the wharf this morning and created consternation among the owners of light tackle, who hastily reeled in their lines. After some time spent in the vicinity, most of the time moving on the surface of the water, the ugly fellow gave a flirt of his tail and headed for the southeast. —Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1911
I wonder what this "horn shark" was. Eighteen feet is probably an exaggeration, since it is huge for any local shark, including white sharks, except for basking sharks.

Pampano (Pacific Butterfish) are frequently mentioned here, and older resources list them as prized fish, at times having the top market price. They are awfully small. Does anyone have a good way to prepare them?


Ken Jones

Staff member
I added a descriptor and you're right about the shark, about the only kind of shark 18 feet long would probably have been a basking shark. At one time many basking sharks were being speared from the Ventura Pier, so apparently they do come in close to piers.

As for the pompano (Pacific butterfish), most are pretty small and very delicate. A light pan frying, baking, steaming and smoking should work. They were considered the best eating local fish by anglers a 100+ years ago and received the top prices at the fish markets.