The "Perfect" Pier — Your thoughts

Ken Jones

Staff member
An interesting little thread — what kind of ideas would you get today, ten years later?

Date: January 3, 2007
To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board
From: Posted by dompfa ben
Subject: What is a "model pier?"

There was a scene in "The Karate Kid" where Mr. Miyagi gives Daniel-san an introductory course in the art of Bansai. "Clear head. Think only of tree..." encourages Miyagi. There is actually no instruction in how to cut the branches and form a perfect vision of a tiny tree. There is only the teacher's attempt to uncover what already exists in the student: perfection.

While I am no master--martial arts, Jedi, or otherwise--I would like to encourage each of you, for the briefest of moments, to clear your head, and think only of pier.

In your heart of hearts, in the bright, shiny recesses of perfection that dwell in your mind's eye, what is a model pier? What would it look like? What would it feature? Who would fish there? Where would it be located? Share your ideas on this thread. Challenge yourself, perhaps challenge others. Of course, this is just an exercise--eventually, we must return to reality, and deal with what IS. Yet by considering what could be, don't we approach what should be?

Posted by SturgeonSlayer23

I like the deep thought, kind of puts you in an epiphany of some kind of Zen Master way:) Anyway, THE perfect pier would be made from American hard wood, stained dark brown maple color, and extend all the way to the deep channel where the wild things are. Plenty of cut rod holders in the wood. Nice cleaning stations with fresh running water and garbage cans situated every 30 feet on the pier. It should have xenon lamps on the pier for night fishing. A nice little mom & pop bait shop at the beginning of the pier which sold live shrimp to whole live bonito for bait. They would sell only trans-fat free muffins and cookies and the best dam coffee you would want for $0.50 a cup. The pier, never crowded, but only helpful anglers who wouldn't mind lending a hand if need be. All would share bait and prosper. The perfect pier.

Posted by Crust

The coffee should be free ;) jk
I wouldn't mind a pier like Balboa Pier with a second "floating" level that is closer to the water and maybe slightly longer. -Crust

Posted by Danthefisherman

The perfect pier IS...SF Muni pier. In the day time the pier is full of people: Tourists, fisherman from around the globe, joggers, and of course, the perfectly balanced Pod scooters. It is also full of many memories for many who grew up fishing in SF. Though, all piers have people and are full of memories, right? And SF Muni is often trashed, the concrete walls crumbling, and the floors full of potholes. It is just an ordinary pier, nothing special, by day that is!

Once the sun goes down and the crowds disappear, the place comes to life! All the imperfections fade away in the darkness, and you are left in silence, surrounded by the lights of all the tourist attractions. With the entire bay lit up for a backdrop, and the occasional bus or street cleaner passing in the background, you remain, only to put yourself in paradise, however you see it. Watching the tip of your pole, linking yourself to whatever life is below the glassy surface of a world of water, you are in a place of imagination yet reality. You are in the ultimate state of relaxation!

The ultimate state of relaxation, so far from today's busy and booming planet, it seems to put you in a new world. The perfect pier is just a world away. It is easily accessible for all who slow down to enjoy life. It is even a place for people to start new lives. Does the pier itself matter? If any pier is perfect, it is not because of the strong pilings and nice railing, but rather the life shared by the group of people who find themselves in a new world. The pier is just a portal to get to that special place.

BUT: if there was a perfect pier...physically that is. There would be COMFORTABLE chairs. BBQ pits, buffet tables, and a retractable sunroof for shelter of those not so perfect days. The pier would be able to follow the fish (nm..that would be a boat not a pier!). OF course, we can’t forget escalators and moving floors. Last but not least, also the best...girls on roller skates to take your order!

Posted by pinfish

It would have lots of fish and nobody on it except me.

Posted by kaleo

Take a wooden pier like Seacliff, extend it about a half mile or so, and locate it a little north of Moss Landing so that it runs up to and along the edge of the Monterey Canyon. Like Seacliff, this pier is part of a state park. The pier, of course, is free, but parking is still $6.

A shop at the base of the pier sells bait, basic tackle, sandwiches and chowder and musubi, and serves as a base for the on-duty ranger. The ranger cruises the pier on his/her bitchin classic Schwinn. S/he talks story with the regulars. And s/he has the full authority of law on her/his side. This is a coveted position within the state park system; knowledgeable and capable candidates tend to be the ones to get the job. There is a ranger on duty from 6am to 10pm.

This pier has a gate. It is locked from 10pm to 6am, but night fishing is available with a permit. Permits are available from the ranger. No more than 3 permits can be issued per night, but each permit is good for a group of up to 12(?) individuals. Permit holders have their picture taken by the ranger at the time of permit issuance. Permit holders are responsible for any damage, defacing, or littering that occurs during their permitted time; offenders have their pictures posted at the shop and are denied entry to the pier until they have made right their wrongs. Serious offenders are arrested.

The light posts have placards with fish identification guides and a list of regulations pertaining to the commonly caught species. The multilingual regulations are regularly updated by the ranger. Snappy slogans promote catch and release. There's an 8' long bench every 20 feet, and there's a trash can and recycle bins by every other bench. There's a fish cleaning station every 100 feet or so.

This pier has been adopted by a docent group. The group regularly holds on-pier workshops on proper fish release methods, bay ecology, the natural histories of individual species, stuff like that. The group also facilitates children's derbies. Many of the pier regulars are members of the docent group.

And the girls on roller skates, this pier has those too...

Ken Jones

Staff member
Perhaps the new model pier would have drones that would carry the bait out to DEEP water (assuming your reel had the capacity to carry enough line to reach the deep water).

And, of course the pier would probably need free WiFi for people to use (although people should be fishing instead of checking their cell phones).

And of course at least three bathrooms for inshore, mid-pier and the end of pier anglers.

Ken Jones

Staff member
Here's an even older thread that I overlooked —

Date: September 9, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Ken Jones

Subject: The Perfect Pier?

If you were an angler-architect, what features would you include in designing the perfect pier?

Posted by newgen

Lots of fish!

Posted by pescare

Trap Door In The Middle for dispensing "Pier Justice" to poachers. Ed

Posted by Dave.Mush

A beef jerky vending machine

Posted by Rock Hopper

I would want my pier to be fairly long (at least Berkeley size to allow for plenty of room) in a location that allowed it to cover some rocky/sandy shallows and had access to deep rocky water (>50'). I'd put in a few "wells" for dropping into the pilings. It would have a few bait cleaning stations, small restrooms at the beginning and end of the pier, a restaurant at the foot of the pier, and a nice bar out near the end...hehe, close to a killer bait shop, it would have drinking fountains with drinkable water and hot water for soup/coffee, etc. It would be near a jetty and would be well lit at night, with strong lights in a few sections pointing directly into the water. There would be measuring devices built into the railings, and fish ID and DFG limit plaques also spaced among the railings. I would like it to be in an area that was not ignored by the DFG, also. Hmmm...pre-made pole holder notches, a few power outlets, plenty of trash cans and recycle bins. While we're at it lets throw in a beautiful view also. Plus, it will be built for fisherman. Boats and skiffs can be launched near the pier, but not from the pier like Pt. Arena. Besides the small bar there will be no shops or restaurants on the the base of it is good enough. Licenses WILL be required. There will be security with a 24-hour hotline, quick response time and phones on the pier to call them from. Benches will be provided for seating. Pier height will be just enough to cover high tide with a few more feet in case of rough weather. We'll pour through all the records and make it 5' higher than the highest recorded water height. It would be a wood pier with both wood and concrete pilings. Let's also throw in a man made reef within casting distance of the end of the pier.

So when do we start looking for locations? RöçK HòppéR - Thë J?††? Jùnk

Posted by kcruise

Add the fish cleaning stations at Hermosa! Man, we almost stole one of those for Santa Monica... Kel

Posted by Sinker

A few things I have seen: Ok, I know this is not exactly what you were looking for but I have to add this. When I stationed in Europe I visited a pier that was probably the cleanest and nicest pier I have ever been on. Here are some of the things I found very useful and unique:

1. A well stocked Tackle Store with a knowledgeable and helpful proprietor.

2. This tackle store also rented equipment.

3. Bait dispensing machines (kinda like a Coke machine) so you could get bait when the Tackle shop was closed (3 different types of frozen bait).

4. A coin operated Photo Machine - if you got a good catch ad wanted a photo you put in your money stood on the line and it took your picture and spit out a Polaroid plus you could go back and get a better print (was computer operated somehow).

5. This pier was very well maintained, policed and the lighting was excellent.

6. The pier was built out from the pilings so they were not as much of an issue on underhand casts or on having you catch wrap around them, the down side was that it made fishing them difficult.

7. Signs were plentiful regarding the rules and regulations of the pier and they seemed to be followed very well, they were in 4 languages (luckily English being one of them)

8. During the day the beaches were crowded and topless although that was customary in all areas of Denmark at the time and only us young dumb military men with overactive glands seemed to get excited about it.

As for the actual architecture of the pier - wish I could draw. I would definitely have a reef out there (kinda like Goleta) and hopefully a nice hole as well but that would probably just get filled in with sand anyway a kelp bed area and nice sandy area, try to get as many species as possible around that pier.

Posted by skimfisher

DFG Warden station at the end!

Posted by 2d

Poor lighting. Not poor, exactly, but well spaced. A couple of productive piers I've fished in Hawaii have longish distances between light poles. This creates distinct light and shadow areas at night, the edges of which are usually hotspots for bait (and predators following the bait). Cast a lure along these seams, and you can get some big ones.

The piers that have more consistant lighting may be safer, but they don't produce as well.

Posted by Songslinger

Berkeley Pier

Without: Urine, Drunks. Dummies, Poachers

With: Friends, Fish, Starbucks, Clean Rest Rooms Within Walking Distance

Posted by pescare

You'd keep the wind?

Posted by MiruGuy

Make mine a Venti Mocha.You read my mind about a Starbucks. -MiruGuy

Posted by pierhead

Live bait tanks!

Posted by sandcrab

One with!

Live bait tanks full of anchovies, sardines, squid, sand crabs, etc

No poachers, idiots, etc.

Policed, with frequent DFG warden visits.

Huge amounts of fish like halibut, sharks, squid, bass...u name it!

Cutting boards and sinks, restrooms, rod holders.

An extremely nice bait/tackle shop.

Near a jetty, submarine canyon, and natural and artificial reef.

A 7-11

Extremely well lit.

A ride home! Just in case!

Perfect fishing conditions!

Near my house!

Extremely well maintained and clean, with friends and family and fishermen/woman from this board 2 fish with me.

Posted by Snookie

Taking Balboa Pier in mind I wouldn't change too much of its construction except to have a wooden decking and no concrete. Wood is easier to maintain and always looks much better than concrete plus you don't have as much refection to cause sunburn.

There would be several more sink stations for fish cleaning and washing rods, hands, etc. One doesn't do it.

There would be a sub station for the police department at the foot of the pier. Visibility always works well in the field of enforcement.

There should be signs attached to the outside edges of the pier to let swimmers know that they should not swim near the pier. The lifeguards don't pay attention to them unless it is a rough water day.

There should be DFG regulations and pictures of fish, solidly posted for the public's viewing preferably at the police sub station building. Any violations of the DFG code can be handled by the police.

Whatever we are given in the future we will make it work.


Posted by wormdragger

If I could only have the best, This is how my pier would be.....

Easy access from the main roadway to it....

Lots of secure parking with full time security....

and wide space between the cars so we don't scratch the car next to us when moving all of our toy's to the pier....

A walkway to the pier that has information about the fishery and info about how to fish this area (for the kids ).....

As you step onto the pier, you are greeted by a pier rep.(kind of like a Walmart greeter)....(security)

A pier that runs out about 100 feet then turns to run in line with the shore for 1000 feet before making the turn out to sea....

Restrooms at both ends of the pier.....

Hot and cold water every 50 feet for cleaning the pier and ourselves....

A bait shop with cheap bait and all the other goodies we always need....

A Starbucks right at the middle of the pier next door to the place that makes those fat hotdogs just like Costco does....

Wind breaks and those tall propane heaters to sit under every 25 feet or so.....

Rod holders at these locations....

Cutting board....

Coffee cup holder....

Safe spot to lay my hotdog....

No law breaking, poaching, can't get the little fish off the hook before it dies kind of idiots....

And everyone has manners and says please and thank you!...

A state of the art fish cleaning station, out of the wind, has hot and cold water, a vacume sealer for the cleaned fish....

I Have a dream.....wd

Posted by illcatchanything


Well Lighted

Bathrooms at the front, middle and end

a good bait shop that also sells Peets coffee

Posted by sandtrout

All of the above recommendations + video cameras that could record what people are doing and when poachers do what they do best...someone from DFG or the police could come out immediately and cite and/or arrest that person. Starting to sound a little like "Big Brother". I'd also accept a pier that frequently visited by a law officer of some nature and at odd times for surprise visits.

Brock Norris

Well-Known Member
the perfect pier would not be to far away i would drive there in my 69 vw bus the pier would be entirely made out of wood the pilings would be encrusted with mussels water clear with random kelp strands at the end of the pier friends and family that have passed would all be fishing there smiling and welcoming me to the perfect pier

Ken Jones

Staff member
Interesting thoughts by kaleo, especially now that Seacliff has once again suffered damage and, to a large extent, been shut down (as far as angling). The smaller size means angling space is gone and when/if the fish are running it will be even more crowded. In addition, it's no longer possible to make a cast out by the ship, a ship that acts as an artificial reef attracting fish. Lastly, since it's managed by the state the liklihood is that it will take many, many years for repair.

I too have often envisioned a larger pier being built around the ship, somewhat like the shape of a light bulb. An initial stem out from shore and then the citrcular pier around the ship. Far enough away so that further damage to the ship would not endanger the pier but close enough to the ship that anglers could cast toward it and possibly hook up with some of the species that use it fro home. Restrooms and bbq pits already are located near the front of the pier as is a small snack shop (that is now closed for some reason). On the pier would be at least three cleaning tables although that might be impossible given that the state now prefers ta "no dumping" policy as regards the remains of fish. Lights for night fishing, a goodly number of benches, bait cutting boards on the pier, special cut-outs so that anglers in wheel chairs have easier access to the water, and park rangers with the knowledge and skill to handle the miscreants who decide to visit the pier. Seacliff over the years has produced some amazing fishing considering its size—everything from good runs of striped bass to halibut, white seabass and even salmon. If the pier extended into even deeper water, I am sure such fishing would be even more common. Too bad angers couldn't talk one of these big corporations into sponsoring the pier and making it into a "model" pier for others to emulate.