Trip to the Southland — Day 1

Ken Jones

Staff member
Trip to the Southland — Day 1

I have agreed to be a spokesman for anglers on the plans to rebuild the Ocean Beach Pier. As such, I needed to be in San Diego Saturday for the public meeting scheduled to be from 2-4 p.m. Saturday June 10. Given the need to be in San Diego, I thought I could also do a few additional things (filming and fishing).

I arrived in San Diego late Thursday amidst rumors of possible rain on Sunday. In response, I talked to Rich Reano who is filming our YouTube videos and we decided to do a film Friday instead of Sunday. We would meet up at the Embarcadero Marina Pier at 10:30. Of course I also wanted to do a little fishing.

2023.6.8_Shelter Island Pier.1 copy.jpg

The Shelter Island Pier

I headed down to the Shelter Island Pier at 8 a.m. to pass out flyers for Saturday’s meeting as well as possibly fish. As it turned out I would spend almost all my time at the pier talking to people, trying to get some of them to come to the meeting. But, not much luck. Finally, after talking to everyone on the pier, I had a brief 30 minutes or so to fish. But, it was an extremely low tide and no one was catching any fish. Even the halibut regulars who almost always get fish, were complaining. No problem, I know a spot that has always produce fish — but not this time. The water seemed dead and I didn’t get a bite in the 30 minutes I had to fish. As for fish on the pier, I saw one round stingray caught, one thornback ray, and two smelt, nothing else.

Embarcader Marina Pier 1b.jpg

Water view of the Embarcadero Marina Pier that sits behind (and is hidden by) the San Diego Convention Center

I then headed over to the Embarcadero Marina Pier after making a brief stop at Squidco for some live ghost shrimp.

Upon arrival at the pier, I was greeted in the parking lot by Gypsy Boy who said, “are you Ken Jones?” Nice to see someone from PFIC and it was nice to learn his background and interest in fishing. Rich would soon arrive and we would head out onto the pier discussing how we wanted to approach the filming.

At the end, I was greeted by another angler who said, “I’ve seen you, aren’t you Ken Jones?” “Yes.” His name was Marlin and he’s watched the videos. Interesting to meet two new friends from PFIC.

Although I had my pier cart and equipment, I would actually do very little fishing initially. We were too busy filming. Eventually I would set up the rods and throw out a bait and on the first cast pull in a small sand bass. Then nothing for a while and I didn’t see other anglers catching fish. Eventually we started to get some water movement and some small fry began to hit on the light rigging. Most were smelt but a second small sand bass accepted a bait and then a decent-sized rock wrasse. In time, I would also pull in a mid-sized spotted bay bass. As for the larger set-up that I was fishing with ghost shrimp? I decided to cast it into the waters between the shoreline and the pier that have some eel grass and are often good for larger bass. Since we were still filming, I set the rod against the pier (with my Velcro Rod holder) and set the reel into its Baitrunner setting where the line would go out without a possible loss of rod and reel. Naturally what happened next was to be almost expected. I went back to filming when a big fish grabbed the bait. Line was streaming off the reel when I finally got to the rod from where we were filming. The fish had headed straight into the pilings under the pier and just about the time I finally began to reel in line and had a tight line it was cut from the mussels on the pilings. I always stress staying by your rods but here, due to the filming, I was careless and just too far away to prevent the loss. I hadn’t followed my own advice so perhaps deserved to lose the fish.

My fish count for the time I fished was 10 topsmelt, 2 sand bass, one spotted bay bass, and one rock wrasse — and one lost big fish, probably a bat ray considering the way it hit and took off.

We had a good day filming and I hope the film turns out good. In addition, I really enjoyed meeting up with Gypsyboy, a recent transplant from New York City, and one who is eager to learn how to catch fish California style. He had some great stories about New York, and we interviewed him for the film, but I’ll allow him to share what he’s willing to share. I look forward to fishing with him again.


Miguel and a halibut
I would also meet Miguel, who is generally considered "the expert" on the pier and we also interviewed him for the film. He pretty much fishes two ways, with a lure, this day a yellow Fish Trap kind of lure, or with live bait, generally smelt, for the bass and halibut. He said he always tries to reach the pier right at daybreak since that is the best fishing time. He said he had caught 20 bass and two halibut early in the morning. He mentioned how the pier is open 24 hours a day and parking is free until 10 a.m. Shortly before I left he would come down the pier and show me a legal-size halibut he had just caught. Always listen to the regulars, they know what works!


Looking inshore from the Ferry Landing Pier in Coronado — the area where I caught my halibut

2023.6.9_Ferry Landing Pier.2a.jpg

Where the passangers line up for the ferry
Ferry Landing Pier-Coronado:, 4-5:30 p.m. I would decide to visit one more pier. I would head over the bridge to the Ferry Landing Pier in Coronado. There I would find the pier largely deserted, just myself and two other anglers. Conditions somewhat duplicated that seen at Shelter Island that morning. My “always produces fish” spot failed to even yield a bite. It was dead and my 1.5 hours of fishing only produced one bite. Luckily that bite was from a halibut. I had cast out my heavier line using ghost shrimp but when that didn’t work decided to try some cut anchovy. The result was the halibut albeit a shortie only 16- inches long (and safely returned to the water). Just one fish but at least it was a decent fish.


My Ferry Landing Pier Halibut

2023.6.9_Ferry Landing Pier view.3a.jpg

Looking across the bay at San Diego
It was now time to return to my motel room and watch the NBA finals.
Last edited: