Trip to the Southland — Days 4 and 5

Ken Jones

Staff member
Monday morning saw me leave San Diego early with the intent of fishing three piers during the day. Unfortunately it was raining all the way to San Clemente. I finally decided to stop and have a morning sandwich in hopes the rain would stop before hitting the San Clemente pier. It did.


San Clemente Pier

San Clemente Pier, 8:30-11:15 a.m. I arrived at the pier and only found three people on the pier, a bad sign, and sure enough things were slow. I started fishing at the end but all I was able to catch there were smelt and small perch. Finally headed mid-pier to just past the restroom area where I managed to catch a spotfin croaker and a yellowfin croaker. I caught the spotfin on ghost shrimp that I had purchased at Squidco in San Diego while the yellowfin hit on blood worms. Most of the fish were caught on the bloodworms.

Spotfin Croaker.jpg

Spotfin Croaker

Total for 2.75 hours = 11 jacksmelt and topsmelt, 4 walleye surfperch, 1 white seaperch, 1 salema, one shinerperch, one spotfin croaker and 1 yellowfin croaker.


Dana Harbor Pier and adjacent Star of Dana Point

Dana Harbor Pier, 12:35-2:20 p.m.. I next headed over to the small pier in Dana Harbor. Only one fisherman at that pier and he hadn't caught anything. It was slow except for one really nice fish. Total for 1.75 hours = 3 white seaperch, 1 shinerperch and one 18-inch corbina (which has been filleted and is tonight's meal).


California Corbina


Grizzled pier rat and a corbina

The corbina was basically the highlight fish for the trip as far as I was concerned, better than the halibut I caught.


Newport Pier, 5:35-6:35 p.m. I had one more pier to hit. I drove the coast route to Newport, checked into my motel, stopped for a light lunch and headed to the always busy Newport Pier. It's often a hit or miss pier depending upon the mackerel and this was no exception.


At the end of the pier

IMG_6904.jpg The end of the pier and Catalina off in the distance.

I found the newly-opened end section crowded with people, almost all using Sabikis for mackerel, and not one mackerel to be seen (although a smelt occasionally ht a Sabiki). I fished the bottom at the end for a half hour hoping for a perch or bass but didn't have a bite except for a lone jacksmelt. I next moved inshore hoping for something, anything, but didn't have a bite in the half hour in that section. With the wind picking up and no fish in sight I called it a night and headed to the hotel to watch the NBA finals.

Tuesday would see me headed back to Fresno but not before stopping at the Balboa Pier and seeing Snookie, the "queen of the pier" for a while along with Hashem.

Balboa Pier: 6:45-8, 9:45-11. Once again I found the pier largely deserted, one lone angler about 3/4 of the way out to the end. The end had nary an angler which meant the normal mackerel bite was non-existent. What might replace them? I would cast out one line from the south corner of the pier and fish one line straihght down among the pilings hoping for a possinble perch, bass or mystery fish. However it was slow. All I managed in a little over an hour of fishing were some topsmelt, 2 walleye surfperch, 3 small bocaccio and 1 California lizardfish.

When Hashem arrived I decided to take a break and have some breakfast with him at Ruby's. Although Snookie had joined us at the end in search of some small live bait for her halibut, she would continue fishing while Hashem and I stuffed our tummies.

After breakfast we headed inshore to fish with Snookie by the second extension on the pier. As we arrived one of her group's anglers was pulling up a halibut. Unfortunately it was only 20 inches long and thus too short to keep.


A "shortie" halibut.
I decided to finish off my worms and try for some croakers or barred surfperch instead of soaking live bait for the halibut but it didn't work, all I got were a few more walleyes and a sanddab. Nevertheless, it was nice fishing with Snookie and Hashem and we finally got a picture of the three of us.


Hashem, Snookie and some gnarly old pier rat.
Total for 2.5 hours at the Balboa Pier: 5 wallye surfperch, 5 topsmelt, 3 bocaccio, 1 California lizardfish, and 1 speckled sanddab. The fishing was slow but it was still fun sharing the time with the dolphins, birds, and some old friends.

Heading home I made decent time (even in LA) excepting for a weird slow down at the foot of the Grapevine. I was back in Fresno by 4:30.

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Well-Known Member
Good to see, fish and spend some time with you and Snookie, Skipper Jones.

After you left, I moved to the end where you were fishing. Not one fish.
I put out the perch that I had caught as live bait. It came back eaten by crabs.

I also found out that if I am to go back, I should buy a yearly parking pass.
For seniors, it is about $100.00 and covers both of piers.
It had cost me $34.00 for 10 hours on Tuesday. Wow.

Ken Jones

Staff member
The parking rates in Newport Beach are ridiculous. Do they assume everyone has the kind of money that it takes to live in Newport Beach? On the other hand, almost all the meters down by the beach, and especially the ones by the Newport Pier, are filled to capacity most days. Finding a spot on weekends or in the summer can be a frustrating experience.

Ken Jones

Staff member
What I wrote in Facebook in regard to that last picture: "Two gnarly old “pier rats” and a queen. Left: Hashem Nahid aka Mahigeer (one who catches fish in Persian). Hashem had been fishing for about 65 years, starting when young in Iran and Turkey. He became a pier fisherman after joining Pier Fishing In California in 2005. Middle: Verona Fath aka Snookie, the “Queen” of the Balboa Pier. She had been fishing for about 80 years. Her mom first took her fishing at the Newport Pier where her mom was known as the “Halibut Queen” of the Newport Pier. She has been my Pier Fishing In California reporter for the Balboa Pier since 1999. Her mother told her to always dress like a lady (especially when fishing) and to always have a nice hat. This is one of many, many different hats I have seen her wear. Right: some grizzled fisherman (known as The Pier Fisherman or Skipper) who has been fishing California piers since 1957. A nice morning for friends to once again get together at the Balboa Pier.


Well-Known Member
Snookie has many talents.

One being a hat maker. If I am not mistaken, she makes the hats that she wears. Each time I see her, she has a different one.
Great Picture of you “Pier Rats”. Snookie is always in fashionable dress. The Inshore Halibut IMG_1605.jpeg bite has been slow but the Harbor is kicking out some nice ones, this 32 incher was from Saturday, CPR.