Here we go..... Berkeley Pier - maybe I have some bias but I believe it (is) one of the best halibut piers in CA. Why? I think because of the flow of water that comes in directly in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. Also, I grew up fishing that pier from age 3.
Balboa! Always pretty clean, fairly easy parking, friendly people, never too crowded. Easy to get to.
But most of all its because if familiarity, i know which spots for particular fish, and the bait spots.
Also like the railing much better here than Newport or Huntington, good height, not too high or low, and i like putting a foot under the bottom rail as i cast.
I also like being able to watch the current as it hits the wedge, with Catalina in eyesight (when it isnt cloudy). And if the pier isnt producing, i can walk across the street and fish Newport bay under the boats for some bass.
Capitola. It's been a good producer on every visit, both variety and number (if not always size).
And the environment is great. On the pier: fishermen coming and going from skiff rentals, bait shop, restaurant. Nearby is downtown Capitola and the beaches. Parking isn't easy but I've always been able to feed the meter not too far away.
I don’t have a favorite pier these days. I liked some of the older versions of piers, before storms got to them. I liked ocean side pier when it reopened but the last time I was there, it lost some of its charm.
Lol Hi Ken! As a SD local, I’m picky with my piers. Ocean Side lost its charm for me because of the crowds and parking. When it first reopened I was thinking it was the best pier ever, large halibut, bonito, BIG spotfin, a big sargo. I feel like Ocean Beach pier was built half *ssed. Waves hitting the top of the pier... Really? Lol Plus, if nothing is biting by the shore or the middle of the pier, you have to walk that “desert” mid section of the pier to fish pelagics at the end. That walk on a hot day is enough to put me off fishing there, rather go to shelter island. The old OB pier had near shore kelp beds. They took them out when they built the new pier. Crystal Pier is just a big parking issue. If you fail parking there, you are going to OB if you don’t have a fishing license. AND you better take the long way around to OB because on a direct route, those continuous 4 way stops will drive you insane.
Balboa Pier for me. Although I usually don't focus on catching gamefish on the mainland, that pier has almost always provided steady action, at least for nearshore pelagics. The lack of people and the relative cleanliness (minus the cutting boards) are a big plus as well.
Mav, I've certainly noticed the problems you mention regarding the SD piers with parking being the most egregious on my last few trips. Unless you get to Crystal real early you are looking at parking (at least) several blocks away (and thank God for pier carts). As for Ocean Beach, I've given up on the parking lot and park on the "top" streets and generally have had to walk several blocks to reach what is already a really long pier. Parking restricted zones, no parking signs, and just plain no spots on the street make it tough But, I figure it's my time to get some needed exercise. As for Imperial Beach, all I can say is that my last few trips have been disappointing (although I didn't have any parking problems).