Last modified: November 27, 2018

Fishing Piers Southern California

Ocean Beach Pier — San Diego

For now, Eric hops from couch to couch. No fixed address. He is talking about his experience as an extra on the TV show “Veronica Mars.” He wore a tux for the first time. Visited a college campus for the first time. It was the most funniest thing he’s ever done, he says, those three or four episodes. His four friends play fight a few feet away. They’re covered in hoodies, trading jokes, passing around a two-liter of Mountain Dew and sharing drags of cigarettes. Eric stands alone, arms slumped over the railing, dreaming of something better. He just needs to scrape together a few bucks, enough for gas.

“Me,” he says, “I just want to start over while I still have a chance.” His younger brother walks close. “You guys gettin’ any bites?” Eric asks. “I ain’t gettin’ sheeet,” his brother replies. So they pack up, loping down the pier, laughing as they walk. No sharks, no fish, hardly even a bite. Off they go, back toward home, the beckoning city.

—Rob Davis, Voice of San Diego, May 21, 2007

<*}}}}}}}}}>< Piers are one of the places that the realities of fishing, realities that may seem brutal to the uninformed, are easily observable by non-fisherman. It leads to stories like the following.

Shark of least concern caught off pier — “No oneshould gurgle up their own blood — no one!”

The sun was setting as Elsa Brum neared the left wing of the Ocean Beach Pier during her stroll on February 16. There she saw what looked like a baby shark gasping for air as it bled all over the pier.

“It was so wrong,” said Brum. “I felt so helpless and sad.” Brum thought about throwing the four-foot shark back into the water but it was cut through the gills.

“It was just really hard watching the animal suffer.” She contemplated calling the police but wasn’t sure what the laws were. She asked a young man fishing nearby if he had caught the shark. The man pointed toward another fisherman named José.

“José confirmed that the shark was his. I asked him what kind of shark it was and he said it was a ‘soup shark’” Confused by his answer, Brum next asked how he had caught it. José held up his hook and line and explained that he had stabbed the shark to bleed it out.

“I asked how long the shark had been bleeding there and José said for an hour…. He said he was going to use the fins for soup and the rest for fillet and ceviche.”

Even though Brum has generations of family from the fishing industry, she said, “Nothing should have to suffer like that, gasping through its own blood to survive. It was a cowardly act against a selfless being and I felt hopeless as I waited for its last breath. I was meditating in my place of peace. It was shocking. I’m about respect for all things — people, animals, and plants. No one should gurgle up their own blood — no one!”

Native San Diegan Victoria Elena Vásquez is always happy to talk about sharks. She even recently discovered a new species called a ninja lanternshark. Vásquez is a graduate student at the Pacific Shark Research Center in Moss Landing, California, and the deputy director of the Ocean Research Foundation.

“This is a soupfin shark, and though morally upsetting, there is nothing illegal going on,” Vásquez said about Brum’s photograph. “While shark fins are illegal in the state of California, catching whole sharks is not. There’s only a handful of sharks that are illegal to catch, like great white and basking sharks. Therefore, if the person took the whole shark home and made dinner for themselves, it’s not illegal. On the bright side, this species is very healthy in the Northeast Pacific.”

Soupfin shark — 2017 (Picture courtesy Wicked Homies Fishing Club)

Vásquez pointed out that while females of this species are common in San Diego, a male is a unique find. She collects data on soupfins and hammerheads and said that the public can help by reporting any they find.

While people are allowed to catch soupfin sharks of any size, Vásquez warns, “In general, sharks tend to have higher concentrations of mercury than other seafood options, so despite the legality, I would caution people about eating shark and ray on a regular basis.”

“Soupfin sharks have had a long history of being overfished in California. Even though they have an unfortunate common name, soupfin sharks were mainly targeted in the 1940s for their oily livers, not their fins. Once that fishery ended, soupfin sharks in our area rebounded.”

“In our waters [the Northeast Pacific], soupfin sharks are listed as ‘Least Concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List Assessment. However, being overfished is still an issue for them in other parts of the world, such as the waters off Argentina and Brazil, where they are Critically Endangered.”

Joe Stewart used to fish once upon a time. Regarding the shark being bled out, Stewart said, “If you don’t bleed them while their hearts are still pumping, waste products in the blood can taint the meat.”

Say what you want about the ethics and humanity of it all, fishing has been a way of life and sustenance for thousands of years. And seafood is directly linked to the evolution of the advanced frontal cortex — that same part of the brain that has some people so sensitive about this in the first place.”

Julie Stalmer, February 18, 2016, San Diego Reader

<*}}}}}}}}}>< — It’s not every day you catch a 100-pound shark.

Man fishing from pier lands 7-foot shark

A man fishing with his family last night off Ocean Beach Pier caught a 7-foot shark estimated at more than 100 pounds. Inez Chavarin, his wife, Maria, and their three daughters usually fish for bass off the pier. Around 8 p.m., he cast his 50-pound line into the Pacific, and a thresher shark hit. It was so big the 34-year-old Chavarin couldn’t lift it without help from others who were also fishing on the pier. He had to call a relative to bring a truck big enough to carry it back to the family’s home in City Heights

“We’re going to eat it,” he said of the biggest catch of his life, while his wife wondered about what they were going to do with all that meat. “Everyone’s going crazy here, nobody’s seen anything like it,” said Miriam Schraer, who was taking a stroll on the pier when she saw the excited crowd gawking at the shark.

Chavarin said he used his usual bait, mackerel. But when he made the big strike, he used a large fishing spear to land the shark. “I don’t know what we’re going to do about cleaning it,” he said, his excitement wavering a bit at the prospect.

7-Gill taken in 2016 (Picture courtesy Wicked Homies Fishing Club)

Thresher sharks can grow up to 160 pounds and 20 feet long and are a common sight in San Diego waters. San Diego lifeguards say they aren’t a threat to people.

“They’re a beautiful animal, people can hook them, but it takes a lot of finesse to catch a big one off a pier,” said lifeguard Bill Bender.

Lisa Petrillo, San Diego Union-Tribune, September 18, 2006

<*}}}}}}}}}>< — I rarely recommend restaurants for the piers but sometimes one will deserve deserve a little publicity and such is the case with the OB Pier Café.

Restaurant Review: Ocean Beach Pier Café — San Diego Journals

Reviewed by El Gallo on 8/24/2000.

Halfway Out Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego — Type of Dining: Other — Type of Cuisine: Other — Member Recommendation: Highly Recommended — Price Range: Less than US $10 — Attire: Clothing recommended, but not always observed — Reservations: N/A

My favorite place to eat, sip tea, watch the surf, catch the rays and feel the motion of the pier. This is pretty unique—a restaurant out on a West Coast pier–and with the laws now, it’s likely to stay pretty unusual. The decor inside is sort of Nautical Kitch, but nice. Fishnets, portholes, a big brass telegraph that kids just love to slam from Full Ahead to Full Astern like in the movies. Heavy wood hatch cover tables. And two sides are windows with the kind of view you don’t get anywhere else. Nice shelter on blowy or stormy days. But in San Diego those days are rare–so take a seat at the tables outside—and out here on the pier you are REALLY outside.

When big waves hit the bottom of the pier, you don’t hear it; you feel it. You are out there poised between earth and sky, a beautiful environment. Look south at the tide pools and all the way to Mexico, or North at the river, Mission Beach, and the beginnings of La Jolla. Watch the surfers, pelicans and gulls. Have a latte. Now, what stupid stuff were you worried about? But this is not just a bait shop with a view—it’s a real restaurant and a good one, with unique dishes you will remember and tell friends about. Okay, there are other places where you can get clam chowder in a bowl made of a scooped-out sourdough roll—the OBPC’s idea of recycling dishes. But when was the last time you had a lobster taco, or lobster omelet? But there’s no need to get exotic—just try the eggs and machaca. If it’s busy, you can just order ‘to-go’ from the outside window and eat walking along the pier, sip coffee out at the deep end. See the gull? Be the gull.

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