Last modified: May 7, 2020

Fishing Piers Southern California

Pine Avenue Pier #2 — Long Beach — Gone But Not Forgotten

In 1908, when TV’s hadn’t been invented and movies were in their infancy, the arrival of a fleet of Navy boats, the Atlantic Fleet or Pacific Fleet, was a big occasion as seen in the following:

Gala Display To Be Made At Long Beach — Long Beach, April 8.—At the time of  the visit of the Atlantic fleet in these waters the upper deck of the pleasure pier will present a beautiful scene. Across the upper deck will be stretched row after row of pennants and flags., while the arches of the lower deck will be sheathed in palm branches so effectually that none of the timbers will be visible. The incandescent lights on the lower deck will be encased in red Japanese lanterns. The bases of the telephone poles along Pine Avenue will also be sheathed in palm leaves and over the street hundreds of strings of pennants will flutter. A ton of red fire will be burned along the beach and bluff and an electric sign of welcome, with letters six feet high, will be erected on the sun parlor. —Los Angeles Herald, April 9, 1908

The electric shark mentioned below was undoubtedly actually a Pacific electric ray, a fish that can indeed pack quite a wallop to unsuspecting anglers.

Electric Shark Shocks Two Persons On Pier — Long Beach, April 8.—An electric shark weighing eighty-four pounds was caught yesterday west of the pier by Harry Pedlar and was landed upon the outer wharf after shocking two of the men who assisted in hoisting it up out of the water. Pedlar claims that he found the same shark on a setline west of the pier yesterday and that when he gaffed the monster he was so severely shocked that he had to let it go. The shark is on exhibition at the Volk fish marker. —Los Angeles Herald, April 9, 1908

Fishermen Enjoy Plenty Of SportSchools of Yellowtail Are Seen Near BeachWhite Sea Bass Seen In Large Numbers at Long Beach—Many Halibut Caught — Long Beach, May 29.—During the last four days there have been many schools of yellowtail about the outer wharf and anglers have had excitement a-plenty. With numerous strikes, however, only a few of the fish have been landed on the pier. Those caught have weighed from ten to fourteen pounds…White sea bass have also been plentiful about the wharf. Pompano were caught during the week by the hundreds. A few halibut were taken this week.  —Los Angeles Herald, May 30, 1908

In the early days, one of the names for soupfin sharks was oil shark and that’s probably what Mr. Lisk landed.

An oil shark 6 feet 4 inches long, caught on a small line by Charles Lisk, put up a long and game fight off the pier and was not landed for half an hour. —Los Angeles Herald, June 3, 1908

Conditions for the past week… Long Beach—Good. Corbina, yellowfin, mackerel, trout, smelt, croaker, pompano… Mrs. George Williams caught a needlefish four and one-half feet long off the outer wharf this morning. —Los Angeles Herald, June 14, 1908

Storms with damaging winds and punishing tides most commonly hit California’s piers during the winter or spring months but any month can see such storms. In June of 1908, giant waves threatened the pier but it appeared to survive in tack after being closed for a short time.

Heavy Sea Playing Havoc With Wharf — Long Beach Visitors Not allowed On Pier — Long Beach, June 22.—For the first time since the long pleasure here was opened formally both decks of the structure were closed today, policemen standing guard to prevent people from going out on them. The heavy sea which has prevailed since yesterday has loosened a dozen of the caissons under the pier and outer wharf…While the pier is not expected to collapse anywhere, the officials believed it wise to keep everyone off. — Los Angeles Herald, June 23, 1908

Anglers Swarm On Pier, Fishing Being Excellent — Long Beach, July 15.—Every day  the pier is lined with anglers and most of them are having good luck. Bobbing for herring has paid big dividends on the capital and labor expended, and croakers are biting well. “If you want a place to sit and fish off this pier you pretty nearly need to have a reserve seat,” said one man today as he forced his way to a place on the guard rail and sent out his line with a whirr. Surf fishing and fishing off the outer wharf are more popular just now than have been for several months. Many well-filled baskets are carried home daily by young and old. —Los Angeles Herald, July 16, 1908

In August 1908, just three years after opening, the city announced it would be seeking a vote on additional $16,000 in bonds to repair the pier. 

Anglers Enjoy Immense Sport With Sea Trout— Every One Has Good Luck — Long Beach, Sept. 9—There was never a greater day for sea trout fishing than this. All day long anglers have lined the pier and the outer wharf, and for a while this morning trout were pulled out with astonishing frequency, every fisherman or fisher-woman getting from four to twenty fishes. Capt. E. B. Counts of the Pacific fish market sold nearly 500 sardines for bait. From the platform in the rear of the market eighty trout were caught before noon. —Los Angeles Herald, September 10, 1908

Sea spider? The common name for spider crabs aka sheep crabs.

Two Denizens Of Deep Captured In One HaulFive-Pound Sea Spider Clings to Nine-Pound Lobster — Long Beach, Sept. 25.—One of the strangest catches ever made off the outer wharf was that of a nine-pound lobster to which clung a five-pound sea spider, with long, strong tentacles. The fight which the two denizens of the deep started before the lobster got the hook was continued on the platform of the Pacific market after fisherman Clarence Owen landed them. The spider made a number of passes at the lobster, and the latter made futile effort to thrash the enemy with its many-pronged tail, the lobster’s best weapon. The lobster was the largest caught here this year. —Los Angeles Herald, September 26, 1908

Long Beach improved wonderfully last week and yellowfin, corbina, pompano, mackerel, herring and perch rewarded all who cared to wet a line at this delightful resort. —Los Angeles Herald, June 26, 1909

Rat-Tailed Stingray Caught — Long Beach, July 31.—A monster stingray, weighing about thirty-six pounds, but minus its stinger, was landed on the outer wharf this morning after a fierce struggle. The stingray, which was of the variety known as the rat-tail stingray, was hooked on a small tackle by George Munger, and in its range on finding itself securely fastened, struck at one of the pilings of the pier, and its stinger was imbedded and broken off in it. The queer fish, with a tail about a yard long, attracted much attention on the pier, where it was exhibited as an “ox-rae,” or “sea  devil.”—Los Angeles Herald, August 1, 1909

Girl Is Seized By DevilfishFishermen Rescue Bather From OctopusMan Armed with Cleaver is Lowered from Pier and Severs Tentacles of Huge Denizen of Deep — Long Beach, Oct. 1.—Fishermen at the end of the pier related a thrilling story today of the rescue of a fair bather who had been seized by an octopus. While swimming near the end of the pier, they said, the young woman was heard to scream. Rushing to the edge of the wharf, the men ascertained that a giant devilfish had wrapped a tentacle around on of her limbs. The devilfish also had a firm grasp upon a piling of the pier with another tentacle.

E. B. Counts, the typical fisherman who presides over the destinies of a pier market, tied a rope about the waist of Clarence Owen, one of the market owners, and lowered him to the surface of the water. Owen was armed with a cleaver, and he chopped the tentacle in two, which was wrapped around the piling. He then picked the young woman up out of the water, severing another tentacle of the octopus as he did so. The devilfish, which had emitted a flood of inky liquid, then sank to the bottom, and Owen carried the rescued bather to the deck of the pier. The devilfish is believed to have measured six feet from tip to tip.

Counts said the girl’s name was Ethel Seymour. He could not give her address, but said she had on a bath house bathing suit. He described her as a “purty gal who has lots of nerve.” At the bath house it was stated that no report of the trouble had been made by the young woman, if she had been a patron there. “It’s a wonder the octopus didn’t drag her down,” said Counts. “She treaded water and then grabbed hold of a piling, or she would have been a goner.” Miss Seymour could not be located this evening, and is supposed to have been a visitor here for the day. —Los Angeles Herald, October 2, 1909

Many Fish Caught By Busy Anglers — Long Beach Pier Scene Of Activity — Long Beach, Dec. 23—It would be difficult to exaggerate the excitement occasioned here today by the sudden and unexpected visit to these waters of immense schools of herring, croaker and pompano. Early visitors to the pier were surprised to find that their hooks remained idle for only a second after being thrown into the water. The good news spread and by 10 o’clock the west side of the lower deck of the pier and also the guard-rail around the outer wharf were crowded with anglers. From then on until tonight the fish continued to bite, and around the feet of each fisherman or fisherwoman a great pile grew at a remarkable rate. Visitors to the outer wharf had to step high and carefully if they went along the west promenade of the lower deck to avoid stepping upon the catches. Croaker and herring were the fish caught with rod and line. Big catches of pompano were made with nets. —Los Angeles Herald, December 24, 1909

1910 seemed to see a flurry of action in regard to the pier. A high tide washed out 80 feet of the pier causing $45,000 in damage. In January the mayor recommended the repair of the pier by building a breakwater at the outer end. In February repairs to the tune of $100,00 (the cost of the original pier) were recommended by the city council, repairs that would include replacing all of the old, substandard concrete piling with new (hopefully better) concrete piling. In April, voters for pier repair approved $75,000 in bonds. In July, damage from ”high breakers” caused additional damage to the tune of $16,700. In September it was announced that the driving of the new piles was complete. In November the city council prepared for new bonds, $50,000 for a new pier at Devil’s Gate (Belmont Shores) and $75,000 for repairs to the Pine Avenue Pier.

Woman Captures Octopus On Hook — Visitor at Long Beach Embraced by Her Catch and Then Promptly Faints — Long Beach, Dec. 9.—When a devil fish, or octopus, which measured three and one-half feet from tip to tip suddenly wrapped one of its tentacles about her ankles, Mrs. Jessie McDonald, a visitor here from Tucson, Ariz., fell over in a prompt and justified swoon on the pier. The woman had hooked the devil fish while angling for surf fish. She had difficulty in getting it loose from a piling under the pier, but as she raised it through the air it hung limply and she did not realize what she had caught.

As soon, however, as the octopus was dropped on the pier it became lively. It threw out one of its eight arms and caught Mrs. McDonald about the left ankle. The fair angler felt the pressure tightening, and covering her eyes she screamed and fainted. A man fishing a few yards away ran toward her with his bait knife in his hand and with difficulty severed the tentacle of the octopus. Then unwrapping the section that was about the woman’s ankle, he used Mrs. McDonald’s rod in pushing both pieces of devil fish overboard. As the body of the octopus fell into the water the octopus squirted out the inky fluid which was secreted in its sac, blackening the water all about it. When Mrs. McDonald was revived she was in such a state of nervous prostration that she had to be assisted to the home of the friends whom she is visiting, on Elliot street. —Los Angeles Herald, December 10, 1910

Angeleno Hooks Jewfish That Weighs 270 Pounds — Long Beach, Dec. 28.—A jewfish estimated to weigh 270 pounds was hooked this morning by John Miller, a Los Angeles man, while fishing off the end of the outer wharf. The monster made a threshing fight of it but was gaffed finally by Clarence Owen. Owen’s right hand was torn badly between the thumb and forefinger by the snap of the leader, when the fish made a sudden lunge, and medical attendance was necessary. —Los Angeles Herald, December 29, 1910

Horn sharks only reach about four feet in length so the question becomes what species was this shark? In all likelihood it was a basking shark, one of our biggest sharks, and one that reaches about 32 feet in length. Proof that they come close into shallow water by piers is the number that were harpooned from the Ventura Pier.

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