Last modified: August 28, 2019

Fishing Piers Southern California

Redondo Wharf No. 1 (Santa Fe Wharf), 1888-1915 — Gone But Not Forgotten

Fighting back, Collis Huntington and the other owners of Southern Pacific announced plans to build their own wharf, one to be located in the north part of Santa Monica, even closer to San Francisco than Redondo.

On July 25, 1892, Southern Pacific began to drive piles for their “Long Wharf” located at the mouth of Potrero Canyon. Lacking a deep-water canyon, the wharf would extend out 4,720 feet, become California’s longest oceanfront pier, and the longest wooden pier in the world. When the wharf began operations, on May 11, 1893, it became the “Port of Los Angeles” and was known by that name for many years.

The nearly-mile-long pier was huge; it included two sets of railroad tracks (standard width and narrow gauge) that branched into seven tracks at the 130-foot-wide seaward end. The end included a warehouse, coal bunkers, depot and unloading facilities, a baggage room, and a restaurant. Out toward the end, a stairway led down to a platform and boathouse reserved for anglers and sailors.

Redondo would remain an important seaport but would need to diversify and attract more visitors to Redondo; seaside attractions would become as important as the commercial wharves in bringing money to Redondo.

Wharf No. 1 remained a cornerstone of activity and commerce with a small business section adjacent to the wharf. Of course “Mother Nature” would play occasional havoc with activities.

Redondo — The Repairs on the wharf About Completed

Redondo Beach, Dec. 2.—This morning witnessed the closing up of the hiatus in the Redondo wharf, caused a few days ago by a boisterous attack from the old Pacific, then on a big tear. Tomorrow the iron track will once more be in position for the regular interchange of traffic between vessels and railroad cars. The new piles just driven down were of the best material to be obtained, and before being placed were thoroughly prepared by the patent asphaltum coating to protect them from the ravages of the toredo. Each pile was driven to a much greater depth than the original piling had been, so the structure when completed will be much stronger and sounder than ever. —Los Angeles Herald, December 3, 1892

The wharf at Redondo is now repaired and all freight consigned to the Santa Fe via Redondo will be forwarded expeditiously. —South Riverside Bee, December 10, 1892

As from its earliest days, fishing from the wharf and in boats that ran out of the wharf was very popular.

The usual Sunday crowd, numbering up among the thousands, invaded the beach today, enjoying the surf, listening to the Douglas military band in the hotel park or taking out a fine basket of mackerel and yellowtail from the Redondo wharf. —Los Angeles Herald, June 26, 1893

Redondo — The Norther Demolishes a Part of the Wharf

Redondo Beach, Nov. 24.—Thanksgiving day was ushered  in with a violent northwestern gale, which struck the coast early this morning  and continued fiercely all the fore part of the day. Luckily no vessels except the barkentine Gleaner were in port to be demoralized by the wind and waves, and she is safely riding at anchor in the offing. The high gale was, as a matter of course, supplemented by a very heavy sea, which struck the Redondo wharf with terrific violence and finally carried away several bents of piling near the center of the structure. No piles were broken, but simply lifted bodily from their hold, letting the superstructure above down into the sea. The derangement is of a temporary character and will be remedied very soon, so that business can proceed as usual… —Los Angeles Herald, November 25, 1892

Fine Fishing From The Pier—Redondo, Aug. 16—Fishing from the pier was never better than at present. Some very remarkable catches have recently been reported, consisting principally of Spanish mackerel. Yellowtail are beginning to bite and barracuda are plentiful. —Los Angeles Herald,  August 17, 1894

Redondo — Hundreds of Large Fish Caught on the Wharves

Redondo, Sept. 11,—This has been its greatest day of the year for fishing. The two wharves have been lined with anglers all day and not a person who cast a line came away empty handed. On the south wharf [Wharf No. 2] upwards of 400 yellowtail were caught. They were piled up like cord wood and in several instances were caught as high as thirty-five and forty with a single line. On the old wharf [Wharf No. 1] the scene was similar. Fish lay in piles everywhere. The excitement caused by the opening of the fishing season was very general. Men left their houses to go angling and women and children were also out to try their luck. A number of good-sized sharks were captured during the day and they made things lively by tangling up lines and mixing things generally. Mackerel bit exceptionally well all day, though nearly everyone abandoned them to try for bigger game. —Los Angeles Herald, September 12, 1896

Walter Porter arrived at the beach to spend a few days fishing and bathing. Mr. Porter is an enthusiastic fisherman. His specialty is fishing for sharks and he will sit on the wharf all night long to catch a shark or two. Late Tuesday night he hooked an eight-foot shark, while fishing from the old wharf, but for the timely arrival of some friends he would have had to cut his line, as he was unable to land him alone. —Los Angeles Times July 16, 1897

There was a great deal of excitement on wharf No. 1 this morning caused by the capture of several large “corn-fed” mackerel by one of the wharf fishermen. In a remarkably short time all the available space was taken up by fishermen, for the big mackerel and some of the largest fish ever caught here were carried off the wharf in the baskets of anglers. Of all the different kinds of fishing, large mackerel fishing is probably the most exciting. The large ones are very game and strong, and it taxes the strength of the best poles to land two of the corn-fed beauties at a time. Many of the fishermen have their rods broken when they attempt to land three at once. It is advisable when fishing for corn-fed mackerel to fish with but one or two hooks, as, when they are running good, they usually take all the hooks, and very few bamboo rods will stand the strain of landing more than two at a time. —Los Angeles Times, August 22, 1897

Capture of a Large Man-Eating Shark

Redondo Beach, Aug. 27.—The large man-eating shark captured by Capt. Darney Pierson of the yacht Viking while cruising in the channel off Rocky Point was towed to wharf No. 1 last evening by the yacht Bonnie Bell, and was hoisted on the wharf this morning. The monster was embalmed, or, rather, washed in a preparation supposed to prevent the fish from creating a stench until after Sunday. The shark was of the man-eating variety usually found in the south seas, and rarely seen in these waters. It is provided with six rows of large, saw-edged teeth, calculated to strike terror to the salt who discovered him following in the wake of a ship. Yesterday a large school of yellowtail visited the wharves, and quite a number were landed by the wharf fishermen on both wharves. During the afternoon three large thrasher sharks approached the old wharf and the yellowtail, mackerel, and sardines took a hurried departure. Fishing was poor from the edge of the wharf the rest off the afternoon. Frank McKern of Riverside, who is spending the summer at the beach, is among the lucky wharf fishermen. Last evening he sat on wharf No. 1 among a crowd of fisher folk and in a remarkably short space of time filled his basket with fish. Included in his catch were six unusually large yellowfin and several large corn-fed mackerel. —Los Angeles Times, August 28, 1897

Redondo, Oct. 13.—No better fishing was ever had at Redondo than now. Numerous anglers on the wharves are catching hundreds of yellowtail, barracuda, halibut, flounder and mackerel. The fisherman today in drawing in the net for mackerel drew in about 150 large yellowtail. —Los Angeles Herald, October 14, 1898

Fisherman Francis — He Catches a Ton of Assorted Fish at Redondo—Redondo, Oct.15—Mr. John F. Francis, who has been a guest at Hotel Redondo for the past week, says that fishing has never been so heavy as it is now. Mr. Francis has been on the wharves from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day this week and has brought to the dock something over a ton of fish, including halibut, flounder, speckled blue perch, yellowtail, barracuda, sculpin, bonita, mackerel, small fish of all varieties found here, and several sharks. It seems that the cloudy, murky weather is the best for fishing, and we have had plenty of it this week. —Los Angeles Herald, October 16, 1898

Good Sport at Fishing

Redondo, June 23—There have at numerous times been greater catches of fish than those of the past few days here, but it is seldom that their taking is accompanied by so much genuine sport. The water during the past day or two has been as clear as crystal, and the breezes, although fresh, has not been sufficient to ripple the surface as to prevent gazing into the depths. Myriads of sardines have hovered about the piling, and attracted the bigger denizens of the sea. Like jackrabbits, the sardines have no armor or weapons with which to protect themselves. Their only safety is in speed and in getting under cover. The pilings of the wharf, with its beautiful surfaces, offers a certain amount of safety if they hug it directly when seeking to escape the assaults of the large fish. The sardine schools present a constantly changing appearance, and the little fellows are ever appreciative of danger. If as innocent looking jellyfish happens to drift in among them they will keep at least twenty feet away from it.Among the larger fish that have been running: plentiful are the gamey mackerel. The catches of that variety on Thursday broke the record. Many of them closely approached the four-pound mark. The hook-and-line people differ as to the best bait for mackerel, but some of the most successful maintain small fish cut in half. J. A. Woodley made some interesting hauls today with the spear, a kind of tackle that cannot usually be operated from the wharf with much success because the water is not commonly clear enough. Woodley caught two halibut by well-directed throws, driving his spear to the bottom where the fish were lying in twenty feet of water, not far from shore. Later in the afternoon he saw a big sea bass. It was swimming at a great pace but Woodley made a lucky throw and drove the points into the fish’s neck, killing it instantly. It was a forty pounder and was so heavy that it couldn’t be hauled up onto the wharf with the small line attached to the spear. It was towed ashore with some difficulty. —Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1899

Enormous Catches of Mackerel Recently

Redondo Beach, Aug. 18—The mackerel fishing from the wharves claims the attention of most visitors now, and some wonderful catches are made. Will Johnson of Los Angeles made a hail of 208 mackerel yesterday morning, and this morning filled his basket with sea trout. T. S. Russell of Los Angeles made the best catch of the season so far as known. He landed 253 mackerel in three hours from wharf No. 1 yesterday morning. L. T. Garnsey, president of the Los Angeles and Redondo Railway, heard about the large catches of mackerel that have been made, so yesterday morning he was called at 4 o’clock, donned a pair of overalls and started out ‘to break a record.’ His catch amounted to eight fine large mackerel. —Los Angeles Times, August 19, 1900

Redondo Brevities—The wharves are now filled with nocturnal fishermen, and the catches made last night were exceedingly good. Small salmon grouper and white fish are running in abundance, many large catches being made during the past week. This is the first time in a number of years that white fish have been caught from the wharves. —Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1902

Lantern Fishermen At Redondo

Redondo, Aug. 4—Fishing with lanterns is one of the latest forms of amusement at this summer settlement. So popular have the hours from midnight till sunrise grown for the pastime that one had to be about early in the evening to secure a good location from which to fish. The midnight train from Los Angeles on Saturday night carries the greatest number of passengers of any throughout the week, and they are one and all fortified with all the paraphernalia for a night’s work. The fish, it is claimed, are attracted by floating lantern, and bite better than in sunlight, which statement is verified by the great quantities of fish secured during the night, from twenty to twenty-five being the average catch for each individual. —Los Angeles Times, August 5, 1902

Redondo yielded a number of small sea trout during the day and one splendid fish of ten pounds, so near the line that divides sea trout from sea bass that it might have passed for either. It put up a terrific fish on W. R. Phillip’s rod but he finally played it out and saved his treasure, being prouder of the capture than a father with his first son. It must be admitted Mr. Phillips had some excuse, too. Several fine bass were landed at Redondo. As usual the live bait contingent did the major part of the execution, but others who were busy with smaller game than trout and halibut did fairly well. —Los Angeles Times, September 7, 1903

The yellowtail, long and slim of body, are in quite another class of fish, and indeed they are the aristocrat of southern waters. They lead a strenuous life for the sharks love yellowtail above all other meat, and it is no uncommon thing for a fisherman to have a safely hooked yellowtail bitten squarely in two before he is lifted from the boat. In fact, I have seen this very thing done from the wharf at Redondo—one of the best points for shore fishing on the coast south of Santa Barbara—and a heavier hook, baited with the remaining piece of yellowtail and thrown back into the ocean caught the robber as he returned to see what he had left. —Harry H. Dunn, After Big Fish In The Channel, Western Field,February 1904

Eleven-Pounder Is Caught By A Redondo Angler

At last the great, great grand-daddy of the Corbina tribe has been gathered to his fathers and a nine days’ sensation among fishermen ended. After long years of piscatorial vicissitudes in which more than once he had formed temporary but entangling alliances with the leaders of briefly lucky bait butchers; after countless sessions of intermittent chase of the succulent sand-crab varied by occasional séances with the secretive clam, this silver-scaled giant last week fell a victim to the wiles of A. White of Redondo in the still waters of the night and under the seductive light of the full moon. His weight at capture was eleven pounds and two ounces, which is by far in excess of all known records for corbina in this vicinity. The Sunday preceding Harry Slotterbeck perceived a huge fish of some sort groveling slowly on the bottom; searching for food after the manner of corbina. From its excessive length which he estimated to be three feet, at least, Slotterbeck fancied he was watching a shark, but a white flash from the side caused him to look closer and hardly believing his eyes, he recognized a corbina of most phenomenal proportions. Calling a friend, he too pronounced it a grand “surf” fish. The pair tried to catch the prize but he was wary and cared nothing bait. They quit in vain. The moonlight and the quiet night helped Mr. White two days later, and in triumph, he carried away the huge fish after a prolonged, nerve-racking tussle in the breakers. The big fellow put up the tremendous fight that might be expected from a seasoned veteran, strong and well schooled by time in all the arts and wiles that make corbina popular with fishermen. Mr. White had a twenty-minute tussle with his prize and nearly fell off the wharf when he got to look at it. He describes the catch as having a head the size of a man’s and bearing all the evidences of extreme age, though it was strong enough in the water. How old a fish of such extreme size must be left to conjecture. Corbina of small size and ravenous appetites were plentiful Sunday at all points from Del Rey and Redondo to Huntington Beach. F. Seeberg caught nearly a dozen fine sized ones off the beach in Santa Monica the largest weighing 4 ½ pounds. At Redondo Harry Slotterbeck caught nearly two dozen “nippers.” —Los Angeles Times, August 30, 1904

Tonopah Man Catches a 140 Pound Jewfish From Wharf

Redondo, June 11,—Wharf No. 1 was well lined throughout the day and the fishermen and maidens were well rewarded for their efforts. Not only mackerel have been plentiful but bass, yellowtail and halibut have been caught from the wharves and yesterday a 140-pound jewfish was landed at wharf No. 1. Capt. William Wood of Topopah, who is sojourning here for the summer, was the successful angler. —Los Angeles Herald, June 12, 1905

[Wharf] No. 1 is 1,000 feet long; length of berth 325 feet; depth of water at outer end, 55 feet; inshore end of berth, 25 feet.  —Lloyd’s Register of British And Foreign Shipping, 1907

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