Early in the 21st Century I began to get reports on the “dayglo pier” in Richmond, which, as I understood it, was not a public pier. In response0, I did not include it in Pier Fishing In California, 2nd Edition. Later I found out that it was indeed a pier in a Richmond park and would probably qualify as a public pier.
But it’s simply history now — the same “gone but not forgotten” as many other piers. The pier is shuttered and the site is being prepared as a ferry landing for Richmond. Local anglers who fished from the pier will have to find a new home.
Location of the pier was in the Sheridan Observation Point Park, a small park that had few amenities to attract people with one large exception — the small pier.
As is usual, anglers weren’t too concerned with the amenities, they mainly cared about one thing—would the pier’s waters yield up some fish? The answer seemed to be yes and that’s why a steady group of local anglers used the pier.
However, there was somewhat of an elephant in the room, a problem that did not appear to be going away anytime soon. It’s the fact that the water around the pier is the most polluted water in San Francisco Bay and the fish that were caught should probably not be eaten That toxic pollution explains the nickname that was given to the pier — the dayglo pier.
Environment: The short pier reached out into the water from Sheridan Point (aka Ford Point), a point that fronts on the waters of the Richmond Inner Harbor.
To the right (west) of the pier was the Harbor Channel used by ships to get to Port Terminals No. 2 and 3 as well as other wharves. Toward the end of the channel is a wastewater plant.
Water moving past the pier to the left (east) flowed along Ford Channel before entering into the Inner Harbor Basin and Marina Bay.
Although the pier extended only a short distance over the water, a fairly good water depth could be achieved with a decent cast and that’s where the bigger fish, sharks and rays, normally call their home. Currents although usually mild could be strong dependent upon the tides.
The pier had nice railings (that were safe for children), while the surface was wooden. Amenities were limited to a few benches.
Adjacent to the pier, on the left, was a small dock that could, at times, see a few perch hanging under it for protection; its waters were reachable with a short cast. The shoreline on the right is mostly riprap rock intended to armorize and protect the shoreline from erosion.
The area has been known for a long times as Richmond’s Industrial Village, an area characterized by heavy industry that at one time included the huge Ford Assembly Plant and Kaiser Shipyard. That early industry is at least in part responsible for the pollution that remains in the benthic muds and water of the area.
The worms and the other organisms that live in the toxic mud are eaten by bottom feeding fish. Those fish ingest the toxins and they in turn have toxins in the fatty parts of their flesh. People who eat that flesh in turn ingest toxins which lodge, I assume, in the fatty parts of their flesh. Not a good mix.
As a consequence, those fish should not be eaten. But some people refused to heed that advice. Hopefully they did the following: (a) Cleaned the fish well removing all guts and innards that contained toxins; (b) Cooked the fish by broiling or bbq’ing the fish. That will melt some of the fat in the tissue and it will fall away with the cooking. Hopefully, they never coated and fried the fish, a method that simply keeps the toxins in the flesh; (c) Eat the fish in moderation since it’s impossible to remove all toxins from the flesh. But, as said, the best approach was simply not to eat fish caught in the area. Catch and release was a good slogan for the pier.
A definite plus at the pier was some good views of San Francisco and Oakland.
Fishing Tips. Although I would have rated the action at the pier as only fair, it did see good fishing at times. Fish counts done by the Department of Fish and Wildlife at the pier showed the number one fish to be kingfish (white croaker) followed by jacksmelt and perch. Reports to Pier Fishing In California mostly highlighted a different story, the fishing for sharks and rays, which was excellent at times.
If seeking out the white croaker, a simple high/low rig with size 4 hooks was used. Pieces of anchovy or sardine (any oily fish) for bait usually produced the best results. Casting out from the pier, letting the rig sink to the bottom, and being prepared for a bite as soon as the bait settled, was the best approach. A slow retrieve after the bait hit the bottom also worked; fish would sometimes follow the bait almost to the pier. People could just cast out, rest the rod on the railing, and wait, but they would generally get less fish.
The jacksmelt were different from most of the fish at the pier because they inhabit mid-water depths. Thus using two-three small hooks (size 8-6) fished under a float was the way to go. Pile worms were the best traditional baits but sometimes they seemed to like small pieces of shrimp and other times strips of squid. It was best to be prepared with a variety of bait.
For those seeking out perch, the best bait was pile worms, ghost shrimp, grass shrimp, or small pieces of market shrimp on a high/low rig with size 6 or 8 hooks. If in a pinch for bait you could also try night crawlers but they will soften up fairly quickly. Anglers fished for perch in the inshore waters by the pier or tried a cast over by the dock. Sometimes a cast past the corner of the dock followed by a slow retrieve would attract perch hanging under the dock.
Stripers are one of the prize fish locally and anglers used a variety of techniques and baits. Traditional high/low rigs using a size 2 to 2/0 hook and pieces of fish (anchovy, sardine, herring, etc.) would catch the linesides. Live bait utilizing one of the plastic fish finder rigs or a Carolina-rig would also work. Live shinerperch, bullheads (staghorn sculpin) or small gobies are proven baits. Many of the regulars prefered using an artificial lure. Hair Raisers were the traditional lure of choice but they’ve been replaced by a plethora of lures, everything from soft plastics to spoons to crankbaits like Rat-L-Trap (and others).
Sharks were one of the most common fish at the pier and many a large one were caught. Most of the sharks would be brown smoothhounds or leopard sharks but smallish-sized 7-gill sharks, spiny dogfish, and even soupfin sharks could make an appearance. All would bite on an oily and/or bloody fish such as sardine and mackerel and most were taken on high./low rigging using size 2/0-4/0 hooks. Leopard sharks like a live bait and love midshipman as bait if you could find them.
Rays, big rays, were a common visitor to the pier. Small rays of 10-20 pounds made up the majority but many of the older mama bat rays (every big one is a female) would sometimes approach or even exceed 100 pounds in weight. The “mud marlin” are fun to catch and provide a sometimes exhausting fight. The rays will hit on fish bait but have always shown a preference for squid. For all the sharks and rays the nighttime hours were the best.
The Pier Rats Speak
Date: June 11, 2002; To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board; From: cougar; Subject: Richmond (dayglo) pier
Where was black marlin when I needed him? Name of pier per songslinger…from 3pm-7pm…2 baby sharks + one 3’ big brother and 2 big daddy’s…thank goodness Paco my new Latino friend was hanging out…after huge initial hit and nice fight, walking fish to rocks while Paco is awaiting w/bare hands…snap…but 4 1/2 ft. 30-40pd. obviously discombobulated…noses up to rock and Paco reaches down and grabs by the tail drags up on rock and slips…he gets up and grabs shark again and brings up to pier…unreal this dude was ballsy to say the least…after seeing sharp thorn on back fin we couldn’t believe he didn’t get pricked…normally I will throw back sharks but Paco insist on keeping it…he goes to his car, grabs knife, sharpens on rocks, and proceeds to clean and slice into steaks…stuffs cooler and heads to Antioch…hour later bam, yank pole and thought I lost it. Other pole gets a hit and I grab it…reel in and its a baby shark, unhook him and throw back…go over to big rig thinking i need to redo bait and holy moly….zzzzzzzz…start getting spooled to the Matson ship across channel…after 10-15 min….finally get monster to the rocks and another fellow helps land him….4-5 ft..30-40 pounds. Got pics in Instamatic and threw him back… After lactic acid in right arm settles down…I decide to pack it up and head home…this one had spots on it but no stripes…not sure what it was…these beasts have a cool way of playing possum.. well here’s to Paco and his carne asada fish tacos….later daze…
Posted by Songslinger
Yeah, Great stuff! Bait?
Posted by cougar
Sardines on 9.0/hk w/ 30pd. Spider line/40pd. leader…on Joisy flounder rig…and 15’ surf rod…catch ya on da flip side …later daze…