Cayucos Pier Reopens

When I heard that the Cayucos Pier would have a reopening celebration on Halloween, October 31, 2015, my reaction was simple—I have to be there. After all, in 1977 when I was living in San Francisco’s East Bay, I attended the opening of the Point Pinole Pier. Later, in 1987, when I was living in the redwoods of Mendocino County, I had attended the reopening of the Point Arena Pier. Now, living in Fresno, a trip to the Central Coast’s Cayucos Pier almost demanded attendance.

The view from the bluffs just north of the pier

I would not be alone! A large number of residents and visitors combined with the normal number of movers and shakers insured the opening would be an event. Hundreds flocked to the pier, to the ceremonies, and to the songs and attractions that lined the beach-side street. Given that it was Halloween, it was a festive group with many dressed in costumes, more than a few drinks were imbibed, and a good time was enjoyed by all. Some, like myself, even fished.

A few anglers were already fishing from the pier before the opening as well as few strollers checking out the pier and the fishing action.

As it turned out the fishing was slow (which I found a little unusual). But the pier is beautiful and the crowd was filled with good will. Families roamed the pier checking out the new pilings, new lights, new railings (basically new everything), and the plaques lining the pier memorializing those who gave support for the pier. The plaques honored many who had spent their lives visiting the pier, those who saw Cayucos and its beaches as a favored seaside destination, and some who saw the pier as their favored destination for wetting a fishing line. One plaque even honored a family dog. It was a happy time for all.

The “Grand Opening” and ribbon cutting ceremony was scheduled for 12 Noon but I arrived early wanting to take a few pictures of the pier before the opening.

Even though it was almost November, it was a short-sleeve shirt and shorts kind of day with a bright sun (where’s my suntan lotion?) and a mostly light breeze. You couldn’t have hoped for better weather and it provided the perfect conditions for what I think most would say was a great day.

It’s a little different perspective under the pier

What a beautiful day!

Time for the ceremonies!

Greg Bettencourt was the main man who led the local efforts to rebuild the pier

County Supervisor Bruce Gibson spearheaded efforts by San Luis Obispo County to obtain funding for the project

Vicki Jansen, an aide to California Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, spoke a few words for the assemblyman

Nick Franco, the Director of San Luis Obispo County Parks Department had a long list of people who had contributed to the funding and rebuilding of the pier

Makana, a singer from Hawaii who was scheduled to provide music for the festivities sang a new song he had written about the Cayucos Pier

It was finally time for the official ribbon cutting signifying the opening of the pier

Once the festivities were over it was time to load up my pier cart and head out to the pier to catch some fish. The pier was crowded but there was still ample railing space to give it a try.

The end section already had a few anglers so I set up about three quarters down the pier.

I have never seen so many people dressed up on a pier nor so many dogs on a pier.

A couple of guys came loaded with equipment for sharks although I didn’t see them catch anything. The pier has traditionally been a great pier for sharks although most are caught at night.

I enjoyed watching this man introduce his son to surfing!


The fishing was slow. I managed ten fish while fishing from 1 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. but all were smallish-sized fish with the exception of two fairly large jacksmelt. I tried cut mackerel, strips of squid, cut market shrimp and finally some night crawlers (which I had bought since I couldn’t find any pile worms or bloodworms). All of the fish were caught on either the night crawlers or the pieces of mackerel.

The results for two and a half hours of fishing: two jacksmelt, two white croaker, two walleye surfperch, two topsmelt, one barred surfperch and one staghorn sculpin. Pretty dismal results which represented pretty much what was normal before the pier was closed.

Even though the fishing was slow, it was a great day and I hope to return soon.



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A Trip To The North Coast and Its Piers, Oct. 2, 2015 (Day 2)

Early morning at the Trinidad Pier

Although the main impetus for this trip, as well as most of the trips to the Humboldt-Del Norte coast, has been on fishing—i.e., fishing the piers or helping manage the Trinidad Youth Fishing Derby,  the number of sights along the trail inevitably call for stops to enjoy the nature of the area. This would prove true again this year as redwoods, coastal scenes, elk, and other attractions demanded a stop.

[Warning, this particular blog may be more of a travel log than a simple fishing blog.]

Day 2 — An early morning call came from “Big Rich” a former student and long-time Pier Fishing in California follower. “I’m in Eureka, I came up to help out at the derby.” We decided to meet for breakfast and then he said he would like to fish with me prior to the derby, even if that meant heading up to Crescent City.

Soon after, we were at Trinidad testing out the action. Unfortunately it was slow but I managed a few fish and, as always, I enjoyed the beauty of the pier and its natural environment.

“Big Rich”

It was chilly and a little windy so I brought the sweatshirt and a coat

The pier’s left side is close to a cliff and all rocky

This  rocky area usually produce some greenling, kelp greenling and rock greenling; this trip it produced a kelp greenling.

The tide was a little low

This rock is just out from the pier on the right side and one of my favorite places to fish

A bait dropped down by the rock produced this nice striped perch

After two and a half hours of fishing, and only three fish, two striped perch and the kelp greenling, I decided it was time to move on to Crescent City. We stopped fishing and headed north. I told Rich I would meet up with him at Klamath since I figured I would be stopping a few times  for some pictures.

I stopped in Orick near where there are typically some elk, but I didn’t see the large animals. However, who doesn’t like little old red school houses?

The old Stone Lagoon School House

The next stop was at Stone Lagoon

A beautiful area but Crescent City and its two piers were still beckoning

I met up with Rich at Klamath and he said, “did you see the elk” and I said no. He said they were bedded down left of the school house. Duh! Good thing I’m not a hunter.

At Crescent City we checked into a motel and then headed over to Citizen’s Dock where I almost always catch an interesting mix of fish. It would prove true again.

Looking across the harbor toward the “B” Street Pier and the lighthouse

The marina has been totally rebuilt following the tsunami (tidal wave) of 2011 that destroyed the docks and pilings in the harbor, sank 16 boats, and damaged the breakers around the banks of the basin. In response, it was decided to build the West Coast’s first harbor truly able to withstand severe tsunamis (those expected to hit once every 50 years). A $38.2 million dollar reconstruction ensued and it looks great today.

Another angler was fishing in the area I normally fish but he soon left and soon after, we began to  fish in the same spot.

Over the years this inner section of Citizens Dock has proven to be the best place on the pier for fish. Luckily that proved true once again since new signs indicated that anglers could no longer fish further out on the pier. In years past I had moved around the pier, always being careful to stay out of the way of workers, but apparently those days are over.

As usual there was a steady mix of small fish—different types of rockfish, small cabezon, and one lone greenling.

Brown rockfish

Kelp greenling

A baby cabezon

Interestingly, every few minutes the water would turn almost black and huge shoals of anchovies would barrel their way through the water. Eventually I decided to Sabiki-up a few for fresh bait (or live bait) and pulled in a few. Surprisingly, on the last cast I was intending to make, something looked a little different and it turned out to be a small Pacific mackerel. It was the first of the species I had caught north of San Francisco (though I had seen one the prior year at the Trinidad Kids Derby). I’ve caught them from California’s southernmost pier, the Imperial Beach Pier that sits almost next to the Mexican border, and now at Citizens Dock, roughly 20 miles from the Oregon border.

It was a juvenile mackerel, and pretty small, but it was still a mackerel

Two hours of fishing produced 12 northern anchovies, 6 cabezon, 5 copper rockfish, 3 blue rockfish, 2 brown rockfish, 1 kelp greenling and 1 Pacific mackerel but after two hours the wind had come up and made it nearly impossible to fish. We decided to call it quits, break for a rest, and then head over to the Chart House Restaurant for an early dinner. Hopefully the wind would die down and we could then proceed over to the “B” Street Pier for some night-time fishing. We wanted to see if there were any sharks, rays or skates. But it was not to be. Our dinner was delicious but upon exiting the restaurant we found the wind to be a howling and it obviously would be too windy to fish. Rich headed back to his motel room while I headed over to the pier to take a few late afternoon pictures.

Looking down the Crescent City beach near the restaurant

The “B” Street Pier

I decided to walk out on the jetty to take some pictures of the pier from different angles — but I was careful to watch the waves and where I was walking

The winds didn’t decrease. In fact, they increased to 40-50 miles per hour with occasional gusts topping 60 miles per hour. The Battery Point Lighthouse sits seaward near the entrance to the jetty and is accessible during low tide. This night the wind-churned waves attacked the shore and made access impossible. Then, while walking back on the jetty the winds grabbed and carried away my favorite hat. It was futile to even consider going fishing in such conditions. No, as the sun gently dove into the sea I knew it was time to head back to my motel.

The sharks and rays would have to wait for another night.

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A Trip To The North Coast and Its Piers, Oct. 1, 2015 (Day 1)

Whenever I take a trip to the piers in California’s most northern coastal counties—Marin, Sonoma, Humboldt and Del Norte, I’m reminded of the diversity and beauty of the entire region. I’m also reminded of why it’s called the “Redwood Empire.” In Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, the scene is mostly urban but with redwood covered hills off in the distance. Sonoma County is up next. The towns become more spread out, there’s an amazing juxtaposition with California’s golden hills contrasting with its vineyards and, off in the distance, the coastal hills and mountains capped with redwoods. Mendocino County, my old stomping ground, is next up in the journey and is much the same, but the towns are now few and far between while farms, orchards, and acre after acre of grapes dominate the scene. But again, looking west, one sees the hills covered in redwoods (notice a certain theme?). Humboldt and Del Norte counties are the apogee points when it comes to the redwoods with state and federal redwood parks dominating the drive. Humboldt Bay is huge, and Eureka may be the big city in Humboldt County, but people make the trip north to see the world’s tallest trees. Del Norte, the most northern county, is all about wild. A beautiful wild coast, wild rivers, and wild elk, a sportsman’s paradise! Every drive north reminds one how different and varied are California’s landscapes.

[Warning, this particular blog may be more of a travel log than a simple fishing blog.]

Day 1 saw a drive north to Eureka. From my Fresno home it’s basically a little over a nine-hour drive, give or take, depending upon traffic and road construction. Given my propensity to stop and take a few pictures, the drive became more of a ten-hour trip.

The sky was beautiful during the drive. This is an old barn near Geyserville.

A vineyard near Asti

Grapes everywhere

More grapes

A beautiful, cloud-filled sky and the Mendocino countryside

What a beautiful day!

Beautiful scenes behind every curve in the road

The Greeks might have thought the gods were having a little tiff

Some interesting-shaped clouds


Simply beautiful, what more can you say?

The Founders Grove

One of the many redwood groves just off the highway

Who doesn’t like the redwoods?

The Dyerville Giant

Wherever you find redwoods you will normally find ferns

It was time to head back to the car and continue north

The road out of the grove

On a side road, outside the park, I found these redwoods seemingly covered with vines of poison oak showing their fall colors

Pretty to look at but don’t touch!

Time to continue the drive to Eureka

After arriving in Eureka, I quickly moved my bag into the motel room and then headed over to the Del Norte St. Pier to do some fishing. However, it was getting dark, there was a strong wind, and it appeared to be low tide.

Most interesting was a Coast Guard helicopter practicing rescue operations near the pier

Unfortunately the helicopter would prove to be the highlight of the visit. The current was strong and the water was filled with eelgrass making the fishing very difficult. An hour of fishing produced only three small sculpins along with probably fifty pounds of salad.  I decided to call it a day and headed back to the motel.


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Trinidad Pier — 2015 Kids Fishing Derby

The Trinidad Pier aka Seascape Pier

On Saturday, October 3, 2016, the wind at Trinidad was blowing at a 30-40 mile per hour clip with gusts hitting 50-60 mph. On the beach, visitors were greeted with gusts of sand and “watch your hat” conditions. The main question was would the wind continue AND would we be able to have the scheduled kids fishing derby Sunday morning? There really wasn’t much of a “Plan B” so fingers were crossed and perhaps a few prayers were said along the way. The question was answered early the next morning when arrival at the pier saw little if any wind and a beautiful sky. As it turned out it would be mostly shirtsleeve weather and just about perfect conditions for the 56 kids and the crowd of roughly 125 people who attended the derby.

The pier before the derby

The event was the 2nd Annual Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby sponsored by United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), and Ed Roberts from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in Eureka.

The front of the pier is sided by a cliff and rocky shoreline on one side and two large rocks on the other side.

Free loaner rods and reels, free terminal tackle, free bait, free hot dog lunches, raffle prizes, and a winner in each age group helped generate excitement, as did the opportunity to catch a fish (although the fishing was a little slow).  As at the inaugural tournament in 2014, a large group of parents and friends also attended making the event a true family event.

Ready for registration

Checking out the registration table — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

Each age group had a winner with each winner receiving a trophy from United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), a beautiful certificate from the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), and an autographed copy of Pier Fishing in California by Ken Jones.

Age group winners: 3-5-year-old winner—(tie) Sunny Hopper (McKinleyville) and Thomas White (Trinidad); 6-year-old winner—Bryce Gruetzmacher (McKinleyville); 7-year-old winner—(tie) Nolan Sefcik (McKinleyville) and Dean Savieo (Trinidad); 8-year-old winner—Jocelyn Sundberg (McKinleyville); 9-year-old winner—Ryenne Kile (Eureka); 10-year-old winner—Caden Vance (Eureka); 11-year-old winner—Julian Sundberg (McKinleyville); 12-year-old winner—Nate Ferguson (Trinidad); 13-year-old winner—Alaura Romo (Eureka); 14-year-old winner—Cory Soll (Trinidad); 16-year-old winner—Callie Roberts (Loleta).

The Pier

The pier was quickly crowded

United Pier and Shore Anglers of California was one of the main sponsors

Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers donated money to buy many of the raffle prizes

As usual, it takes many people to put on an event of this size. Helping out at the derby were Kevin Butler from the Trinidad Rancheria,  “Big Rich” McIntosh from Pier Fishing In California (, Scott McBain and Casey Allen from the Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers (HASA),  John “Grondo” Grondalski from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Natural Resource Volunteer Program (NRVP), Dan Troxel from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Vanessa Jenkins.

Mary Patyten from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Fort Bragg distributed information to the kids while Ed Roberts from the Eureka office was one of the main sponsors

There were a lot of smiles on the pier

This youngster was happy with his small greenling

The Thiesfeld family

A small greenling — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

Aston Husted and Russ Janak

Molly Roberts

Lucas Janak

Dan Troxel of the CDFW holding up a small rock greenling — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

The McTigues

Wardens Chase (left) and Alfaro (right) from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife provided information and “Junior Warden” stickers to the youngsters

The Romo Family

“Grondo” Grondalski of the CDFW NRVP and a young angler holding up buffalo sculpin — Picture courtesy of “Grondo” Grondalski

Warden Alfaro from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

A young angler with a striped seaperch — Picture courtesy of “Grondo” Grondalski

Callie and Molly Roberts

Laysha and Callie Roberts

A small greenling — Picture courtesy of Casey Allen of the Humboldt Salt Water Anglers

Another greenling — Picture courtesy of Casey Allen of Humboldt Salt Water Anglers)

A baby cabezon —Picture courtesy of Casey Allen of Humboldt Salt Water Anglers)

It was a nice crowd

“Big Rich” from the Pier Fishing In California Message Board drove all the way up from Vallejo to help out at the derby (with Mary Patyten)

Callie and Laysha Roberts

Fishing lasted from 10:30 until 12:30 at which time the kids were presented a hot dog lunch.

Ed Roberts cooking the hot dogs — Picture courtesy of Patricia Ornelas

Following lunch, the raffle was held with each participant receiving a gift. Raffle prizes were donated by a number of different groups and businesses—Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers (HASA), Pacific Outfitters, Mad River Tackle, Costco of Eureka, and Pier Fishing in California (

Ed Roberts — “How many are ready for the raffle?”

The number is…

The perfect prize!

This youngster won a “First Edition” of Pier Fishing In California but might be too young to read it

You can never have too many tackle boxes — right?

Each youngster also received a “Goody Bag” of gifts. Items were donated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, the San Diego Sportfishing Council, and United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC).

Age Group Winners

KJ and an Age Group Winner — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

KJ and an Age Group Winner — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

KJ and an Age Group Winner — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

KJ and 12-Year-Old Age Group Winner Nate Ferguson — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

KJ and 16-Year-Old Age Group Winner Callie Roberts — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

Ed Roberts, Ken Jones (KJ) and Mary Patyten

Organizers for the event were Ed Roberts of the California Fish and Wildlife Department, Ken Jones, President of United Pier and Shore Anglers of California, and Grant Roden of the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria.

An IGFA certificate for Ed Roberts — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

IGFA certificates for Grant Roden and the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

An IGFA certificate for Mary Patyten — Picture courtesy of Ed Roberts

Later that day, after the kids and their families had returned to their homes, and the tables, BBQ, boxes, and supplies had been put away, the pier returned to its normal, more quiet nature. Tourists and locals wanting one final walk out onto the pier would be greeted by a pretty sunset and one of the most beautiful vistas confronting any visitor to a California pier.

All non-attributed pictures by Ken Jones

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Shortfin Corvina

 Shortfin Corvina — Tony Troncale, Crystal Pier, San Diego

Species: Cynoscion parvipinnis (Ayres, 1861); from the Greek words kyon (dog) and skion (from sciaena, an old name for a European croaker) and the Latin words parvi (small) and pinnis (fins).  

Alternate Names: Bigtooth corvina, shortfin seabass, sea trout, weakfish, caravina and my personal favorite—vampire corvina. Called corvina aleta corta or corvina azul in Mexico.

Identification: Elongated body with a large mouth; lower jaw extends beyond upper jaw; 1 or 2 large canine teeth on each side of upper jaw; there are no chin barbels. Their coloring is bright blue-gray above, silvery below; inside of mouth yellow-orange; fins pale to yellowish. Caudal fin slightly indented. Sometimes mistaken for small white seabass.

Shortfin corvina — Caught by Arvin (Pescadora) at the mini piers adjacent to the Ferry Landing Pier in Coronado

Size: To 32 inches in length; those caught from piers are usually 14-18 inches. For many years the record fish, as listed by the International Game Fish Association, was 6 pounds, 15 ounces. However, several fish exceeding 7-pounds had been reported from SD Bay. Then, on June 20, 2008, Carmen C. Rose caught a 10 lbs. 6 oz. corvina fishing a dead grunion (without a sinker) from a boat just 40 feet off the beach in the South Bay near the US Navy housing on the Silver Strand.

Range: Mazatlan, Mexico and Gulf of California to Huntington Beach.

Habitat: Shallow, inshore sandy or soft mud bottom areas including bays.

Shortfin corvina and halibut — Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego

Piers: Until recently only reported from piers in San Diego Bay. The last few years have seen increasing numbers showing up at the Imperial Beach Pier, Ocean Beach Pier, and Crystal Pier (especially during grunion runs). A few have also been reported from the Oceanside Pier. Best bets: Coronado Ferry Landing Pier, Embarcadero Marina Pier, Shelter Island Pier, Imperial Beach Pier and Crystal Pier.

Shoreline: Occasionally taken by shore anglers in San Diego Bay.

Boats: boaters in south San Diego Bay take quite a few.

Shortfin corvina — Kara, Crystal Pier, San Diego, July 2015

Bait and Tackle: Light to medium size tackle will work with small, size 4-2 hooks typically used if bait fishing. Best baits are live bait—anchovy, smelt, small queenfish or sardine but ghost shrimp (especially when fished under a bobber) can also be excellent. Although in Baja they are primarily considered a bottom feeder, most reports from SD Bay have them feeding mid-level to the top. They are also considered to be an excellent fish for artificials with many different lures providing action including crank baits, spoons, spinner baits, swim baits and plastic grubs,

Food Value: Excellent, mild-flavored meat that can be prepared in many ways.

Shortfin corvina — Angel  Hernandez, Crystal Pier, San Diego

Comments: These fish, although reported to be common as far north as San Pedro during California’s warm water years of the late-1800s, were considered absent in the state by the 1930s. That changed when fish began to be increasingly seen in the southern parts of San Diego Bay in the 1990s. Whether lured north by warm El Niño waters (’87-’88, ’91-‘92, ’97-’98), or brought in mistakenly by returning long-range Sportfishing boats, the result has been the introduction of a new fish and fishery to San Diego anglers. Although more commonly taken by anglers fishing from boats in south San Diego Bay, increasing numbers have been reported from both bay and oceanfront piers in San Diego County. Nevertheless, any pier catch should be considered fortuitous. Although considered primarily a diurnal feeder (daytime feeder), many of the reports on the PFIC Message Board have concerned nighttime catches. Shrimp is considered their favorite food although an increasing number are reported hitting on live bait—everything from queenfish to small jack mackerel. Most commonly caught April through September.

A collage of fish (including a shortfin corvina) taken by Arvin from the Ferry Landing Pier in San Diego Bay

A variety of fish (spotted bay bass, mackerel, and shortfin corvina) taken by Don and Arvin from the Ferry Landing Pier in San Diego Bay

Fly used to take the shortfin corvina

Shortfin corvina from the mini piers adjacent to the Ferry Landing Pier in Coronado

28-Inch Shortfin corvina taken by Thomas Shinsato from the mouth of the San Diego River

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