Thomas Orozco

It’s always a pleasure to see youngsters at our PFIC (Pier Fishing In California) and UPSAC (United Pier and Shore Anglers of California) events—fishing derbies and classes. What’s especially interesting is to watch some of these youngsters grow up right before our eyes. One such young man is Thomas Orozco who probably attended more of these events (and won more of the “Kids Derbies”) than just about anyone else.

Interestingly, I got an email a while back inviting me to see him play in his band at the high school band championships at Fresno State. I met with his parents and learned how busy he is with his band and how it was restricting his time to go fishing. Then, later in the summer, I saw him at the Marin Rod and Gun Club “Kids Day on the Pier” when he showed up to volunteer and to help out as needed. He had tuned 16 and was no longer young enough for the derbies but still wanted to help out. Herein is a pictorial essay documenting his growth over the years.


Thomas won his first age group division championship at the 2005 IGFA Young Anglers Tournament held at the “Pep” Pepper Park Pier in National City. Here he receives an award along with another winning young lady.

Thomas holding a Pacific mackerel he caught at the pier.

A brown smoothhound shark  he caught at the Dumbarton Pier that year

A striped bass Thomas caught at the Dumbarton Pier that same trip

Later in the summer of 2005 Thomas attended the Shelter Island Young Anglers Tournament at the Shelter Island Pier and won another age division championship.

Thomas and Adam Cassidy (Baitfish) at the Shelter Island Pier with the grand award

Thomas and his award at the Shelter Island Pier event


Thomas would attend the Shelter Island Pier event again in 2006, and once again win his age division, but we do not have a picture.

Thomas and a leopard shark caught at the Dumbarton Pier in 2006


Hard to believe but Thomas did not win the Shelter Island event in 2007. He did however visit Rosarito Beach in Mexico that summer and fish from the pier where he caught these bonito


In 2008 Thomas once again visited San Diego and the Shelter Island Pier for the IGFA Young Anglers Tournament. He would win his third award following wins in 2005 and 2006


A blackperch from the Berkeley Pier — 2009


Jacksmelt from the Berkeley Pier — 2010

2010 saw a return to San Diego and another age division championship at the Shelter Island Pier

At the Shelter Island event with Mahigeer (Hashem Nahid)


2011 saw a championship at the UPSAC/PFIC Berkeley Pier Young Anglers Tournament


2012 saw another victory at the UPSAC/PFIC Berkeley Young Anglers Tournament

UPSAC Tournament Director Brian Linebarger, Thomas, and yours truly

Thomas and me (Ken Jones, UPSAC President)

Thomas also attended and was the age group winner at the Marin Rod and Gun Club Kids Derby

Thomas was also a raffle prize winner. Carrie Wilson of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife presented the prizes.

Thomas with his gifts for winning his age division along with a gnarled old guy and Mary Patyten of the California Fish and Wildlife Department


Thomas at the 2013 UPSAC/PFIC Berkeley Pier Kids Derby

Thomas together with Mary Patyten and Carrie Wilson from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Thomas and KJ at the derby

Thomas and a blackperch caught at the derby

Later that summer Thomas once again attended the Marin Rod and Gun Club’s “Kids Day on the Pier”

Taking a break

Thomas and a small leopard shark at the derby

Once again Thomas was a winner


2014 saw a return to the IGFA Shelter Island Tournament and another win


2015 would see a return by Thomas to the Marin Rod and Gun Club’s Kids Day on the Pier — and yes, one more win

Thomas with a shovelnose guitarfish he caught at the derby

Thomas and a small leopard shark

KJ (me) presenting Thomas with yet another trio of gifts — a beautiful certificate from the IGFA, a signed copy of Pier Fishing In California (he has enough for a library), and a trophy


Now 16 and too old for the derby, Thomas attended the Marin Rod and Gun Club derby as a volunteer

I think I speak for all PFIC and UPSAC members when I thank Thomas for attending the events and say we admire his growth as an angler and the skill he showed in winning so many championships in these tournaments. We also hope to see Thomas again at our events and I hope to have a chance to fish with him at additional piers.

Thomas is now in the marching band at James Logan H.S. and finds it takes a lot of practice — and time away from fishing. But he loves both.


One in a series of PFIC Young Angler articles

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Dumbarton Pier

            The pier sits adjacent to and almost under the Dumbarton Bridge

This pier in Newark was a virtual copy of the Ravenswood Pier, its sister pier to the west.  However, it is still open while the Ravenswood Pier is history. The similarity was to be expected since this pier, for the most part, is the east end of the old Dumbarton Bridge while the Ravenswood Pier was the west end of that bridge. It does, however, offer additional resources that were never available at the Ravenswood Pier: the Visitor’s Center and the headquarters of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge are located on the way to the pier. It is a good place to stop and get an understanding of the complex environmental factors that play a part in both the health of the bay and the fishery that depends on that health.

The platform at the end where the water is deeper and most of the  bigger fish are caught (Photo courtesy “Walking The Bay”)

Environment. Because of the environment found here, this pier often only offers fair fishing along much of its length. The bottom is mud and inshore waters are shallow; during really low tides the angler can be staring out at a mud flat, a fact that usually isn’t too conducive to fishing. In addition, salinity levels of the water can be higher than in more northern reaches of the bay. The result is that at certain times of the year there are simply less fish here than in some other areas of the bay. When there are less fish, less fish will be caught. Winter and spring see a more normal mix of water and usually more of a variety of fish.

Perch and flounder can be caught in the shallower waters, as can some striped bass and bat rays, but most of the bass, sharks, rays, and especially the sturgeon, will be landed out at the end of the pier in the deepest water.

Anglers fishing the end in 1991

It is during the winter and early spring months that you’ll have the best luck for perch, jacksmelt and starry flounder. Winter and spring are also the times when most of the white sturgeon are caught, and several have been landed at the pier that exceeded 100 pounds in size. Action in the summer and fall centers on striped bass, sharks and bat rays with an occasional school of kingfish or perch moving through and offering a diversion to the big-game hunters.

Several different varieties of shark are landed here but, as usual at South Bay piers, the vast majority of the sharks are small sand sharks (brown smoothhounds). Second in number will be the more highly esteemed leopard sharks, a fish that reaches good size, fights well, and is delicious on the dinner table. Most years will also see quite a few sevengill sharks caught. Although most of these sevengill sharks will be far less than their maximum nine-foot size, they often approach or exceed four feet in length, a good size for a pier-caught fish (although the spring can see many small 18” pups showing up). The vast majority of sharks are caught in the late summer and fall but almost every month will see some sharks landed. Completing the sharay mix are, as expected in SF Bay, quite a few bat rays and an occasional skate, usually a big skate. In the summer of ’04 a 44” shovelnose shark (guitarfish) was an unusual prize at the pier while September 2005 saw a 38” shovelnose. What the normally SoCal residents were doing this far north is anyone’s guess although there have been increasing numbers reported during the past decade.

Welcome to the Pier

If an angler has luck on his or her side, a striped bass will be the prize. Best bet for these will be in September or October and live or dead bullheads (as long as they still have their slime) are usually the preferred bait.

 Some of the fish that can be caught at the pier

Fishing Tips. Fish this pier in the winter and spring for a variety of perch: pileperch, black seaperch, redtail surfperch, and white seaperch. Use small hooks, size 6 or 4 and either pile worms, small pieces of shrimp, or clams for bait. Be sure to keep the bait near the bottom. During the fall try for silver or walleye surfperch using pieces of anchovy while fishing the mid-depth areas under the pier. During the summer to early fall try cut anchovies on the bottom using a high/low leader for kingfish (white croaker) and an occasional flatfish. Pray to the gods to keep the bullheads, a.k.a. the “little pests” and “dumb #**@~!!s”  away from your bait.

Barred surfperch from the pier in 2006

During winter and spring you might encounter a starry flounder on the bottom in shallow waters or out to the end (although they seem to decrease in number each year). They prefer pile worms or bloodworms but will also take cut anchovies, grass shrimp, or pieces of clam. Use a fish finder/ Carolina-type rigging for them with just enough weight to hold bottom.

Starry flounder — 2008

The issue of sinkers and weight is even more important when you move out to the end. Currents can be strong here and sometimes even a 6-8 ounce sinker will fail to hold bottom. Be sure to use a pyramid, dollar or spider sinker and the latter, which has copper legs that bite into the mud is probably the best when currents are really strong

Winter to spring are also the prime months for sturgeon, primarily white sturgeon, and they are the trophy fish at the pier. As mentioned sturgeon exceeding a hundred pounds in weight have been landed here (although such a fish would need to be released today given the maximum length restrictions).  Prime baits for the sturgeon are ghost shrimp, mud shrimp or grass shrimp although they’re bottom slurpers and have been known to almost anything they could suck up into their mouth. Be sure to keep the bait near the bottom using a fish-finder rigging and be ready for the slightest nod of the rod. Their light bite is somewhat amazing given their size. Be read!

White sturgeon — in 2012

The summer to fall months are the  best time for sharks although some will be caught year round. Use cut bait—oily anchovies or sardines, bloody mackerel, or squid. Better yet for the larger sharks is live bait—shinerperch, midshipmen, mudsucker (longjaw goby) or bullhead (staghorn sculpin). Unfortunately, the pier is not open at night, which is the best time to catch sharks.

Leopard shark — 2004

The same location and times are best for the bat rays and skates (with about a hundred bat rays to every skate). Use the same fish-finer rigging or a high/low rigging for the rays but switch to squid as the best bait (although they too will hit a variety of baits).

Spring to Fall but especially September and October offer the best shots for striped bass (and some big ‘uns have been landed here). Try on the bottom using pile worms, ghost shrimp, anchovies, sardines and live baits—bullheads or mudsuckers. Also, don’t be afraid to try artificials for the bass although traditionally few have been caught on lures at the pier; although it may be due more to the lack of effort on the part of anglers rather than artificials not working.

Striped bass caught by Thomas Orosco in 2005

Remember to bring a net for the stripers and small leopard sharks and a snare for the sturgeoin Use a treblehook-gaff if you must for the large sharks, bat rays, and big skates but ONLY if you intend to keep them.

 Sevengill shark — 2006

Note. There was a time when the road to the pier was closed from April 1 to August 31, a fact that made fishing just a little iffy. One day I stopped by to ask why. “Da Birds Made Us Do It!” That seemed to be the answer given by the pert and friendly young lady at the reception desk at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Seems that the western snowy plover, an endangered species, nests and lays eggs near the road leading to the pier. Shortly thereafter, the newly-hatched youngsters begin to wander onto the road surface, where their gray and white feathers blend into the asphalt, making it difficult to spot them from a car. Since scrambled snowy plover eggs (as well as flattened chicks) are a definite no no, anglers were restricted in their ability to use the pier during those five months of the year. The closures during the prime July-August times for sharks made more than a few anglers unhappy but it made sense if it was needed for “da birds.” That’s life in the New Millennium.

White sturgeon — 57 inches, 50 pounds — 2000

Some Selected Messages From the Archives of “Pier Fishing In California” — The Early Years — And Some Great Advice

Date: February 28, 1998; To: Ken Jones; From: Cary G; Subject: Dumbarton Pier

Hey Ken! FILTH FLARN FILTH, I’ve been skunked at Dumbarton Pier!  On a brighter note, the regular pier rats reported last week and the week before that sturgeon and striped bass were biting like crazy. Well you and I both know how a pier rat can stretch a tale or two (no pun intended). Well, I was talking with the game warden, and he showed me pictures of these beasts that were caught out there a week ago and before that. WOW, the pier rats are not lying! Huge sturgeon, striped bass, and even a gigantic leopard shark. This place is hot!

Date: September 10, 1999; To: PFIC Message Board; From: carlos; Subject: Dumbarton Pier

I’ve been going to Dumbarton Pier the past couple of days and the sturgeon bite has been fair. I saw a guy hook a sturgeon and with one jump snap the line. A lot of big leopard sharks have been caught on herring, anchovies and squid. I saw a big sevengill shark caught on a whole squid and a couple of stripers have been caught. In about 1 to 2 weeks they (stripers) will be in and when the rain comes the sturgeon bite will take off. Use herring for the sturgeon, use squid and anchovies for stingrays and sharks, and use pieces of anchovies and shrimp for the stripers,

Posted by vee

I’ve fished this pier for over 10 years. The end is best for shark and sturgeon. Closer to shore is good for perch, stripers, and stingrays. I fished at the end today

Date: September 12, 1999; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Vee; Subject: (In reply to: Dumbarton stripers? posted by Hung on Sep-10-99)  

Stripers do go all the way down to Dumbarton, but they are a rare catch there. Best month here is mid-October. The pier covers a lot of water, and I’ve seen and caught stripers near shore, in the middle, and a few on the end. Most stripers are caught from shore to midway out. Use grass shrimp or anchovies. Bullheads work okay too. It isn’t crazy like Pacifica at all and the Fish and Game frequent here a lot since it’s easy for them to drive their truck on the pier. I’ve seen a lot of people busted here (they actually sit on Dumbarton Bridge with binoculars on their atv’s.) DO NOT FISH WITH MORE THAN 2 POLES OR KEEP UNDERSIZED FISH. All the stripers I caught here have been on the bottom. Use a slider or a high low rig but they hit the bottom hook 90% of the time. I fish here a lot because I live really close by, but I wouldn’t recommend this pier to some who live far away. Some days can be VERY SLOW and all you catch are baby sharks.

 Striped bass — 2004

Date: October 24, 1999; To: PFIC Message Board; From: carlos; Subject: Dumbarton sturgeon

I went fishing at Dumbarton yesterday, Saturday 10/23. Got there around seven thirty, fished at the end of the pier with my friends. We were casting into the channel. We caught a spiny dogfish shark then an Asian man came and fished in our spot. His pole tapped then wham he sat the hook on a 64-inch sturgeon. It was jumping all over the place. It was a good sight then about a half hour later he hooked another. It was a monster. His pole was almost going to snap then it started pulling him; he got pulled so hard it pulled him into the railing. I thought it was going to pull him into the water. He was fighting for about a minute when it snapped. He was using one hundred pound test. Then another Asian man, a regular to the pier, hooked a sturgeon 55 inches. A little one but that one did not want to be caught. He kept taking runs until the guy brought it up and snared it. After that the action calmed down. They were still hitting but they were not setting the hook. It was a great day for sturgeon at Dumbarton. Tight lines carlos

Date: December 20, 1999; To: Ken Jones; From: Officer Barry Tarbet, Don Edwards NWR; Subject: Pier Fishing

Ken, I read your report of the [Dumbarton] pier and I find that it is well written and above all factual.  I have been checking the pier for 14 years. The Ravenswood Pier was closed because of its costly maintenance and criminal activity in the parking lot and on the pier.  I would ask that the angler’s remember to pick up after themselves so that we do not over burden the maintenance staff. Especially those that eat peanuts or sunflower seeds and discard the shells on the pier. These are really hard to clean up and consume a lot of the maintenance person’s time. As far as the aluminum cans, “crush them” and place them near the trash can, so that collectors can retrieve them and not run the risk of HEALTH PROBLEMS associated in reaching into garbage cans. I have found that the anglers have been a stand up group and I have been grateful to be of service

Date: December 24, 1999; To: PFIC Message Board; From: stan; Subject: Lost Dumbarton sturgeon

Went fishing at Dumbarton Pier on 12-23 between 9:am to 4:pm, I hooked up a 50-55-inch white sturgeon but could not get it up to the pier since no one had a proper snare. Tried using clothesline-style, as a snare but the loop did not hold up. I will go back next week with a snare. Never depend on others with landing equipment. This was my only second day of sturgeon fishing and would have been my first sturgeon. It took ghost shrimp.


White sturgeon — 2012

Date: January 11, 2000; To: PFIC Message Board; From: mud line; Subject: (In reply to: Where to sturgeon fish? posted by yogi on Jan-10-00) 

I know some good spots for sturgeon off piers and off the bank. Dumbarton pier is one of them. Sturgeon however are not easy to take off this pier; if you happen to have one suck up your baits this is just the beginning. The pier is the hardest place to land the mighty sturgeon, if you do not fight right you will lose it. Then after you fight and he’s tired the next part of the battle begins, getting the snare around him and pulling it up the pier, this is the fun part. I’ve seen many people lose them right at the pier due to the snare job. Horrible thing to see once you’ve gotten this far. The pier is very crowded at this time of the year especially since San Mateo is closed. They list directions on this website. You want to chat about sturgeon, get back to me. This is mainly all I do is chase these guys through the bays and Delta.

Date: May 23, 2000; To: PFIC Message Board; From: vee; Subject: (In reply to: STURGEON FISHING posted by CARLOS on May-22-00)

I have fished at Dumbarton Pier for about 14 years now and I have noticed the fellows with 13 to 15-foot rods with a good Penn spinning reel that will hold about 300 yrds of 25-30lb test have done quite well. There is a channel pretty far off and if your rod isn’t long enough you won’t hit it.

Date: June 15, 2000; To: PFIC Message Board; From: alvin; Subject: DUMBARTON PIER

During the striper season the best places to fish on that pier is the very beginning to the middle.

Date: January 11, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Dave Mush; Subject: Dumbarton (First Sturgeon)

Woke up and saw that it was cold rainy day so I decided it was not a good day to go to work so I packed up the truck and decided to go see if I can land one these sturgeon everybody was talking about. I first headed to the Lion supermarket to see if they had any grass shrimp but had no luck so I went out the pier hoping my grass shrimp was going to produce for me. I strung up my reel with new 25 lb. test while I soaked my trap hoping for some bait. After I got every thing squared away I pulled up my trap and baited up my first hook. I got a bite 10 minutes later but it looked like a small shark or kingfish. I let the bait sit for about 15 minutes more and decided to check it out; (nada) got me for my bait. I baited up again and threw back out. This time I let it sit, the current and wind had my rod tip bouncing and moving around so it was going to be hard to tell if anything did bite. After 30-45 minutes I got a real hard pump and my line went slack I picked up my rod and then I felt a second pump that just kept going so I pulled the trigger. It felt heavy and right away I knew it was sturgeon. Being that this was my first sturgeon trip and first sturgeon I just wanted to have a look at her so I can say I hooked into to sturgeon fought her for about 15-20 minutes and for a minute their I thought their was no getting her back from under the pier. But she cooperated and came to the top in exhausting defeat. After the guy next to me netted her we quickly got the tape measurer out and put the tape down, she came up short by 1 inch (45 inches). I took one more look at her at set her free to swim another day in the cold brown waters of the south bay. Anyways sorry to bore you guys with a long boring story but she was my first so I thought I’d give you guys a little bit of the story. -Dave

Rig- 4/0 40 lb. steel sturgeon leader; Bait-Live grass shrimp; Weight-8 oz. pyramid; Out going tide

 White sturgeon — 2004

Date: February 21, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: jason chin; Subject: Re: Rare sightings in the South Bay…

Fished down at the Dumbarton on Sunday 2/18, the best day of the three. Got out about 5:15am, water was extremely calm with lots of gloomy cloud cover. There are 2 whales that seemed to have found there way down to the bridge. I believe they are grey whales but I am not sure. They’ve been down there now for three weeks. They put on a little show for us blowing air and flopping their tales, kinda neat if you’re into that kinda stuff. Anyways we bagged a 4” sturgeon on the top of the incoming on mud shrimp. Thing looked like it had been through a war, sore on the side and all bruised up. Then all of a sudden my partners pole goes off, and then a nice starry flounder about 14” long. I have never seen or caught a starry flounder this far down in the south bay, surprised me. Although two years ago a keeper halibut was caught in the flats off the Dumbarton Pier. Strange weather and strange happenings. My friend was fishing on the pier that day and we kept in touch on the cell phones. He managed to hoist up a 58” sturgeon up onto the pier on the outgo. Fish are out there go get em’… I seem to always do good around the new moon. Get wet and get a fish-since it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up till the weekend.  Jason “bayrunner”

Date: September 4, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: gyozadude; Subject: Dumbarton Pier — a Saga of Fate and Stupidity

I thought I’d head out to Dumbarton Pier today for an hour after work to catch the outgoing tide. When I got there, it was a bit breezy and chilly at 6:30pm, nothing at all like the warm air in the neighborhood at 5pm. It was my first time to Dumbarton Pier, so I casually walked with my gear, reading the posted signs. I stopped near the gate to read the regs. on fishing pier vs. shore. Two rods okay on the pier, no license. One rod from shore, need license… duh… what loser would chose the 2nd option? I wondered. There were a bunch of low swarming gnats near the shoreline. I tried to identify them and observe if baitfish were jumping to eat them. Nothing. The water was choppy.

I went to the end of the pier, a solid 7-minute walk and set up to fish the lower deck pier at the bottom of the stairs. Fished two rods, one with (human edible) shrimp on hi-lo-rig, the other with Sabiki tipped with scallops. (Couldn’t buy any squid at the local Safeway after work, didn’t know any local bait shops, and didn’t want to fight traffic searching for one). I was waiting for a buddy with frozen grass shrimp from some bait shop he claims he knows in the area.

The pier was deserted. Not a soul. I was trying to recall a story of a murdered Vietnamese kid who was killed out here years ago… and whether this was the pier… That, together with the cool wind was giving me goose bumps.

Started out with a 2-oz pyramid sinker 15-lb test. Wind was blowing south, so I cast that way. Maybe got about 50 yards on the cast. I tried going farther, but the bait kept flying off. Funny thing, but the current was pretty strong and swept anything that landed in the water north. I couldn’t get the bait to stay put, so I went to 3-oz, and the bait tumbled a bit before digging in. I finally settled on a 4 oz. pyramid sinker on 20-lb test. Nothing hitting for 20 minutes. No surprise, the undertow current below the surface must have been at least 5 knots. It was twisting my hi-lo rig silly while submerged, so I switched to egg sinkers (2 x 3 oz.) and a single hook. Swoosh… north they went. Couldn’t hold bottom as effectively as the pyramid sinkers. I figured at that point, that the undertow current must’ve been at least 8 knots or more.

Under these conditions, fish wouldn’t be in that current. They’d be looking for respite in the wake of some object like the bridge support piling. So I cast north in front of the Dumbarton Bridge support pillar/caisson. These are about every 100 feet, and are about 30 feet wide, 15 feet in profile, and 100 feet tall. I had two juicy 21-25 prawns on the hooks and put the rod to rest against the railing. I attached a bell, and prepared to check the bait and re-position the other rod still down below on the lower-level dock.

I walked down the steps. Had the other rod in my hands, then my bell rang. I looked up. The rod tip bent down really hard and jerked back up. The bell went nuts for a second. Then nothing… I ran up stairs and held the rod for a minute. Nothing, so I reeled in, and the shrimp on top was gone. I re-baited and re-cast to the same position. This time I loosened the drag on the rod, just in case something big hauled the rod over the edge.

I went back downstairs and quickly reeled in the other line, re-baited, and jogged upstairs and walked along the pier and cast toward a second caisson. As I lay the second rod down, my cell phone rang. It was my friend. Says he’ll be there in 5 minutes. I tried to warn him about the first speed bump on the road and to not go over 35. I was going around 45 mph and man… caught some air and come down hard. Definitely not good for the suspension on my truck. I was asking about whether he had brought his rod and just chatting, when the bell on the first rod goes off again.

“Hey, I gotta go…” I told him. “Why’s that?” he asked. “I gotta reel this in or I’ll lose my rig,” I told him. “What, you gotta fish?” he asked again. “I gotta go now…BYE!” I shouted and hung up.

I rushed to the rod, picked it up, and with a lot of power, whipped the rod back over my shoulder…. whizzzzzzzz….. DoH! The drag spun. I had forgotten that I loosened the drag on the reel before. I quickly tightened the drag and reeled the slack in and tried to set it again. But whatever hit swam out into the current and around the caisson. I ran to my right about 50 feet to get a better angle on the line and to maintain tension. I lifted the rod in a doubled-over position for about 5 seconds and then, snap! It was gone… I reeled in the main line and there was nothing. No sinker. No hooks. Just the line, somewhat abraided by the sharp barnacles on the caisson.

My friend showed up about 10 minutes later. He jogged all the way down the pier. Just t-shirt and shorts. No rod. No reel. No grass shrimp. I had just finished rigging up again and was preparing to cast again. I tossed the bait back against the caisson. We waited for some time, but there was no more action. I don’t know whether my buddy cursed the fishing by his presence or the one that got away warned every other fish, but the bites just stopped. I’ll never know what it was. We ended up fishing another 20 minutes, until 7:30pm and had to pack up and leave before the gate closure at 8pm.

That was my first outing to Dumbarton. Now I see why people like it. I’ll need to head back soon. But this time, with less distractions. – Gyozadude,  “Yes – I can roll my own potsticker skins”

Sharks and a ray — 2004

Posted by readership

Good stuff. I think 8-oz. weights are the average sinkers used out there to hold bottom. I use “sputnik”-type sinkers nowadays. Since I started using them, nothing but positive performance. Kind of pricey, but I think they’re worth it and definitely recommend for others to check ‘em out. Pretty long post to read at 4 in the morning, but cool story.

Posted by jason chin

Gyozadude — Great story seems like you had fun. Next time eh? The surf rods you were talking about in the past that you wondered if you would have use of, rig em up. They will hold an 8-oz. well. Use a slider for no tangles. If the current is going out (north towards San Mateo) and you are having a problem with staying down fish the top section of the pier casting north (usually into the wind) and your line will stay straight. Same goes for the incoming on the bottom section of the pier. When the pier gets busy you practically have to fish an 8-oz. or you will get some dirty looks as your line drifts over everyone else’s. If everyone uses an 8-oz. pyramid all the lines will fall into place. Ghost, grass shrimp, and herring are my preferred baits that generate a lot of action on the sharks, rays, and sturgeon. You think that current was bad? That wasn’t nothing, wait until a minus tide to a 6 footer. Sturgeon seem to like those tides though. All the fish mentioned above will feed in the middle of that current; they will be swimming with that tide and chewing your bait along the way. Hope this helps you for your next trip. And for safety, I’ve fished there I don’t know how many times by myself and not had any problems. Not that it can’t occur but hopefully this will help ease your worries.  Jason “Bayrunner”

Posted by nufo

Jason is right on the money. Luckily I listened to his and Carlo’s suggestions before the first time I went out there or I would never have held bottom. Dumbarton is definitely a nice pier with plenty of different fish to catch. Nufo

Posted by gyozadude

Will bring heavier equipment. I’m jazzed about Dumbarton. There’s plenty of structure for fish to congregate around. I’m planning to hit that more often. I was using a 9′ Daiwa, el cheapo Eliminator yesterday. The 15 footer is still in the garage rafters. I might haul that out too. I have a spare Daiwa Jupiter Z 6000 reel that I’ve never used but got as a gift. How far do you guys cast out there and what pound test? I was using #2 hooks on my rig. The acceleration of trying to cast farther than say 50 yards knocks the bait off. And if I don’t worry about the bait and practice casting, the weight really stresses the line a bit. I’m fairly certain I need a 50-lb shock leader of sorts. I’m hoping smaller grass shrimp hang on better than the shrimp I used, or that I don’t need to cast that far. If the fish are closer to the pier, I’d prefer to bring a 6’4″ boat rod with a conventional reel and just toss the bait around 30 or 40 ft. – Gyozadude,  “Yes – I can roll my own potsticker skins”

Striped bass — 2006

Posted by nufo

It appears that the farther into the channel you cast the better. Try a nice smooth fluid cast. Any type of jerking action and you will lose your bait. Also try Spider thread to tie on your bait. If you’re not familiar with it, it is an elastic thread that works 100 times better than magic thread. A shock leader is defiantly a good Idea. Try 50-lb mono or even heavier braid. As for main line I use 20-lb big game. I noticed a lot of guys out there using very heavy braided line. Connect your leader to your main line with an Albright knot. I have found that if you are not getting in or near the channel you will mostly catch little leopards and sand sharks. But then again it depends which direction you are casting too. I’m sure Jason and Carlos can tell you more about where to cast. Nufo

Posted by ben

Try using some Magic String to keep the bait on the hook… also, most of the sturgeon guys on the pier use a superline. When the current is really strong they use 10-oz pyramids… hope I see some of you out there.

Posted by jason chin

The grass is always greener out farther right? hehe. As far as where to cast — on the upper platform, facing San Mateo. I throw one directly in the middle of the auto bridge pillars as far out as I can. The 2nd rod gets tossed as far as I can toss it on the farthest auto bridge pillar close to it, (I believe the spot you said you threw it when you got a hit?) on the bottom corner one straight out and one angled a little towards the silver house on the train trestle east of the swing section. Line you could go a couple ways, mono 25-30 or braided 50-100-lb. if you like. I go with the braid more there just because when it gets busy a lot of people are using that and if you tangle up with your mono it’ll cut right through it. Power Pro is probably my brand of choice along with P-Line CXXtra for the mono. Use some Magic String and your bait shouldn’t fling off. For hooks I go 8/0 octopus for everything with no problem even the small sharks will inhale that hook. That’s dramatically bigger than you have now and some might say it’s too big but there are many reasons I use that big of a hook. Good luck. All this talk I’m leaving work and going to the pier right now. Maybe some stripers hanging around there too. Don’t forget about them too, I’ve gotten a lot off the pier around these months through the fall. Jason “bayrunner”

Leopard shark — 2004

Date: September 5, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: gyozadude; Subject: Undertow mechanics

From my brief experience with the Dumbarton pier, I fished just the crest of the tide slightly going out. This generated tremendous currents. I believe that the wind is a major contributor. Because the liquid of the bay is contained within a fixed geological volume, any kinetic energy imparted on the surface is going to generate some circulation. If the water is too shallow, the wind just whips the surface which results in splatter and foam formation.

If the water is deep enough, however, like 10 feet or more. Then the wind can generate a tremendous undertow at the bottom by driving large-scale circulation in the bay. And because the depth isn’t too great (like 500 feet), the circulation builds up in just minutes and not hours or days. It’s great for rapidly flushing out the bay and redistributing microbes and baitfish. But it can be deadly when coupled by an outgoing tide for someone in a float tube.

Although Jason states that they catch fish in fast moving current at Dumbarton on bottom rigs, I’m fairly certain that there must be a number of conditions being met. The bait must be residing in a position where there is a path of low flow resistance. This may mean structure (like a bridge caisson), or that the bait is in a small dip or channel on the bay floor, which we can’t see. If there is a shelf, there will be a pocket of relatively still water right at the drop off.

The other option is to suspend in the shear layer, which should be slightly above mid-depth in the water on outgoing, and slightly below mid-depth on incoming tides assuming symmetric circulation. This may be a reason why you can see sturgeon jumping off the surface. Could this coincide with tidal and wind driven flows?

A large fish with that much surface area, even facing into the current, would have to expend tremendous power to hold position near the bottom. It is however, possible to stay -very- close in the boundary layer at the very bottom. But that layer is just a few inches thick. A big sturgeon’s back plates would have some drag in that case. Same with sharks. The only ones who could hold bottom would be the rays and skates. For all other fin fish, it’d be much easier swimming in the shear layer near mid-depth. Then you’d be attacking bait from above and not below, which would explain why a hi-lo rig works on species who wouldn’t otherwise hit a bait located above.

Something else, I couldn’t figure out. I was running a long leader initially when I got my bites. About 7 feet long. Two hooks high up. I got two hits. It was after losing the fish, I tied on a shorter leader…and hits stopped. hmmm… makes me wonder.

I know I have practically zero fishing experience at Dumbarton. But I can’t deny physics. No animal would want to withstand the current without assistance of structure or by leveraging the isoclines where the relative motion of water is slower. Has anyone tried this?

Posted by jason chin

Maybe this short summary makes a little more sense. A boater’s approach to getting sturgeon. I come down searching an area Dumbarton pier for example right where your line is cast. It is the incoming tide the middle current is really strong. I see some fish hugging the side of the channel on the fishfinder. Instead of stopping and anchoring where I see the marks I’ll go past it with a tide an estimated distance to where I can anchor prepare my baits and get them in hopefully by the time the sturgeon travel through. I guess to sum it up, the bottom line is they are always moving in the direction of the tide.  Jason “bayrunner”

Posted by stinkyfingers

One thing about it — the mouth [of a sturgeon] is not designed to feed in suspension. The vacuum tube is on the bottom, definitely making this creature pick stuff up from the floor of the bay. I just can’t even picture a sturgeon picking something up that’s even 2 feet off the bottom… Also, these giants cruise with minimal effort, sort of like a big whale when it’s just cruising. Damn they have power though and you feel it when you hook one. I’ve never had any fish come close since that day.

Posted by gyozadude

Jason: Don’t worry about the wording. I understood just fine. What you’re saying is that the sturgeon are constantly on the move with the tide and never hit suspended and Stinky says it’s because of mouth geometry. According to DFG, sturgeon do hit floating food, and they found sturgeon feasting on a float sack of onions in the delta!

Energy-wise, moving with the tide makes lots of sense, but that means the window for foraging is relatively small and coincides with the transition from strong tide to slack tides.

One thing I don’t understand is -when- they eat at Dumbarton. If they are eating these small bottom crustaceans, then feeding time must coincide with the emergence of critters in the Bay flats. The small shrimp must be burrowed during dry times (extremely low tides) and during torrents when there is large undertow (i.e. during outgoing tides with southerly winds). The little guys come back out to feed on the bottom at the beginning of a slack tide and that’s when the sturgeon must come through.

But what about the times when the tides are unfavorable? A big sturgeon needs to eat a lot of food to maintain energy to swim in these waters. Can we catch them during the “off times” or do they not even bite during those times?

Here’s my guess. Assume that a 20-lb sturgeon (and growing) needs to eat at least 1 lb per day of shrimp or other food. That’s about 100 morsels per day for these small ones. If a sturgeon can find a morsel every 10 sq. ft of bottom area, to get 100 morsels means covering a 1000 sq. ft of area for each sturgeon. That’s not that big, just a 33 x 30 patch of water per sturgeon. That can be covered in less than 15 minutes…

Okay, so the numbers do compute sort of. This is a waiting game. The sturgeon can eat enough just in foraging during transitional tides to survive. Even if food is more scarce they can still forage during the transitional tides and eat enough to get fat. This means that the best way is to use a multi-hook rig with lots of tasty morsels on the bottom. Do you guys ever use weighted hooks to keep the bait on the bottom?  Gyozadude

Date: September 19, 2001; To; PFIC Message Board; From: Jason chin; Subject: Dumbarton

I tell you man keep going to Dumbarton. That pier will pay off. It is one of the best piers anywhere around here for sturgeon. Put in those few hours there would be your best bet. I only went to that pier for I’d say about two years rarely fishing any other spots before I had a boat. I’ve landed more sturgeon consistently there than any other spot from shore or pier. Jason “bayrunner”

Leopard shark caught by Thomos Orosco in 2006

Date: September 24, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: gyozadude; Subject: Leopards at Dumbarton

Dumbarton pier seems to produce some consistent catches of leopards. Every time I’ve gone, I’ve seen someone hauling up a leopard or two or three, usually near the end of the pier. A legal keeper might be few and far between, but there are quite a few caught and quite a few keepers as well. Live grass shrimp, fresh grass shrimp, squid, cut mackerel or anchovy are all good baits if you can find them. Getting enough bait on a big 7/0 hook is one thing. Another is to cast it as far off the end as you can “into the channel” everyone talks about. Another thing is timing. The best times seem to be in the hour just before or after the top or bottom of a high or low tide.

Date: November 13, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: aarondaar; Subject: Dumbarton: Sun 11/11 (late report)

Arrived at my usual time of high noon. Blustery day, threatening clouds, but stayed dry! There was a wide-open bite of 7-gill in the morning, according to some others. Saw 8 of them walk off the pier with their proud owners. Didn’t measure them myself, but they seemed to be up to 3 feet in length. Saw a just-undersized leopard shark caught. The outgoing tide was creating a very strong current, flood tide… Most people were using ghost shrimp, but a few were using mackerel chunks and squid. Not sure what caught the 7-gills…

Myself? I was totally prepared for “the skunk.” It seems that most of the decent fish are caught in the mornings at Dumbarton… I lost one of my wire sturgeon rigs to a snag. Used my last rig with some ghost shrimp. After about half-hour, I decided to check bait and noticed slack. As I reeled in, the line stopped and rod started to bend. I assumed that I snagged so just kept reeling. Then line started peeling out with my pole bent hard. Fish was about 40 feet out and started to circle…. Everyone around me started giving conflicting advice. “Sturgeon!” “Let it run.” “Bring it in!”.. I didn’t think it was a sturgie, because it was circling instead of just swimming straight out.

Anyway, after a 10 minute battle, it turned out to be a large bat ray. The current was so strong that even though I had him at the surface and unable to swim, the pole was bent hard! Whew!!!! Unfortunately, I left the crab net in the car assuming someone else had one…sigh… Another pier rat had a rope with a hook on it and managed to snag my wire leader… About a 33” wingspan. Weighed it at home and it came to about 25 lbs. Is this about right? I was using a postage meter and it was very difficult to get an accurate reading. Fried some up… Wonderful texture, but the taste was a bit ‘fishy’. I’ll read the archives for some tips on cooking… I did bleed it and ice it right away, though… For the record, that’s the last bat ray I intend to keep. They are just such a beautiful creature, I was feeling bad later…especially when I found out they don’t taste like halibut!!! :) Cheers, Aaron

Bat ray caught by Thomas Tran in 2004

 Posted by Songslinger

Nice Report Yes, the 33″ and 25# are on the mark. Bat rays are amazing. I’m constantly surprised when I reel in a monster after a good fight: it’s usually smaller than I’d fantasized. Currents really can step up the action and the challenge. I’ve experienced rays that rested while riding the current. I’m still fighting and they’re taking a break. At Fort Baker, three of those in a row will have you thinking about calling it a day. Seems like Dumbarton is the place to be for a good battle these days. Ah, that south bay mud!

Date: December 9, 2001; To: PFIC Message Board; From: jason chin; Subject: 2 tricks

Landing sturgeon from a pier/platform. The pier is by far the hardest place to land large sturgeon. Barnacle covered pilings, weaving in and out of lines, and a strong current on top of everything else. Couple of things I noticed: The braided lines in this situation I believe prevail over mono. Heavy braid 65 and up is great in this situation because at the last minute you can really put a stop to that fish from going under. I save the light tackle for the boat. You just can’t stop em’ sometimes from going under but this will help.

Snaring fish. The only way I’ll try to get any sturgeon 46” on up off a pier is with a snare on a rope. Like striperkiller is describing, mine consists of a lasso made from a bike lock-up cable. One end goes through a loop so if you pull it cinches down. A heavy-duty paper-clip attached keeps the loop open while I drop it down before I’m ready to set it. So know sturgy is laying down at the edge of the pier looking like he/she is ready to be hoisted up. Too many times have I seen the snare go down and the instant it hits the fishes nose disaster, the fish thrashes a little more and now you have a tangled line crossed around a snare that you have to fix while your chances look slimmer and slimmer. I drop it down first before I lace it around the pole and get that shock out of em’ let them do there thing and then it’s time. Slide it around the butt of your rod and just like Joe said once it’s pass the first fins set it. Loosen your drag so in case it slips out on the way up you still have a chance. Which has happened to me with my drag locked down and oops SNAP. One time we had one around 65” off Dumbarton and the first snare went down but the fish moved and it was too late it was snared around the tail. This is not a good way to hoist em’ up because the weight of the belly hanging down could make ‘em slip out. Not to worry we dropped another one down and got that one around the head and pulled ‘em up with two snares.

Date: January 4, 2002; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Nufo; Subject: Dumbarton Pier 1/04/02

Fished Dumbarton from 1pm till 5:40pm. Catch: 1 skate on Pile Shrimp. Other anglers catch: two skates, one 54” Sturgeon on squid which I landed with my new sturgeon snare (home made at OSH). Heard of two other sturgeon caught the day before on squid as well (both shakers) along with the sturgeon caught on squid next to me on Christmas Eve. Must be a big school of squid in for some reason it seems to be the hot bait out there. Slider rig with sturgeon leader. Not sure if it was whole are partial squid. I have been making my own sturgeon/shark leaders for some time now and it’s much cheaper and stronger than any other store bought rig. Not to mention it’s very easy. Nufo

Date: January 15, 2002; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Nufo; Subject: Dumbarton 

An average of one stugeon a day for the entire pier. Best bait has been squid but don’t count out herring or shrimp. Sharking has been slow with a few skates still being caught. I believe Dumbarton is a good bet right now and fishing off the end and casting towards the channel seems to be the best. Make sure you bring a sturgeon snare. Nufo

Date: May 18, 2003; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Nufo; Subject: Dumbarton Pier 5/17/03

Caught the shuttle at 12:30pm. Me and my Nephew got to the end of the pier to find we had the pier all to ourselves. Baited up my two big rods with whole herring and 12/0 circle hooks and cast them out to the middle of the channel. Let my nephew fish my steelhead rod with a hi/low and squid strips. With in minutes my nephew nails a nice 30” leopard shark. 20 minutes later my nephew’s rod doubles over again. Another leopard this time about 26”s. Then he goes on to nail two bat rays around 10-15 lbs and two seven gills around 14”. I ended up catching a 35” seven gill and then another one around 12”. Both on squid and 12/0 circle hooks. I also lost a nice leopard at the pier after which I sharpened my circle hooks and caught the two seven gills. It was a great day in the sun despite the wind. We had the pier to ourselves and the only person we came across out there was Barry the ranger who was very friendly, as he made sure my nephew was handling his own rod. Nothings better than seeing the eyes of a 7 year old light up as his rod doubles over. I don’t even mind the fact that he out fished me 3 to 1. It just goes to show my teaching skills. Nufo

Shovelnose shark (guitarfish) in 2009

Date: September 12, 2003; To: PFIC Message Board; From: Rock Hopper; Subject: Dumbarton Pier 9-11

Fished the pier yesterday afternoon from about 3:00PM ’til 5:00PM. Weather was beautiful, with very little wind. I wished I wore shorts! Fished about 20 yards from the platform on the south side of the pier. Squid on sliding sinkers yielded two nice bites, but no hook ups. Saw 5 or 6 little leopards landed from the platform, and one little one landed by a gentleman fishing the very beginning of the pier on the north side. The cats down on the platform said they had caught a 3’ 7-gill and 3 or 4 little ones… the most 7-gills they had seen in one day, and you could tell these dudes were regulars. They released the 7-gill in hopes that the fish gods would reward them with a sturgee this year…. which by the way we all saw a HUGE one jump out in the middle of the channel. Fished the platform for about twenty minutes, but the tide was rippin’ out of there and I had to use two 4-oz banana sinkers to barely hold bottom. Next time I’ll bring some 6-oz pyramids.  RöćK HòppéR – Thë Jẽ††Ỹ Jùnký

Date: January 27, 2004; To: PFIC Message Board; From: jason chin; Subject: More sturgeon fun!

Hey guys…Checking in. Here’s some more stuff that might help.

1) Keep it simple. I use a slider/bead/swivel and attach a 14” leader of 50-lb. mono w/two stationary hooks. Simple. No egg weights, no colored bead art project, no extra crap. Nothing. Keep it simple.

2) Good bait you change often. Get your bait and spend the money for the good stuff. If you don’t have the money don’t fish and expect to be successful. CHANGE OFTEN. Check your line, don’t get lazy. If there are crabs, around every 5 minutes I change it. 3 or 4 oz. shrimp or 1 lb. just for myself is not unheard of when crabs or junkfish are thick.

3) Put your time in. Yup I’m sure you heard it before. You know how much I’ve sacrificed to do what I do. Lost quite a few girlfriends, quite a few dollars, but that’s what I do, and what I choose to do. You won’t catch me putting them back at the bar (like most of my other buddies) till 2AM, most likely I’ll be leaving w/rod and reel at 2AM. Sacrifice… this isn’t an easy thing. And yes I did this employed, but fishing before and after work with no sleep was a normal thing. Fishing is WORK if you want to be successful. If you don’t have time sturgeon fishing is not recommended. Trout fishing can be exciting;)

4) The big hint. You guys want a sturgeon? Go to Dumbarton Pier. It’s loaded w/sturgeon right now. I’m catching fish this past week out of that same side of the channel that runs right by the pier. THE SAME TRAVELLING LANE. and have been for the past 4 weeks now and know that region well enough to know they’re coming by the pier. If you’re not seeing any caught you guys are not fishing it correctly. Don’t want to use Crew and crew (U know I love all you guys, constructive criticism) as an example but check it. “Fished Dumbarton too many people in the corner of lower platform so had to fish 20 feet back” Not OK there’s two spots to catch sturgeon there and you need to get up EARLY and go get em if you want a fish. Even if the tide isn’t good until noon you need to claim the spots so you’re in position for the right time. Can’t emphasize how crucial this really is. You guys only fished 3 hours, not long enough in my book. Right after you left someone could’ve grabbed one. That outgo has been very productive. I’ve posted about the “EXACT” spot you should be casting. GDude even drew a detailed map that’s in the archives for both spots the top (which I actually prefer) and the bottom corner. Those are the two spots that give up sturgeon and if you see a sturgeon caught anywhere but those two spots. Blind luck, trust me but I’ve seen it happen. BTW fillet of herring/grass shrimp combo has been doing it for me. Don’t waste a rod using anchovies if you’re “targeting” sturgeon. There are fish at this pier year round and am surprised you guys are so turned off by it. I believe one of the most consistent producers in all the bay area. I learned the whole game at this pier, I suggest some of you struggling if you really want to learn do the same.

If you don’t have the time or the effort sturgeon fishing isn’t for you. Honestly. Hours upon hours like I said sacrifice. If you really want it bad, you make time. And for those of you that think it’s silly or extreme I give up all this stuff just for fishing. Don’t expect to be successful.

I say again I’m not on anyone’s side or picking on anyone. I love you all. Put’ em in and get one. Hope this helps. Can’t fish today so I guess I gotta talk about it. See what I mean?  Jason “bayrunner”

Striped Bass — 2005

Date: February 29, 2004; To: PFIC Message Board; From: ben; Subject: (In reply to: Newbie Needs Advice – Dumbarton Pier posted by peilien on Feb-29-04)

I used to fish Dumbarton almost 3 to 4 days a week in 2001… the regulars there use mostly braided line.. 80 to 100 lb..main line and 100-150 leader. We mostly used the Kahle hooks in a 4/0 5/0 variety but i stuck with Gamakatsu 8/0 octopus. 2-3 foot leader and 8-10 oz pyramids. I used to go to San Jose and buy at least a dozen ghost shrimp (wrap with magic string) and a tray of quality herring (when putting the herring on we would mostly fillet it then thread it on the hook and hold it down with magic string). I used a 13-foot Kencor with a Stella 16000 (first series) loaded with 100-lb Berkeley whiplash and a 11-foot Kencor with a Fin Nor Ahab 20 loaded with 65-lb braid… the 65-lb held better with 8-oz more than the 100-lb with 10 oz. when the current rips through there is one of the best times to fish it but I have seen them catch when there is little or no movement. I caught my first sturgie there after a year of trying… so be patient… hope it helps

Posted by gyozadude

Good advice, here too, but…I’d probably go with a beefy 7 ft. rod to start with. Pilings aren’t as big a problem at Dumbarton as is the current. More leverage to fight the fish is well worth the extra 3 ft. of rod tip length to try to feebly keep it away from the pilings. The trick is to play out the fish before letting come close. I’ve seen pros like ‘Slinger and Eelmaster lose fish at the MMD with longer rods. I wouldn’t take the long rod advice to heart.

Carry 8-oz spider or pyramid weights with you, 6/0 hooks for rays, sharks, sturgeon. The smaller hooks let you keep smallish sharks.

Check UPSAC pier survey URL for bait/species list. Ken’s pier archive has a more definitive list as does his book. I stopped bringing anchovies to Dumbarton.

Again, check out the UPSAC Pier Survey form for Dumbarton, It lists Bob’s Liquor as the closest. You can call Bob ahead of time to check his bait availability. It’s about 1 hour closer during commute hours on I-880.

Dumbarton is concrete with wood railings, even the lower end section. See photo. BTW, you don’t need to fish that section only, just near the end. Again, if folks can check the msgboard archives, this will provide more accurate information on Dumbarton.

I’d like to emphasize that information may be plenty and folks may want to be helpful, but it doesn’t serve the self-reliant angler much to get information of a debatable nature when only you know what you may or may not like. I assume you intend to actually catch fish at Dumbarton :-) . Otherwise, apologies for getting you to read all this.

Brown smoothhound shark caught by Thomos Orosco in 2005

Posted by Dude Wheres My Fish

Welcome to the Board—1. Any Surf Rod that is 10ft and above gives you an advantage when fishing piers because you have more leverage over the fish when the fish gets near the piling. Boat rods rated over 50lbs is not a good choice. Freshwater rods will work if you target smaller fish. You should start out with a spinning reel, and put some mono line on there, the cheapest you can find, I recommend you don’t buy line that is rated over 30lbs. The spinning reel should at least have 75 yards of line on it.

2. Dumbarton has swift moving currents so you want weights over 5oz and you can get sinkers with tail ends that you can bend so the weight will stay on the bottom longer. For hooks 3/0 is a standard size and will accommodate almost all pier species, eagle claw snelled hooks are best when you don’t want to tie your own hooks.

3. A two ring hoop net around 36inches in diameter with at least 25ft of rope is best for hauling up fish that are too big to pull up by hand.

4. A small towel to wipe your hands with, bar of soup to remove bait smell, and a tackle box and fill it with extra hooks, terminal tackle like swivels and a spool of extra line.

5. Anchovy is the universal bait, almost anything will bite anchovy. Frozen anchovy you can cut into chunks and stick them on your hook.

6. Walmart is an excellent place to buy gear, they have quality gear at excellent prices. If you can find what your looking for you can either shop online or go to discount tackle shops in your area, the cheapest place I know in the bay area is Fishery Supply in San Jose on Story Rd.

7. If you’re located near Dumbarton TNT in Hayward has a wide selection of frozen and live baits, if your old enough to drive a trip to Fishery Supply is well worth it.

8. Dumbarton is a very long pier so you shouldn’t have any problems getting a spot to fish from. The wooden section at the end of the pier is crowded on weekends so if you want a place at the wooden section come early or fish weekdays when people usually have to work.

Leopard shark — 2006

Posted by pescare

Good advice here. I would suggest one change though, regarding the line. When looking at the money you’ll spend for everything you need, saving just a few dollars on line is not worth it. Get some decent stuff and give yourself some peace of mind. When you can get something like Berkeley Big Game for about $6 or less, it doesn’t make much of a dent in your budget over some crappy $2.99 stuff.  Ed

Date: October 7, 2004; To: PFIC Message Board; From: FakeFisherman; Subject: Dumbarton pier shark fishing

Fished the Dumbarton pier this morning (10/7) for a few hours. Not much action for about an hour, then I caught and released a small sevengill. 30 mins later, about an hour and a half before high tide, BOOM, my pole bends. I had the drag set tighter than normal and I could’ve sworn it was a bat ray taking off since there was no bite at all before the hook up. Well I’m reeling this thing in as it’s working my drag, still thinking it’s a big ray, but when I get it close to the pier it’s a big leopard! It tried to run under the pier and I was praying it wouldn’t wrap around a piling but I was able to get it back in front of me. Got it up with my crab net (I always bring it “just in case” I hook into that big one). Measured it at 46”, weighed it at just over 14# on my digital scale and took some pics. I was gonna release it but I asked the other guy who was there if he wanted it and he did. I’ve seen him keep leopards before and he doesn’t even bleed them, but says they still taste good on the bbq. Hmmm.

Caught and released only one more small sevengill but that big leopard made my day. My biggest one yet! I was using my cheap 9′ Alpha rod (those $19 ones), 50# braided line, a 6/0 sturgeon rig and big chunks of mackerel. Some other guys who showed up only caught a couple small sevengills. All in all it was a fun day.

Date: January 16, 2005; To: PFIC Message Board; From: tranbaby2; Subject: Dumbarton pier perching

Headed out to Dumbarton after work today. Headed to the end platform to try for some pile and grass shrimp. Hardly a handful for the hour and a half I tried and nobody was catching fish. Got a call from FakeFisherman saying he’s at the base of the pier and waiting for me. Met him there and cast out hi/lo’s w/shrimp pieces. Had a few hard bites but none stuck. A few guys already had 2-3 on stringers. One guy next to us gets a bat ray type of pull and his rod is shaking. Pulls it up and it’s a nice 12” barred perch. Fakefisherman got the next one, a good looking barred as well. Nothing for a while and then I get a nice big hit, turns out to be an 10 3/4 inch barred. Kinda chubby too. After a while of on and off bites w/ no hook-sets, I get another nice hard hit. This one is nice also, 10 ¼” and looks real shiny. Wanted to get a 3rd before I left but only managed another nibble. Left at 5 pm. Nice weather and sunset to go along with the day.

Sevengill shark — 2004

Date: October 8, 2006; To: PFIC Message Board; From: vnny; Subject: Dumbarton Pier

Fished on Saturday from 7:40 AM to 6:00 PM. Tide was extremely low when we arrived, but there was water near the end of the pier. A large fishing event took place from 7 to 12 but of the near 80 people on the pier, not a single fish was caught. As tides started to rise, currents began to pick up. We swapped our 2 oz sinkers to 5 oz pyramids, but couldn’t keep the lines out (we fished parallel to the pier due to the crowding) The current combined with the massive flow of seaweed made fishing with hi-lo rigs near impossible and was sure to give the learners trouble as well. By noon the pier was nearly deserted, and we claimed the turret near the end of the pier. Using shrimp on a sliding rig we caught a 14-in striper (released of course) and four undersized leopards. Also fished a Bucktail/Kastmaster with steady retrieve across the pier near the pilings. I could see striper chase it to the surface then dash downwards as it neared the top–yeah there are striperw here alright. A couple anglers around us caught rays and smoothounds on cut anchovies; one guy landed a large smelt further up the pier. Lost a jig + some sinkers and came home empty-handed … but we’ll be ready next time.

Some tips:

- 2 rods per person

- There are pre-drilled rodholder holes on the sides near the end of the pier and on the turret extension of the pier

- Overhead casting OK

- Forget Sabikis, flapper rigs, boom extension rigs

- You will need a landing net if using semi-light tackle (our rods are 6″-7″ spooled with 10# line)

- Most people’s lines will be moved to face outwards from the pier when the current is strong

- Not many perch/staghorn to use as live bait, but if you throw a fine mesh net under the pier during the current you’ll find shrimp

- Careful to keep the jig off the ground when jigging near the pilings–the bottom is muddy but there’s stuff there

- Bring a sweater

The final visit of the year for red fish

Date: January 1, 2008; To: PFIC Message Board; From: red fish; Subject: Dumbarton Pier

Went to Dumbarton Pier yesterday as a ‘last-ditch-effort’ for sturgeon of 2007 before the New Year…. Sturgeon has been a difficult proposition from shore this last year. It has been more difficult than I have ever experienced since I started fishing in the winter and not just hanging up my pole in the cold as I used to do about (10) years ago around this time until spring begun. I have been hitting a (few) areas over the months since the sturgeon punch-card was put into effect this past March, and I have really one hooked and one measured 42′ for my release box. I had one shaker to start off ’07 before the card came about, and the one good one of 64.5 last Dec. 3… So, on the bright-side, fellas, I have been doing my share to preserve the fishery, LOL ;-) I was going to fish in San Pablo Bay at Pt. Pinole or at Eckley’s, but something told me to get up off my bass, and make the trip to Dumbarton where the boaters have been gettin’ ‘em (a few) nearby at the train-bridge and the power-lines. I had a nice drive and a late afternoon of serenity. A couple anglers were leaving (skunked) upon my arrival at around 2:30p to get an early start on New Year’s Eve. I get to the end of the pier (the only place there was water at that time) to see a couple guys fishing. I was joined by another guy that arrived maybe 20 seconds behind me that I shared the lower right hand deck of the pier with. We all fished hard with whatever baits you can think of for sturgeon (minus herring) and traditional rigs, cast far, the whole-ball-of-wax, with a couple nibbles and a big slice of skunk for all…. I was the last to walk off before the gate closed at 6pm. Matty, I think I will try for my 7-Gill which (seems like it has got to be a whole lot easier than sturgeon at this moment). I have decided that, or 1.) take up fresh-water fishing 2.) sell my gear and take up golf ;-)

Date: March 14, 2008; To: PFIC Message Board; From: pierrat80; Subject: Dumbarton Pier

I fished from 6:30am to about 3:00pm with ghost shrimp for one small Leo @ 24″ or so. I had a couple more bites through out the day, most likely sharks. People been telling me that at least a sturgeon a day has been caught out there for the last few weeks, but I have yet to hook in to one. Bad luck or something. Oh, about 9:00am I looked over the railing of the pier, and there were millions of red things swimming in the water; I figured it was some type of shrimp. I dropped my net down to see what they were and it was a swarm of small bloodworms.  Bloodworms for sure ‘cuz one of the little buggers bit me. It was crazy, never seen or heard of anything like it. Riding the current in little bait ball style. Well it lasted for about an hour. I just have to say, the pier in the morning is great. Everybody out there is very respectful, and polite. No one really crowds you or fishes on top of you. Afternoons… a whole different story.

San Mateo Bridge

History Note. This area has an interesting history. The name Dumbarton Point itself apparently dates to 1876 when it was named after Dumbarton, Scotland. About the same time, Origin Mowry established a successful landing on the deep slough just south of Dumbarton Point.

Railroads also played a part in the growth of the area when the narrow-gauge Santa Clara Valley Railroad was bought by James Fair, James Flood and Alfred “Hog” Davis. They renamed the line the South Pacific Coast Railroad, extended the railroad from Dumbarton Point to Santa Cruz, and eventually offered daily commute service north to the Alameda Pier. In addition, people could catch the railroad’s ferry Newark, which ran daily trips from Dumbarton Point to San Francisco. Eventually that railroad was bought by Southern Pacific and this area became one of the busiest freight junctions in California.

The original “Dumbarton Bridge” was the Dumbarton Cutoff Railroad Trestle Bridge. The train bridge was constructed between 1908 and 1909 at the shallow part of the bay between Dumbarton Point and the Palo Alto area. It was the first bridge across the bay and carried six to eight freight trains daily between 1910 and 1982.

However, the real “Dumbarton Bridge,” the one that served as the precursor to today’s Dumbarton Bridge—and this pier—was an iconic bridge that opened on January 15, 1927. It was the first bridge to allow automobiles to cross San Francisco Bay and was, until 1929 when the San Mateo Bridge opened, the longest highway bridge in the world. Unfortunately, the bridge was only two lanes wide, was built close to the water, and was a drawbridge. As with most drawbridges, long backups in traffic could occur when a boat decided to travel under the bridge. It was also a toll bridge with users paying the grand sum 40¢ each way.

Built by private funds (the Dumbarton Bridge Company), the bridge was partially rebuilt in the 1940s to deal with increased traffic. In 1951 the state bought the bridge for $2.26 million dollars.

By the ‘60s, it was obvious that the old bridge needing either an expansion or needed to be rebuilt as a larger bridge. The latter option proved more feasible and in the ‘70s the state began planning a new bridge.

In December 1984 a new Dumbarton Bridge opened (at a cost of 74 million dollars), one that was four lanes wide and high off the water. The bottlenecks seemed at an end. Users now paid a toll 75¢ to help defray the costs of the bridge.

In 1989, as a result of the temporary closing of the San Francisco—Oakland Bay Bridge (due to the Loma Prieta earthquake), the bridge was restriped to accommodate six lanes of traffic. Unfortunately the widening of the approaches wasn’t completed until July 2003 (at a cost of $200 million); one result was new traffic congestion, especially during rush hours. The toll, westbound only, as of 2010 was $5.

Although the middle section of the old bridge was blown up in 1984, farsighted individuals had seen a use for both end sections. The eastern end of the bridge became the Dumbarton Fishing Pier, the western end became the Ravenswood Fishing Pier.

Looking back, many wharves and piers dotted the South Bay during the second half of the 19th Century. One was near the mouth of Alameda Creek where, in 1850, John Horner bought land and built several piers and warehouses; eventually the area became Union City.

                                                Dumbarton Pier Facts

Hours: Open daily from 6 A.M. to 8:30 P.M. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  [The road to the pier is closed from April 1 to August 31 but a free shuttle runs from the Visitor Center to the pier at 9 A.M. and 12:30 P.M. The shuttle picks up returning anglers at 12:45 and 5:15— checking on this, not sure if still true] Reservations for the shuttle are advised (510-792-4275).

Facilities: Free parking is located at the foot of the pier. Portable toilets will be found at several spots on the pier. Fish cleaning stations, benches and windbreaks are found on the pier. There are no facilities for bait and tackle or food.

Handicapped Facilities: None specifically although the pier’s surface is blacktop and easily used by wheelchair. The railing is approximately 42 inches high.

How To Get There: From I880 take Highway 84 west to the Paseo Padre Parkway exit; follow the exit and road south back under the highway, the road will turn into Thornton Avenue; follow it till you see the signs on your right indicating both the visitor center for the wildlife refuge and the pier; after entering the refuge, follow the road three miles to the pier.

Management: U.S. Department of the Interior/Fish and Wildlife Service.


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Ravenswood Pier — Gone But Not Forgotten

The Ravenswood Pier — 1991

Sometimes it’s hard to fight for a pier when you hear ongoing, almost non-stop stories of people (anglers and non-anglers alike) vandalizing and committing a variety of crimes at the pier. Eventually the poor behavior and crimes seen at this pier helped define the pier itself and would lead to an early closure of the pier.

This pier, like the San Mateo Pier to the north, was a reincarnation of an old bridge. In this case, the older bridge was the original Dumbarton Bridge, an iconic bridge that opened in 1927 but was replaced by a new, larger Dumbarton Bridge in 1984. Although the middle section of the old bridge was blown up, farsighted individuals decided to convert the ends of the old bridge into fishing piers—Ravenswood Pier to the west and Dumbarton Pier to the east.

It seemed a no brainer, converting the old bridge into fishing piers and it was — for a period of time. Both piers provided easily accessible angling opportunities and were heavily used. But while the Dumbarton Pier remains open, the Ravenswood Pier was closed for an indefinite period of time in 1994, less than a decade after opening, and now is gone forever.

Repeated vandalism and fires, together with several incidents of violence (including a possible murder) convinced local authorities to close the popular pier. Once again a few knuckleheads, and in this case perhaps more than a few, ruined it for everyone else.

The Ravenswood Pier — 1991

What was it like when open? Although the pier was nearly 2,000 feet long, the majority of the pier was over shallow water. There was some growth around both the pilings and adjacent bridge supports, and there are some rocks along the shoreline. However, for the most part, anglers were fishing over a typical bay mud bottom and concentrating on striped bass, sharks and rays. Fishing tended to be hit or miss here and it was a lucky fisherman who was fishing when schools of fish showed up.

During summer and fall, anglers caught sharks, both leopard and brown smoothhound, and a few misplaced white croaker, jacksmelt, perch, sand sole, and striped bass.

During winter and spring, schools of pileperch, black seaperch, rubberlip seaperch, and even redtail surfperch would sometimes show up, as well as starry flounder.

Fish sign on the pier — an identical sign sits on the Dumbarton Pier to the east

Late winter and spring was usually the best time for sturgeon, and it could be a fairly decent pier for sturgeon although it rarely was as good as the San Mateo Pier to the north. Pesky staghorn sculpin, sharks, and bat rays were seen year round.

Wise fishermen geared tackle and bait to the time of year they were fishing. During the winter and spring they tried the inshore area for perch and jacksmelt. Pile worms on the bottom yielded perch; pile worms fished under a float near the top yielded jacksmelt. During the same time, while fishing worms, grass shrimp or cut bait on the bottom, a lucky angler might be rewarded with a starry flounder. Heavier gear baited with grass shrimp, ghost shrimp or mud shrimp was used for the sturgeon.

Summer and fall was the best time for sharks and bat rays and almost any bait on the bottom might yield a fish. Optimum baits for the sharks remained cut bait, i.e., oily sardines or bloody mackerel, but small live fish (shinerperch, midshipmen, staghorn sculpin or mudsuckers) sometimes yielded the bigger sharks. Squid was generally the best bait for the bat rays. Most of the sharks landed were brown smoothhound sharks but an occasional and usually larger leopard shark or 7-gill shark would bring a few thrills.

Health warning sign in 1991 — watch what you eat!

Striped bass also frequent these waters May through October with September and October being the prime months. Live bait such as shinerperch or staghorn sculpin caught most of the fish but many stripers were also landed on cut bait and a few were landed on lures.

History Note No. 1. The name Ravenswood is adopted from that of the town that was established in this area in 1853. Impetus for the original development came from the need for a good site on the bay from which to ship lumber and soon a costly and extensive wharf was built out into the bay’s deeper waters. Lots were sold, houses were erected, and a store was opened.

Unfortunately for those who had bought houses or lots other sites proved more attractive as ports for shipping. When the Central Pacific Railroad Company failed to choose this site for a bridge across the bay, the town was abandoned. However, Cooley’s Landing (named after new owner L.P. Cooley), and located on the site of the old wharf, continued in use for many years.

If you look south today’s bridge you will see the  old Southern Pacific Dumbarton Cutoff Railroad Trestle Bridge.  You will also see the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct that brings fresh water from the Sierras to San Francisco. What you will no longer see looking south of the bridge is the Ravenswood Pier.  In 2011-2012 the pier was used as a base while work took place to retrofit the Dumbarton Bridge. After completion of the retrofit the pier was removed.

Ravenswood sign — closed — 1991

History Note No. 2. The original “Dumbarton Bridge” was the Dumbarton Cutoff Railroad Trestle Bridge. The train bridge was constructed between 1908 and 1909 at the shallow part of the bay between Dumbarton Point and the Palo Alto area. It was the first bridge across the bay and carried six to eight freight trains daily between 1910 and 1982.

However, the real “Dumbarton Bridge,” the one that served as the precursor to today’s Dumbarton Bridge—and this pier—was an iconic bridge that opened on January 15, 1927. It was the first bridge to allow automobiles to cross San Francisco Bay and was, until 1929 when the San Mateo Bridge opened, the longest highway bridge in the world. Unfortunately, the bridge was only two lanes wide, was built close to the water, and was a drawbridge. As with most drawbridges, long backups in traffic could occur when a boat decided to travel under the bridge. It was also a toll bridge with users paying the grand sum of 40¢ each way on the bridge.

Built by private funds (the Dumbarton Bridge Company), the bridge was partially rebuilt in the 1940s to deal with increased traffic. In 1951 the state bought the bridge for $2.26 million dollars.

By the ‘60s, it was obvious that the old bridge needing either an expansion or needed to be rebuilt as a larger bridge. The latter option proved more feasible and in the ‘70s the state began planning a new bridge.

In December 1984 a new Dumbarton Bridge opened (at a cost of 74 million dollars), one that was four lanes wide and high off the water. The bottlenecks seemed at an end. Users now paid a toll of 75¢ to help defray the costs of the bridge.

In 1989, as a result of the temporary closing of the San Francisco—Oakland Bay Bridge (due to the Loma Prieta earthquake), the bridge was restriped to accommodate six lanes of traffic. Unfortunately the widening of the approaches wasn’t completed until July 2003 (at a cost of $200 million); one result was new traffic congestion, especially during rush hours. The toll, westbound only, as of 2010 was $5.

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San Mateo Pier aka the Werder Pier — Gone But Not Forgotten

 The pier and the nearby San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in 1991

There was a time when this was “the treasure chest” among the piers located in south San Francisco Bay. It was perhaps the best pier from which to catch sharks in the entire bay (including large seven gill sharks) and the best place for a pier angler to catch a sturgeon. It is now history.

The pier was known among the local angling fraternity as the San Mateo Pier although for many it was simply called the “Shark Pier.” However, the official name was the Werder Pier or Werder Wharf (named after San Mateo County Supervisor William Werder). Given the fact that the pier was actually in Foster City, it was also often called the Foster City Pier. It was a pier of many names.

The pier has been closed since 1997. The initial closure was due to a so-called need to use the parking lot and pier by Caltrans in their efforts to earthquake proof the nearby bridge (one of many bridges retrofitted after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake). Then, after 9/11 (2001), the California Highway Patrol entered the mix when authorities basically deemed the pier a security risk (the pier was located too close to the San Mateo Bridge and might be a great spot to place a bomb). That action gave additional ammunition to use by foes of the pier when it came time for San Mateo County to begin evaluation of the pier’s future.

The pier sits pretty close to the bridge which caused concern that items thrown from cars might hit anglers on the pier (Picture courtesy Google)

Several UPSAC and/or PFIC members (including myself, James Liu, Ed Burns, Rita Magdamo, Kyle Pease, Jeff Ishikawa, Mel Kon, Michael Corden and others) attended meetings presented by the San Mateo County Parks and Recreation Department in 2003. The purpose of the meetings was to gage support for the pier; the hope of UPSAC/PFIC members was to figure out a way to get the pier reopened. However, several negative items emerged. The first, and a major problem, was a lack of support from citizens living near the pier. They talked of trash, vandalism, and rude behavior by anglers visiting the pier. The second was the simple coat of renovating the pier. A $3.2-$7.2 million dollar estimate was given for renovating the pier, money that the county did not appear to have or wish to see spent on the pier. The continued vandalism that had occurred, almost from the day it opened, certainly, in my opinion, had dampened local support (and sometimes anglers themselves have no one else to blame than themselves). Very little has been done for the past decade and it appears now that the pier will never be reopened.

The pier was originally part of the old San Mateo-Hayward drawbridge, a bridge which, when opened in 1929, was the world’s longest highway bridge (12 miles in total length, with 7 1/10 miles over water). However, it had become too small for the increased traffic of the late 1960s. Instead of simply tearing down the entire bridge, part was turned into a fishing pier. After opening in 1972, the pier became one of the most heavily visited piers in the area and one noted for its production of sharks and rays—as well as quite a few sturgeon.

Today’s pier (Picture courtesy of Google)

Environment.  At 4,135 feet, this was not only the longest pier in the bay but also the longest pier in California. Due to its length, anglers could try for several different species. Inshore, around the shoreline, a few perch would be caught seasonally as well as jacksmelt. Further out, the middle area was decent for such species as starry flounder and white croaker (kingfish) as well as an occasional striped bass, shark or ray.  The far end was in water nearly 40-feet-deep and this was the prime area for leopard sharks, brown smoothhound sharks, bat rays, skates and sturgeon.

The bottom here is mud and sand and there was little growth on either the pilings or the nearby bridge supports. Inshore, the waters were shallow and there were only a few rocks (and half-buried debris such as shopping carts) so fishing tended to be spotty. Either schools of fish were present or they were absent. When absent, you might  have a rather boring time sitting or standing in the usually windy area. However, when schooling fish like jacksmelt were present, it was often easy to catch a bucketful. Pileperch, black seaperch and a few rubberlip seaperch visited in winter and spring, but were replaced by walleye and silver surfperch as the year went on.

Perch Are Plentiful

Fishing Buffs who enjoy the leisurely pace of fishing for perch and flounder within the San Francisco Bay system have found that a great deal of the succulent fish are there for the taking. Perch fishing is going on just about anywhere there are pilings to fish around. The San Mateo fishing pier has been the scene of some fast and fun fishing over the past few weeks with perch well over a pound a common thing. Anglers there have been using blood worms, live grass shrimp and pile worms to their advantage and the best fishing has been during the times of heaviest water movement between slack low and slack high tides.

 —The Nimrod, Phil Ford, San Mateo Times, February 5, 1976

A striper caught at the pier in 1991

Winter and spring would see the arrival of white sturgeon and perhaps a few green sturgeon; they usually seemed to show up about the same time as the first rains and accompanying runoff entered into the South Bay. When herring moved this far south into the bay to spawn, and it didn’t happen every year, local waters would be thick with the large fish. Up above the fish, in boats or on the pier would be eager anglers hoping to take a chance at these ancient critters, the nearest thing to big game species that most anglers will catch (although striped bass, salmon, halibut and large sharks aren’t too bad). A Pier Fishing In California report from March of 1997 talked of the “fantastic” bite of sturgeon at the pier. Herring had made a wintertime visit and the deeper waters of the pier were, on some days, yielding up two to three dozen sturgeon. They ranged in size from sub-legal size fish to legal size with most being the latter variety. One 76-inch fish was recorded but it had to be released since the maximum size limit at the time was 72 inches. In the late spring, striped bass began to make their appearance and generally the stripers would hang around until the fall months when they returned to inland waters. Although sharks were caught year-round, summertime into the fall was the peak season.

The Fish.  As mentioned, this was one of the best places to go shark fishing (hence its nickname—”shark pier”). Bat rays in excess of 100 pounds and large leopard sharks were caught every year, as were hundreds of smaller brown smoothhound sharks, and lesser number of dogfish sharks. Infrequent, but seasonally a possibility, were sevengill sharks and soupfin sharks (and theoretically I suppose you could even see a sixgill shark, although the chances were slim). If you tried for any of these large, toothy critters, appropriate tackle (including wire leaders) was necessary as well as a large hoop net or treble-hook gaff (only if intending to keep the monster) and you needed a friend along to help bring it in. The larger sharks seemed to bite best on live bait so most used midshipmen or mudsuckers (longjaw goby). Next best was squid or an oily fish such as mackerel or sardine. The bat rays seemed to prefer squid. For all of these, the best fishing occurred in the late afternoon and evening hours while fishing from the mid-pier area out to the end. Obviously people needed to watch out for the teeth on the sharks and the stinger on the bat rays. They also needed to bleed the sharks and rays soon after capture if they planned to take them home for food.

Brown smoothhound sharks were the most common sharks at the pier —1991

Striped bass were one of the most sought-after species here and most years would see a few fish approaching, or even exceeding, the 30-pound mark (and I was told by one angler that a fifty-two-pound striper had been landed on the pier). Most anglers used cut anchovies or sardines, or used live bullheads (staghorn sculpins), but a few fish would be caught on pile worms, grass shrimp and artificial lures such as Hair Raisers. Most years would see June and July be the peak months for stripers but the “linesides”would continue to be caught until September (and even later some years).

Inshore, anglers tried for jacksmelt and seaperch using pile worms or, if available, grass shrimp (for the perch). They used a high/low leader on the bottom for the perch, a multi-hook rigging under a float for the jacksmelt. In the summer, it was common for kingfish (white croakers) to show up and, at times, a few Pacific tomcod, sand sole, flounder and even halibut. For most of the smaller species, a high/low leader baited with cut anchovies or pile worms will work well. For the halibut, most people used a live shiner with a flounder-sturgeon rigging on the bottom.

For sturgeon, and sturgeon exceeding 120 pounds were landed here, anglers usually used ghost shrimp or mud shrimp and needed to make sure they had a good net. If herring were spawning locally they needed to bring along some herring or herring eggs.

One pest that anglers were stuck with was staghorn sculpin. During summer months, the small sculpin could be hard to keep off your hooks.

An email from a Pier Fishing In California member gave proof of the passion of some of the local anglers —

Date: November 18, 1999; To: Ken Jones; From: vee; Subject: SAN MATEO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am really pis… off that San Mateo hasn’t reopened, because it was my favorite pier to fish at other then Pacifica. I actually had a 41-inch 35-lb striper stuffed that I caught from the San Mateo pier. (It also had a DFG tag on it… planted in Stockton). Anyhow, I’ve caught halibut there and HUGE bat rays and leopard sharks, not to mention various other species — even rockfish sometimes. There was one season me and my buddies went out there and hooked sturgeon everyday in the spring… well now that my favorite pier is gone… I end up going to Dumbarton. Hey Ken… do you know who to contact to get that pier back open? I would definitely try to rally to get that pier back open!

Another look at a happy angler with a striped bass — 1991

The Carts. It was  a long way out to the end of the pier, especially if you were carrying much tackle (and some of the “shark specialists” brought some fairly heavy gear). Local anglers (illegally, I might add) made a habit of bringing shopping carts to the pier and  leaving them there when they were done. Most days would find a few unused carts at the shore end of the pier and anglers were free to use a cart to haul their tackle out to the end. When they arrived at the far end of the pier they would probably find most of the already present anglers with a cart of their own. It was a tradition!

Note. Winds can be strong in the area. In March of ’97, about the same time sturgeon were feasting on herring eggs by the pier, and anglers were taking two to three dozen sturgeon a day off the pier, a boat capsized near the pier. Three anglers found themselves in the cold and choppy waters of the bay. Forming a human chain, and using the strong ropes they had brought to net the sturgeon, several regulars at the pier were able to pull the three men up to the pier and keep them warm until helicopters could rescue them. True heroes!

History Note. As mentioned, this pier was part of a bridge that opened on March 3, 1929. Originally it was named the San Francisco Bay Toll Bridge and contained, in the middle of the bridge, a 303-foot section that could be vertically raised to allow the passage of ships. In 1951 the bridge, now called the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, was purchased by the state of California for six million dollars. Ten years later the legislature approved $64 million to build a new high-level bridge.

The new San Mateo-Hayward Bridge (Photo courtesy Google)

During planning for the new bridge, far-sighted individuals were able to persuade the appropriate officials to turn part of the old bridge into a fishing pier. The County of San Mateo purchased a 4,055 foot-long trestle section of the pier (out to where the first truss span was located) for $10 in 1968 and signed an agreement with the California Transportation Department (CalTrans) in regards to use of the property.

As part of the agreement it was agreed that that the county was to maintain the easement onto the pier but CalTrans could use the area as access if it needed to fix the bridge (which later became an important point). In 1996, after San Mateo had completed the initial 25-year lease, and used the pier for an additional three years, CalTrans informed the county it would need to use the easement area and part of the pier to earthquake proof the adjacent bridge. As mentioned above, the pier was initially closed in 1997 for the CalTrans work followed by later security, repair and monetary issues. The net result has been the closure of the pier.

The area now known as Foster City once consisted of Brewer’s Island and several square miles of tidal wetlands. In 1958 developer T. Jack Foster bought and began to reshape the land. He created a 200-acre lagoon and built a city that now encompasses nearly 5,000 homes and 30,000 people. Such is progress in the Golden State.

The end? (Photo courtesy Google)


The Pier Through The Years —A Compendium of Articles and Some PFIC Responses to Those Article

Plan A Pier Fishing Trip This Fall

The long awaited William Werder fishing pier adjacent to Foster City in San Mateo (the old San Mateo-Hayward bridge), is nearing reality, Ralph Shaw,County Parks and Recreation director, disclosed today. It is expected to be open in operation by this fall. Virtually all of the red tape has been cleared, with various boards meeting, authority and ownership transferred to the county, and arrangements made with various state authorities.

The pier, which was the old bridge extending to the now-removed draw span in the channel, is 3500 feet long, and will afford more than 1,000 feet of good fishing in water from 12 feet to 40 feet deep at the channel. On an eight-foot high tide, fishing may be good the entire length, Shaw said. He said, the county is working closely with the State Wildlife Conservation Board on final plans for a combined program of development.

The Conservation Board would provide high-back seats (to remove the nuisance of winds), tables, and safety precautions against debris thrown by motorists from the new high-level bridge.

The county would provide immediate parking for 100 cars, sanitary facilities, and mobile concessionaires, as well as a place to cut bait. Upon completion, the pier would immediately become the finest fishing facility in the South Bay.

Shaw said that the fishing today in the Bay is the best in recent ears, and commended the Bay Water Pollution Control Board for its success. He said that mussels and clams are now turning up on floats at Coyote Point, and that the other day he saw two fishermen take five bass at the Point. There are more than 60 varieties of fish in the Bay at present, he said.

While pushing development of the $100,000 project, Shaw said that currently the county continues to fence off the area from the public until it can complete safety measures. It is sending a man twice a week to the pier to check the amount, nature and frequency of debris thrown from above. It was revealed last summer that the hazard of broken glass and litter tossed from above would necessitate special precautions, probably a $25,000 roof or screen to protect the fishermen.

The San Mateo Times, January 12, 1970

Vandalism Rampant at Werder Pier

The Werder Fishing Pier in Foster City  will be open again next Sunday after being closed during this week as county park and recreation crews repaired vandalism damage that has taken place over  the opast three months. A broken sewer line was also fixed, Diane Mattison, the county’s assistant director of parks and recreation reported this morning.

Mattison said the pier was kept open, despite repeated acts of vandalism, until last Monday, when workmen discovered that shifting mud had caused a sewer line to break allowing effluent to flow into the Bay.

The latest outbreak of malicious mischief took place last weekend, Mattison said, when someone broke into a storage structure, thre equipment stored there into the bay, ripped shingles off of the roof, and tore a light from its mooring.

According to Mattison, vandalism at the pier is an ongoing problem; drinking fountains have been torn loose and smashed on concrete walks, fencing has been torn away and benches have been set on fire. Despite this vandalism, Mattison said the pier has been kept open to fishermen until the sewer line broke.

The pier is part of the old San Mateo-Hayward bridge and was acquired by the county from the State Toll Bridge Authority when the new bridge was completed.

The San Mateo Times, August 9, 1973

Close Watch Planned at Werder Pier

A two-hour meeting was held between officials of the County Park and Recreation Department and Foster City police yesterday to discuss increased surveillance to halt vandalism at the Werder Fishing Pier. Malicious mischief has resulted in some $1,600 to $1,800 damage since the pier was opened to the public about a year ago.

The problem is expected to increase, Kermit E. Vangene, chief of the county parks division, reported, because the State Division of Fish and Game opened the bay to fishermen 24 hours a day.

Although the pier has been closed during the past week to repair a broken sewage line and damaged facilities, Vangene said when the pier reopens Sunday it will be on a 24-hour-a-day basis.

“It astonishes me to see the trouble people take to commit these acts,” Vangene commented, noting someone had taken a hacksaw to cut through the base of a metal drinking fountain. Fences have been knocked down, a storeroom broken into and equipment taken, benches have been burned and other acts of vandalism have occurred.

The San Mateo Times, August 10, 1973

Werder Pier Popular on Sundays

More than 300 persons ranging from senior citizens to babies riding in bicycle baskets, thronged the Werder Fishing Pier off Foster City in a scene that looked like a food-less picnic.

Nobody was seen to catch any fish, although more than 100 lines were in the water. In nearly perfect weather, with high tide about, the fishermen waited while schools of baby anchovies swam about the pier, apparently with nothing to worry about. Several groups in motorboats also trolled off the pier, with no apparent success.

The Werder Pier, once the old San Mateo-Hayward bridge (built in 1929) and now that  that section of it that reached as far as its lift-span was converted to a fishing pier some years ago by the San Mateo County Parks Department.

t has proved so popular that the department is now negotiating with the California Department of Transportation to purchase the 15-acre parking lot adjacent to its entrance. It currently leases a lot. Negotiations for purchase were begun after Caltrans abandoned the idea of a Bayfront freeway. The parking site was to have been as interchange with the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge and the proposed highway.

Fishing has been excellent at the Werder Pier, but not when the majority of those using it would like it to be. The big catches have been reported at night, and range from sizeable stripers to sizeable sharks.

Those using the pier find commodious benches placed its entire length, many with windscreens. Slightly more than half-way along its length is placed a toilet and washbowl facility for men and women, and outside this two sinks with cold water for cleaning fish. To protect small children from falling to disaster in the Bay below, the Parks Department installed heavy wire fencing along the concrete railing. The surface remains the old bridge surface.

Since nothing motorized (except county vehicles) is permitted on the bridge, today’s users wheel shopping baskets, golf carts and all manner of carryalls to get their equipment out the length of the nearly-mile-long pier. Many ride bicycles. The uninitiated carry their equipment. There are no barbeque facilities on the bridge, nor tables. However, there is no ban on barbequing or utilizing camper equipment to heat coffee or whatever on the concrete and steel structure. Outside of the ban on motorized vehicles, the only rules are those of the state’s fish and game department

As the use of the pier has grown, so has its vandalism, according to the county authorities overseeing it, who say that vandalism at the pier, for no reason they can think of, exceeds that of any other county facility. Benches have been gouged and ripped until some are unusable and the wire protective fencing ripped away at points, exposing children to fatal hazard below. Toilet facilities also have been vandalized as has the plumbing. Some vandals have been caught.

Historically, the structure, dedicated on March 2, 1929 by a committee headed by Horace Amphlett, former Times publisher, was once the “longest bridge in the world.” President Calvin Coolidge pressed a button in the White House to move the lower lift span into place.

The San Mateo Times, October 20, 1975

It’s Better To Be Peerless Than Pierless

One of the Bay Area’s most popular fishing piers may be shut down forever, and another—the No. 1 fishing pier in California—is also in jeopardy.

The San Mateo Pier, which extends 2-1/4 miles from Foster City out to the main channel of South San Francisco Bay and provides a rare opportunity to catch sturgeon, was closed last year by a CalTrans earthquake retrofit project on the adjacent San Mateo Bridge, and will likely never reopen due to structural deterioration.

The Pacifica Pier, the only pier in the Bay Area that provides direct access to the ocean and the chance to catch salmon, striped bass and Dungeness crabs, will run out of funding for maintenance by the City of Pacifica this summer, leaving it at risk.

Both have been used for free by thousands of people every year, and Pacifica Pier is the most popular pier in California, with 500 to 1,000 people at a time fishing when schools of salmon arrive within range every summer.

Each has its own story. San Mateo Pier was shut down nearly a year ago to the public so CalTrans crews could use it as a staging area for equipment and barges for work on the adjacent San Mateo Bridge. It now resembles something of a war zone, and while the crews have been retrofitting the bridge for earthquake safety, engineers say the pier is now in a severe state of decay. The concrete from support columns has eroded in many places, even exposing re-bar in some sections, with pieces and chunks of concrete occasionally crumbling into the water below. Meanwhile, the work crews have transformed the top of the pier to fit their own needs, and to reopen it would require renovation.

That is why the pier will never be reopened, according to rangers for the San Mateo County Parks and Recreation, who did not want to be quoted. According to a CalTrans spokesman, it will be closed for “a long time.”

San Mateo Pier has been one of the few free, accessible places where anyone can try to catch sharks, rays, perch, kingfish, striped bass, and sturgeon; the only other piers with a chance of catching sturgeon in the Bay are Dumbarton Pier at Newark, McNear’s Pier in San Rafael and Point Pinole Pier near San Pablo. Since it extends past tidal flats, San Mateo Pier has also been a great walk or easy bike trip, and you could view egrets, stilts and other seabirds when minus low tides unveil the surrounding mud flats.

Meanwhile, Pacifica Pier is in imminent trouble. According to an engineering report, the pier needs $1.5 million worth of immediate repair work. In the past, the City of Pacifica has maintained the pier because it runs a pipe for its water treatment facility there. But with a new water treatment facility going on line in the coming year, scheduled for April, but more likely by September, the money is not available to finance the maintenance of two systems. While no closure of Pacifica Pier is planned, that could change quickly with a series of howling Pacific storms that could undermine the pier’s support pilings. Behind the scenes, city administrators are scrambling for alternative financing, most likely from the state, perhaps even to deed the property to the California State Parks Department.

—Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Examiner, January 3, 1999

Pier renovation possibility brings back memories

Talks of re-opening the fabled San Mateo Pier, once known as the “shark pier,” is bringing back a flood of memories for Peninsula residents who remember fishing on the historic site.

Redwood City resident Rita Pease has fond memories of fishing on the San Mateo Pier in the 1970s with her father and three sisters. “We were living in San Mateo and it was nice because it was local,” Pease said. “It had pier railings and restroom facilities and a nice little family area.” Her family was not wealthy, but the San Mateo Pier, located at the base of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in Foster City, provided a safe space for her family to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the environment around them, Pease said. The weekly fishing expeditions were also a time for her father to spend with his four daughters.

The pier was originally part of a drawbridge connecting the Peninsula to Hayward. At the time of its opening in 1929, it was the longest bridge in the world. When traffic outgrew its capacity in the 1960s, it was torn down — but a large piece was left behind to be used as a pier.

After years of neglect, however, the county shut it down in 1995 when a visitor filed a lawsuit after stepping on a piece of rebar.

There aren’t too many piers on the Peninsula that are family-friendly anymore, Pease said. These days, she takes her young family pier fishing at Oyster Point in South San Francisco. “But I don’t think people think about piers as a resource for families and children anymore,” she said.

Unique opportunities — Because the pier reaches so far out into deep waters, it gave anglers who couldn’t afford to go out on boats unique fishing opportunities

“It was known as one of the very best piers in the entire Bay Area for sharks and rays,” said Ken Jones, author of “Pier Fishing in California.”

Around the shoreline, perch and jacksmelt can be caught seasonally. Further out, in the middle area of the pier, species like starry flounder and white croaker — known in the Bay Area as “kingfish” — as well as deeper water fish like striped bass, shark or ray can be caught. At the far end of the pier, where the water is nearly 40 feet deep, leopard sharks, bat rays, skates and sturgeon are prime game.  “There are only a couple piers that present the opportunities this one does,” Jones said.

Steve Richards, a Redwood City resident, remembers catching sand sharks and leopard rays on the pier as a youth. The nearly mile-long pier also gave him and his friends a chance to catch deeper water game, like striped bass, halibut and sturgeon. “It was the only pier this side of the Bay that gave you access to those fish,” Richards said. Richards also remembers going out to the San Mateo Pier for one of his first fishing expeditions with his father. “I have three children of my own now that I can’t take out there, so I have a strong interest in seeing it reopen,” Richards said.

Neglected piers get voice in Sacramento — Even though more hours are spent on pier angling than any other type of fishing, there is no group that fights for legislation to protect piers, Jones said. But the state’s piers are about to make some new friends as fishermen mobilize to petition Sacramento. Jones, a pier angler since 1962, is heading up a group of fishermen to form the United Pier and Shore Anglers of California. “There are always different groups for every issue, but there are not many people standing up for piers,” Jones said. This might be because many pier anglers are children and minorities who cannot speak English, he said. “They don’t get the same type of representation as those who have boats,” he said. “There’s never been an organization dedicated specifically for shoreanglers. The emphasis has been on the boating public.” The United Pier and Shore Anglers’ first project will be to educate the public about the benefits of maintaining piers. The group will seek city and county permission to put up plexiglass displays with educational material about the fish caught in local waters.

The State Coastal Conservancy, the agency that gave San Mateo County the $100,000 grant for its current feasibility study to explore the pier’s refurbishment, looks for just these sort of fringe projects to assist, said agency spokesman David Hayes.

Pier fishing became popular during the Great Depression, when people used piers for subsistence fishing. But piers require a lot of upkeep; most piers need repairs from storm damage about every two years, Jones said.

There have been a string of pier shutdowns in recent times, including the closing of Franklin Delanor and Middle Harbor Piers in Oakland and Warm Water Cove Pier in San Francisco, which burned down. The city chose not to rebuild it.

—Yunmi Choi, San Mateo Daily Journal, June 7, 2003   

The perfect pier— Local anglers hope for Werder facelift

FOSTER CITY — What would the perfect fishing pier look like? For Ken Jones, it would be about a mile long, span several different depths and offer access to a variety of aquatic species.

That just about describes Werder Pier, the last remnant of the original San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. It is the longest pier in the state, running nearly a mile into the middle of San Francisco Bay.  Werder Pier is closed to the public, and has been since 1997 when public safety issues forced the county to shut the gates. It sits at the edge of East Hillsdale Boulevard in Foster City, where Caltrans has used it as a staging area for repairs to the existing adjacent bridge.

This is a travesty, according to Jones, who heads the Stockton-based United Pier and Shore Anglers of California — a recently launched nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of pier fishing in California. Jones, along with several UPSAC members, recently attended a public meeting at Foster City’s Recreation Center, where county officials attempted to gauge the degree of public interest in re-opening the pier.

The well-attended meeting — more than 30 people showed up from around the Bay Area — gave the county significant positive feedback to move forward with the project.

“I didn’t hear people say, ‘That pier was a problem and we don’t want it back again,’” said Sam Herzberg, the county parks planner in charge of the project. “People provided very useful and constructive input recommending how to address certain issues.” Those issues include public safety. Foster City’s only homicide left a dead body on the pier in 1996. That case remains unsolved. Graffiti is also a potential problem, as is off-hour use.

But Jones said those issues are easily addressed. He imagines a tackle shop on the pier that would serve the dual roles of providing a service to the anglers and keeping an extra set of eyes on the pier for the county.

Herzberg agrees. “A concession would be highly supportive on the uses out there,” he said. “But it’s not going to generate a lot of revenue. Basically, if it breaks even, you’re happy.”

Foster City resident Daniel Kim missed the public meeting but wants the pier to re-open. “I believe the community of Foster City is not using the bay to its full potential,” he said. “Opening the pier would attract different parts of the community that otherwise would not head down to the Bay Trail.” Kim, 25, has been fishing with his father since elementary school. He said the migratory routes of fish in the bay make Werder Pier attractive.

Herzberg said he’s glad to see so much public interest. But, he acknowledged that the reality of a pier is a long way off, particularly when it carries a price tag as high as $6.5 million. “Fishing piers are being eliminated around the state,” Herzberg said. “This pier could be restored and made useful again. Would it require significant funding to do that? Yes.”

At this point, Herzberg says the county has zero funding for the project. But a $100,000 grant from the Coastal Conservancy will keep the wheels turning on the feasibility study through the end of the year. There are plans for a second public meeting in early December, and the county will hold focus groups on funding options.

 —Josh Wein, San Francisco Examiner, October 14, 2003

Article posted to PFIC by Ken Jones & Responses

Posted by FakeFisherman

Fantastic. Great to know there are talks about the future possibilities of this pier. Thanks for the information, Ken, and thanks to the other UPSAC members for their representation and involvement. This is one pier I would LOVE to see back in action. I’m sure you will keep us posted as to how we can help in this issue.

-Matty (

Posted by thaapocalypse571

Sweet. I’ve never fished that pier but I live only like 5 mins away and from reading the archive it seems awesome…

Posted by Ken Jones 

Efforts seem to have stalled. Some locals… are against it as was the Highway Patrol. But the issue is not dead.

Posted by SanClementeEric

Think Big! Ken, One way to approach this pier project is to THINK BIG! Imagine all of the UPSAC goals being satisfied with this pier. You could have a large educational facility on this pier that works with all of the conservationist identities as well. mI think of a place like the Ocean Institute here in Dana Point, but there on your own ONE MILE PIER!!

Something that big, could generate tons of funding. Really, anything is possible. All you have to do is get enough interest generated in the project(s). Think big and put the word out to everyone you know, and everyone they know and so on and so on. It really will grow and grow and would be as you envision. You are the driving force behind this happening, Man. It’s a fantastic idea. I, for one, would be willing to do what I could to help.

Posted by Crabman

Count me in as well to help. I also live about 5 minutes away. I used to fish and crab that pier 20 years ago. Was sorry to see it close.

Posted by pierhead

Re: Think Big! Ken and I had talked about this very idea some time ago and I sent him a link to a group that had got $1.1M funding to build a fishing pier/research center. I agree that Werder Pier has potential and I definitely would like to see Ken man the B&T shop/research center. Since Ken is a former teacher he could link up with the local schools and hold ‘classes’ and Kid’s Fishing Days. That would be a dream come true for all of us in UPSAC!

Pierhead, Proud Supporter of UPSAC

Posted by dompfa ben

That’s what I was thinking… Run it as an “after-school program” or open a charter school on-site, and see if you can get funding that way. Ahnold spoke highly of supporting charter schools as part of his vision. Cha-ching. Imagine all the integrated lessons, cooperative learning, science labs and experiments… and hey–not too many questions about what kids would do at recess. “For homework, I want you to snell 5 leaders, and crimp down the barbs on the hooks for tomorrow’s lesson. And read the first 50 pages of Old Man and the Sea.”  Resume available upon request ;)

Posted by pierhead

You and Ken would make a … great teaching team :)

Posted by pierhead

Re: Another funding example… taken from Ken’s recent post – With the help of an EPA grant, students from the Ma’at Youth Academy, a Richmond nonprofit environmental education program, completed a survey of fish consumption in the area, and have distributed yellow flyers to fishermen.

A survey of fish consumption? Right up our alley :)

Pierhead, Proud Supporter of UPSAC

Posted by dkkim

Wow, thanks Ken. I didn’t realize my comments were published in the Chronicle. Better yet, I didn’t realize that my voice would be heard. It is pretty sad. Just yesterday I rode my bike by the pier and was studying the structures around the pier at low tide.  Dan Kim

County mulls Werder fix-up; funds are tight

FOSTER CITY — Plans to renovate Werder Fishing Pier — once the world’s longest bridge — are receiving short shrift from the Foster City Council.

The pier is all that is left of what was the first vehicle bridge to span the Bay. It fell into disrepair in the years after San Mateo County assumed management of the span in 1967. County representatives outlined plans for a $7.2 million makeover during the regular City Council meeting Monday.

Though the pier is owned by the county, Foster City borders the property and maintains the Bay Trail that leads into the pier facilities. The county recently received a $100,000 grant from the California Coastal Conservatory to complete a restoration feasibility study. Officials have concluded that costs for the restoration of shoreline improvements as well as pier rehabilitation could range anywhere from $3.2 million up to $7.2 million.

While the Foster City Council has no official role in the project, the presentation was meant to help inform the community that lives closest to pier. Some council members, however, were more than skeptical. “I have a real negative feeling about the pier,” said Councilmember Ron Cox, who lives just a block from the property and says he remembers the days when teens used the property to drink and cause trouble at night. “I share Ron’s concern,” Mayor Marland Townsend said. “People think that Foster City has a sloppy corner and don’t realize it belongs to the county. But I don’t see the money for it.”

The county’s own focus groups mentioned concerns that included litter, graffiti, personal safety, theft and disorderly conduct.

Restoration plans include building a boat launch ramp for kayaks and other human-powered boats, a new parking lot, new lighting and a concessions building. The project would be completed in two phases, with the shoreline improvements preceding those made to the pier itself.

The county did find significant excitement for the project, not only in Foster City and San Mateo but throughout the region. Werder is currently the longest pier in California and allows good Bay access for fishing. In addition to fishing, the pier is used for biking, boat launches, bird watching and other activities.

In addition to skepticism about the project itself, councilmembers wondered aloud where financing for such an expensive project would come from. “It’s a beautiful idea, but who is going to pay for it? I wish you luck,” said Councilmember Linda Koelling. The county is currently trying to answer that question. Officials said they would go to entities such as the Coastal Conservancy, the state, the Wildlife Conservation Board and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for assistance.

For now, however, the project seems a long way off. With the grant money to complete the feasibility study now gone, the county must examine how to proceed. Currently, county officials are in discussions with law enforcement agencies to attempt to gain their support. This has been a hard sell since Sept. 11, however, since agencies are reluctant to support an area that may be difficult to protect.

—Marc Longpre, San Francisco Examiner, May 5, 2004

Article posted to PFIC by Ken Jones & Responses

Posted by SLO_GIN

Weird to read your post Ken. I was just talking to my best friend of 40 years about the pier and how we used to catch so many stripers out there in September and October. I remember being out there almost every weeknight in October. We used a lure called a Salty Dog. It was a simple Jig head with like a 4 1/2 inch plastic tail. We would wrap a small dental rubberband around the line and secured between the jig head and plastic tail so instead of the line coming from the eye of the jig head it would come from between the the head and plastic causing the tail to ride up instead of just drag in the mud. That trick made all the difference. I remember some unreal nights out there in the late 70′s. 10-15 stripers from 8 to 20 lbs. Guys walking the pier trolling hairraisers and big black jigs at night. Then later on in December we would use bullheads and catch 15-30 lbs all the time. HUGE batrays in the summer near the rocks in the flats. Huge pile perch all over the pilings. I’ll never forget those October nights hearing that distinctive pop of stripers feeding. You could hear that from what seemed like 2 miles away south or the pier on calm nights. Then they put those big street light type lights up on the highrise and they would shine in the water. The pier would create a shadow. Big stripers would hide in the shadows and ambush anchovies in the light. You could see them cruising the line. We would see a fish and cast a rebel in their path and catch quite a few. And I was out there the night that paint factory blew up in San Carlos. It looked like a nuclear bomb went off in Foster City. With the good comeback of stripers I’m betting the pier would rock once again if they get it open. Alot of good fishing has gone by the boards since that pier closed. Later on I got into sturgeon and I caught two 100 plus at #140… If you guys remember the pilings were numbered. Piling #140 was right on a drop off. I wonder if any of you were out there in those days. If you were I wonder if you remember the guy on the bike with red hair…the guy was out there every night and I was fishing the light line one night next to him and watched a 32-lb striper come from the shadows and grab his rebel. Took him a half hour but he landed it. I miss that pier and tonight I learned it’s name… I always just called it the bridge. The laat memory I have is going to the races at Bay Meadows and taking a walk out on the pier after. It was January and I watched a guy catch four keeper sturgeon in an hour on mud shrimp around piling #128. Good luck on getting it opened again!

Posted by Ken Jones

Interesting post. Wish I had been able to fish it a few more times before it closed.


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Croakers in Oceanside

A nice spotfin croaker taken by “Charley” in 2016

The croaker family—yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, white croaker, black croaker, corbinia, queenfish (aka herring), white seabass and shortfin corvina are among the most important fish for SoCal pier anglers. The small queenfish and white croaker annually rank among the largest number of fish caught from piers while yellowfin and spotfin croaker yield both high numbers and eating size fish. Corbina are the favorite of many surf and pier anglers while shortfin corvina,, a fish more common to southern waters in Baja, have become a fairly regular fish for pier and shore anglers from San Diego Bay north to Oceanside. White seabass, the big brute of the family, are less common on piers but rank as one of the favorite sportfish for boaters  from southern California to Monterey Bay.

A nice 15-inch corbina taken by “Ambrosia” in 2015

One of the best producing piers for the favored yellowfin and spotfin croaker is the Oceanside Pier. Although the summer months, usually July through August will yield the highest number of yellowfin and spotfin, the larger spotfin really seem to be available throughout the year even if in lesser numbers.

A shortfin corvina taken by “Lewis” in 2015

Herein are some of the croaker taken from the pier in the past few years.

A spotfin taken during the “UPSAC Youth Fishing Derby” in 2012

Another spotfin, this one taken during the “UPSAC Youth Fishing Derby” in 2010

A mess of yellowfins and spotfins at the UPSAC Youth Fishing Derby in 2011

A large corbina caught in 2015

 A large spotfin croaker taken by “Humberto” in 2015

Yellowfin and spotfin croaker taken during the “UPSAC Youth Fishing Derby” in 2010

Yellowfin croaker taken during the “UPSAC Youth Fishing Derby” in 2010

Shortfin Corvina taken at the pier in 2015

37-inch, 5-Pound spotfin croaker caught by Lee in 2015

Two nice shortfin corvina caught by “Mark” in 2016

Several nice croaker taken in 2013

A good-sized spotfin taken by “Richard” in 2015

A small spotfin taken during the 2012 “UPSAC Youth Fishing Derby”

Many thanks to Ed Gonsalves and the Oceanside Pier Bait Shop for the use of their photos (all pictures excepting the UPSAC Youth Fishing Derby pictures).

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