The 2021 “Kids Day on the Pier” — Marin Rod & Gun Club Pier

August 28, 2021 saw the 32nd Annual “Kid’s Day on the Pier” at the Marin Rod & Gun Club pier on San Quentin Point in San Rafael, California. It was also the 8th derby co-sponsored by UPSAC (United Pier and Shore Anglers of California) and PFIC (Pier Fishing In California).

Registration — Pat Jones, Ann Marie Melanephy, and Rita Magdamo (MR&G club member and UPSAC/PFIC member)

The day would see 69 “official” participants in the age 6-15 event as well as about a dozen “unofficial,” ages 5 and under newbie anglers. When combined with the parents, friends, and workers, the crowd was close to 180 people, one of the largest in recent memory. Given the warm weather, low tide conditions, and somewhat “dirty” air, the large numbers were somewhat surprising to some.

Although local towns produced most of the participants, a total of 25 towns were represented in the derby—Albany, Antioch, Berkeley, Brentwood, Corte Madera, Danville, Davis, Fairfax, Fremont, Kentfield, Mill Valley, Novato, Greenbrae, Larkspur, Oakland, Pacifica, Petaluma, Pittsburg, Richmond, San Anselmo, San Jose, San Mateo, San Rafael, Santa Rosa, and Sonoma.

The first fish — a baby leopard shark

The DeJong Family

Danika Wren and a small brown smoothhound shark

The Marin Rod and Gun Club and United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC) brought free loaner tackle and people to help out at the event while the club provided the free bait. Assistance for the (often) newbie anglers was available as needed.

 Luckily, the fish gods cooperated and the youngsters caught both a good number and good variety of fish. The various species were led by the sharay contingent (sharks and rays) —22 leopard sharks, 11 bat rays (including one reported at approximately 70 pounds), and 5 brown smoothhound sharks. Rounding out the action were 13 jacksmelt, 2 California halibut, 1 sardine and 1 crab. The action resulted in a lot of happy, smiling faces and excitement when large fish were hooked.

One notable moment occurred when a large bat ray had been hooked but was tangled on a piling. The fish was visible to the crowd of youth looking straight down through the cracks between the surface boards, which prompted the memorable shout—“Oh my God, a humongous fungus!” Not exactly correct terminology but it got the point across that it was something big.


Leopard Shark

Bat Ray (Mud Marlin) — Adam Gorczycki

Al Petrocelli and Family

It’s never too young to start fishing.

Once the fishing was completed, every youngster received a free hot dog lunch courtesy of the club, and new rods and reels from the club and UPSAC.

Rita Magdamo

In addition, each individual age group winner received a 1st Place trophy, an autographed copy of Pier Fishing in California by Ken Jones, and a rod and reel.

Age Group Winners: 6-year-old Vinny Podesta

7-year-old Sebastian Garcia 

8-year-old Parker Brock

9-year-old Shayda Citarrella

10-year-old (tie) Sean McConedough

10-year-old (tie) Dustavo Pretta

11-year-old Vincent DeJong

12-year-old Adam Gorczycki

13-year-old Ryan Etter

14-year-old Danika Wren

15-year-old Thomas DeJong.

Spearheading the efforts of the Marin Rod and Gun Club this year was Al Petrocelli assisted by many, many members of the club who performed a plethora of duties—serving as judges on the pier, cleaning and fixing rods and reels for the derby, cooking the hot dog lunches, and setting up and cleaning the auditorium and kitchen. A special thanks to Ann Marie Melanephy who helped with the registration of participants.

Representing UPSAC was president Ken Jones (who helped organize the event, took pictures, handed out individual awards, and announced raffle winners), Pat Jones (who helped at the registration table), Rita Magdamo (a club member and UPSAC/PFIC member who helped at the registration table and helped handing out awards, Robert Gardner (who helped rig the equipment and filmed the awards), and Kyle Pease (who helped with the equipment and worked as a judge).

The biggest thanks of course goes to the Marin Rod and Gun Club itself that has sponsored this event for 32 years but all of the various organizations and volunteers deserve a round of applause.







Posted in California Fish, California Piers, Pierfishing, Saltwater Fishing · Tagged · Leave a comment

“Old Ben” and Avalon

Dear Old Ben — Famous  Seal At Catalina

Takes Fish Out Of Hand As Would A Pet Dog

Depends on Friendly Fishermen for Food and Waxes Fat on Albacore. Eats immense Quantities of Fish and Roams Seas as Patriarch of the Isolated Tribe

If you have visited Avalon on beautiful Catalina Island you have probably seen the statue to “Old Ben” that sits on the path from the ferry landing to the center of town. Here’s an old story that tells about “Old Ben.”

“Old Ben,” the famous old seal of Avalon, is still in his old haunts among the row boats and launches that dot the little harbor. He has been there for thirty-five years and in that time become as tame as the seals which are confined in parks and aquariums. He is as wise as the trained seals of Ringling’s circus, and were he to be captured and put with them, he would cost his keepers a tidy fortune, for he has the biggest appetite of any of his kind ever known.

“Old Ben” feasts on the big fish brought in by the hundreds of anglers that visit Catalina each summer. At each meal he will consume a half-dozen big albacore or skipjacks, aggregating 125 pounds in weight. When he is hungry he swims up near the boat landing, where his favorite befriender, Charles Tompkins, has his boat stand. After a glance at the fish rack, he sets to barking and diving about until he has attracted the attention of those on the pier. He will crawl clean up on the float after food, but even when extremely hungry he cannot be induced to remain there. As soon as he has seized his fish, he dives back into the bay, rising to the surface now and then to give his food a vicious toss as he tears out mouthfuls of flesh. At these times he is often followed by other smaller seals which are too timid to approach the landing. Gulls also pursue the old sea lion and seize the morsels, which are torn loose from the fish as it s being consumed.

This old pet of the bay has attained a great weight from the constant easy supply of food within his reach. He has never been on a scales, but estimates of his weight, made by causing him to cross planks up to a size that would no longer break, give it close to 1400 pounds. His sleek, gray-brown back is often seen dashing between the bathers, who scatter in wild commotion whenever he appears. He has an utter disregard for people and things, and roams about the bay whatever place suits his fancy.

Before Catalina was made a resort, “Old Ben” is supposed to have been the chief of the colony on Seal Rocks. Presumably he was vanquished by some younger rival, and now leads the life of an outcast. He seem to find this entirely agreeable, however, he has succeeded in coaxing several others of the colony into the bay with him. His face is scarred with the marks of many battles, and he has lost the sight of his right eye, but he rules his little band of in the bay as supremely as his successor on the rocks governs the colony.  — Los Angeles Times, August 18, 1918


Posted in California Piers, Pierfishing · Tagged , , , · Leave a comment

2019 Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby

Saturday, October 5, 2019 saw youth assemble at the Trinidad Pier in the beautiful redwoods north of Eureka to participate in the 6th Annual Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby.

Free loaner rods and reels, free terminal tackle, free bait, free hot dog lunches and drinks, raffle prizes, and a winner in each age group helped generate excitement.

Although the wind picked up a little in the afternoon, the day’s overall weather was gorgeous and the 40 young anglers and the crowd estimated at about a hundred people agreed it was a fun day at the pier.

Ruby Broese with a small cabezon

Of course catching some fish also helps and though the fishing was a little slower than the prior year (no lingcod this time), the mix still included kelp greenling, cabezon, buffalo sculpin, brown rockfish, walleye surfperch and jacksmelt. When a nice school of jacksmelt showed out at the end of the pier toward the end of the day, it provided a nice finishing touch to the tournament.

Ruby Broese with a kelp greenling

David Shigematsu with a small brown rockfish

Buffalo sculpin

Joe Polos, a retired member of the USFWS, set up a touch tank with specimens he collected before the tourney, and put a couple of fish in the tanks for the kids to look at.

Jonathan Pitcher with a buffalo sculpin

Jack Broese with a kelp greenling

What is this?

Is it a starfish? No, a sea star.

A baby cabezon

A little larger kelp greenling

CDFW Wildlife Officer Norris 

Everybody ready for some hot dogs?

There was a fundraiser for the custom rod made by Daniel Troxel of “Bass Man Dan’s Custom Fishing Rods”

Dan Troxel and a rod

Next up was the announcement of the individual age group winners.

Ed Roberts of the CFGD and some of the prizes for the winners

The 6-year-old (and under) winner was Ruby Broese, of Eureka who caught two kelp greenling and a cabezon.

The 7-year-old winner was Taylor Holt of Arcata.   

 The 8-year-old winner was Mannie Guerrero of Trinidad. 

 The 9-year-old winner was Daniel Galan of Arcata. 

The 10-year-old winner was Lucie Bertrand of Arcata. 

 The 11-year-old winner was Jovani Galan of Arcata. 

The 12-year-old winner was Kieryn Wolfe of Trinidad. 

The 13-year-old winner was David Shigematsu of Davis who caught a kelp greenling, buffalo sculpin, brown rockfish, large walleye surfperch, and three jacksmelt. David was the overall winner of the tournament, and this is his third victory in a row.

The 14-year-old winner was Jonathan Pitcher of Arcata who caught a buffalo sculpin.

Last but not least was the raffle with prizes for all contestants.

The sponsors of the derby were the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers, Pacific Outfitters, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), Pier Fishing In California ( and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The main organizer was Edgar W. Roberts of the CDFW (California Fish and Wildlife Department). Volunteers included CDFW’s Natural Resource Volunteers John “Grondo” Grondalski and Patricia Figeroa, and from HASA (Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers) Joe Polos. Other volunteers: Daniel Troxel, Russell Janak, Lucas Janak, and Daniel Roberts. CDFW Wildlife Officer Norris kept watch over the proceedings.

Special thanks goes to Grant Roden of the Rancheria, Scott McBain and Joe Polos of HASA, Daniel Troxel of “Bass Man Dan’s Custom Fishing Rods,” and Aaron Ostrom of Pacific Outfitters for making this happen.

Posted in California Fish, California Piers, Pierfishing, Saltwater Fishing · Tagged · Leave a comment

Marin Rod & Gun Club — 31st Annual “Kids Day On The Pier”

August 10, 2019 saw the 31st Annual “Kid’s Day on the Pier” at the Marin Rod & Gun Club on San Quentin Point in San Rafael, California. The event was co-sponsored by the club, UPSAC (United Pier and Shore Anglers of California), PFIC (Pier Fishing In California), and the IGFA (International Game Fish Association).

Although the number of youth was down from prior years, the event still saw an enthusiastic group of 37 youngsters and a crowd of roughly 110 people who thoroughly enjoyed the 74-degree weather and slight breeze.

Ethical Angling

UPSAC /PFIC members—Robert Gardner, Bob Griffin and Kyle Pease

Rita Magdamo and family

Interestingly, although the number of youth was down (probably due to school starting in two days), the participants continued to represent many different areas and towns (20): Marin County—San Anselmo, San Rafael, Novato, Larkspur, Kentfield, and Fairfax. Bay Area—San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, San Bruno, San Leandro, San Carlos and Hayward. NorCal and CenCal—Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Hidden Valley, Davis, Roseville and Fresno. Out of state—Bronx, New York.

Omar Medrano and a striped bass

Even better was that the kids caught a good number of fish— 124 jacksmelt, 17 striped bass and two bat ray. Less variety than normal but more fish, which meant a lot of happy, smiling faces.

Loaner rods and reels were available as well as free bait and assistance when needed. Combined with the fishing was a free hot dog lunch and every participant received a rod and reel from the club.

David Shigematsu and a striped bass

Adam Peltola and a jacksmelt

E. J. Stowe and a striped bass

Adam Peltola and a striped bass

  Hans Jones Jr. and a striped bass

Kyle Pease and a bat ray

Club members

Robert Gardner and a jacksmelt

The Marin Rod and Gun Club, United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), and Pier Fishing In California (PFIC) brought tackle and people to help out while the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) provided certificates for the winners.

 Each individual age group winner received a 1st Place trophy, a beautiful IGFA certificate, and an autographed copy of Pier Fishing in California by Ken Jones.



Rods and reels for the raffle

7-year-old-winner Axel Young

8-year-old-winner Sofia Medrano

9-year-old winner Hunter Rodriguez-Olson

10-year-old winner Abigail Wehm

11 year-old-winner E. J. Stowe

12-year-old winner Omar Medrano

13-year-old winner David Shigematsu

15-year-old winner Adam Peltola

Representing the Marin Rod and Gun Club were Chairmen Gary Colmere, Vice-Chairman Roy Jackson, John Evans and more than a dozen club members who performed a plethora of duties—serving as judges on the pier, cleaning and fixing rods and reels for both the derby and the raffle, cooking the hot dog lunch, setting up and cleaning the auditorium and kitchen, and helping announce the results of the raffle.

David Shigematsu and E. J. Stowe

A special thanks goes to club members Mary Ellen Smith (who helped at the registration table and with the cooking) and Rita Magdamo (who helped at the registration table and took pictures at the awards ceremony). Both stayed very busy!

Ken Jones and Gary Colmere

Ken Jones and John Evans



Rita Magdamo

Representing UPSAC: President Ken Jones, Vice-President Robert Gardner, and Rita Magdamo.

Representing the Pier Fishing in California ( website family were the above UPSAC members as well as Melvin Kon, Bob Griffin, Kyle Pease, and Hans Jones. Special thanks goes to Barbara Ungersma aka Fishmom1 who couldn’t attend but dropped off several rods and reels for the kids to use prior to the derby.

The biggest thanks of course goes to the Marin Rod and Gun Club that has sponsored this event for 31 years but all of the various organizations and volunteers deserve a round of applause.

Posted in California Piers, Saltwater Fishing · Tagged , , , , , , , , · Leave a comment

No Licenses for Pier Fishing​ — A History

Licenses for Pier Fishing​

Pier Fishermen Need No License​ — The new State law requiring people fishing for game fish to secure a license has caused considerable agitation among pier fishermen. It has been rumored around that all people fishing for salt water or fresh water fish would have to take out a license.

A letter received by George Cline from the State Game and Fish Commission clears up this misunderstanding and will put the pier fishermen at ease. The letter states that only people fishing for game fish and members of the Rod and Reel Club will have to secure a license. The game fish includes all fresh water fish and certain salt water fish. The tuna, jewfish and other game fish at Catalina will be protected by this law and yellowtail come under the ban.

People fishing off the piers will not have to secure a license. All saltwater fishing for profit is exempt from this tax. This license is to help protect the game fish and to raise funds for the purpose of keeping up the hatcheries and restock the fishing grounds. Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1914

​Fishing Boats and barges were empty and Pine Avenue pier deserted by all but a handful of fishermen as a result of the State Fish and Game Commission enforcing the old law requiring licenses for ocean angling; scores of tourists announced they were going to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida where taxation was not required. Long Beach Independent, February 8, 1930

Pier Fishing Puzzle Solved — Newport Beach — Questions of fishing licenses were answered today to the satisfaction of anglers.​ — Anyone may fish from piers of Newport Beach and Balboa, or other coastal cities, without purchasing a state license, according to notice received from J.P. Cassidy, assistant secretary of the California Fish and Game commission. It is required that sport fish caught in surf-fishing be thrown back into the ocean. Fishing from sport boats requires a license. Santa Ana Register, March 2, 1938

Move Called Slap At ‘Poor Man’s’ Fishing — Santa Cruz sportsmen were alarmed Friday over the proposal of Assemblyman Harrison Call of San Mateo to submit a bill to the state legislature which would require salt water fishermen to pay $1 for an angling license to fish from wharves or in the surf in California.

The assemblyman, chairman of the assembly interim fish and game committee, said the bill, which would tax anglers who fish off the local municipal wharf $1, will be introduced at the 1942 session of the legislature. (Under existing laws, there is no license required to fish off the wharf or in deep sea for non-game fish). Call said the plan is “exactly what the sportsmen and commercial fish and game interests in California want in the way of a new law,” the United Press reported.

Merle Briggs, president of the Santa Cruz Rod and Gun club, said that “on the surface the bill sounds like a good thing. The fish and game commission spends money to protect these fish that are caught from the wharf, they fight for preservation of sardines, and I feel that those who fish should pay something for that right.”

Secretary Mike Morelli of the same organization took an opposite stand on the proposal. Morelli pointed out that the enforcement angle of the bill would be a problem and he pointed out also that a fisherman, by buying a $1 license, would be eligible to fish for game fish, which now costs any angler $2.

Present law, which permits fishing without a license from piers, requires that no game fish be taken. In order to catch game fish a $2 license is required. The proposed law would probably be to the liking of San Francisco’s 60,000 striped bass fishermen, Morelli said, in pointing out that they are now required to buy a $2 license.

Malio J. Stagnaro, active in all sportsmen’s affairs, said he was against any move to tax “poor man’s fishing,” as deep sea fishing for non-game fish is called. “It is all wrong to charge for poor mans’ fishing,” he said. “Deep sea and wharf fishing has always been regarded as poor man’s fishing and with a license required, you will see the number of fishermen decrease greatly. He pointed out that if the proposed bill should become a law, anglers could wade out into the mouth of the San Lorenzo river and fish with a $1 license, half the price of a regular license.

The San Lorenzo river, mecca for anglers during the winter steelhead run which starts in January, will be able to be fished for $1 in its tidal water areas. However, it would cost $2 to advance up the stream to do any angling for the same fish in fresh water.

Senator H. R. Judah, declining to comment on the bill until he had read it, said he wants to talk with Assemblyman Call in regard to the motive of the bill. “There is a growing sentiment in Sacramento opposing taxation of inherent rights of Californians and this would apply to those who fish from wharves and surfs of the state,” the senator added.

One sportsman said he believed the proposed bill was written to favor southern California anglers who do not have streams nearby from which to fish for fresh water fish. Most of the angling in the south is done from barges and small boats. Fishing for game and non-game fish would appear legal under the early interpretations of the proposal, he said. Santa Cruz Evening News, November 7, 1941

Sports And Wharf Fishermen To Need License After Friday —Deepsea sports and wharf fishing will probably drop 25 to 50 percent when a new fish and game law, passed by the last state legislature, goes into effect Friday, Malio Stagnaro of the Stagnaro Fishing corporation predicts.

The law will require persons 16 years of age and over to buy a $2 fishing license before they can legally drop a line into salt water here and throughout the state.

After January 1, the license fee will increase to $3, Stagnaro said, adding that the assembly bill, 610 and 745, will affect not only pleasure fishermen who may only practice the sport here once a year but also aged and convalescents.

It will put an end to the last tax fee privilege of the people of California and will retard business in the entire Santa Cruz bay area, Stagnaro pointed out. Already, according to the commercial fishermen, many people have called the wharf protesting the law in the last four or five days. “This act will not be felt by the commercial fishermen, but will, without doubt greatly hinder the sports and poor class of fishermen,” Stagnaro added. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, September 19, 1947

A bill is before the state legislature to allow pier fishing without the customary $3 license fee. That will make great copy for another sermon which we’ll do in our next column, entitled “What’s Wrong With the License Setup?”—Andy Anderson, Fishin’ Along The Coast,The Long Beach Independent, June 1, 1951

Governor Signs Non-License Public Pier Fishing Bill​ — Sacramento, June 21 (AP)—A bill permitting you to fish in the ocean from a public pier without a license was signed today by Governor Warren. But the fishing must be for fun, not for profit, says the new law, proposed by Assemblyman Gordon R. Hahn, R., Los Angeles. The statue goes into effect in September. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 21, 1951

Anglers who frequent the Santa Cruz Wharf for fishing the year around are wearing broad smiles in anticipation of free fishing beginning September 1. Governor Earl Warren last week signed the measure which will permit public pier fishing without a license, as long as the fishing is for fun and not for profit. Those who fish for profit must continue to purchase a license.Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, June 24, 1951

No License for Pier Fishing​ — Thousands of persons who annually enjoy fishing in ocean waters at Princeton and in San Francisco bay waters forming the eastern boundary of San Mateo county, will not have to provide themselves a state fishing license if the fishing is done from a public pier, State Attorney General Edmund G. Brown had ruled today.

The ruling will affect particularly those who fish from the Patroni pier at Princeton and those who fish from the Redwood City municipal yacht harbor piers. An estimate made at Hazel’s Seafood Tavern at the entrance to Patroni’s pier, Princeton, was that more than 24,000 persons annually fish from this pier. The average is 15 to 20 daily and more than 400 each on Saturday and Sunday, almost the year round. No estimate was available at the Redwood City harbor. At the present time smelt, perch, flounder and king fish are being caught in abundance at the Princeton pier.

Brown made his ruling at the request of the state division of fish and game to clarify changes in fish and game provisions made at the last session of the legislature. He said ocean waters of the state include all enclosed bays along the coast which are contiguous to the ocean, such as Humboldt, Tomales, San Francisco, San Pedro and San Diego bays. Also included are open roadsteads such as Santa Monica, Monterey and San Luis Obispo bays. San Mateo Times, October 10, 1951

Anglers Need No License On Piers—Fishermen of distinction. That’s what you might call anglers who fish on public piers in ocean waters, because these anglers are not required to have a state license to fish. However, if the pier is not open to the public then a license is required.Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1960

Posted in Daily musings..., Pierfishing · Tagged , , , , , · Leave a comment