Pierfishing 101 – The Basics

Piers in Santa Monica Bay—South to North

Redondo Beach PierHours: Open 24 hours. Facilities: Lights, benches, restrooms, fish cleaning stations, snack bars, and a bait and tackle shop are all located on the pier. There is a huge parking lot with rates of $.50 an hour with a $2 maximum. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway, take Torrance Blvd. west to the foot of the pier and the parking lot.

• Redondo Sportfishing PierHours: Usually open dawn to dusk. Facilities: There are restrooms on the pier and some lights but no benches. The Sportfishing landing carries some bait and tackle (though more geared toward boat fishing) as well as limited snacks and drinks. Parking in the adjacent parking lot is $2 an hour although you can get validation at the Sportfishing Landing or at Polly’s. There is limited meter parking on side streets. How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway take Beryl St. west to Harbor Dr. and follow it to the entrance of the Sportfishing parking lot.

Hermosa Beach PierHours: Open 6 A.M. to 10 P.M. Facilities: There are lights, benches, and fish-cleaning stations on the pier. Restrooms are found near the front of the pier. Parking is available adjacent to the pier at a cost of $1 an hour in the parking lot. Some metered parking is also available on nearby streets; most are $.50 an hour with a 2- or 3-hour maximum. How To Get There: Take the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy.1) to Pier Avenue and follow Pier Avenue west to the pier.

Manhattan Beach Pier—Hours: Open 6 A.M. to midnight. Facilities: Some lights, fish-cleaning stations, benches and restrooms on the pier. Metered parking is available on adjacent streets at a cost of $.25 an hour. There is also a beachfront parking lot that costs $.75 an hour and which has a 5-hour maximum time; it is closed from 9:30 P.M. to 4 A.M. How To Get There: From Sepulveda Boulevard turn west on Manhattan Beach Drive and follow it to the pier.

Venice PierHours: Open from 6 A.M. to midnight. Facilities: The pier includes lights, benches, fish-cleaning stations and restrooms at the end of the pier. Parking is available at the foot of the pier for $6 but be sure to arrive early if you expect a spot. How To Get There: Highway 1 to Washington St., turn west and follow Washington St. to the pier.

Santa Monica PierHours: Open 24 hours a day. Facilities: There are lights, benches, fish-cleaning facilities and restrooms on the pier. There is a bait and tackle shop by the end of the pier. There are several snack shops and restaurants on the pier. There is parking on the pier in a lot; the cost is $5-7 a day. There is metered parking on streets above the pier. How To Get There:  From I-405 take Santa Monica Blvd. west to Ocean Ave. Turn left, and go to Colorado Ave., and turn right onto the pier.

Malibu PierHours: The pier is open from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M. Facilities: There are benches on the pier and rod holders have been installed every five feet or so along the railing. Parking here can be a problem. Free and metered parking is available on Highway 1 which fronts the pier, but it is almost always hard to find a spot after the early morning hours. There is a parking lot adjacent to the pier open from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., cost $5 a day, but it is often full. Out at the end of the pier sit two buildings, the one on the north side is Ruby’s Shake Shack while the one on the south side is Malibu Sportfishing. How To Get There: The pier fronts on the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1).

• Paradise Cove PierHours:  Sunup to Sundown. Facilities: A paid parking lot ($25) greets visitors to the cove although there is parking validation at the Paradise Cove Beach Café near the beach; buy $20 worth of food and the admission drops to $3. It is possible to park for free out on PCH, and walk down the mile-long access driveway, but you will stay pay a walk-in fee ($5 per person). There are restrooms in the restaurant and near the beach but basically no facilities on the pier itself. How To Get There: Take Highway 1 to Paradise Cove Dr., turn west, and follow the road back into the parking lot.

• = Private piers that require a California fishing license. The unmarked piers are public piers that do not require a license.

Pier Fish: (1) Inshore—barred surfperch, walleye surfperch, yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, leopard sharks, thornbacks. (2) Mid-pier—halibut, sargo, herring (queenfish), tomcod (white croaker), thornbacks, shovelnose guitarfish, bat rays, leopard sharks. (3) End of pier/deeper water—pelagics, i.e., mackerel, bonito (some years), sardines and jacksmelt, bat rays, thresher sharks, sculpin. (4) Piling area—blackperch, walleye surfperch, rubberlip perch, sargo, cabezon.

Seasons/Species: Winter—Barred surfperch, walleye surfperch, pileperch, rubberlip seaperch, jacksmelt. Fewer numbers of croakers, halibut, sharks and rays. Lobsters at some piers. Spring—Surfperch and seaperch on bottom, start of pelagics, start of halibut season, upswing in croakers, sharks and rays, especially leopard sharks. A few white seabass may also show up.  Summer—Prime time for most croakers, halibut, pelagics, and sharays including thresher sharks. Fall— Still good for some croakers, halibut, pelagics (including bonito and barracuda some years), sharks and rays.

Tackle: Keep it simple. (1) Rods/Reels—(a) light tackle for perch and croakers; (b) medium-light for perch, croakers, halibut, mackerel; (c) heavier tackle for sharks and rays.

Rigging: (1) High/Low rigs for many species; (2) Carolina rigging for halibut; (3) Sliding rigs for top-water fish including bonito.

Bait: (1) Bloodworms and lugworms; (2) Ghost shrimp; (3) Fresh mussels; (4) Frozen/salted anchovies; (5) Mackerel (6) Sardine; (7) Live bait/fish—smelt, shinerperch, walleye surfperch, herring (queenfish), tomcod (white croaker) and lizardfish.

 Pier Fishing Trip Planning Checklist:

1. Appropriate clothing—if you catch fish you are going to get a little dirty and (maybe) a little smelly. This includes sunglasses, preferably polarized.

2. Sun screen—the stronger the better (I recommend at least SPF 30), and remember that foggy days can be worse than sunny days.

3. Camera—to memorialize the fish that you intend to release.

4. Needlennose pliers for removing hooks and cutting line.

5. Sharp bait knife, fillet knife, and cutting board (for some piers).

6. Small ice chest and ice.

7. Small zip-lock bags or baggies to put your fillets in.

8. Old newspaper— to protect your car in case you catch the “big one” and want to carry it home to show it off.

9. Bait net and chum to help you catch bait.

10. A hat light if you intend to fish at night. A lighted magnifying glass if you are of a certain age where you need reading glasses.

11. Net (preferred) or treble-hook gaff to help you land fish.

12. Tackle cart (or friend) to help you carry all of this out to the pier.

13. Tide book.

14. Copy of California Fish and Game Regulations booklet.

15. Proper bait and tackle and your Sherlock Holmes-like ability to analyze the situation   and figure out what will work.

16. Fishing license—in case you decide to visit one of the private piers that require a license.

17. Nail clippers—“great line trimmers. Get them at a bait shop for $5 or less than a buck  elsewhere.”

18. Tape measure—“the best kind is the loose one you get from a fabric store. It’s   waterproof and easy to store.”

19. Elastic thread—“another fabric store offering, and probably half the price at what’s     offered at a tackle shop.”

20. Rags—“Any auto parts store will carry cloth towels for a cheap price.”

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