Man Falls Off Newport Pier —

The place where I learned to fish was the Newport Pier in the early ’60s. There were no railings but instead six-inch planks lined the edge of the pier. I was always  a little surprised that people didn’t fall off the pier. The following story proves that it could and did happen.

Fishing Around by Donnell Cupepper

Talk about hard luck! Bill Towbridge, of 7731 Lombardi, Fontana, can tell you a thing or two about fishing on piers.

Bill was fishing on Newport Pier the other day with a heavy ocean outfit and a tight drag. Newport Pier has no high rail, just a six-inch plank along the edge.

Bill got a vicious strike while holding the outfit, tried to hang on, became overbalanced and fell off the pier. He held on to the rod and started swimming toward shore.

Once there, he reeled in the fish, a halibut that weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces. At that moment two wardens from the Department of Fish and Game accosted him and asked for his license. Bill had none and explained that he was fishing off the pier and didn’t need one.

The wardens, either trying to be funny or pressing for a charge, demanded proof. Bill took them out on the pier and introduced them to his fishing buddy, who promptly backed up his story.

Every one parted friends and Bill and his pal went ahead with their fishing.

No license is needed to fish off piers, land-connected moles and docks, but the state demands that a surf fisherman have a license regardless of what he catches.

Long Beach Independent Press Telegram, October 14, 1960

After posting this story to the Pier Fishing In California Message Board, Our expert on all things Newport, Snookie, posted the following reply: “From the early 40′s to the late 50′s only three people went off the pier accidentally. One was a drunk and he swam to shore, returned, and got under the blankets he had brought to warm up. The other two were a father and child about 5 years old. The child fell in and the father jumped in to save him, but the father forgot he didn’t know how to swim. Betty Phoenix took the big net and got them up by using it. All were well. Given that Snookie started fishing the Newport Pier in the early ’50s, and has chronicled events  on the pier most of her life, that’s good enough for me.

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