A Short Trip to Avalon & Catalina Island — June 2017

Given that my annual trip to Catalina was due, and that a ferry ride to Avalon is free on your birthday, I decided to head over to Avalon on June 6, my birthday, with my friend Hashem Nahid.

The casino at Avalon.

We decided to take the 6 a.m. ferry from Long Beach and had one of the smoothest rides we’ve ever had. The sea was like glass and except for the sight of a few dolphins it was simply a great morning to sit back, relax and get ready for three days of fishing.

Looking out toward the end of the Green Pleasure Pier

Hashem decided he wanted to first fish the Cabrillo Mole while I decided I would fish from the Green Pleasure Pier and “Skipper’s Corner,” a name bestowed upon my favorite spot years ago.

“Skipper’s Corner” — My favorite spot and a designation dating back to 2004. An early morning picture from our 2004 visit.

I would not be alone fishing out at the end of the pier. In fact, a cruise ship was anchored just offshore and an unending stream of visitors would be visiting Avalon, and seemingly the Green Pleasure Pier (and its boat rides), throughout the day.

Although there did not seem to be the same number of some species, specifically halfmoon, blacksmith and garibaldi, the day would see a large number of ocean whitefish. Most trips to Catalina and the Green Pleasure Pier might yield a couple of whitefish but this trip would yield many, many more.

Ocean Whitefish

Throw out a few fish pellets and you could see how many fish were next to the pier. The large fish with a single spot on their back are opaleye. The calico-colored fish with many spots are kelp bass. The orange-colored fish are garibaldi.

A male rock wrasse with its characteristic black bar on its side

Day one saw me trying a variety of bait—blood worms, market shrimp, pieces of mackerel, and squid. Almost any time a blood worm was used a rock wrasse would be hooked.

June 6 would see me stay at the Green Pleasure Pier all day. The results: Fished: 8 a.m.-3:15 pm., 3:45-5 (8.5 hours): Fish: 36 Rock Wrasse, 34 Kelp Bass, 28 Ocean Whitefish, 7 Senorita, 1 Sheephead, 1 Garibaldi

At the end of the (fishing) day Hashem and I both checked into the Hermosa Hotel (where members of PFIC and UPSAC have been staying since 2002) and once again saw our now longtime-friend and host Mindy. A dinner at the always-on-the-first-day restaurant Antonio’s and we were ready for a little shut eye.

The Hermosa Hotel & Cottages

We always get cottages

June 7 would see a day split between the Green Pleasure Pier and the Cabrillo Mole. Hashem needed to post some “limit’s rules” on the pier so we both fished the GPP in the morning.

Mahigeer aka Hashem Nahid

In the afternoon I headed out to the Mole while Hashem stayed at the GPP.  In the evening we both headed out to the Mole for a little late night fishing. Things were slow at the Mole with the kelp acting strange and the whole area seeming somewhat dead. In part it may have been due to the tides which were very high/low, and the full moon the previous night which can affect the daytime fishing. What was biting really well were the garibaldi, which are California’s saltwater fish and illegal to keep. The nighttime hours produced kelp bass, opaleye, scorpionfish, a treefish and salema (which I have caught several times at night on the pier but never during the daylight hours).

A juvenile garibaldi still showing its blue spots and not quite as orange coloring.

A “teenage” garibaldi not quite an adult; still some blue and not as bright as the adults.

An adult garibaldi showing its bright coloring


I caught this small “mystery fish” that at first I thought was a kelpfish but the fins are wrong. Checking on the identity of this fish and a similar one from the Green Pleasure Pier. [ I sent a note to Milton Love at UCSB, THE expert on fish. His reply: "Both of those are the largemouth blenny, Labrisomus xanti. I just wrote a paper describing the first times these fish were seen in California - about 2 years ago. They seem to have come northwards during, or perhaps just before, the last El Nino, and are now fairly common at Catalina, La Jolla, and one or more of the lagoons north of La Jolla. The red one is a breeding male and the other one is likely a female."] This fish would be the female.

For the article on Largemouth Blenny by Milton Love, Julianne Kalman, Ben Cantrell and Philip A. Hastings:   http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3160/0038-3872-115.3.191

June 7, Results were from the two piers: (1) Green Pleasure Pier—Fished: 6:10 a.m.-7:10, 8:30-12:45  (5.25 Hours); Fish:  17 Kelp Bass, 9 Ocean Whitefish, 6 Rock Wrasse, 3 Senorita, 2 Sheephead; (2) Cabrillo Mole— Fished: 1:20 p.m.-5:20, 9:50-11:20 p.m. (5.5 Hours) Fish: 17 Garibaldi, 4 Kelp Bass, 3 Rock Wrasse, 3 Senorita, 2 Halfmoon, 2 Scorpionfish, 1 Sheephead, 1 Opaleye, 1 Treefish, 1 Salema, 1 Mystery Fish [Largemouth Blenny]

No overhead casting.

June 8, the final day, would be spent at the Green Pleasure Pier. The fishing was good and the company was great. Two things stood out. The first was the chance to continue fishing with a family we had met the first day. They lived in Los Angeles but originally were from Denmark and were really nice people. Both parents and their sons really liked to fish. We had fished together all three days and by the time they left on their boat from Avalon Harbor in the afternoon they almost felt like family.

We also met a fellow “pier rat” from the Pier Fishing In California family that had traveled to Catalina for the day. His screen name is EgoNonBaptizo  but he goes by Sky and was a knowledgeable angler. Not only was he a pleasure to fish with but he had caught a triggerfish while fishing out at the Mole.

Hashem and Sky

Sky and the triggerfish he had caught at the Mole. (Picture courtesy of Hashem Nahid)

Sky and Hashem fishing

I continued to pull in fish, mainly ocean whitefish ranging in size from 10-11 inches (although a few were as small as 8 inches and a few as large as 14 inches), and kelp bass mostly in the 9-12 inch range (with the legal size needing to be 14 inches). A few of the largest ocean whitefish were kept to be eaten but everything else was released. I also caught one of the “mystery fish” later identified as largemouth blenny.

Mystery Fish [Largemouth Blenny - Labrisomus xanti — breeding male]

The total for June 8: Green Pleasure Pier—Fished: 9:50 a.m.-1:50 p.m., 2:50-6:05 (7.25 Hours); Fish: 28 Kelp Bass, 23 Ocean Whitefish, 4 Rock Wrasse, 1 Sheephead, 1 Senorita, 1 Mystery Fish.

In the afternoon I decided I needed a break and walked around Avalon taking a few pictures. Herein, those pictures.

As for an overall recap of the fishing: there were fewer large fish this trip but a plethora of smaller species and fish. Green Pleasure Pier – 21 Hours: 79 Kelp Bass, 60 Ocean Whitefish, 46 Rock Wrasse, 11 Senorita, 4 Sheephead, 1 Garibaldi and 1 Largemouth Blenny. Cabrillo Mole – 5.5 Hours: 17 Garibaldi, 4 Kelp Bass, 3 Rock Wrasse, 3 Senorita, 2 Halfmoon, 2 Scorpionfish, 1 Sheephead, 1 Opaleye, 1 Treefish, 1 Salema and 1 Largemouth Blenny.

The casino as seen from the Green Pleasure Pier

Picture of a sheephead on the “Green Submarine”

Avalon Harbor

The restaurant at the end of the Green Pleasure Pier

Anyone want to go diving?

The casino from the Green Pleasure Pier

The ramp that is installed at the end of the pier during the summer months

The Green Pleasure Pier from inshore

The Casino

The “House” on the hill

The Green Pleasure Pier — the GPP

Scenes of Avalon

The famous weigh station for marlin and other large fish

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One Response to A Short Trip to Avalon & Catalina Island — June 2017

  1. Ben Cantrell says:

    Mystery fish is a largemouth blenny, which is expanding its range from Mexico into California waters.

    “The Largemouth Blenny, Labrisomus xanti, New to
    the California Marine Fauna with a List of and Key
    to the Species of Labrisomidae, Clinidae, and
    Chaenopsidae found in California Waters”

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