Paradise Beach Park Pier

Paradise? Living up to that name can be tough both for this pier and the other California pier that carries the name—the Paradise Cove Pier in Malibu. Luckily both have attributes that justify the names even though there is considerable difference between this San Francisco Bay pier and its SoCal cousin.

This pier is located in Paradise Beach County Park, a 19-acre park that contains large lawn areas, picnic facilities, and a small beach. A wooden pier, first built by the Navy in WWII was renovated and turned into a recreational pier to be used by Marin County in 1963. Today’s concrete pier, one that is 302-foot-long with a t-shaped 194-foot-long end, replaced that pier.

The pier fronts on Paradise Cove, the cove that runs from Point Chauncey to Ring Point (today’s Paradise Cay, but formerly California City Point). Although water is fairly shallow it’s an area rich in fishing heritage, especially in the fall when boaters try for salmon (and to some extent stripers and sturgeon) off of the now non-existent California City. The pier and park sit on the northerly side of the expensive Tiburon Peninsula. Mount Tiburon sits to the south, blocks much of the normal Bay Area wind, and provides visitors to this park some of the best waterfront climate in the Bay Area.

The park facilities themselves, the surrounding area, and the weather, have made it a favorite pier, one that Bay Area pier rats have judge to be most family friendly pier in the bay (and not a bad place for a date). As for the fishing, it can be really good at times and really dead at others but it is a pier that can reward regulars who know the tricks some good sized fish.

The bottom here is primarily mud with some grass and the concrete pilings themselves have little growth of fish attracting barnacles or mussel. Inshore, concrete blocks protect the shoreline and will attract some perch and striped bass. The main fish sought, depending on season, are striped bass, California halibut, sharks, rays, jacksmelt, white croaker (kingfish), starry flounder, and white sturgeon. Seasonally, especially in the late winter months, anglers will land some pileperch, blackperch (locally called pogies), white seaperch, and a variety of other perch. (Although common in the spring and summer, all perch excepting shinerperch have an April 1-July 31 closure in SF Bay.)

The keys are to target the species based upon season, location, baits, and rigging. Wintertime can be the slowest time of the year and least pleasant depending upon the weather. However, it’s also the least crowded time and can produce some really big sturgeon. Although only ranked second in the North Bay for sturgeon to the nearby McNear’s Pier, every year sees a multitude of sturgeon taken from the pier. Anglers use a rod capable of tossing a six-ounce (or heavier) sinker a long distance and bait up a 4/0 hook with grass shrimp, ghost shrimp, eel or anchovies. Although anglers typically use a sliding bait leader for sturgeon, regulars here (including Melvin Kon, THE sturgeon expert), seem to have better luck with a high/low-type leader where the bottom hook is about five feet off the bottom. That helps eliminate some of the crabs.

Wintertime will also produce some starry flounder, perch, and sharks. The flounder prefer pile worms and grass shrimp on a sliding leader, the dogfish prefer squid and a long cast, while the perch are found down amongst the pilings. For the perch use light tackle, smallish size 6 hooks, and live bait—pile worms, grass shrimp or fresh mussels.

Spring sees the start of the “no perch” restrictions along with a drop off in the sturgeon (depending somewhat on the winter runoff of freshwater into the bay). Luckily the spring months, generally around May, see the arrival of halibut, and for the past decade it’s been a great fishery.

Best bait for the halibut is live bait and here that generally means shinerperch (that can be legally taken for bait). A moderate cast will reach the hallies and ‘buts to thirty pounds have been reported from the pier.

Striped bass also start to show up, most on their way to the ocean and anchovies, sardines and artificial lures, i.e., Hair Raisers, will attract them. The jacksmelt numbers also increase and tend to replace the perch as the desired fish for those preferring lighter action. Use pile worms on a couple of hooks under a float for the jacksmelt.

Summertime can see all of these fish but also will see kingfish (white croaker). To a degree the sharks and rays dominate summer action but there always seem to be some striped bass around as well as the smaller species. Of course the sharks and rays can be big with bat rays approaching a hundred pounds landed every year. A lot of big leopard sharks also show up as well as a few 7-gills just to join in the fun.

One too common species is small bullheads (staghorn sculpin) that can seem to carpet the bottom. If you’re using small hooks on the bottom you’re probably going to get a bullhead, or two hundred, but remember, the stripers also love ‘em.

Fall sees the best weather, sometime dilatory days, lots of sharays, and the return of the stripers. October has long been noted for its “World Series” bite on striped bass— fish headed inland toward the Delta and Sacramento River. Their path takes them right by the pier. The stripers can be caught right around the pier, including the inshore areas, and both baits and artificial are used in the search for the Mr. Linesides.

There are two negatives that should be mentioned before closing. The first is that the better the fishing the larger the crowds (true everywhere) and the appearance of boaters and kayakers, some who aren’t averse to coming too close to the pier. The second negative is the number of yellow jackets that show up due to the nearby picnic areas. Some anglers bring along insect repellant.

Maybe it’s not exactly Paradise, but it’s an awfully nice pier.

California Sportsman Magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>