California Piers

The 2008 Avila Pier Get Together —

In 2008 a group of anglers from (Pier Fishing In California) had a Get-Together at the Central California town of Avila. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there but they had a great time — and caught several nice halibut. Herein the messages from the people that attended.

The group at the Get Together

(Front row: Huntress and friend, Sylvana, red fish (Robert) — Back row: KingfisherBro (Matthew), Kingfisher, Keli Cruise and wife Cindy, mahigeer (Hashem), kelpangler (Eugene), Gordo Grande (Ross) and wife, illcatchanything2 (Brian) and riorust (Dave)

Date: August 24, 2008

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Gordo Grande

Subject: Mid-State Get-Together Aftermath…

It’s Sunday night, and I’m still dead tired, but I can’t go to bed without posting a report. I think our first mid-state get-together was a smashing success, and everyone involved said we have to do it again. Many thanks to Santa who helped with the planning and did quite a bit of scouting ahead of time. Our first surprise of the day was when Santa found out that the police weren’t ticketing parked cars around the pier. We thought we were all in for some long walks from the free parking zones, but it turns out that we were able to park right next to the pier the whole time. It sure saved a lot of wear and tear on our feet.

Santa (Mike Spence) and Mrs. Santa (Cheryl)

The next surprise was when I spotted a certain mad Turkish/Iranian strolling the pier, who had surprised us with his attendance. The shock was almost too much for me, and I attempted to leap from the pier in fear, only to be pulled back in by my family members.

We had a great turnout for our inaugural event, although we were disappointed that several people who signed up couldn’t make it. However, that usually happens with GTs to some extent, so we didn’t let it stop us from having a good time. Most of the folks congregated in the mid-pier area, thanks to the advice of our locals, Polishfromthedeep (Karl), Kingfisher (Brian), and his little brother, KingfisherBro (Mathew). These guys knew this pier well, and they were tuned in perfectly to the halibut bite. Polish drew first blood with a legal hali, soon followed by Kingfisher and KingfisherBro. Between the three of them, I think they pulled in 5 halis, four of which were legal.

Their technique was flawless. I’ll let them fill you in on the details, if they think it’s a good idea. It’s up to them to do so, because I wouldn’t want to blow up a good spot by giving away their trade secrets. Suffice it to say, I was grateful for their advice, and used it as best as I could.

As usual for our GTs, we weren’t wanting for good eats. Hashem (aka BananaMan) brought along some cioppino, which he heated up on a propane grill beneath the restaurant at the foot of the pier. Riorust’s pal Ken made some killer ceviche. Kcruise and Mrs. Kcruise contributed greatly in the sandwich department, and Santa brought along a ton of eats as well. Next year I’ll try to remember to bring along a table so we can set it all up on the pier. Please forgive me if I’ve forgotten to mention anyone’s contribution.

These little sea stars provided us with some cheap entertainment. There didn’t seem to be any crabs at this pier, but the sea stars took their place, snatching bait every chance they got. It seemed they would wait for something to hit a bait, and if the bait died these guys would grab on for dear life. Several of us brought up half-eaten mackerels with sea stars wrapped around them. This is Kcruise’s better half, Cindy, showing off one of the little critters.

Dave (riorust) + sea stars = cheap entertainment

Sea star and the mackerel bait it enveloped

Of course, the high point of the day for me was catching this beast [angel shark], who hit a live mackerel. I was using the same technique that the guys were using to catch all the hali’s. As I was pulling it up I thought it was a ray, because that was the way he was fighting. No headshakes, just a lot of dead weight and an effort to get under the pier. I was able to horse him away from the pier and out of the kelp, where he was expertly netted by Kcruise. Many thanks for the assist, Kel. See, El Gordo actually does catch fish from time to time. Santa was nice enough to clean him for me, because he knew an amateur like me would botch the job. It took him about an hour-and-a-half from start to finish. He and I split the filets, and mine are destined for the vacuum packer in the morning. BTW, I’m happy to report that this beast was hauled in on my G-dude Special, custom wrapped Rainshadow Forecast, 8 ft. 2-piece rod which I won at the Fred Hall Show last year. The reel was a Penn 535 GS spooled with 20 lb. mono.

Ross Kestin (Gordo Grande), Kelli Cruise (kcruise), and an angel shark

It’s always great seeing Redfish who, with his girlfriend Sylvana (did I get that right?), comprised our Northern California contingent. Please forgive me if I got her name wrong. I think catching this guy made Red’s trip down the coast worthwhile.

            At the risk of forgetting someone, the attendees were Gordo and family, Santa and Mrs. Santa, I’llcatchanything2 (great to finally meet you Brian), Polishfromthedeep, Kingfisher and Kingfisherbro, Kcruise and family, Huntress and friend, Red and friend, Riorust and pal Ken, Kelpangler and family, and a certain mad Turkish/Iranian. Here’s my best version of the group shot. Next time I think we should shoot the group shot first so we don’t lose anyone.

Posted by kcruise

Great to meet folks and put a lot of faces to names! We had Rats from all over show up! The weather was great for this as well. And the 6 or so hali’s and one angel shark really made for a great day. Looking forward to the next gathering.

Kelli Cruise and his wife Cindy

Kelli Cruise and Cindy caught several small squid

Posted by kingfisher

Yesterday was AWSOME to say the least.  Beautiful weather, perfect size baitfish, good fishing, and of course GREAT company and food.  It was great to finally put faces with names. Aanyways back to the fish… caught one hali about 26 inches and my little brother caught some too… but you’ll have to wait for him tell you about it. Thanks again for organizing this,  Both my bro and I had loads of fun.

Matthew (KingfisherBro) and a nice halibut

Posted by PolishFromTheDeep

I had an awesome time!  It was definitely cool to meet everybody and to catch some nice fish while we were at it…. sorry i had to book but i BARELY had enough time to get to work. Thanks again to everyone who organized the event, especially Ross. Ps. next time I will have some more funds and I’ll bring/ make some food…. maybe something Polish

Karl (PolishFromTheDeep) and a halibut

 Posted by Gordo Grande

The angel shark taped out at about 45 inches, and weighed 25 lbs on the little scale I keep in my tackle box. It took Santa about 90 minutes to clean the darn thing. Almost forgot… thanks to Kingfisher and KingfishersBro for the halibut filets. My wife is going to love them!

Posted by illcatchanything2

Again, thanks to all who set up a great GT. It was a blast. Great meeting everyone, and I cant wait until the next one. I was bummed at having to leave early, and really bummed at missing GG pull up that shark (good job). Thanks again, and congrats to all on some great fishing!!

Posted by kelpangler

Sorry I missed ya polish, but nice to meet the others for the first time like kcruise and family, kingfisher and his bro (showcasing your fishing skills), redfish and his gf, and illcatchanything. Great to see Santa and the SoCal regulars, too. Avila turned out to be a perfect location with its nice beach town atmosphere and picturesque pier. Lots of bait–perfectly sized mackerel on Saturday and plenty of anchovies on Sunday–and a good number of halibut coming over the rail, but I still came away empty-handed. No problem, Hashem kept me entertained. Ross, thanks for taking time out of your own vacation to plan this get-together for us. Looking forward to next time, maybe Monterey?

Eugene (kelpangler) on the right and Sylvana

 Posted by pier roller

Boy I am sorry I missed that party, I just could not make it down there… What rig set up did you use for the halibut and what kind of bait did you use?

Posted by Gordo Grande

Sorry I didn’t mention the rigging. We were all using sliding egg sinkers tipped with live mackerels that we caught there at the pier.

Posted by Mahigeer

[Edited] We got to the pier around 9:00AM. We parked at the Front St. and planned to be back before the 3hrs. dead line. Later I found out from the bait shop owner that the city in order to calm the angry residents, does not give ticket for staying longer. I told Santa about it and in turn he told Gordo. That made it very convenient but slightly risky.

We set up at the deep end and the first family we met was the Kcruise and company. They set up on the other side and we fished and socialized together.  Next was either polishfromthedeep or Santa. I asked everybody that I met to be sure that they did not say anything about me being there.

I really wanted to surprise Gordo, and even went to the length of having Dave ask questions on the board on my behalf before the gathering. Everybody cooperated and Mr. GG was surprised when he saw me coming and pulling my pier cart. He wanted to jump in to the water. His family prevented him. Personally I would have let him jump. Maybe then I could have gotten the big angel shark.

Well it was lunchtime and I was told that I could heat up the Cioppino at the beach. I had six bags of Trader Joe’s Cioppino plus another bag of frozen seafood in a large pot. Due to the large mass, some prevailing wind, and the small burner, the darn thing took 3Hrs. to boil. All that I time, I am hearing that halibut was being caught but I had to stay with the food. Fortunately for me Teddy Bear (Mrs. Claus) was there to keep me company and provide me with missing items. Dave and some other rats, were in and out and helping. Ken the master chef, sautéed the seafood and I added it to the mix. Finally I moved the “soup kitchen” to the pier and started serving Cioppino and Ceviche. From the looks of it, they were a success. Along with other food and drinks and so on provided by others, we did not starve. Later I distributed some items courtesy of NOAA.

The live bait on my rod was mostly ignored by the fish. Ken and Eugene and his relative and Kcruise were getting bait to share so I did not bother with bait fishing. Halibut or bust for me. Around 7:00PM we headed back to our camp.  

Hashem (Mahigeer) and a pigeon

Posted by red fish

I think I will add a few highlights of my venture from the Bay. First of all, thanks for the fine job of netting Hashem, and the tip about Snookie fishing light… I caught that fish on 8# test on the “bait-rod” with 3/4 oz. egg sinker and 15# leader with the mini-macs we were able to catch for bait.

I had NO idea the thresher aren’t really at Avila, but picked up on that after awhile after I saw the thresher-kings, Kingfisher and PFTD, weren’t fishing for them at the event. Kingfisher told me Pismo and beyond was more of the area to look for them.

Anyway, since I started with the end of the trip, I will just say, starting from the beginning, I made a last minute decision to confirm going after having returned home from Clear Lake one day earlier. A quick rearrangement of just the necessary fishing and camping gear, and a mad dash south on 880 to 101, cut through the Salinas Valley and King City… and away we go… BTW-was lucky enough to make reservations at Avila Hot Springs Camp/RV just the day before. Ended up getting out of town Friday at 2:45p and ending up in Avila at 7pm because there was a little traffic way down on the way, south end of Silicon Valley almost down to Gilroy. Showed up at Hot Springs, looked over our site, and decided to see if we could find accommodations at a hotel perhaps the first night instead of pitching the tent at that point.

Ended up in Pismo (because there is a greater selection of motels than Avila) and ended up at the Beachwalker Inn for $99 after consulting a local store owner at the market on Main St. He says, “There is a place just to the right of the gas station on the corner.” The first hotel on the corner was a dump at $69, but a stone’s throw from it on the same block was the Beachwalker Inn (much like a Best Western).

I find out later ICA is like the next hotel over at the Seal Beach Inn. Important stuff to know, because we ventured to Avila, and the gal at the Light House Inn at Avila was like:, “sure, we have a room, #206, that will be #345.00 and it has an ocean view.” BTW, lucked up and saw Hashem, Dave, and Ken just leaving Avila as we drove up looking around when we first arrived after leaving the Light House. So, after a little more investigation, we find that there is a really good fish n’ chips place on Front St. after almost breaking the bank at Gieuseppe’s Restorante Italiano.

So, later that evening (Friday) after settling in, we take a walk and discover Pismo Beach Pier is (2) blocks away from where we are lodging. Saw a couple guys out there as by now it is 11p. The next day, I’m like: “bait rigs, damn, should have stopped at Long’s in Rockridge (Oakland) before I left.” Well, after a little misdirection, I find out from a brief inquiry that there is a plethora of stores just 3 miles south of Pismo, first on the west side of the freeway, then on the east side. So, finally, I see the Rite-Aid, KMart. and finally the WalMart where I score the $1.54 Blackbelt Sabiki’s with the #6 hooks to make bait with. A couple of packs of hot dogs, hot dog buns, a half-case of soda, and away we go to Avila… about 1:15p Saturday afternoon now.

Robert (red fish) and Sylvana

Luck was still with us as we showed up at Avila and got a parking spot on the street as someone was just coming out. Was met and greeted by Santa and his merry helpers and was able to use Santa’s cart to haul my stuff to the boardwalk and onto the pier. *The fishing stuff is covered in the reports from this point* After the event, pitched a tent at Hot Springs as we were able to cancel our first night’s RSVP and opt for one-night-only Saturday night. It was pretty cool because they let us check in early, pitch our tent around 12:45pm, and then we continued down the road straight ahead to the event.Later, at the end of the event, we came back and had pizza in the restaurant at Hot Spings, and later joined Hashem, Dave, and Ken for Rakki, a blazing fire, and post-event-conversation. In the morning, it was a beeline back to the Bay heading out at 10am right after Hashem’s group for the 242.78 mile drive ahead. Was going to stop at Hearst Castle, but motored on. I was thinking about Anderson’s Split Pea too (as I have seen their hwy billboard for years)… oh well, another time!

Robert (red fish) and a nice halibut

Posted by Gordo Grande

Started eating my shark today. I took a couple a couple of big fillets, added the halibut that Kingfisher gave me, and some shrimp, and made a big pot of Cioppino!  Man, it was good! You guys were right…that shark is definitely good eating.

Pictures taken by Hashem (Mahigeer), Kelli Cruise, and Ross Kestin (Gordo Grande)

Pebble Beach & the Stillwater Cove Pier (aka Matthew & Mimi Jenkins Pier)

After watching the last round of today’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am, I thought what better day to post some facts about the pier that kept showing up on the screen?

Stillwater Cove Pier

The view from the pier is stunning! Look slightly to the west and you’ll see the Pescadero Rocks, the rocky pinnacle and strands of kelp that give shelter to this cove and truly provide, on most days, water that seems almost motionless. Look to your right and you’ll see Pescadero Point and the large pink structure known as the “Castle House,” perhaps the most famous—and expensive—house in Pebble Beach (and site of several movies). Look to your left and you’ll glimpse Arrowhead Point and mystical Carmel; shift your attention just a little to the right and you’ll see Point Lobos and the beginnings of the Big Sur coastline, one of the world’s most scenic areas. Turn around (do a whirling dervish) and look inshore and you’re confronted with an attractive beach, the exclusive Beach and Tennis Club, and one of the world’s more famous and beautiful golf courses—the Pebble Beach Golf Course. In fact, the 4th hole sits next to the shoreline by the pier and holes 5-7 effectively circle the cove. The 17th hole sits just the other side of the Beach and Tennis Club. It’s kind of interesting—when the fishing is slow—to keep an eye on the golfers to see how they’re doing. And, you never know who might be on the links; it’s home to the rich and famous.

Looking south

However, I’ve often thought that perhaps it’s just a tad too pretty a postcard setting to also be a good fishing pier and my results have tended to confirm that thought. On most days you’ll have the pier to yourself, at least as far as fishing. There is a boat hoist on the pier, and a limited number of divers are allowed to depart from the pier (10 a day), but I’ve never seen more than a couple of anglers on the pier. In fact, you’ll usually have the pier to yourself; about the only regulars are workers from the nearby club.

Carmel off in the distance

Environment. Although part of the Carmel Bay Ecological Reserve, sport fishing for fin fish is allowed as a sign at the front of the pier points out. The water here is shallow and, as mentioned, generally very calm due to Pescadero Point and the Pescadero Rocks, the outcropping of rocks that sit somewhat south of the Point and help protect the area from northwest swells. 

Stillwater Cove

Although fish-enticing rocks define much of the cove’s bottom, and line the shoreline area on one side of the cove, they’re just a little too far away from the pier to give it a rocky environment. Instead, the bottom surrounding the pier itself is mostly sand that transitions into rock rubble as you get into deeper water. The pier pilings are concrete, with very little fish attracting growth on them, while heavy masses of seaweed and kelp are spread from the pier throughout the cove; giant kelp in the deeper waters, feather boa kelp in the shallows. 


Due to the shallow-water, sandy-bottom environment around the pier, and a general lack of water movement, what looks so promising at first glance often leads to disappointment when measured strictly in terms of fish. Perhaps it’s better just to enjoy the setting and let the fishing be secondary in nature.

Stillwater Cove Pier

Somewhat surprisingly, two rocky-habitat species—blackperch and striped seaperch, seem to be the most common fish taken from the pier. In addition a few rockfish do show up, as well as a few cabezon and lingcod. Mostly though these hang around the nearby kelp and reefs rather than being residents of the pier area. As for the sandy shore species, a few are taken—barred, calico, walleye, spotfin and silver surfperch, but their numbers seem limited. Common, at times, are jacksmelt and when a school heads by the rocks it can provide some steady action. In addition, the mix may also see a few more solitary species, flatfish, as well as a few leopard sharks and bat rays.

A non-fish species that does seem to be resident is harbor seals, I’ve rarely had a visit when at least a few of the pinnipeds weren‘t bobbing around in the water. Sea otters may also make an appearance and when they do they can be quite amusing.

Make sure you enjoy the scenery because most days, as said, are not that great as far as fishing. Better fishing can be found from nearby shoreline areas, especially Arrowhead Point, but much of the area is restricted.

 Fishing Tips. Primary species are the aforementioned perch—black and striped—joined by lesser numbers of rubberlip and rainbow seaperch, all probably having wandered over from the nearby rocks. They will be joined by barred surfperch, calico surfperch and walleye surfperch, species that prefer the sandy bottom around the pier. Joining them will be flatfish such as sand sole, starry flounder, sanddabs and perhaps a halibut (but you need the right bait or lures). A few leopard sharks are reported from the pier and a few rays. Add in some small to medium-size rockfish (mostly grass rockfish), a stray cabezon or two, and an occasional lingcod, and you have a decent variety. Just don’t expect a lot of fish every day.

Blackperch from the pier

As for the perch, stick to the basics—pile worms, fresh mussels, ghost shrimp, or small pieces of market shrimp (all of which you will have to bring with you). For the barred surfperch you can try the sandy-shore area and try sand crabs (if you can find them), fresh mussels, pile worms or ghost shrimp. Like many areas, anglers are also beginning to use plastics—a variety of grubs and swim baits—for the perch.  

A striped seaperch from the pier

The aforementioned baits will also attract the small to medium-size rockfish (that are often called rock bass by the locals). However, strips of squid can also be effective and may lure in a sole or shark. If seeking out the rockfish, cabezon, and lingcod, I suggest following the words of MB, a local who fishes the pier fairly often. His advice: “casting toward the 17th hole is where the rocky bottom and kelp bed begins to grow and where I catch all of my rockfish/cabezon from the pier (but you have to cast far and be prepared with heavy gear for snags). Even though there are pockets of kelp throughout, only perch seem to inhabit those areas.” As I always say, follow the advice of the locals. Do be prepared for some snags because you’ll probably get them. No pain no gain, right?

Some large leopard sharks and bat rays are also found in these waters so be sure to bring along a net. Problem here is keeping the bigger creatures from encircling bits of kelp with the line. As always, a bit of luck is needed if you hook a big fish. However, the pier is small and if necessary a fish can often be walked down to the sandy beach at the front of the pier or to the dock that is tethered to the end of the pier during the summer. 

Again, don’t bring great expectations because they rarely will be filled. That is unless your expectations center on the ambiance of the spot, the sheer beauty, and its peaceful nature. All of those are great in contrast to rather drab fishing (on most days). As one local angler said, “It’s not a great pier since it doesn’t have deep water, but it’s almost automatic for perch and great for kids.”

Looking toward the 4th Green

Note No. 1. Sometimes I wish I were a diver! Although the top-of-the-water view here is beautiful, the underwater scene must be amazing. In an article by Bruce Watkins (Dive Spot Monterey County), he describes that undersea world: “The prominent feature of Stillwater Cove is the mass of rocks in the center of the cove. Known as Pescadero Rocks, most divers concentrate their activities around the rocks and in the reef directly south of the rocks…

Pescadero Rocks

These rocks are covered with all of the colorful marine life that makes California diving so interesting—carpets of red corynactis anemones, giant green and blood red telia anemones, and yellow and cobalt sponges.  Monkey-faced eels are abundant here but often go unnoticed. Their distorted faces are a bit grotesque but, nonetheless, interesting to photograph… Also, not a true eel, wolf eels inhabit Stillwater Cove. These strong-jawed fish feed on sea urchins and shellfish. Wolf eels are far less threatening than their name or appearance would suggest, are very shy, and rarely bother divers. As one gets nearer Pescadero Rocks the bottom juts up from 40 to 30 feet in a massive wall that runs nearly 100 yards. On the north side of the wall is a float marking the location of an underwater statue. At the base of the wall are a number of shallow caves, ledges and swim throughs. The walls are adorned with encrusting sponges in hues of cobalt red and yellow, and the nooks and crannies of the wall harbor an assortment of photogenic invertebrates… In the shallow water around Pescadero Rocks live an abundance of hermit and decorator crabs. This shallow area is also a great place to observe and photograph nudibranchs. The simple dorids, such as the lemon and Monterey nudibranch, are here in abundance. Just to test your photographic skill there are also more photogenic species. Photos of orange and white clown nudibranchs, gaudy red and white Phidianas and ostentatious Dendronotids will wow your friends.”

Golfers on the adjacent Pebble Beach Golf Course

Note No. 2. Stillwater Cove and the nearby Coast Guard Pier in Monterey are the only two sites in California where sea otters have been observed attacking and eating birds (it’s also been observed in Alaska). Species attacked included western grebes, cormorants, surf scooters, common loons, and gulls. Otters have been observed approaching birds from under the water as the birds rested on the surface, then dragging the birds underwater while wrestling with them and biting them. Attacks lasted up to fifteen minutes before the bird was eaten. At the same time female otters have been observed carrying around a bird carcass on their chest for an hour or more. Scientists aren’t quite sure what to make of the phenomenon.

Note No. 3. Although the cove and setting have a rather “pristine” feel to them, looks can be deceiving. Heal the Bay, a Santa Monica-based group that monitors water quality at 370 locations along the coast, rated Stillwater Cove as one of the three dirtiest beaches (“Beach Bummers”) in Northern California along with Campbell Cove State Beach in Sonoma County and Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay. At least that was the finding in 2005.

“For the fourth year in a row, Stillwater Cove at the Beach and Tennis Club scored markedly worse than all other monitored Monterey County beaches by receiving an F grade. Stillwater Cove, as its name implies, has poor circulation and little tidal flushing. In addition, this location tends to be a favorite of marine mammals and birds. The only other known source in the area is a constantly running storm drain, which mostly services the local golf course.”

                                    —Heal the Bay, 2004-2005, 15th Annual Report

 The good news is that Stillwater Cove received “A’s” on the 2008 and 2009 report cards given by Heal the Bay so evidently things are improving.

The beach at Stillwater Cove

Note No. 4. Like many of California’s piers and their beaches, this cove and pier was used in a movie—Captain January (1936).

The Beach

Note No. 5. Rescuers struggle to save amazing giant squid

 Humboldt Squid

WHILE NOT quite of the gargantuan proportions of Jules Verne’s famous giant squid, a group of Humboldt squid that washed ashore at Stillwater Cove in Pebble Beach last week were certainly mysterious and fascinating — and huge.

When Joey Guilatco arrived for work at the Beach and Tennis Club at 5 Friday morning, he was told that a club member walking her dog had found several squid stranded on the nearby beach.

With a flashlight, Guilatco went down to the beach and searched in the early morning darkness. And while almost everyone else was still peacefully dreaming in bed, he came across a sight that did not seem to belong to the waking world — more than a dozen of the largest squid he’d ever seen, many still alive, scattered along the beach.

They were “moving, breathing, and spewing some kind of saliva,” Guilatco said.

It was their size that struck him most. Including their tentacles, some were five feet long. They weighed about 10 pounds each, which Guilatco learned as he and other P.B. employees tried to lug the living animals back to the ocean.

He called the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory to report the incident and see if the experts could explain the bizarre event. They instructed Guilatco to preserve the dead ones in ice while they considered sending a scientist to investigate.

Guilatco and the other employees collected the squid and put them on a bed of ice on a picnic table at the beach. Souvenirs? The Moss Landing people never came, but the squid did not go to waste. By the end of the day, all but one had been taken.

—Regan Carey, The Carmel Pine Cone, October 16, 2003

History Note.  It’s a little hard to imagine today but the cove and its shoreline once served as home for a Chinese fishing village. The Chinese had fished Carmel Bay since 1851 when they set up a camp in Point Lobos; soon after two additional camps were established, one at Pescadero (today’s Stillwater Cove), and one at Point Alones (near Cannery Row).  By 1853 a settlement was recorded at Cabrillo Point (China Point), the site of today’s Hopkins Marine Station.  It would be the main Chinese settlement for many years.

The Chinese were skillful fisherman and a large part of the Monterey fishing industry for many years but eventually they came into conflict with other immigrant groups, especially the Italian-American fishermen. Increasingly restrictive laws made it hard to fish and process their catch, and when combined with a mysterious fire at the China Point settlement in 1906, the decline of the “Chinese fishing villages” almost seemed inevitable. The Pescadero camp itself apparently came to an end in 1912. 

In 1916 the Monterey Cypress newspaper reported plans for a pier and bathhouse at the cove. Just a few years later, in 1919, the small fishing lodge had grown to be  “one of the finest fishing clubs in the country.” That lodge was the forerunner for today’s Beach & Tennis Club building that sits near the front of the pier.

“The Seventeen-Mile Drive curves through the spacious homes and gardens of Pebble Beach… at 14 m. is the junction with a paved road; R. 03m. to Stillwater Cove with its arch rock offshore, its fishing club and bathing beach, yacht harbor and marine gardens (glass-bottom boats, 50¢).”

—California, A Guide To the Golden State, Federal Writers Project, Works Progress Administration, 1939

By 1948 the original pier was beginning to show its age and a new pier was needed. The new pier would be built by the Stillwater Yacht Club, a deed commemorated by a small sign near the entrance to the pier: “Matthew & Mimi Jenkins Pier. First Commodore & First Lady. Stillwater Yacht Club. Est. 1948.”

Not mentioned is the fact that Matthew Jenkins was also one of the developers of Pebble Beach and that the Jenkin’s had bought the 5.5 acre parcel overlooking Stillwater Cove in 1943 for $43,000. Their purchase, and refusal to sell it to Samuel Morse who developed Pebble Beach Golf Links, prevented his plan for a shoreline hole No. 5. The building of the shoreline hole would not take place until 1999 when the heirs to Mimi Jenkins sold her property.

As happens to all coastal piers, the sea and weather take a toll. Sooner or later wood (especially the pilings) deteriorates and repair or a rebuild is necessary. In this case, the pier was condemned in 1980. Another new pier was needed but the story of the new pier would take several interesting twists before completion. 

In 1977 the Del Monte Properties Company had reincorporated as Pebble Beach Corporation and then, in 1979, the company was bought by Marvin Davis who owned Twentieth Century Fox. It was during his tenure as owner that The Inn & Links at Spanish Bay was developed (in part, as rumor has it, to increase needed cash flow).

Davis needed the approval of the Coastal Commission to build the new resort and they were agreeable with a number of conditions, one being that “Public Access” be gained for Stillwater Cove.

However, the property at the cove was owned by Mimi Jenkins (following the death of Matthew her husband). As matriarch of her family, and still involved with the yacht club, she was agreeable to the public access with several additional conditions that she had her attorney add to the mix. The Pebble Beach Corporation company would build a new pier and put a hoist on the pier. In addition, they would have a Harbor Master on duty part of the year (May 15-September 15). 50 visitors would be allowed to visit the cove (and pier) per day but no more than 10 divers a day and they would no longer be allowed to shoot fish under water, only observe and/or photograph them. The cove and pier would remain open to all residents of Pebble Beach. The corporation and the coastal commission agreed to the conditions and a new pier was constructed (for a relatively modest $500,000).

The Pebble Beach Corporation would go through further change and ownership, but the pier with its special conditions has remained relatively unchanged since 1984 (although a new hoist is planned for the pier).

Stillwater Cove Pier Facts

Hours: Open daylight hours. Access is through the parking lot of the Beach & Tennis Club

Facilities: Few, since this pier was not designed as a fishing pier. There is a limited amount of coastal access parking near the entrance to the club‘s parking lot. Look for the tall hedge and you’ll see (ten spaces) that are gone quickly given the number of divers who visit the area. Always call 831-625-8536 to reserve a space if you intend to visit. Restrooms are found near the front of the pier.

Handicapped Facilities: Handicapped parking (one space) but non-handicapped restrooms. The pier surface is wood planking with a rail height of 43 inches; an 8-inch curb runs along the entire length of the pier making access to the railing difficult. Not posted for handicapped.

How To Get There: From Highway 1 take the Pebble Beach Exit. As soon as you exit you will see a toll station and the entrance to the famous 17-Mile Drive. Pay roughly $10 (it keeps going up) to traverse these hollowed grounds and follow the drive about three miles to the Beach & Tennis Club turnoff. Turn left onto Palmero Way, .24 miles turn left onto Cypress Drive, look for tall cypress tress and a narrow parking lot that is reserved for public access—just up the street from the club.

Stillwater Cove Pier

The Beach & Tennis Club

Pescadero Rocks and the rocks on the north end of the cove