Daily musings…

The Spit ‘n’ Argue Club at the pier —

Spit ‘n’ Argue

Good arguments can provide the healthiest form of entertainment; they stimulate adrenal glands, arouse governments and nurture change. The Spit ‘n’ Argue Club, later the University by the Sea, has done that through most of Long Beach’s history.

 The professor’s white beard fluttered in the sea breeze. Alone, he faced the empty benches. His right hand swung a gavel—whop!—against the rostrum. “We will come to order,” Professor Selah Brickman, 90, said into a dead microphone. “The University by the Sea is now in session!” Only one person watched and heard, a man with a camera, there to photograph the Professor.“It’s cold today,” the Professor said. “The members stay home.”

This is the story of the rise and fall of a debating society linked to Long Beach history. The society should not perish without obit; for there were times in the past 70 years when its voices fiercely claimed free speech for a clammed-up, anti-anything and at times scared stiff city.

Before Long Beach grew where it stands now, on hot summer weekends the farmers inland used to pile their families into wagons and drive down here to camp on the sand. There were breakers tall as a row of corn, in those days, and clean sea air blowing the smell of ocean—of kelp and salt and sunshine. While women and kids waded, the men grouped up to swap news and ideas over a chew of tobacco.

That was the start of it. That was before newspapers in the area, and long before radio and long, long before TV. Men wanted to know each other’s thinking. They wanted to speak up. They got together and talked—and in that era, among farmers especially, tobacco chewing was a social necessity.

Those were the years after the Civil War—the ‘70s, the ‘80s. The farmers threshed politics and they threshed religion. The sounds of anger and of laughing, of threats and cheers, startled sea gulls from their dozing on the warm wet sand. Beach camping is gritty stuff and fresh water had to be carried. By 1884 a three-story wooden hotel rose from the beach below the present Long Beach Civic Center. It offered comfort—and a broad veranda for open-air debate.

Worldly folk, real travelers, met the local folks there on the veranda. The forum pummeled rich topics. Listeners came from the growing hamlet—which in 1885 boasted 51 homes, 13 business buildings, three stables, the hotel and a church. When voices shrilled angrily, women folk shuddered. “All they do,” the women said bitterly of the debaters, “is spit and argue.” So the outfit got its name, away back there, long before it really organized. The group became the Spit ‘n’ Argue. Eventually the word “club” was tacked on.

The hotel—veranda and all—burned Nov. 8, 1888. The group resumed sessions on the sunny beach. That was the year the new city incorporated. Local politics could be dissected. Spit ‘n’ Argue tore every issue, every candidate for anything, into oratorical shreds. Plug tobacco sold hand over fist at the Lowe’s general store at Pine and Ocean. By 1890 the club was drawing talent from the town’s 564 residents.

Spit ‘n’ Argue on May 27, 1893, first got a pier to stand on. It was the first of three piers to rise and fall under the club’s innumerable feats. Soap-box type oratory flourished on the first pier until the pier was battered by waves, and condemned a few years later. Meanwhile a million words were shouted to the sunny sky by S & A members and guests. The War with Spain fed the club’s oratory through 1898. Six years later the group took its stand on a brand new pier at the foot of Pine Avenue, a wooden beauty with upper and lower decks, 1,296 feet long. It was there, on the wide landward end of the Pine Avenue Pier, that in 1910 Spit ‘n’ Argue reached the glorious stage of formal organizing.

Pine Avenue Pier

There had been a most stimulating decade—the first 10 years of 1900—which started with a Long Beach population of 2,254 and saw newcomers pouring in like a cascade of new-threshed wheat. On July 4, 1902 Pacific Electric had linked its Big Red Cars at last to Long Beach. On the same great day, the Long Beach Bath House opened its heated seawater plunge, the biggest on this or any other world. The Pike was looking more like the Atlantic City boardwalk every day.

“Let’s organize!” shouted the club’s guiding spirits, among them Charles Hamilton, who for two years had owned a beach shop—and who for many years later resided in Long Beach. So Spit ‘n’ Argue set up officers and a platform. Right-wingers in town were aghast.

Spit ‘n’ Argue came out flat-footed for municipal ownership of water and gas. It backed continuation of concerts by an expensive municipal band—which had played its first concert March 13, 1909, a year previous. And Spit ‘n’ Argue demanded a “free market” where farmers could see direct to consumers. “Socialism!” screamed the conservative voices of Republican Long Beach.

But Spit ‘n’ Argue backed the band, and the band has continued to this day 60 years later. In 1911 the city voters bought a municipal water supply. In March, 1913, the Public Market was created by ordinance, and to this day it continues as a picturesque open-air mart beside Lincoln Park. The fourth plank of the platform was nailed down much later—not till Aug. 14, 1923. But Long Beach then got municipal-owned gas.

No one could name a figure for the number of words screamed and bellowed in Spit ‘n’ Argue oratory back in the Pine Avenue Pier days; but ocean swells wrecked the pier on Aug. 6, 1934 ending a 30-year stand by the club. On Aug. 14, 1935, in mid-December, the Spit ‘n’ Argue Club renamed University by the Sea after a civic cleanup drive, attended the city’s formal dedication of a 40-by-76 foot platform on the new Rainbow Pier, on which, by tolerance of the City Council, soap-box type oratory would be permitted. “Gag!” screamed the club’s hotheads, after the dedication was over. “Censorship!”

The Spit ‘n’ Argue platform was at the shore end of the pier

The Rainbow and old Pine Avenue Pier were next to each other for a short period of time

From the first club organizing, back in 1910, to the Pine Avenue Pier collapse of 1934, Spit ‘n’ Argue had fought its way orally through World War I, the Russian Revolution, the end of Prohibition, the change from Hoover to FDR, the alphabet soup of the New Deal, the Townsend Pension Plan, and the March 10, 1933, earthquake. Religion came in in for a few licks too. Depression brought left-wingers, flapping and whooping to the S & A, alias University by the Sea. “Communism!” Against the pinkish threat the Peterson Post of the American Legion rose up in horror.

Battle lines were drawn, with the City Council in No Man’s Land. It became a war and it went on for years. Fed up with being in No Man’s Land, the Council handed the club supervision to the Recreation Department April 25, 1940.

The war between Legion and oratory was still rumbling like the over-the-mountain gunfire when groups of S & A oldsters were complaining that fascists had taken over the forum. “Fascism!” The whole war became confused. Both sides demanded free speech. S & A stalwarts held on longest and won, advocating free speech forever.

 In June, 1949, the city spent $5,000 to widen the club’s pier platform by 20 feet. Two months later, 299 signers petitioned the City Council to kill the club as anti-American. On record is a message informing the Council the club’s trouble was being caused by “inflammatory rhetoric by four psychopaths, two religious fanatics and a crackpot.

An editorial in the Press-Telegram Feb. 19, 1952, concluded: “So we say let the Commies bray. Let them discredit and entangle themselves. But don’t let them goad us into mutilating with our own hands the very rights which we cherish most.”

The Rainbow Pier and a rapidly growing Long Beach 

In May, 1953, the Rainbow Pier platform was lost to land-sinkage and a sand-fill project. The soap-boxers were ousted. Grumbling, they met in Lincoln Park, and elsewhere until Oct. 11, 1953, when they were permitted to return to the pier. Since the club wouldn’t die and stay dead, the city came up with a $6,900 sage-green 32-by-60 foot windbreak and rostrum on the beach west of the hallowed Pine Avenue Pier, and later Rainbow Pier sites, and the club moved in on Jan. 3, 1960. Beach redevelopment has turned the access area, to the east, into an impassable mess with signs warning all comers to keep out. Only old-timers know how to find the club now.

Where orators used to face audiences of 2,000 or more, now on best days only a handful of listeners can be found. The Recreation Department’s supervisor of senior citizen activities, Jack Dillon, sees to it that on the third Saturday of each November the club elects a five-man committee to run its affairs. The committee chairman—Brickman this year, who is called “The Professor”—presides from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. daily whether the members show up or nay.

Dillon says the “keep out” signs have hurt the club for certain, but that another factor has hurt it worse. “Television took its steam,” Dillon says, “The rebels who used to shout and draw a crowd to the old pier platforms are shouting on TV forums now. They’ve gone away; they’ve cut the controversy down.”

Alone at the beach rostrum, facing empty benches, the club’s chairman, Professor Brickman, says a few kind words for his absent members, to the visiting man with a camera. The Professor stands picket-pin straight, his white beard blowing, his Navy P-coat buttoned tight around him. “So many things are gone,” he says. “So many of our old members. The people walking around the pier. The breakers, the sound of them. In 1902, a teacher, I came from Live in the Russian Ukraine to get away from the Czar, to find freedom and free speech. Here, yes, they are here! “But our members are old now. When the wind blows, they get cold. They stay home. No, no one chews tobacco any more. No one spits, here at our club. On sunny days, we still talk of everything. A few of us. But the old times have gone.”

—Southland Sunday, Dick Emery, Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram, June 7, 1970

As said in the article, television may have brought about the end of the Spit ‘n’ Argue club. It was much easier to simply sit in front of a television watching debate. There seemed to be less need for honest and open, in-person debate. Today, with the advent of computers, cell phones and social media, we seem to see an even more drastic change in communication. Debate is alive but sitting behind a screen allows a more vitriolic and hateful form of communication and for some, little desire for free speech or debate.  A tremendous loss in my opinion.

2017 Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby

Although chilly the previous afternoon, Sunday, September 17, 2017 turned out to be a beautiful day at Trinidad, the small town located on California’s scenic redwood-forested, northwest coast just 24 miles north of Eureka. It was a perfect day to go fishing! Luckily, a kids fishing derby just happened to be scheduled at the Trinidad Pier. The event was the 4th Annual Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby sponsored by United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers, Pacific Outfitters, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Free loaner rods and reels, free terminal tackle, free bait, free hot dog lunches, raffle prizes, and a winner in each age group helped generate excitement. In response, 45 youngsters along with roughly 60 adults turned out to enjoy the short-sleeve weather and fishing which, although a little slow, did produce a variety of fish—striped seaperch, cabezon, kelp greenling, rock greenling and one ugly buffalo sculpin.

The Trinidad Memorial Light House

The Trinidad Pier

Setting up

Cutting bait

Trinidad Rancheria Booth

The kids and families were ready

What would be the catch?

Douglas and David Shigematsu.

Looks like they’re ready!

All ages were present!

First fish of the day, a striped seaperch caught by David Shigematsu

Nothing like spending a little time in the great outdoors!

Ready for action!

What’s the best spot?

Fish slayer!

Avalon, owned by Ed Roberts, was the unofficial mascot for the derby!

The second fish of the day was another striped seaperch caught by David Shigematsu

Sit back and wait for the fish to bite!

They look like fishermen!

He was ready!

How about a rock crab?

Anglers at the railing

A young “Lady Angler”

They look HAPPY!

A small kelp greenling

What a grin!

What a smile!

Young Angler!

Trinidad Pier

The biggest fish was this striped seaperch caught by Desirae Ferguson

Wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

A happy family!

Pier Fishing In California member Jose and his family

Ken Jones (me) and Jose; he had once sent me a question on PFIC asking how to fish rocks and practiced on the rocks at the Trindad Pier.

Another rock crab

A rock greenling caught by Malachi Costa


A buffalo sculpin caught by Nate Ferguson

Robert Gardner, Vice President of UPSAC, traveled up to the tournament from the Bay Area, served as a judge, and got a little fishing in himself.

Each age group winner received a trophy from United Pier and Shore Anglers of California, a beautiful certificate from the International Game Fish Association, and an autographed copy of Pier Fishing In California by Ken Jones (and pierfishing.com).

The under age 6 category winner was Leo Dixon of Trinidad

The age 6 category winner was Malachi Costa of Trinidad

The age 7 category winner was Anyia Benemann of Trinidad (not pictured)

The age 8 category winner was Lucy Bertrand of Arcata

The age 9 category winner was Kalgin Drake of Eureka

The age 10 category winner was Evan Unmack of McKinleyville

The age 11 category winner was David Shigematsu of Davis

The age 12 category winner was Seth Noel of Hidsville

The age 13 category winner was Desirae Ferguson of McKinleyville

The age 14 category winner was Kodiak Drake of Eureka

The age 15 category winner was Lilly Thiesfeld of McKinleyville

The Grand Champion was determined by total points. The winner was David Shigematsu. Here is is with Ed Roberts and a nice rod and reel from Pacific Outfitters.

Next up was the raffle with EVERY entrant winning at least one gift. Gift items were bought from a donation by the Humboldt Salt Water Anglers Club supplemented by a few gifts from United Pier and Shore Anglers of California.

A separate raffle was held by “Bass Man Dan” for a custom-wrapped fishing rod with all proceeds going to UPSAC for next year’s event.

Ed Roberts and the rod to be raffled!

And the winner was… Kodiak Drake

“Bass Man Dan” decided to offer a second rod for the raffle and we soon had another winner.

Ken Jones (me) and David Shigematsu, the Grand Champion.

A big thank you is due to all who contributed gifts and helped out at the tournament.

Donating money, food and gifts for the meals, insurance and prizes were a variety of different groups and businesses—Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers (HASA), Pacific Outfitters, United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), Ken Jones—Pier Fishing in California (pierfishing.com), and Ed Roberts. A custom built rod made by Dan Troxel of “Bass Man Dan’s Custom Fishing Rods” was raffled off with proceeds going to help pay next year’s costs.

Organizers were Ed Roberts of the California Fish and Wildlife Department, Ken Jones, President of United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC) and owner of pierfishing.com, and Grant Roden of the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria.

Helping out at the event were a number of different people. Several came from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife—Dustin Hixon, Carly Stanton, Kevin Butler, and Russell Janak. Robert Gardner, Vice President of UPSAC traveled north from the Bay Area. Local residents providing assistance included Nate Ferguson, Dan Troxel, Ed Roberts and Grant Roden.

“Good By” to Trinidad for another year. Looking down from the “Trinidad Memorial Light House” with the pier just barely poking out around “Little Head Rock” (which sits next to the pier).  

Trinidad Memorial Light House

Pine Avenue Pier, Long Beach, 1905-1934

Some fish reports and pictures about the Pine Avenue Pier, Long Beach

A big run of five and six-pound albacore at Long Beach wharf kept the hand-liners busy at that point, and turned the outer end of the wharf into shambles, literally slippery with fish gore. These small albacore frequently come close inshore, but are of little use except upon the hook, like all the mackerel tribe they put up a tremendous fight, and give the man behind the rod a good time. Los Angeles Times, February 28, 1905

This Crawfish A Grand-Dad — Mammoth Redjacket Taken At Long Beach — Huge Specimen is Taken by Veteran Fisherman With Line Thrown From The Pier

Long Beach, July 7.—Frank Deffley, a veteran fisherman who has a stall under the wharf, while hauling in a line last night, thought for a few moments that he was pulling up the bed of the ocean, but when the hook reached near the surface of the water concluded that it was an octopus and began figuring how he could let go without cutting the line, for he had no desire for an encounter with a devil fish. Fortunately it was not, but the monster is undoubtedly the patriarch and great-granddaddy of all the lobsters. It was safely landed and filled a tub made from a half barrel. From the tail to the head measures thirty inches, with a body twenty-four inches in circumference. The main feelers are each over eighteen inches in length and the feet, from which the claws are missing, over a foot long. Its weight is eighteen pounds and its age problematical, but the fishermen who observe lobsters at all, stages think it at least fifteen years old. The monster was presented to the aquarium where it is on exhibition. —Los Angeles Times, July 8, 1905

Gigantic Lobster Caught At Long Beach

Long Beach, July 7.—Frank Deffley, one of Long Beach’s oldest fishermen, made the prize catch of the season last night. He thought he had a young whale when he began to haul it in, but when his prize reached the surface he saw it was a giant lobster. He succeeded in landing it and placed it in a barrel. The crustacean weighed eighteen pounds. It measures thirty inches from head to tail, its body is twenty-four inches in circumference and the main feelers are eighteen inches long. The feet are over a foot long. Its age is probably about fifteen years.—Los Angeles Herald, July 8, 1905

Pine Avenue Pier — 1911

White Sea Bass Seen In Large Numbers Near Wharf In Long Beach

 Long Beach, May 29.—During the last four days there have been many schools of yellowtail about the outer wharf and anglers have had excitement-a-plenty. With numerous strikes, however, only a few of the fish have been landed on the pier. Those caught have weighed from ten to fourteen pounds… White sea bass have also been plentiful about the wharf. Pompano were caught during the week by the hundreds. A few halibut were taken this week.—Los Angeles Herald, May 30, 1908 

An oil shark 6 feet 4 inches long, caught on a small line by Charles Lisk, put up a long and game fight off the pier and was not landed for half an hour.—Los Angeles Herald, June 3, 1908

Pine Avenue Pier — 1913

Conditions for the past week… Long Beach—Good. Corbina, yellowfin, mackerel, trout, smelt, croaker, pompano. —Los Angeles Herald, June 14, 1908

Anglers Enjoy Immense Sport With Sea Trout— Every One Has Good Luck

Long Beach, Sept. 9—There was never a greater day for sea trout fishing than this. All day long anglers have lined the pier and the outer wharf, and for a while this morning trout were pulled out with astonishing frequency, every fisherman or fisher-woman getting from four to twenty fishes. Capt. E. B. Counts of the Pacific fish market sold nearly 500 sardines for bait. From the platform in the rear of the market eighty trout were caught before noon. —Los Angeles Herald, September 10, 1908

Pine Avenue Pier — 1916

Two Denizens Of Deep Captured In One Haul — Five Pound Sea Spider Clings To Nine Pound Lobster

Long Beach, Sept. 25.—One of the strangest catches ever made off the outer wharf was that of a nine-pound lobster to which clung a five-pound sea spider, with long, strong tentacles. The fight which the two denizens of the deep started before the lobster get the hook was continued on the platform of the Pacific market after fisherman Clarence Owen landed them. The spider made a number of passes at the lobster, and the latter made futile effort to thrash the enemy with its many pronged tail, the lobsters best weapon. The lobster was the largest caught here this year. —Los Angeles Herald, September 26, 1908

Long Beach improved wonderfully last week and yellowfin, corbina, pompano, mackerel, herring and perch rewarded all who cared to wet a line at this delightful resort. —Los Angeles Herald, June 26, 1909

Pine Avenue Pier — 1917

Many Fish Caught By Busy Anglers

Long Beach, Dec. 23—It would be difficult to exaggerate the excitement occasioned here today by the sudden and unexpected visit to these waters of immense schools of herring, croaker and pompano. Early visitors to the pier were surprised to find that their hooks remained idle for only a second after being thrown into the water. The good news spread and by 10 o’clock the west side of the lower deck of the pier and also the guard-rail around the outer wharf were crowded with anglers. From then on until tonight the fish continued to bite, and around the feet of each fisherman or fisherwoman a great pile grew at a remarkable rate. Visitors to the outer wharf had to step high and carefully if they went along the west promenade of the lower deck to avoid stepping upon the catches. Croaker and herring were the fish caught with rod and line. Big catches of pompano were made with nets.—Los Angeles Herald, December 24, 1909

Pine Avenue Pier — 1919

Angeleno Hooks Jewfish That Weighs 270 Pounds

Long Beach, Dec. 28.—A jewfish estimated to weigh 370 pounds was hooked this morning by John Miller, a Los Angeles man, while fishing off the end of the outer wharf. The monster made a threshing fight of it but was gaffed finally by Clarence Owen. Owen’s right hand was torn badly between the thumb and forefinger by the snap of the leader, when the fish made a sudden lunge, and medical attendance was necessary. —Los Angeles Herald, December 29, 1910

A horn shark, eighteen feet long, made himself at home around the outer end of the wharf this morning and created consternation among the owners of light tackle, who hastily reeled in their lines. After some time spent in the vicinity, most of the time moving on the surface of the water, the ugly fellow gave a flirt of his tail and headed for the southeast.—Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1911

Pine Avenue Pier — 1925

365-Pound Jewfish Is Landed at Long Beach

Long Beach, June 12.—John Leach, an employee of the Pine Avenue Fish Market, broke a Southern California record yesterday at the end of the Pine Avenue Pier by landing a jewfish weighing 365 pounds. —Santa Ana Register, June 12, 1914

Huge Stingrays Caught

Visitors on the end of the Pine Avenue pleasure pier were treated to the sight of two of the most unusual deep-sea monstrosities ever drawn out of the Pacific at this port today. Albert Jewell, night man in charge of the municipal fish market, set out his lines as usual last night for black sea bass and sharks. When he pulled them in this morning he brought to gaff what are believed to be two of the largest stingrays ever captured in the Southland. The ordinary weight of a stingray is five pounds, but these tipped the scales at fifty-nine and seventy-five pounds. respectively. Large crowds gathered during the day to view the big sea denizens. The sawtooth bones that makes the ray a most dangerous creature were more than five inches long on the big fish, while the average “business end” of these hostile salt water inhabitants is less than an inch. The two stingrays put up a game fight and it was only after an hour’s struggle and manipulation that they could be hauled to the surface. Even after being gaffed they lashed out viciously with their barbed tails.—Los Angeles Times, May 24, 1918

Pine Avenue Pier — 1930s

Mackerel, herring, pompano, bass, croakers and sea trout are being caught from the end of the municipal pier. —Los Angeles Times, July 21, 1916


California Fishing Passport — Fishing & The Ocean Workshop

On August 28 and 29, 2017, I participated along with a number of other people in a workshop given by the California Fish & Wildlife Department. The purpose was to introduce people, mainly but not limited to youngsters, to fishing. Saturday, August  28, was in a classroom setting in Dana Harbor. On Sunday, August 29, we took the participants on a fishing trip to the San Clemente Pier.

This young lady caught the first and only bonito when we visited the San Clemente Pier

Saturday, August 28 in Dana Harbor

Anyone one for cookies?

Setting up!

There was an inside classroom and also several places set up outside for short, 20-minute presentations on different topics (pier fishing, boat fishing, how to tie knots, lures, etc.)

Carrie Wilson of the DF&W was the main person who set up the workshop

Dr. Zachary Schakner discussed the biology of the  SoCal fishing environment

Marty Golden discussed ethical angling

Since most of the kids had never been fishing, one of the first lessons was how to hold a rod and — and how to make a cast — Ron Owens and Roger Eckhardt

Practice, practice, practice…

Mary Patyten discussed Marine Protected Areas

Wayne Kotow of CCA Cal discussed boating

Jordan Smith (not pictured) discussed how to release deep-water fish

Know your fish!

Two DF&W wardens discussed common problems they see


Oops, where’s the “pier rat”

Virgil Perez & Dave Young discussed how to tie knots


Emilio Rebollar

More practice casting — Marlon Meade, Dave Young, and Emilio Rebollar

Sunday, August 29, San Clemente Pier

First things first — cutting mackerel and squid for bait — Jordan Smith and Hashem Nahid

Helping the kids get set up

Pacific mackerel were the main catch

This young man caught a thornback ray

A mackerel coming over the railing along with Ben Acker (DompfaBen) helping untangle a line [Dompfa = dominating positive fishing attitude]


A bat ray

A happy mom and a young man’s first mackerel

Her first bonito!

The pier became fairly crowded

Another mackerel

A yellowfin croaker

Happy mom, happy daughter

Spotfin croaker

“Pier Rats”

Yellowfin croaker and a happy angler

Hashem Nahid and Carrie Wilson

California halibut

Our Gang #1

Our Gang #2

Given that we were busy setting the kids up to fish near the front section of the pier we failed to notice one very important visitor to the pier that morning — a “Great White” shark.

Luckily others noticed the shark swimming alongside the pier and took pictures which resulted in a newspaper article and a video. It’s unfortunate that we missed seeing the shark and showing it to the kids.


Great white shark filmed near San Clemente Pier — Orange County Register — August 28, 2017 — Laylan Connelly

Jordan Jesolva was about to reel in a fish caught on her line when the shark suddenly appeared. “I didn’t care about the fish at that point, I was like, ‘I need to film this’,” she recalled saying as she handed her rod over to her grandfather to get her phone out to capture the sight. “This is once in a lifetime.”

While shark sightings are becoming more frequent, with many in the San Clemente area this past summer, the sight of a great white lingering just beneath a pier is enough to send kids squealing and adults running for the camera.

Jesolva said she spotted the great white — which she estimated to be about 10-foot — at about 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 27. “I was casually fishing on the pier, all of a sudden there’s a huge great white,” she said Monday. “It was probably 100 yards from shore. I had caught a fish — it kind of came right in front of me. It made a circle and it kept swimming under the pier.”

Jesolva, who was on a weekend trip from La Mirada, she had heard about all the recent sightings. “I’ve never seen a shark before. I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy’,” she said. “It was a really cool experience.”

She said it was on the left side of the pier, with surfers sitting out in the water on the right. Some people shouted to the surfers that there was a shark in the water and some paddled toward shore.

She said she didn’t think to report the sighting to lifeguards, too caught up in the moment. “I feel like maybe I should have. I was too excited,” she said. “Everyone on the pier came and looked at it.”

San Clemente Marine Safety Lifeguard Rod Mellott said no reports came into lifeguards about the sighting. “Anybody that thinks they saw a shark, has video or pictures, please contact the lifeguards right away,” he said. “We can do the proper follow-up and take the proper precautions.”

In the video captured by Jesolva, a child’s voice can be heard saying, “Oh. My. God. Get mom!” A man’s voice, while calmer, still suggests shock. “Wow, that’s a white.”

For Jesolva, it was quite the fish tale she’ll never forget. “Even though I was far from it, it was scary,”  Jesolva said. “But cool at the same time.”

And we missed it — darn!

A Short Trip to the San Clemente Pier, Dana Point Harbor Pier, and Redondo Sportfishing Pier

San Clemente Pier at dusk

August 26-27, 2017 saw me scheduled to (1) present the “Basics of Pier Fishing” to a group of neophyte anglers at a classroom in Dana Point Harbor and to  (2) help them test out their new knowledge on a visit to the San Clemente Pier.

Needing to arrive the day before, and free the afternoon and evening of the class, meant I could get a little fishing in for myself. The final day wouldn’t allow time for fishing but would allow me to see some old friends and  get a few pictures on the pier.

Day One — Friday — I arrived at the pier after the long drive from Fresno. I was tired and hungry but I wanted to fish. I also wanted to see what was biting and what bait was needed so that Sunday’s outing with the new anglers would, hopefully, see them catch some fish. Since nothing seemed to be biting inshore, I headed out to the end. The fishing presented an interesting mix of fish but little worth filming (since I had already filmed all the species previously)

San Clemente Pier — August 25 — 5-7:15 PM
14 Pacific Mackerel  — 6 Salema  — 3 Jacksmelt —1 Rock Wrasse —1 Jack Mackerel  — 1 Topsmelt  — 1 Grunion

San Clemente was a busy pier that Friday night

I stopped after a couple of hours of fishing since I was tired and would be getting up early for the class. However, it was obvious by then that some fish were hitting at the pier (especially mackerel) and that we should be able to help the newbies catch some fish.

Day Two — Saturday — The morning was spent teaching the “new” anglers a little of what Ive learned about “pier fishing” over the years. The class was held in Dana Harbor and since just about every parking space in the harbor was taken at 6:45 in the morning, I parked near the small fishing pier at the north end if the harbor.

The class was over about 1:30 so I walked over to where I had parked my car, drove back to pick up my pier cart and all the goodies I had brought, and then drove back to the small pier. About that time Mahigheer (Hashem) called and said he was headed down to the harbor. He had decided to help out with the Sunday gathering and to do a little fishing himself.  He met me on the pier just about the time I was setting up to fish.

The Dana Harbor Pier from the classroom where we had our class

I began to fish from the small pier and though I tried a variety of baits — bloodworms, fresh mussels — cut mackerel and anchovies —I didn’t have a bite for over an hour until a small opaleye decided to grab a piece of worm. Mahigeer decided to move on to the San Clemente Pier and I told him I would join him but that I wanted to try the small pier a little bit longer.

A closer look at the Dana Harbor Pier — Baby Beach is to the right of the pier

Soon after I decided to change positions and moved inshore where I cast to the waters just outside “Baby Beach.”  A few minutes later I caught a spotfin croaker so again decided the spot deserved a little more time.

A few minutes later my second rod had a good hit. I grabbed it and made sure the fish was hooked and then watched the fish and line perform a large curving arc from about the 15 minute spot on a watch to the 45 minute spot. The fish was moving fast and I wasn’t sure what I had hooked. It didn’t fight like a croaker, bass, mackerel, flatfish or sharay that typically inhabit the harbor. But within a short time I had the fish to the pier and much to my surprise saw it was a bonefish, a Cortez bonefish to be exact, the first I had caught in nineteen years. I had landed two from the Embarcadero Marina Pier in San Diego Bay in 1999 but they had been caught in deeper water on a heavier line and didn’t give the same fight as this fish. The fish MADE MY TRIP..

Cortez Bonefish

Dana Harbor Pier — August 26 — 3:15-5:15 PM
1 Cortez Bonefish —1 Spotfin Croaker — 1 Opaley

Although I wouldn’t have minded trying for a second bonefish, I decide to join Hashem at the San Clemente Pier for one more rnight of fishing.

The fish were still there but now I told Hashem we needed to catch some mackerel to use for bait on Sunday morning. We were probably not going to have fresh mussels so instead of croaker we would target mackerel and mackerel like nothing better than a fresh piece of another mackerel. It was much the same species, mainly mackerel and salema, but I did add a small black croaker. Since black croaker will often school together with salema at night it seemed to make sense that one would grab my bait.


Black Croaker

Once again I decided to call it a night somewhat early. We had enough mackerel for bait  on Sunday and I was ready for a meal.

San Clemente Pier — August 26 — 6-7:45 PM
23 Pacific Mackerel — 11 Salema —1 Black Croaker

Day Three — Sunday — Although I had hoped to once again do a litle fishing I would stay far too busy with the kids to fish.I did get a chance to see some friends and to take a few pictures of people (not in the class). The classroom/pier pictures will be in a different post.

The San Clemente Pier during the day — beautiful shoreline

The rules

Three “Excellent” friends — Eugene Kim (kelpangler), Ben Acker (DompfaBen —  Dominating Positive Fishing Attitude Ben), and Hashem Nahid (Mahigeer)

Two nice “Golden” Spotfin Croaker caught on fresh mussels

Mina Kim and friend with a Pacific Mackerel

Bonito caught by “Dusty”


KJ and DompfaBen — Reunion time

A Pacific mackerel and a really nice family that we met

Spotfin Croaker


By the end of the class a break and lunch was needed. DompfaBen headed home while Eugene, Hashem and myself went across the street to the Pizzaria. After lunch I headed over to Redondo Beach to meet my son and the next morning I would get to fish a couple of hours at the Redondo Sportfishing Pier (no pictures).

Redondo Sportfishing Pier — August 28, 2017 — 6-8:30, 10:15-11:15 AM
22 Kelp Bass  — 7 Senorita  — 3 Rock Wrasse  —2 Opaleye