Pier Fishing In California (the book) and pierfishing.com in the news—

The First Article —USA Weekend Magazine, May 9, 1997

Pier Fishing In California and the website pierfishing.com was mentioned in the article

Of course there have been other articles —


Pier fishing site assists anglers in California

By Thom Gabrukiewicz, (Redding) Record Searchlight

August 15, 2004

Ken Jones just might be California’s “No. 1 pier rat,” a title he takes very seriously.

“It’s an old term, like wharf rat,” Jones said. “We’re pier rats, we fish from piers. We have a lot of fun with it.”

What makes him Pier Rat No. 1? Jones is the author of “Pier Fishing in California,” a 516-page bible of pier fishing, from Crescent City to San Diego, that describes all 113 piers where people can toss in a line (the second edition came out in June, and sells for $29.95 at Publishers Design Group, www.publishersdesign.com).

He’s also the rat behind the online version of the book, at www.pierfishing.com, (where people also can buy the encyclopedia of pier fishing).

“It’s not a commercial site, other than the fact you can buy the book on it,” said Jones, who helps run the site from Lodi. “It’s something for the pier or surf angler, something different that gives people who want to do this kind of fishing find the right information.”

The site is clean, simple, easy to navigate — and has a vast amount of information for anyone who wants to throw a line in the ocean, either from a pier, or the surf. The site regularly highlights two of California’s 113 accessible piers. It has a message board, so pier rats can keep up with one another, an event organizer and an archive where all the site’s great information has been stored since beginning in 1997.

“When I started it, I wanted to teach people how to be successful pier fishermen,” said Jones, a former high school teacher. “Pier fishing is different. It’s probably not as good as being on a boat in the ocean. But I catch a lot of fish — and I can help you catch a lot of fish, by letting you know what you’re doing, whether it’s by lure or by bait.”

A good place to start, especially for newcomers to pier fishing, is the archives, Jones said. But the site’s best feature also is its newest. Back in 1999, Pier Fishing in California added the message boards, where people go to swap information. That has led to a vast archive of information.

“There have been literally thousands of threads over the years,” he said. “And you can get all the info you need about pier fishing.”

The event calendar also is a great place for people to find like-minded souls to fish with. The next outing is set for Saturday at Point Reyes, for example. The organizer, known online as xpostman, will be serving up barbecued chicken and oysters, served with red rice on Kehoe Beach. The anglers will then grub for redtail perch.

“This is a simple event,” xpostman wrote. “Meet, eat and fish.”

“Pier fishing, by its very nature, is social,” Jones said. “If you’re uncomfortable around people, you will have problems pier fishing.”

Piers also are where families can go to be successful anglers.

“It’s great for families,” Jones said. “Pack a picnic lunch, head down to the pier and spend the day. A lot of people I know got their start fishing from a pier.”

Which might be fodder for Jones’ next project — and sure to be part of Pier Fishing in California’s Web site.

“My next book may be stories from all the people who grew up fishing from a pier,” Jones said.

Know an Outdoors Web site you’d like to share? Outdoor Web runs every Sunday in the Record Searchlight. Reporter Thom Gabrukiewicz can be reached at 225-8230 or tgabrukiewicz@redding.com.


 San Diego Union-Tribune — OUTDOORS

No boats necessary — Dedicated pier patrons are proud and happy to spend their days fishing from California’s shoreline pilings

 By Ed Zieralski, STAFF WRITER, January 22, 2005

Basketball has its gym rats, golf has its range rats and, yes, fishing has its very own pier rats. They are a special breed of angler, these fanatics who fish from pilings, whether they be concrete or wooden. Pier rats don’t care.

“Our motto is no boats, no kayaks and no freshwater for posts on our board,” said newby pier rat Garth Hansen of Escondido. Their message board is on www.pierfishing.com.

In his excellent book, “Pier Fishing in California,” Ken Jones, the modern-day Pied Piper of this new breed of pier rat, leads his cult-like followers to 113 piers, including those in the Carquinez Strait (about 20 miles northeast of San Francisco) and West Delta. In his second edition of the book, Jones includes an enlarged fishing-tips section and also details a history of the piers. There’s an entire section on fish identification, and he tops it with a section called “The Pier Rats Speak,” a dozen classic posts from the “Pier Fishing in California” message board on www.pierfishing.com.

At a recent get together at Oceanside Pier, Hansen was joined by John Kim of Carlsbad, Reid Mimaki of San Marcos, Rod Mina of San Diego and Rich Reano, the site’s Web master from Chula Vista, for some early-morning shore fishing followed by a trip to the pier.

Hansen discovered the group while searching the Web one day. “The fishing report is one of the more useful things about the site,” Hansen said. “I’m a beginner, so it helped me with good fishing information and tips. I took my daughter out to the pier the first time. Except for a 16-inch smelt, we got skunked. But since then I’ve landed my first legal halibut, first legal sand bass and way too many croakers.”

Reano fished from the beach early and, like the others, landed a handful of barred surf perch. He used a unique offering, a size 8 Wooly Worm fly with a half-ounce barrel sinker, a standard Carolina rig. Reano has been the group’s Web master since 1997. “We get just over a half million page views a month,” Reano said. “We’re small compared to boards like Allcoast Sportfishing, but for pier fishing, we do OK. We have a narrow focus, but still have a lot of views for that.” There are 8,000 registered members of the board but, as Reano said, “many more lurking out there.”

Mina said the reports and pictures that pier and shore anglers post make the site valuable to those looking for information, tips and places to fish. “Part of it is people want to educate others about pier and shore fishing, but part of it is people want to brag, too,” Mina said.

The group stresses that all pier and shore fishermen follow Department of Fish and Game regulations, a big issue on the state’s piers. Many pier fishermen are recent immigrants who often plead ignorance on fish and game laws. They have a reputation with other fishermen for taking over-limits and fish or lobsters out of season. “We place a huge emphasis on rules,” Reano said.

Ben Acker and Bryan Burch traveled from Pasadena to join the others for the rare get together last Saturday. Acker, a sixth grade teacher in Arcadia, is a veteran hoop-netter and pier angler. “I have five younger brothers, and my mom said the only thing we could ever do without fighting is fishing and singing,” Acker said. Acker converted an old baby jogger into a fishing pier buggy that he loads all his gear on for an easy trek to a spot along the pier’s rail. As Acker was setting up his gear, a tourist passed by and said: “Do you need a fishing license to fish on a pier?” Acker responded, “No.” And the guy winced and said, “I just lost a $5 bet with this guy because I bet him you needed one.”

Anglers don’t need a fishing license, but knowledge of the shoreline structure under the pier is a huge benefit. And knowing how to rig for the various fish is equally important. “It’s a sharp learning curve, but if someone puts the time in, it’s not that hard to learn,” Acker said. Acker said piers are the best-kept secret for hoop-netting lobsters. “I’ve probably hoop-netted more lobsters from a pier than I have from my kayak,” said Acker, who has his own special way of lowering his hoop net. He cradles it under his arm and tosses it the way someone would toss a discus. He got a good 30 yards on his toss on this day.

Down the pier from Acker, Daniel Elrod of Lancaster, another bona fide pier rat, displayed his invention, the L-Rodholder that he uses for rods and even a pulley arm for pulling hoop nets up from the depths. He sells them for $45 to $59. “I’m 46 years old and I’ve been pier fishing my whole life,” Elrod said. “My dad started me out when I was young.” Elrod said he visited Ocean Beach Pier during lobster season last year and asked a hoop-netter there if he’d like to sample his pulley arm device for pulling up his net. Elrod said the man hoisted up 30 lobsters in two hours before the men were kicked off because there was an electrical problem on the pier. “It was the middle of the day, too,” Elrod said. “I mean every pull, every 15 minutes, he’d have five, six lobsters in there. It was incredible because they were all keepers (legal-size) except for one.” Elrod had his 14-year-old son, Kyle, along with him, doing his part to pass on the pier-rat tradition.

“I’m on that pierfishing.com site every day,” Elrod said. “It’s an addiction. I like to read what’s going on in Northern, Central and Southern California, and it’s a great place for that. Everyone has their own style of fishing, their own personality. But by knowing what’s going on along the whole coast helps me plan my own fishing trips and excursions.”

Boyd Grant is vice president of United Pier and Shore Anglers of California. He travels in his motorhome and checks on piers. He’s a mobile pier rat with a shell. “I’m a full-time volunteer and field representative,” Grant said. “I drive the entire coastline and check out the beaches and the piers. I have over 30 years of fishing every pier in California.”

Grant said one of the other features of www.pierfishing.com is that it includes a link to Ken Adelman’s www.californiacoastline.org. The site offers up-close and updated looks at beach access and fishing areas. Grant called “Pier Fishing in California” author Ken Jones “the best piling fisherman I’ve ever seen.” “When we go to Catalina, we get 20 fish. He catches and releases 200 or more,” Grant said of Jones. “I don’t care where it is. Any pier, any piling. He’s the piling master.”

Grant said he loves the entire atmosphere that can usually be found on a fishing pier “There’s a lot more to pier fishing than just hooking fish,” Grant said. “I’ve found that no matter where in the world we go, when we visit a pier we have so much in common with the people there. Within five minutes, we’re talking like we’ve known each other all our lives.”

As Grant spoke, the Flatt family fished behind him on the north side of the pier. Steven and Melissa Flatt were there with Kalyn, 2. It was a family, glad to join the ranks of the pier rats. “He wanted a fisherman, so Kalyn now is into fishing,” Melissa Flatt said. “This is her first time fishing the pier, but she’s caught bluegill and has fished in Yosemite already.”

© Copyright 2005 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

Blue Rockfish —

 Blue Rockfish from Monterey Wharf #2

Species: Sebastes mystinus (Jordan & Gilbert, 1881); from the Greek words sebastes (magnificent) and mystas  (priest, referring to the dark color of a priest’s clothing).

Alternate Names: Often called blue bass, blue fish, blue perch and reef perch; also confused with black rockfish and called snapper, black bass, black snapper and black rockfish; sometimes called priestfish, nervi or neri. Called peche pretre (priest fish) by Portugese fishermen in Monterey in the late 1800s. Called ao menuke or kuro mebaru by Japanese fishermen; rocote azul in Mexico.

Identification: Typical bass-like shape. Their coloring is usually light blue with blue mottling. To separate it from the black rockfish look at the upper jaw and the anal fin. In the blue rockfish, the upper jaw only extends back to a point midway in the eye orbit. In the black rockfish, the jaw extends to a point at the rear of the eye. In the blue rockfish, the anal fin is slanted or straight; in the black rockfish, the anal fin is rounded. Overall the blue rockfish has a smaller mouth and is less elongated than black rockfish.

Size: To 21 inches, although most blue rockfish caught from piers are young fish under 10 inches in length. The California record fish weighed 3 lb 14 oz and was caught at San Carpoforo in 1993.

Range: From Punta Santo Thomas, northern Baja California to Chatham Strait and Kruzof Island, southeastern Alaska. Less commonly seen south of the northern Channel Islands and north of Eureka. Blues are the most frequently taken rockfish by recreational anglers from Point Conception to Fort Bragg (and generally in the top three species overall for the same area). Adult blue rockfish rarely move more than 6 miles from their home area.

Habitat: Although adults have been recorded from the shoreline to nearly 1,800 feet deep, they’re a mid-water species most common to shallow-water reefs and kelp beds. They are often found mixed with olive, yellowtail, and black rockfish. Most pier-caught fish are younger fish that prefer shallow-water rocky areas or kelp-covered pilings. Because of their small mouths, blues primarily feed on plankton and are considered to be “omnivorous/zooplanktivorous” happily gulping down such delicacies as jellyfish, tunicates, thaliaceans and algae. However, they will also feed on squid, small crustaceans, and small fish, including young-of-the-year rockfish. During years of rich, upwelled water their numbers increase, during warm-water years and less plankton, their numbers can drop.  

Piers: Most blue rockfish caught from piers are landed from Monterey north. Best bets: Monterey Coast Guard Pier, Monterey Wharf No. 2, Santa Cruz Wharf, San Francisco Municipal Pier and the Fort Baker Pier. Fishing in the wells out toward the end of the Santa Cruz Wharf can produce a lot of small blue rockfish.

Shoreline: An occasional catch by rocky shore anglers in central and northern California.

Boats: One of the most common rockfish taken by “rockcod” anglers fishing in central California north. Blue rockfish have been over fished. The blue rockfish catch by recreational vessels off southern California dropped by 95.2% between 1980 and 1996; in Monterey Bay, almost all blue rockfish now taken by anglers are immature fish.

Bait and Tackle: On piers, most often caught around the pilings under the piers on small, size 6-4 hooks. Best baits are pile worms, small pieces of shrimp, strips of squid, or fresh mussels. On boats they are often taken just under the surface of the water with squid being the most common bait.

Food Value:  An excellent eating, mild-flavored fish that is best fried. Best when fresh, flesh seems to become strong flavored more rapidly than some.

Comments: Blue rockfish males can live to 44 years, females to 41 years. They’re one of the faster growing rockfish species (with females growing faster than males): one-year-old fish may reach 4.5 inches in length, two-year-old fish 6 inches. Some females are mature (reproductive) at 9 inches and 5 years, all are mature by 14 inches and 11 years; males mature somewhat later (just like Humans). Genetic evidence suggests two species of blue rockfish may exist in California.

Many thanks to Robert O’H for the help with the pictures.

Black Rockfish

Black Rockfish  — Trinidad Pier

Species: Sebastes melanops (Girard, 1856); from the Greek words sebastes (magnificent), melas (black), and ops  (face).

Alternate Names: Commonly called black bass, bass rockfish or black snapper; also confused with and called blue rockfish; sometimes called bluefish, Columbia River rockfish, gray rockfish, Pacific snapper, black rock cod; Commercial fishermen once called these nero (black in Italian), cherna (a Portugese fish), or pesce pretre (used in Monterey).

Identification: Typical bass-like shape. Their coloring is black or blue-black, and white below. There are usually black spots on the back, up onto the lower parts of the dorsal fin (no spots on the dorsal fin of blue rockfish). Often confused with blue rockfish but can be differentiated from the blues by the following: in black rockfish the upper jaw extends to or past the rear of the eye and the anal fin is rounded.

Size: To 27.6 inches and 11 pounds. Most caught from piers are under a foot in length. The California record weighed 9 lb 2 oz and was caught near the San Francisco Light Station in 1988. 

Range: Northern Baja California to Amchitka Island in the Aleutian chain, Alaska; uncommon south of Santa Cruz.

Habitat: Generally found in shallow water rocky areas and reefs down to 120 feet although they’ve been taken to 1,200 feet dep. An opportunistic predator that primarily feeds mid-water to the top on other fish and zooplankton although they will also head down to the bottom to feed on shrimp, crabs and octopi.

Hans Jones Jr. and a black rockfish from the Trinidad Pier

Piers: Black rockfish, especially juveniles, are caught at most piers north of San Francisco.

Best Bets: San Francisco Municipal Pier, Point Arena Pier, Eureka Municipal Wharf, Trinidad Pier and Citizens Dock (Crescent City).

Shoreline: A common catch by rocky shore anglers in northern California.

Boats: Black rockfish are the most frequently taken rockfish by recreational anglers (boating) from Eureka to Crescent City and generally among the top ten species between San Francisco and Fort Bragg.

Leo Vrana and a black rockfish from Gotcha Hooked in Crescent City

Bait and Tackle: Most of the black rockfish caught by pier anglers are young fish hooked while the anglers are fishing around the pilings for perch or other bottom fish. Most are landed on high/low leaders using small hooks. Some are caught on bait-rigs that anglers use in pursuit of jacksmelt, walleye surfperch, herring, or even anchovies; this is most common at Eureka and Crescent City. If the pier isn’t crowded, an angler should try artificial lures such as small swimbaits.

Food Value: An excellent eating, mild-flavored fish that is best fried. Best when fresh; fat becomes rancid rather quickly.

Comments: Black rockfish live to be about 50 years old; a few mature (reproductive) at about ten inches in length and 3 years of age, most are mature at about 14 inches and 6-7 years in age; all are mature by 17 inches and 9 years in age.

Many thanks to Robert O’H for the help with the pictures.

California Lizardfish —

California Lizardfish — Goleta Pier

Species: Synodus lucioceps (Ayres, 1855); from the Greek word synodus (the ancient name of a fish in which the teeth meet), and the Latin word lucioceps (pike head).

Alternate Names: Gar, barracuda, candlefish. Called lagarto lucio or chile lucio in Mexico.

: They are cylindrical shaped with a broad lizard-like head and a mouth full of large canine-like teeth; the snout is almost triangular. Their coloring is mostly brown or greenish-brown above with a brassy luster on the side; blackish stripes along the lateral line; some criss-cross lines running at angles from the lateral line to the back; sides and belly usually a light gray; lower jaw and fins yellow. Young fish have a series of blue-colored diamonds along the lateral line.

Size: Up to 25.2 inches and around 4 pounds; most caught off piers are under 14 inches.

California Lizardfish — Cayucos Pier

Range: From Guaymas, Mexico, and Gulf of California, to Cape Beal, British Columbia. Listed in most “fish” books as an uncommon catch, especially north of Point Conception, and rare north of San Francisco. I used to agree. I fished California piers for 17 years before I caught my first lizardfish, a fish from the Newport Pier in 1978. Four years later I caught my second, a fish at Port Hueneme, and then in 1984 a third was caught at Wharf #2 in Monterey. It would stay that way, basically an occasional, incidental catch into the mid-90s when they began to show up more regularly. Then, in 2006, it seemed their numbers took off and in the intervening years they have become a regular catch at many if not most piers from San Dego north to Santa Cruz. In 2013 reports were coming in of vast numbers of lizardfish from San Diego north, and in personal visits to Stearns Wharf (Santa Barbara), Gaviota, Port San Luis, Avila, the Morro Bay T-Piers, Cayucos, San Simeon and Wharf #2 in Monterey, they seemd to literally cover the bottom and anglers using Sabiki-type bait rigs were bringing in 4-6 fish every cast. Why the change? I haven’t heard a good reason although they do seem to show up most commonly in cold-water years.

Habitat: Prefers shallow, sandy areas 5 to 150 feet deep. Lizzies are ambush predators that spend most of their time sitting motionless on the bottom with the body at a slight angle (using their large pelvic fins) waiting for food to swim by. They then dart out at a fairly amazing speed to grab their meal with their long, pointed teeth.

California Lizardfish — Cabrillo Pier

Piers: Once uncommon but now common at many piers—Imperial Beach Pier, Crystal Pier, Oceanside Pier, Balboa Pier, Newport Pier, Venice Pier, Malibu Pier, Port Hueneme Pier, Stearns Wharf, Goleta Pier, Port San Luis and Wharf #2 in Monterey.

Shoreline: Rarely caught by shore anglers.

Boats: Taken occasionally on skiffs and kayaks fishing in bays or shallow water areas.

Young Lizardfish

Bait and Tackle: Commonly caught when fishing the bottom for other species. Seems to hit almost any bait but the key is to keep the bait moving. I have caught them on cut bait, strips of squid, pile worms and Sabikis. Use light or medium tackle and a size 6 to 2 hook. Several people have reported that small lizardfish themselves make good bait for halibut, another predator species that mimics the lizard’s behavior.

Food Value: Reportedly, they are good to eat but quite bony. Some people say the flesh has a strong “fishy” odor and an iodine taste, but others say they are good eating. I’m not sure.

Comments: You can’t always choose your relatives (and luckily mine are a nice group). But consider the poor lizardfish. Lizzies are a cyclosquamate fish placed in the order, Aulopiformes, along with a dozen or so other families. Nothing strange about that except that all of those other families are deepwater fish, what one Ichthyology book (Fishes, Moyle and Cezh) calls “a mixed bag of odd fishes.” Included are the barracundinas, sabertooths, pearleyes, lancetfishes, greeneyes, spiderfishes and grideyes. All of these either occupy the water column of the deep sea or are actual deepsea bottom-dwellers. Only the various lizardfish are considered inshore fish (although two species are deepwater fish). And while both the California lizardfish and Atlantic lizardfish reach fairly cool waters, most lizzies call tropical and subtropical waters their home.

California Lizardfish — Avila Pier

I found that out during a trip to Hawaii in 1993 while chaperoning a group from Anderson Valley High School. We were staying near Waikiki Beach and several of us headed over to the beach to do a little surf fishing. In two hours I only managed three fish but one surprised me by being a lizardfish—a variegated lizardfish (Synodus variegates). It was the only lizardfish I caught on that trip although a return trip to Waikiki Beach two years later yielded up another variegated lizardfish. Two trips doesn’t mean they’re common for that beach but they were certainly common for me.

Notwithstanding their oddball cousins, lizardfish do have one honor. Not too many fish have had Naval vessels named after them. Not so with the typically maligned lizardfish. The USS Lizardfish (SS-373) was a Balao-class submarine commissioned December 30, 1944. Built in Illinois, she was towed down the Mississippi River to Algiers, Louisiana before putting out to sea where she traveled through the Panama Canal on way to Pearl Harbor. Soon after, she was headed out to the Java Sea and South China Sea where she was successfully engaged in several battles. The ship earned one battle star for World War II but the end of the war brought an end to the need for her service. The ship was decommissioned in June 1946 after less than two years of service.

California Lizardfish — Cabrillo Pier

Reviews of Pier Fishing in California — 2nd. Edition

“Pier Fishing in California: The Complete Coast and Bay Guide, 2nd Edition”     


“Pier Fishing In California, The Complete Coast and Bay Guide, 2nd Edition, by Ken Jones named 2005 Second Place Winner for book”

Outdoor Writer’s Association of California  (OWAC)


 “One of the great original efforts at fishing books published in recent years is Pier Fishing in California by Ken Jones.”

—Bud Neville, Western Outdoor News


“Pier Fishing in California, the encyclopedic-and-then-some guidebook, by Ken Jones”

—Jonathan Miles, Field & Stream


“Ken Jones’ Pier Fishing in California is the ultimate pier fishing resource for Pacific Coast anglers. This second edition covers 113 piers; the history of California piers and pier fishing; tackle, rigging, baits and lures; cleaning and cooking; and an “encyclopedia” of the 100 most commonly caught species. The chapter “The Pier Rats Speak”, compiled from the discussion boards at PierFishing.com, offers a colorful glimpse into pier fishing “culture.”

International Game Fish Association Magazine, 2005


The Pied Piper of Pier Rats —

“Basketball has its gym rats, golf has its range rats and, yes, fishing has its very own pier rats…They are a special breed of angler, these fanatics who fish from pilings, whether they be concrete or wooden… In his excellent book, Pier Fishing in California, Ken Jones, the modern-day Pied Piper of this new breed of pier rat, leads his cult-like followers to 113 piers, including those in the Carquinez Strait (about 20 miles northeast of San Francisco) and West Delta. In his second edition of the book, Jones includes an enlarged fishing-tips section and also details a history of the piers. There’s an entire section on fish identification, and he tops it with a section called The Pier Rats Speak, a dozen classic posts from the Pier Fishing in California message board on www.pierfishing.com.”

—Ed Zieralski, San Diego Union-Tribune


 “Ken Jones just might be California’s ‘No. 1 pier rat,’ a title he takes very seriously.  ‘It’s an old term, like wharf rat,’ Jones said.  ‘We’re pier rats, we fish from piers. We have a lot of fun with it.’ What makes him Pier Rat No. 1? Jones is the author of Pier Fishing in California, a 516-page bible of pier fishing, from Crescent City to San Diego, that describes all 113 piers where people can toss in a line.”

—Thom Gabrukiewicz, Redding Record Searchlight


“Even experienced anglers know somebody who is just getting interested in fishing. Whether they are a relative, friend or neighbor, the great new book “Pier Fishing in California” by Ken Jones is a perfect choice for any new angler with access to the coastline. The book is a hefty 516 pages long, and the author has completely re-written his earlier 1992 edition.

            Pier fishing is a perfect way to get started in fishing. However, nothing will turn a “newbie” off from the sport quicker than getting skunked. I spend a lot of time walking on piers, and am amazed that some of the anglers I see ever catch anything [many don't!].

            Fishing ranges from fair to excellent on almost any pier in the state, and this book makes sure that the reader joins the 10-percent of the anglers who catch 90-percent of the fish. That old cliché is even truer on piers than anywhere else.

            Included is comprehensive information on hundreds of piers from Imperial Beach to Crescent City. Fishing techniques, common species, and the history of each pier are all included. The fishing information is especially detailed, and will help the beginner or experienced angler alike maximize their catch.

            Jones has really done his homework, and this book will be interesting to almost any angler. The book answers questions like how to rig for perch, halibut, sharks, striped bass and salmon off piers. You’ll even find out which California piers have seen albacore and bluefin tuna caught on them in relatively modern times, and which pier had a 600-pound black seabass caught during the 1920′s.

            I spent much of my youth on the Santa Monica, Venice and Redondo Beach piers; I wish something like this book had been available back then!”

—Steve Carson, Fishing Writer, Radio and TV Personality, Member of the Outdoor Writer’s Hall of Fame, and a “Berkley” Pro


“The Ultimate Pier Fishing Resource. The ultimate resource for Pacific Coast pier anglers is Ken Jones’ remarkable book Pier Fishing in California: The Complete Coast and Bay Guide, the second edition of which is due out in May. The first edition was a 200-page volume covering 92 piers from the Mexican border to the Oregon border, but the vastly expanded second edition runs 528 pages and covers 113 piers.

In addition to the 20 new piers, the second edition also features expanded chapters on the history of California piers and pier fishing, cleaning and cooking a wide range of species (including “oddballs” like skates and rays), and an exhaustive discussion of tackle, rigging, baits and lures.

Over 350 new photos and illustrations have also been added, including detailed, species-specific illustrations of fish-cleaning, rigging illustrations, and maps. An “encyclopedia” of the 100 most commonly caught pier species is also completely illustrated.

Another new chapter in the second edition, “The Pier Rats Speak,” reproduces a dozen classic “threads” from the discussion boards at PierFishing.com, which offer a colorful glimpse into the unique pier fishing “culture.”

The sheer amount of research and experience that’s gone into this book is simply mind-boggling; it really does seem to contain just about everything there is to know about California pier fishing. Even if you’re not a dedicated pier angler, it’s a fascinating read and an admirable accomplishment.”

—Zack Thomas, Pacific Coast Sportfishing


 “This book is positively biblical in scope. And that is fitting because, if pier fishing is a religion, and perhaps it is, Ken Jones is certainly its prophet.”

 —Milton Love, (self-described) Hotshot Marine Biologist, University of California Marine Science Institute—Santa Barbara, author of Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast, A Humorous Guide To Pacific Fishes, and director of “The Love Lab.”


 “Pier Fishing in California will teach you everything you want to know about fishing on piers and the piers themselves. An amazing amount of time and research went into this book. Ken Jones’ passion for pier fishing comes through loud and clear. In addition to all of the facts, the book is weaved with clever and funny anecdotes. A must read for anyone who has fished on a pier or is thinking of it.”

 —Shawn Arnold, publisher— Fish Taco Chronicles


“This book will appeal to any angler who has a curious mind. That is, one to whom an answer to a question only suggests more questions. In addition to having a curious mind, the author uses his skills as a former teacher, to share his storehouse of fishing lore with the reader. This book is filled with the answers to every pier fishing question the author has thought of, plus the questions of every angler he has talked to; and that is hundreds. In addition to practical tips for catching fish from piers, there is a host of related topics such as pier histories, conservation ethics, angler manners, fish biology, and how to clean and cook your catch. This book will foster a love of fishing, and quickly build angler confidence to try other venues for fishing such as shoreline and boat fishing. I recommend this book to pier anglers who want to fully understand their sport and catch more numbers and varieties of fish.”

 —Paul Gregory, retired DF&G Marine Biologist


 “Ken Jones, the authority on pier fishing in California, has done it again. His book, Pier Fishing in California, has been the definitive book on fishing from Piers in this state. This revised edition includes more piers, adds details about fishing and the fascinating history of California piers all the way back to the 1800s. If you even think about fishing from piers or are just interested in their history, you need this book.”

 —Ray Rychnovshy, Outdoor writer and author of numerous fishing books including California Guide: Great Saltwater Fishing, and San Francisco Bay Area Fishing Guide.


 “Every angler in California ought to have this book! In addition to telling you the when, where, how, and even the why, of pier fishing, the book is just plain fun reading.”

 —Tim Turner, Editor in Chief, Rabid Angler Magazine


 “Pier Fishing. Never did I hold Daddy¹s hand more tightly than when we walked out on a pier. Too young to understand my own size compared to the threats in the big world around me, I feared slipping through the cracks into a world populated only by naughty children who wandered away from their folks.

            I grew older and discovered other dangers, and my childhood fear was buried under other emotions, good and bad. It returned in a new form only recently, when I discovered Pier Fishing in California: the Complete Coast and Bay Guide, by Ken Jones. Now I fear slipping through the pages of this book onto a rickety old wooden structure jutting out into constantly plunging waves. I fear baiting up once again, again to fall short of that perfect cast I need for success. While standing and waiting, my hair will turn gray, my hems grow uneven and my bifocals crust with salt spray. Hours and days will slip through those fearful old cracks, and the time to leave will always lie just beyond the surf line.

            If your soul finds satisfaction in fishing, or in history replete with black-and-white photographs, in meeting genuine characters far too real for reality television, or merely in settling down with great literature, acquire this book, already in its second edition.

            True, you can use Pier Fishing as your guide to fishing from the B Street Pier in Crescent City all the way to the Imperial Beach Pier from which it¹s an easy walk across the border into Mexico. Wherever life takes you, this book offers the best information on how to while away a few hours in the company of your oldest or youngest family members, your most driven colleagues, or just yourself. You¹ll meet other pierophiles there, folks who share your fantasies. I still recall waking one night from a dream that I free-gaffed a marlin from the Redondo Beach Pier.

            Pier Fishing tells what species you¹re likely to catch, what tackle is best for catching them, some interesting methods for cooking them, the history of the pier and the personal experience there of the author.

            But valuable as Pier Fishing is for its information, the quality of the writing makes it as readable, and rereadable, as the finest tales told by masters of literature. Only two possibilities present themselves as explanations as to where mild-mannered Ken Jones acquired such a superfund of information. Either he truly is California¹s Number One Pier Rat, as he claims, or he is considerably older than he looks. He claims to have over 40 years of records, compiled by himself, of fishing the piers he writes about, and the proof is in the putting of this data into the introduction. You¹ll see why he confesses that the Pacifica Pier is probably the best in the state. ³No other pier in the state  yields the number of fish, nor the quality of fish, that Pacifica sees most years, he declares.

            You want to argue with him? Visit Ken¹s website at pierfishing.com and join the ongoing discussions. Make the case for your own favorite pier, or ask a newbie question for a speedy answer from a pro or two. Buy this book at the website, or ask for it at your local bookstore.

            And I¹ll look for you on the pier this time. With any luck at all, I¹ll still be on the top side.”

 —Kathie Morgan, Fish Sniffer Magazine


The Pier Rats Speak  — From pierfishing.com

 “The second edition of Pier Fishing in California has been eagerly anticipated for a long time. It was worth the wait. This new book is more than an update, it surpasses the original. Ken Jones has reestablished himself not only as the authority on piers but as an important California writer who is expertly versed on saltwater fishing from coast to bay to estuary. Pier Fishing in California is superbly crafted and executed. It is well organized, easy to use and wonderful to read. Piers and their environment are rendered into living histories that capture the imagination as well as edify the fisherman. If there is any bias it is the man’s love for his state and its magnificent shoreline. He warms to his subject and passes on that glow to his readers. I know of no other single source for species identification and angling strategy: this alone would be worth owning the book. It is an operating manual, tour book, field guide, encyclopedia, and history, wrapped all into one. Whether veteran or neophyte, this book will make a better angler out of anyone.”

Glen Gustavson-Falck (Songslinger)

 “Ken Jones has outdone himself. He has created the California “Bible” of pier fishing, in the form of the 2nd edition of his “Pier Fishing in California.” And although he covers the specifics of fishing the piers in California, much of it can be applied to pier fishing in any geographic region. Whether you are a beginning fisherman or a seasoned “Pier Rat,” there is a wealth of information for you here. As in the first edition, Ken covers the complete range of California coastal and bay piers, and this time ventures up into the West Delta and Carquinez Strait piers as well. Along with an expanded tackle section, there are extensive chapters on the history of California’s piers, the social and ethical concerns associated with fishing, and even recipes for a “toxic world.” I especially enjoyed reading some of the historical background of some of the fishing piers in California. There is also input from some of the local “Pier Rats” who regularly frequent some of California’s fishing piers. At 516 pages, it will be quite some time before I read it cover-to-cover (if ever), but rather I find myself jumping around to sections that interest me or to read about a certain pier I will fish. Ken, thanks for writing the definitive book on pier fishing, a must-have for any California angler.

 Jeff Ishikawa  (fishing enthusiast)

 “If you fish from any pier, beach, breakwater, jetty or rocks on the California coast, you must have this book! Questions about pier and area history, what can be, and what has been caught, and how to catch it, are answered here. You will find what bait, tackle, and rigs to use to increase your chances before you get there. Read stories and posts from Pierfishing.com by some of the legends and regular Pier Rats of the pier fishing community. The love of the sport, and the expertise Ken Jones has acquired from the many years at the railing, is passed on to the reader.”

 Harry A Goodell (Graybeard)

“Volume 2 is Awesome! I’ve had my copy of volume 2 for two days now, and it is incredible! I can still remember how volume 1 changed fishing for me. I think volume 2 has the potential to change a lot of people’s lives. The first volume turned me on to the wonderful and unique resource that our piers are for recreation. I learned about pier carts, hoop nets, hi-lo’s, dip nets, bucket aerators, etc. Volume 2 does all that, but goes one better. This book truly catches the joy and excitement of our style of fishing. Ken has included tons of e-mails and postings from the archives here. The enthusiasm and joy of our fellow pier rats is evident throughout. I truly believe that our ranks are going to grow, thanks to Ken’s efforts. Let’s all give him our support in his new endeavor. GET YOUR COPY OF THE BOOK AS SOON AS YOU CAN! You won’t regret it. I think I have to get a second copy, so I can keep one in pristine condition. Tell all your friends about it.  And then…. get ready to make some room on the piers. I think there are going to be a lot more folks out there fishing in the years to come. Gordo Grande”

Ross Kestin (Gordo Grande

Volume two [Pier Fishing in California] is the canonical authority on pier fishing in the known universe. Volume one remains an unparalleled resource, suitable for keeping in one’s tackle box.  So while Volume one is like a field journal, Volume two is a reference journal. Each has its valuable place in the life of every pier and shore angler.

Ben Acker (Dompha Ben —”DOMPFA: Dominating Positive Fishing Attitude!”)

[It] Looks like an exam preparation book…You might as well have test questions at the end of each chapter. Actually, it is a very unusual book as far fishing is concerned. Parts read like diary entries. Maybe it should be titled: “PFIC: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Fishing but Were Afraid to Ask.” LOL Nice thoughtful writing Ken and localized too!

Robert Gardner (Redfish)

VOLUME 2 IS AWESOME! Even though it’s a big book, I’ve been carrying it around with me everywhere I go. A great read for sure!



 Amazon.Com — Customer Reviews — Pier Fishing in California: The Complete Coast and Bay Guide, 2nd Edition

Filled with facts and tips for novice and experts, August 17, 2004 ★★★★★  Reviewer:  James Liu (Sunnyvale, CA)

Public Piers are great places for families and visitors to fish because they are the only places in California where anglers over 16 don’t need a license. I’ve been fishing for 26 years now and build my own rods. I’ve traveled a lot and fished international and this book is unique in the focus it brings to fishing in my home state of California. Much thicker than the first edition and filled with tips and facts that have made my trips more productive. I have other books, like Tom Steinstra’s well thumbed guide to California fishing spots, but, those are just a general guide without much depth. Ken Jones gives a detailed review of all the Public Piers in CA. I’d recommend it as required reading for those who are truly interested in catching fish off any California Pier. I’ve used the book and found it invaluable as a desk side reference in looking up and planning fishing trips and answering questions authoratively on Ken’s pierfishing.com website.

The best source for Pier Fishing In California, August 18, 2004 ★★★★★ Reviewer:  “fishnchips “J” (California)

The new edition is larger, but is chalked full of useful info for any angler. It has great rigging techniques, and a huge amount of info on all of California’s piers. Ken Jones knows his stuff, and the book shows it. I own both editions and they are permanent items on my coffee table at home. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fishing… these books have it all.

Pier Fishing in CA, June 30, 2006 ★★★★★ Reviewer: B. Bishop “sand crust” from Santa Cruz, CA 

Lots of info and history, easy to read and use.

Ken Jones’ Masterpiece, July 15, 2006 ★★★★★ Reviewer: #72 from California

If you fish piers in California, you need to buy this book.

Great for newbies, salty dogs and historians alike, February 12, 2007  ★★★★★ Reviewer: Erik Cline “hobo cline” from Alameda, CA  

“My title says it all. If you’re looking to start a new hobby, get better at your current one, or want some leisurely California history reading, this book can’t be beat. I can’t wait to hit the piers…”

A must-have for shore fishermen!, August 16, 2008 ★★★★★ Reviewer: P. Rabbitt (Silicon Valley, CA)

I have two copies of this book – one I purchased through Amazon, and a personally autographed copy I won on the PFIC Internet site. I gifted one to my friend, who I “hooked” into fishing a couple of years ago. The book is filled with useful fishing information for both the novice and more experienced angler, and the intel on California piers stands alone. If you’re looking for a book on shore or pier fishing in the Golden State, you can’t do any better than Ken’s book!

Pier Facts Good, March 28, 2009 ★★★★★ Reviewer: M. Cochrane “vrede” (Calif)

This is a very useful tool for evaluating pier fishing on the California Coast. Since I grew up in So. Cal. and migrated to NorCal, this book was especially useful in describing the changes in techniques required to catch fish in the North. It was also comprehensive in that it covered every pier in California, which also included spots in the Delta. I highly recommend this as a “starting tool.” However, there is nothing more valuable then chatting with the local pier gurus; that is if they’re in a talkative mode. I gifted this to a friend who intended to start pier fishing but he was from the East Coast and didn’t know where or how to start. He reports that the book was a lifesaver for him. So that he at could least formulate the right questions when fishing off his local pier in Pacific. Very helpful document.

SoCal Pier Bible, December 16, 2009 ★★★★★ Reviewer: Michael P. Kisselburg 

There is no better book for pier fishing in southern California. If you are a fisherman, and do not own this book… well you should.

Not Just for Californians, June 28, 2010 ★★★★★ Reviewer:Ahnko Honu “Beach Boy” (Kailua, Hawai’i)

Island boy from Hawai’i but have siblings living in the Bay area so to prepare for fishing the piers there several years ago I bought this book. The tips, and techniques in this book are very detailed with even a pier-by-pier description of all fishing piers along the California coast. The techniques described are very informative and can be used by pier fishermen not only in California but the whole West Coast, East Coast, and Gulf Coast. They even came in handy fishing the piers here in Hawai’i. I highly recommend this book, and the newer additions too. Mahalo again Ken!

Everything About California Pier Fishing! June 30, 2011 ★★★★★ Reviewer: Bacardi79

This book has everything you need to know about California pier fishing. The ratings system for each pier is just brilliant. There are tips for what to use on each pier and what you can expect to catch. I also love the stories about people’s experiences on the piers. Lots of people don’t fish off of piers they simply walk out and take pictures or just enjoy the view.

Very In-Depth, April 2, 2012 ★★★★★ Reviewer: Mako

This book is basically 40 years of pier fishing up and down the California Coast. The photos and illustrations are excellent and leaves the reader with a well rounded education of the “pier rats” and why people love to fish piers.

Great book! December 15, 2012 ★★★★★ Reviewer: The Zissou

Great book… has all of the obvious spots, tells you what bait to use, how to rig it, and what you should be catching.

Great Book, January 19, 2013 ★★★★★ Reviewer: Jon Banks “Reggae Lover”,  (Fairfax, VA United States) 

This book is a work of art. The author put so much into it and we all benefit. I have fished several of these piers because of this book, and even when I didn’t catch anything I had fun. The pier guys and ladies are generally a great bunch very friendly and willing to swap advice. The book is arranged is sections and each pier is listed geographically. Details such as hours open, best catch and other features are given. For the price, this book is nice to have just as an addition to your travel library. All the more if you actually fish. If you live in CA or plan to visit, this book is a great way to find great fishing piers. As an added bonus, most piers are located in or near great locations so aside from getting great fishing spots, you’ll be near good tourist sites.

 WOW!!!, June 14, 2013 ★★★★★ Reviewer: satoshi saneto 

Lots of great info plus an entertaining read. You get stories, history, nostalgia, mixed in with all the great fishing tips. [It] has inspired me to road trip the coast… and I’m confident I’ll be well prepared.