Saltwater Fishing

13th Annual Mud Marlin Derby — 2014

The 13th Annual Mud Marlin Derby was held at the Berkeley Pier on May 17, 2014 from 6PM until midnight.

Berkeley Pier

The mission was to (1)  catch and release some cute little (or huge monster) mud marlin, aka bat rays; (2)  meet up with some fellow “pier rats” from the “Pier Rat Nation”;  (3) for some – to win the derby and/or raffle prizes. Mission #1 was only accomplished by four people; Mission #2 was largely accomplished, and, as expected, Mission #3 was limited to a several people.

Some halibut had been caught earlier

The official list showed 72 people signed in although we think the actual total was slightly higher since some people did not sign in. Those who signed in (and apologies since some signatures were hard to decipher)—Matthew, Richard Samms, Wa Moua, Nai Moua, Choua Thao. Twan Sysengchanh, Steven Kha, Logan Freda, Dylan Zimmerman (?), Damon Knudson, Orlan Gumban, Christopher Fajardo, Michael Karam, Sargon Tomy, Albert Karam, Chris Karam, Dave Clingman, Bob Griffin, Adam Vanul, Robert Gardner, Cory Ferry, Michael Shephard, Matt Galvin, April Galvin, Richard Vang, Cher Xiong, Abduhl ?, Danity Donohm, Shea Donohm, Justin Looking, Josephine Mayorga, Nick Messer, Ezequiel (Zeg) Fajardo Igor K, Wesley Harris, Juan Duran, Manuel Chavez, Nicolas Chavarria, George Vue, Mason Vue, Xing Vue Mova, Serg Vang, Devonte Fortson, Thomas Graytan, Abe ?, Brian ?, Hans Jones, Hans Jones Jr., Reubin Aguilar, Ashley Mercure, Cole Dunlap, Steve Timbroar, Robert Oakes, Robert Munoz, Anthony Gaspar, Julio Marciel, Richard Velarde, Jonathan Steele, Frank Rasheed, Andy Szostek, Richard McIntosh, Ken Jones, Ignacio Carbajac, Ken Murakami, Alan Kurosawa, Robert Zasta, Daniel Pedrelra, Mark Ervin, Johnny Guinowes, Andrew Lozoya, Leslie Townsend, and Ana Townsend.

Anglers getting ready for the derby


Some notes: I arrived at the pier about 3:45 and decided to fish for a few minutes by the inshore rocks. Unfortunately the waves were slapping the rocks, conditions just weren’t right for perch, and although I tried under and around the restrooms I failed to get a single bite. However, imagine my surprise when I heard a girl screaming “Oh my God, there’s a stingray in the toilet” as she rushed out of the restroom. Perplexed, I went into the room and sure enough there was a fish, a thornback ray, lodged in the toilet looking up. I took my pliers, removed the fish, and assured the girl she could now safely use the toilet. But really… a fish in the toilet?

Thornback (Toilet) Ray

 Eventually I decided to head out to the derby area. Along the way I was checking for fish and one angler, Marcus (?), had two nice-sized halibut that he had taken earlier. Snapped a picture of the fish and moved on. Out by the third sink area I ran into Matt and Josh and that’s where I decided to set up shop. Relived some old times with Matt including his first fish reports to me back in 1998 and our meeting up at the Pacific Pier that same year (where he had caught a nice striped bass). Met Josh and saw pictures of the two halibut he had caught earlier in the morning. Matt had journeyed down from Reno, Josh from Sacramento, and unfortunately they had only experienced two bites, and had gotten two fish, during the entire time at the pier. Things were slow and when combined with a bone-chilling wind it looked like it might be a long night.

Josh and Matt

 The evening would indeed turn out to be windy and cold and the fish were few. However, the company was good and the time passed quickly. (And, the wind even died down around 10pm.)

• I had a nice chat with Dave Klingman (West Coast Dave) who had brought several people with him from Sacramento. Dave showed me the pictures of (many) pink salmon that he caught at the Dash Point Fishing Pier in Washington last year and expressed sorrow that he had not had a chance to visit GDude in Vancouver during his trip. (And I too missed making the trip north last summer, GDude’s last.) I didn’t realize it until our talk but he and GDude had been the only two people to make it to every Mud Marlin Derby and now, with GDude’s passing, Dave has the lone distinction of being at every MMD

.• One of the pleasures was spending some time with Leslie and Ana Townsend. Ana had never been fishing and her mom had brought her out to the pier expecting a short visit. However, Ana was really interested in fishing so she was set up with a rod and reel (by Matt and Josh) and tried to catch a fish. Unfortunately she did not catch a fish but at least she got to hold up the bat ray that Big Rich caught and hopefully will return for the kid’s fishing derby in June.

Ana and Leslie Townsend

 • Biggest and fanciest carts – I think this honor went to Bob Griffin who’s been making it out to the piers for years. His cart seems to hold everything needed and it even has two rod holders attached to the top. Yes, a true pier rat.

Bob Griffin and his pier cart

• Met a good group of guys that fish the Martinez Pier on a regular basis and heard a little about the sturgeon fishing at the pier. I need to make a trip over there to fish with them and get some tips.

• Food — As always, the food was excellent. Brian did most of the cooking along with a little help from Big Rich, Hans and Matt. Brian was cooking the chili, hot dogs, bratwurst, and hot links, while Hans cooked up some excellent “dog bites” in a BBQ sauce. Finishing up the food was some fresh halibut fillets donated by Matt and Josh. Robert donated water.

Brian Linebarger and Hans Jones cooking

 • The Derby Winners were: 1st—Richard Velarde with a 37-pound (47-inch wingspan) bat ray;

Richard Velarde —1st Place Winner

2nd—Igor Klyashchitsky with a 33-pound (43-inch wingspan) bat ray;

Igor K — 2nd Place Winner

3rd—Richard Vang with a 13-pound (27-inch wingspan) bat ray. Being edged out by Igor’s fish at nearly midnight was Big Rich who had caught the first bat ray of the night, a 4-pound (12-inch wingspan) bat ray.


Richard Vang — 3rd Place Winner

• Special thanks to: (1) Brian Linebarger for setting up and hosting the event for the seventh year in a row (as well as the cooking). Brian has now moved north which will limit his time at these events and Hans Jones is scheduled to be next year’s host. (2) Richard McIntosh (Big Rich) for his help in many ways including picking Brian up at the airport, helping Brian get the various supplies, and providing some muscle power to get everything out onto the pier. (3) Hans Jones for rounding up some nice raffle prizes as well as helping with the cooking.

“Big Rich” McIntosh and Ken Jones

Hans Jones and the owner of the Castro Valley Sportsman’s Center

that donated raffle prizes

Thanks also goes to both the Castro Valley Sportsman’s Center and the Berkeley Marina Pro Shop. Included in their donations were an American series Seeker rod, a Daiwa Regal 3500 reel, a Penn Fierce reel, and an Okuma V system reel. In addition there were many smaller prizes. Hans Jones donated three crab snares that he made. The Berkeley shop also had a raffle for people who had purchased bait for the derby through the shop and awarded an Ugly Stik as a prize at the derby.

Raffle Prize Winners

Big Rich and a baby mud marlin (bat ray)

Weighing the bat ray

Ana and Leslie Townsend


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)

Great Whites at the Manhattan Beach Pier?

At the end of December 2013 an article appeared in the New York Daily News by Michael Welsh. The title — Did a great white shark photobomb surfing kids at Manhattan Beach, Calif.?

The woman who snapped the picture of her son and his friend swimming near a shadowy figure that resembles a shark said they did not notice the animal until they were on their way home.

The two boys didn’t realize they were so close to the sea animal until they got back in a parents car and looked through the digital camera.

A California mother wants to know whether the ominous figure looming behind her son and his friend in a viral photo was in fact a shark or merely a harmless dolphin. “It’s surprising that no one has been able to tell definitively what it is,” she told the Daily News. “It was just an insane photo. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”The woman, who asked to not be identified, said no one noticed the animal until they were in the car on their drive back home from the Manhattan Beach visit Friday. While perusing the photos, they saw what looked like either a shark or dolphin just under a breaking wave near the kids who were holding surfboards. The picture went viral soon after she posted it to Facebook and Instagram. But she did not expect news outlets to present the photo as if it were definitively a shark — when the jury is still out. “I’m overwhelmed to be honest,” she said. “I just hope it calms down. … This wasn’t shared to promote fear — awareness is fine but not fear.”

 White Pointer/Getty Images/StockPhoto

Great white sharks are reportedly not uncommon near Manhattan Beach. Some people wonder if the fearsome predator was actually in the photo or if it were a more friendly sea creature.

Michael Welsh, New York Daily News

Most people interviewed regarding the story felt the picture is that of a dolphin.

However, the story reminded me of a recent revision I had made to my Pier Fishing In California article on the Manhattan Beach Pier —

In October of 2013 on one of my trips to Los Angeles I visited, and fished, the Manhattan Beach Pier. Soon after, I reported my visit on PFIC and was surprised that another PFIC angler had been at the pier and seen me that day. Amidst the post and reply (see below) it turned out that he had hooked a great white shark just a few minutes before my arrival. It stimulated an interesting discussion and brought back memories of an earlier thread and articles about the great whites at Manhattan Beach.

Date: October 21, 2013

To: Pier Fishing in California Message Board

From: Ken Jones

Subject: Manhattan Beach Pier Report — 10/16/2013

Manhattan Beach Pier — 11:30-12:30 — A few fish were being caught here, some mackerel and lizardfish. The snack shop worker said there had been an afternoon mackerel bite recently. Dumb divers were too close to the pier and I got into a long discussion with a local about why the city did not regulate the rules. Fish: two Pacific Mackerel, one Lizardfish, one Topsmelt, and one Speckled Sanddab

Posted by vmarquez

Were u to the right next to the sink wearing a Catalina shirt? That day we had a great white hit our bait at 11 am fought for 14 minutes.

 Posted by csmerril

I wouldn’t have posted that, if you knew it was a GW, it is the law to cut the line right away…

Posted by vmarquez

It’s ok, it took 14 mins to realize it was a great white plus we were with the biologist that works at Manhattan Beach and he wanted to make sure it was tagged before we released. It wasn’t but he cut the line anyways… plus by the way its illegal to remove them from the water not hook them. How r we supposed to stop them from eating our bait plus they fight like bat rays so u really can’t tell till u get them close enough.

Posted by Ken Jones

I was by the sink and I think I did have the Catalina shirt on that day. I wound up arguing Manhattan Beach regulations with the manager/biologist of the Roundhouse for about 15 minutes. We began arguing about regulations to keep people away from the pier (based upon the diver) and it evolved into an argument about surfers being next to the the pier and lifeguards asking anglers not to fish inshore when surfers are in that area. I’m going to try to find out if (1) there are regulations telling people to stay a certain distance from the pier and (2) if there are those regulations, why the lifeguards do not enforce the rules. I was told that surfers rule, most lifeguards are also surfers, and the rules would never be enforced.

Posted by vmarquez

Yea, I heard u guys arguing; he’s the biologist. Manhattan is always full of swimmers. We’ve been having good luck w/ mackerel and thresher sharks and we get to see great whites swim by; don’t usually take the bait though.

Posted by Ken Jones

I don’t think you did anything wrong. It often takes a while to figure out what you have on your line and in this case you did cut the line.

Posted by makairaa 

There is a reef just off the end of the pier that used to hold bass, halibut, and occasionally yellowtail and [white] seabass. I just wouldn’t dive there because of the number of great whites hooked there in the last 2 years.

Posted by Ken Jones

The divers and surfers don’t seem too worried about the great whites.

Posted by makairaa 

Most small white sharks are fish eaters, so the surfers don’t have much to worry about, besides the fact we could spend hours debating the IQ of many surfers. Surfing next to a pier where you can see people fishing right where they are surfing does not sound too smart to me. The spearfisherman on the other hand are in the water with a bleeding fish where there are 6 to 8 foot dangerous sharks. It’s their choice, but to me it looks like Darwin in action.

Posted by polishfromthedeep  

I bring a gun occasionally when I dive for lobster, shoot fish all the time, and bleed them on my hip. I’m still here and enjoy a much more intimate experience with mother ocean than anybody ON the pier.  You can call it Darwinism or whatever you want, but I call it totally worth it. Worth every bit of “danger.”

Posted by makairaa   

It’s not the shooting of fish while diving that I have a problem with. Its doing it while diving at Manhattan Beach Pier where at least 8 great whites that I am aware of have been caught in the last 2 years. On a side note, be careful about taking lobsters while possessing a spear. Some wardens consider that a hooked object because of the barb and cite people for it.

The earlier PFIC thread  dated to 2001 and was started by one of the sites strongest members—Mola Joe.

Date: June 5, 2001

To: Pier Fishing in California Message Board

From: Mola Joe

Subject: White sharks from a pier

I ran across this photo from a few years back that ran on the front page of our local newspaper. If I remember right, two whites were landed out of several hookups over a two or three week period. The sharks were hooked off Manhattan Pier and then the angler moved to the beach to fight and land them. I believe both sharks were released alive. No official weight, but just babies by white shark standards, maybe 200 to 250 pounds. The following year I also remember seeing something about another landed from this pier also. I heard that after the first two, these guys started chumming for them but were told to stop by the local lifeguards. I kind of see their point. It would really hurt the local economy to have some yahoo from Kansas wading in the water and come out with only one leg. Anyway, things have now changed as white sharks are off limits to fishermen.

Posted by gotem

Our buddy the Great White Shark is still on the protected species list, and rightfully so, but don’t let the status of them fool you, they ARE making a comeback. We will only see and hear of more ‘accidental catches’ and ‘mistaken identity’ attacks within this next generation. Count on it.

Posted by shorepounder 

Hey MJ, I was there for one of the catches. I was riding my bike on the strand and decided to walk the Manhattan Pier. Well as I get close to the end there’s this guy hooked up to something big. After I watched him for a while I thought he just had a big ray on and left the pier to continue my bike ride. As I was coming back around an hour or so later here’s that guy still fighting his fish. So I decided to watch him fight it some more. After a while the fish starts heading towards the beach and goes to just behind the breakers. Then it surfaces and yikes it’s a great white around 8 feet. The lifeguard started yelling at everyone to get out of the water and then everyone around started going nuts. Soon there were news crews, crowds, etc. The guy who caught it was a long time regular if I remember right and he looked familiar to me. Two total were landed and I heard the same thing about him being told not to chum anymore. The other thing is that I thought the second shark that was landed was tossed off the end of the pier… if so I doubt it lived after fighting that long, being beached, put into a lifeguard truck, and then dropped off a pier. I hope I’m wrong about it being dropped off the pier.

Posted by Snookie 

I happened to save the article about the two great whites off Manhattan Beach Pier. It was Thursday, October 29, 1987. The names of the fishermen that caught them were: David Bird, who assembles telescopes part time and Mike Walker, an unemployed construction worker. One of the sharks was 6 feet, 10 inches and the other was 7 feet, 10 inches. The smaller one weighed about 150 pounds and the other weighed about 250 pounds. The fishermen were fishing for bonito and mackerel from the end of the pier to a point 350 yards offshore. The smaller shark took 90 minutes to land. The bigger shark took more than two hours and ended up a quarter mile down the beach. No, they did not release these two sharks. They sold them for $150 to a wholesale fish market in San Pedro after they cleaned both fish and found the stomachs empty. These two sharks were still just babies. Manhattan Beach seems to be an area of birthing for the great white as well as the tiger shark. Later there was a baby tiger shark caught in the surf by a surf fisherman. No, not a leopard shark—a TIGER Shark.

Posted by shorepounder 

Hi Snookie, I guess this has happened a couple of times, because the one I saw caught and the other that I only heard about being caught later the same week occurred in the early 90′s. I’ve always been told that whites use the Santa Monica Bay as a nursery… seems true.  Snookie, do you have the dates of the article by any chance?

Posted by Snookie 

Dear Shorepounder, The article was in the L.A. Times, October 29, 1987, part II, Page 12, titled, JAWS AND JAWS II PROVE BIG CATCH OF THE DAY AT MANHATTAN BEACH PIER by James Rainey, Times Staff Writer. I have collected shark info since the late 50′s, but apparently I missed anything about the ones you know about. Ones the size of the ones mentioned are babies and still on a small fish diet. Their mamas are a different matter though.

Well, that meant I needed to search out the articles and found two from the Los Angeles Times, one from 1987 and one from 1992:

Manhattan Beach Has the ‘Jaws’ Jitters After 2 Great Whites Surface

Landing two great white sharks near the Manhattan Beach Pier was a thrill for fishermen David Bird and Mike Walker, but it created oceans of angst in a community where many residents seem to spend nearly as much time in the water as they do on land.

Lifeguards said word spread quickly of the capture last Friday of the two sharks–one 6 feet, 10 inches long, the other 7 feet, 10 inches–and many fearful beachgoers pledged to avoid the water.

Marine experts, however, said swimmers have nothing to fear from the fish, although they acknowledged that it is unusual to find sharks that large so close to shore.

Bird and Walker, both pier regulars, began casting for bonito and mackerel about dawn. After they caught an ample supply, Walker, 34, of Manhattan Beach baited his line with mackerel and cast out again from the end of the pier.

“I could tell it was something very large,” he said of the tug on his line, “but I thought it would just be a bonito shark.”

Ninety minutes later, at about 11 a.m., the two fishermen had to walk off the pier and onto the beach before dragging a 150-pound shark onto the sand. They immediately recognized the razor teeth and large head of the bonito shark’s more infamous cousin.

Minutes later, Bird, a 24-year-old from Torrance, returned to the pier and felt a strong pull on his own line. He fought for more than two hours and ended up a quarter-mile down the beach before landing the second great white shark, which was at least 100 pounds heavier than Walker’s.

The two friends cleaned both fish and found the stomachs empty. Bird then trucked the sharks to San Pedro, where they brought $150 at a wholesale fish market.

“It’s an anomaly in the sense that we don’t usually find animals that size caught from a pier,” said Ralph Collier of Canoga Park, president of a group known as the Shark Research Committee. “Unfortunately, none of us really knows very much about the life history of these animals.”

Collier said that an attack on humans is highly unlikely in Southern California. In the last 60 years, there has not been a single documented great white shark attack on the coast south of Point Conception, he said. Since 1975, there have been two attacks at the point, which is just north of Santa Barbara, and two more at San Miguel Island. None were fatal.

“Because a shark is caught offshore does not mean it is venturing into the bathing areas,” Collier said. “Human beings are not natural food to sharks, otherwise we would have daily reports of people being consumed by sharks.”

Great white sharks usually do not begin to eat seals and other mammals until they reach 12 feet or more in length, according to Donald Nelson, a biology professor at California State University, Long Beach. The sharks grow as large as 18 feet long and can weigh 4,000 pounds.

Attacks by the big sharks have been more common in Northern California, where great whites venture closer to shore. The last reported attack was off Tunitas Beach on Aug. 15, when a shark attacked a surfboard, injuring the hand of its owner.

Although many beachgoers were alarmed by the Manhattan Beach catch, some took it in stride, lifeguard Tom Hargett said. “They’re not worried about ‘Jaws,’ they’re more worried about the pollution,” he said, referring to recent sewage spills that closed the beach.

Walker, an unemployed construction worker, and Bird, who assembles telescopes part-time, were back on the pier fishing on Wednesday. “I’m real excited about it still,” Bird said. “I’d like to catchn another one.”

—James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, October 29, 1987

Hooking of 3 Great White Sharks Off Pier Stirs Debate: Some swimmers and lifeguards in Manhattan Beach are concerned that sportfishermen are luring creatures that might pose a threat to humans.

The recent catch of three great white sharks off the Manhattan Beach Pier has hooked anglers and lifeguards in a debate about whether sportfishermen should be allowed to bait waters near popular swimming spots to attract the creatures.

Swimmers were unharmed in all three instances, and marine biologists say the sharks were probably too small to be considered a threat to humans. But some lifeguards and local swimmers believe that by dropping “chum,” or cut-up fish, into the water to lure sharks to their hooks, fishermen may be endangering swimmers and surfers.We have never had a conflict between swimmers and sharks, but we don’t want to create one,” Los Angeles County Lifeguard Capt. Steve Saylors said Thursday.

The controversy was sparked on Aug. 31 when sportfisherman Mike Walker, a 39-year-old Manhattan Beach resident, hooked his first of two great white sharks in a week. Walker, who says he fishes shark for fun rather than for food, landed the shark on the sand just long enough to take its measurements–6 feet, 11 inches–before releasing the animal into the waves. “The lifeguard was fit to be tied,” one of his fishing buddies, Richard Bird, 65, of Torrance, said Thursday. “He couldn’t believe (Walker) turned him loose in the surf.”

On Sept. 3, Walker landed his second great white shark–this one slightly more than seven feet long. This time, the lifeguard on duty prevented him from releasing it. Instead, he asked Walker to reel it onto the sand and load it onto the back of a lifeguard truck.

The shark was then driven to the end of the pier and dumped into the ocean. It landed on its back and sank, prompting Walker and others to speculate that it had died.

Three days later, another fisherman caught a great white shark measuring 6 feet, 6 inches. The angler, whose identity was not known, killed the shark and cut it into filets, Manhattan Beach police said.

Los Angeles County lifeguards and some swimmers say they are particularly concerned because the fishermen use chum deliberately to attract sharks into the area.

“I think that’s crazy in a public swimming area,” said Catherine Yates, a 21-year-old swimmer. “It’s just asking for trouble.” Saylors said many lifeguards agree: “A lot of lifeguards would like to see it prevented for safety reasons, but we don’t have any demonstrated problem we can deal with at this point.”

After the first shark was captured, lifeguards asked Manhattan Beach police to check whether the city has any ordinances preventing fishermen from throwing chum near swimming areas. As it turns out, there is nothing in city or state law preventing the practice, according to law enforcement officials.

         “There’s no law on the books saying you can’t catch sharks,” said Manhattan Beach Police Lt. John Hensley. “We can’t do anything about it. It’s not illegal.”

Lifeguards have also sent police a memo asserting that they have some discretionary authority to regulate the activities of fishermen when it may endanger beach-goers. “On heavily crowded beach days, it is possible that a fish hooked off the pier will have to be landed on the pier or released (a safe distance from shore),”  the memo said. “We feel this is in the best interest of marine life and the bathing public.”

Hensley said police plan to meet with lifeguards to discuss the matter.

Walker, meanwhile, remains puzzled by the controversy.

The 39-year-old Manhattan Beach man said he’s been fishing for shark off the pier for years, and that he doesn’t understand why lifeguards are suddenly worried about it being a hazard. He insisted the sharks never go near the swimmers and denied throwing large amounts of bait into the water.

When he fishes for shark, he said, he usually cuts up one mackerel every hour, throwing the head and tail into the water and using a chunk of its meat as bait. “The sharks will be out here, but they’re not going to go onshore,” Walker said. Bird’s 29-year-old son, David, agreed: “It’s sportfishing and I don’t think they should prevent us from fishing for them. What would solve this whole thing is if the lifeguards would study (sharks) and understand the ones we fish for are really harmless.”

Marine biologists, who point out they know of no humans attacked by a great white shark in Santa Monica Bay, are more cautious in their assessment. Great whites under 10 feet in length eat bottom-feeding animals like small fish and crabs, they say. Only the adults, which can reach 21-feet in length and weigh 4,000 pounds, have been known to attack humans, they say. Most of the attacks have occurred in Northern California where seals and sea lions—the staple of adult great whites—breed.

“Small great whites) won’t rush up to somebody and bite them and kill them,” said Jeffrey Landesman, a marine biologist for Cabrillo Marine Museum in San Pedro. “But there is a chance that the small white shark might mistake a foot or something for a small fish. Although it has never happened before, you can’t say it wouldn’t happen.”

Agreeing is David Ainley, a marine biologist at Point Reyes Bird Observatory in San Francisco who is organizing an international symposium on the animals to be held next March: “Baby white sharks don’t pose a threat in that they feed on fish. Probably the people fishing are endangering white sharks more than they are (endangering) humans.”

Ainley said he believes El Nino, the warm-water current that upsets the ecological balance of local waters once every seven or eight years, may be responsible for the recent spate of shark captures off Manhattan Beach Pier. “El Nino disrupts the food web and forces predators—birds, seals and sharks—to find localized food sources,” Ainley said. “One of the characteristics of El Nino is that a lot of predators are forced close to shore to look for food.”

—Kim Kowsky, Los Angeles Times, September 11, 1992

 Both of those articles show that great whites have been visiting the area for many years. Further research showed that they seem to be becoming even more common (although there is no way to know how many sighting are of the same fish). Checks on the Pacific Coast Shark News websites revealed the following Manhattan Beach reports for 2012 and 2013. 

 2012: July 9, September 9, and November 8

2013: July 9, July 10, August 18, August 24, August 27, August 28, September 5, September 23, September 25, October 3 (2), October 10, October 14, October 15, October 16, October 25, October 26, November 2, November 7, November 8, November 9, November 16 (2), November 20, November 21, November 24, November 30

Great White shark rescued off Manhattan Beach Pier

Eric Martin and Valerie Hill, co-directors of Manhattan Beach’s Roundhouse Aquarium, left work on Monday at around 8:30 p.m. after a long day—summer camp in the morning and a board meeting in the evening. Walking down the pier, they noticed a fisherman with a heavily bent fishing pole. He must have caught an extremely large fish, they thought. “Someone got a bat ray,” Martin told Hill, as they walked up the pier. While he disliked seeing them get caught, it wasn’t illegal. He didn’t plan on interfering. That’s until he faintly heard someone say “great white.” His ears perked. “Let me see what this guy has,” Martin told Hill, as he strolled toward the fisherman. Martin leaned over to get a glimpse at the catch. Holy crap, he thought, that’s a great white shark.

            In fact, what the man had on his line was the fifth great white shark caught on the Manhattan Beach pier since 1980, Martin said. The shark—about five to seven-feet long and more than 100 pounds—was a baby, probably not more than a year-and-a-half old, Martin said. Martin determined the shark was female. “If it had been killed it would’ve been a tragedy anyways because there’re not a lot of fully mature great white sharks up and down the Pacific Coast,” he said. Plus, he said, it was beautiful. “They aren’t as dangerous as people think.”

The fisherman needed to cut the line. Instead, the fisherman was dropping a large, round net into the ocean. The line, Martin noticed, was assembled for shark fishing—a steel leader connected to a circle hook. “You have to cut the line,” Martin told him. “You cannot kill a great white shark. That’s the law.” The man allegedly refused. Martin explained that great white sharks were federally protected, and threatened to call the police. “If you don’t let me cut this line right away, you will go to jail and you will get a fine,” Martin recalled saying. The fisherman didn’t budge, Martin said. “I don’t think he understood the urgency,” Hill said.

Martin squeezed his way closer to the line, but was pushed out by three of the fisherman’s friends, he said. When Martin realized the fisherman didn’t speak English, he recruited a husband and wife couple fishing on the pier to translate. Martin explained that great white sharks must be swimming to breathe. If the shark’s head got caught in the net, it wouldn’t be able to pump water through its gills, and would end up dying and sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

Hill, watching the drama unfold, had to react. It was her first time ever seeing a great white shark—she wanted to document the moment. But the two parties remained arguing. She pulled out her iPhone. “Do I hit camera? Or police? Camera or police?” Hill recalled thinking. She called the police. “If it turns into a physical fight, and he gets punched, there’s nothing I can do about it,” Hill said, explaining her decision.

The man translating for Martin had a knife in his tackle box, which he handed to Martin. Within five minutes, Martin managed to cut the line, against the fisherman’s will. “He’s going to be mad at me, but I just saved his butt,” Martin said. “If you hook onto something big, the person’s adrenaline rolls. You want to catch it,” Martin said, adding that fishermen like taking pictures to prove and share their catches. “It could be an ego thing.” While Martin managed to cut the line, the hook remained in the shark’s mouth. Without the line, however, the shark could easily free herself from the hook. “She can cut that line like a piece of cake,” Martin said.

What followed the rescue was a learning experience for bystanders, Martin said. “We had other people coming up to us and asking us questions,” Martin said. “Is it common for this (to happen)? Is it safe? Why does a shark have to stay swimming? How long does it take for shark to actually start being mature to have babies?” Hill was happy to turn the sighting and rescue into a teaching experience. “Our goal is to educate as many people as possible about the ocean, the animals, and human interactions, both good and bad,” she said.

—Alan Tchekmedyian,, July 11, 2012

Great White Shark In Manhattan Beach Caught, Then Swam Right Under Swimmer 

It’s perhaps the scariest thing that can happen in the water. A great white shark swam right under a swimmer at a Southern California beach Tuesday.

The shark, estimated to be about 8 to 9 feet, was initially caught by an angler who was fishing for bat rays on the Manhattan Beach Pier, Patch reports. The area is very popular as a swimming and surfing spot.        

When the fisherman realized he had accidentally hooked the state-protected species, he called over Eric Martin, director of the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium. Unlike the Manhattan Beach fisherman in July who reportedly wanted to keep the great white that he caught (prompting calls to the police), this angler willingly cut the big guy loose.

But before he did, Martin was able to snap the above photo of the shark with his mouth wide above. Then, in an amazing close call, the shark swam right under an unaware swimmer. The swimmer—who was not harmed—was about 6 feet tall, which is how Martin gauged the size of the shark.

Martin told CBS that now that great whites are federally protected, there have been more sightings in Southern California.

And even though some people get really scared, others “feel really blessed” when they see one, Martin told local online news site, Easy Reader. “This is a special thing,” he commented.

Just last month, a great white was also spotted at Venice Beach and another was spotted at Leadbetter Point, a popular surfing spot in Santa Barbara.

Despite the reported uptick in sightings, a recent estimate found that there are less than 350 adult great white sharks left off the west coast, partly due to sharks dying in fishermen’s nets. In an effort to save these sharks, nonprofits Oceana, Center for Biological Diversity and Shark Stewards sent a letter last month requesting that west coast great whites be listed as endangered species.

—Kathleen Miles, The Huffington Post, September 6, 2012

Great whites spotted at Manhattan Beach

Lifeguards today are keeping a close watch on Manhattan Beach after several sharks, believed to be great whites, appeared near the shoreline on Tuesday, prompting rescuers to briefly clear the water of some young swimmers.

Authorities say the sightings of what appeared to be baby whites measuring between four and seven feet in length is reportedly a series of events. On July 9, El Porto Beach, located near the beaches of Dockweiler and Manhattan Beach, was closed after a young great white was spotted near its coastline.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium quickly dispatched researchers to Manhattan Beach in an effort to learn more about the behavioral patterns of the juvenile sharks. “Their goal is to actually get them on the boat or pull them into a net and then tag them so they can do research,” lifeguard captain Kyle Daniels told CBS Los Angeles. “August is a great time to try to research them because they often come into closer waters to eat shoreline fish.”

With Labor Day expected to draw a huge crowd to Manhattan Beach to celebrate the traditional end of summer, officials stress the importance of exercising safety precautions while swimming, wading, snorkeling and surfing in the area.

“We have fully staffed lifeguard towers through Labor Day weekend and we’re encouraging everybody to swim near lifeguards,” Daniels told the local news reporting station. “We will continue to advise if we see more sharks and let people know that there are sharks in the area, but not to be too afraid.”

—Sharon Bush,, August 28, 2013

3 juvenile great whites sharks sighted ‘extremely close to shoreline’ off Manhattan Beach

Three juvenile great white sharks, ranging from 4 to 7 feet, were spotted off the coast in Manhattan Beach late Tuesday morning.

“There have been consistent shark sightings through the middle of July to now in the Manhattan Beach area,” said Kyle Daniels, captain lifeguard for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “Nothing actually really happened.”

According to Ken Peterson, a researcher at Monterey Bay Aquarium, the sharks were “extremely close to the shoreline”—about 20 yards offshore—which he says shouldn’t pose any harm to beachgoers under lifeguard supervision as “they’re just out there with the other fish.”

However, the proximity was too close for the team of marine biologists and researchers, who had intended to tag the sharks as part of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Project White Shark, a study started in 2002 to research and exhibit great whites caught off the California coast.

The collaborating team from Cal State Long Beach’s Sharklab, led by Dr. Chris Lowe, took to the coast on a fishing boat from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to capture, tag and release juvenile whites. They commissioned a helicopter to assist in spotting the sharks, Peterson said.

According to Dr. Lowe, the team spotted the three juveniles between 10 and 11:30 a.m. but was unable to wrap a net around them. “The net has to drop to a certain depth,” Peterson explained. In a process called “pursing,” the sharks should be scooped out of the water using the net and put on a holding place until they are tagged and released, he said.

The team has tagged 100 animals since 2002, Peterson said, and has obtained “great data” about the animal’s migration habits and its use of the habitat. “There’s a lot of brand new information that’s coming out of this research,” he said. Daniels said he has noticed a trend of sharks sighted closer to the shoreline, but it’s not necessarily a cause for concern.

“We’ve been monitoring and they’ve been getting to the swimmers,” he said. “No one’s been hurt. We’re keeping a closer eye on it, and most people have been seeing them all summer.”

—EasyReaderNews, August 28, 2013 

Great white shark sightings thrilling, but also a good sign for speciesRecent increase in shark sightings near Manhattan Beach is exciting for spectators and for researchers.

When Jay Dohner heard there were several great white sharks off Manhattan Beach last Sunday, he did what few surfers would do. He grabbed a camera, mounted his paddleboard and set off in search of the apex predators.

It wasn’t long before his helmet-mounted camera was recording three great whites—each between 8 and 10 feet long—circling underneath his paddleboard and just a few yards from a group of oblivious surfers.

“The sharks didn’t seem to be paying me any attention. They looked like they were looking for fish, so I felt I could stand there safely and watch them,” Dohner, 38, said of the roughly five-minute encounter when it began last weekend.

That feeling didn’t last for long.  “There are two different things in your head,” he said. “”Wow, that’s beautiful,’ and ‘We should get out of here.’”

He isn’t the only thrill-seeker to actively seek out and film the sharks, which have recently been spotted more frequently near the El Porto waters off Manhattan Beach, an area popular with surfers and paddleboarders. Others have posted their close encounters on YouTube, but researchers and wildlife officials are calling for restraint, warning that the sharks will attack if they feel threatened.

Many of the great whites appear to be juveniles learning to feed and fend for themselves, said Chris Lowe, a marine biology professor and leader of the research Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach.

Researchers are still trying to determine why the young sharks have been drawn to the El Porto area—perhaps warmer temperatures or a larger feeding pool. Through tagging and other monitoring methods, researchers hope to have more of an answer by next year.

But one thing is clear: Experts have noticed an increase in shark sightings off beaches in Manhattan, Redondo and Ventura over the last few years. That may be alarming for some, but it’s a welcome development for wildlife researchers who say it’s a sign of a healthy rebound for marine life after California legislators prohibited the use of gill nets for fishing in 1990.

On March 1, white sharks earned some protection while state officials decide whether to list them under the California Endangered Species Act as threatened or endangered. During that review period, the sharks cannot be legally hunted, captured or killed, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

No violations have been reported so far this year, according to Dan Sforza, assistant chief of the southern district offices for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 —Alicia Banks, Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2013

It seems to me little doubt that great whites, at least juvenile great whites, are common to these waters during the summer months (and later). What’s not clear is the location of the adults (that are dangerous). The biologists seem to suggest that there is limited risk from the juvenile sharks but it seems logical to me that there must be some adults around if the juveniles are in the area. Given the seemingly minimal fear by many of the local swimmers and surfers, I imagine it’s just a matter of time before someone is attacked and suffers injuries—or worse.



Reviews of Pier Fishing in California — 1st. Edition

 “Pier Fishing in California” — 1st Edition — 1992


“Ken Jones has put a lifetime of pier fishing experience into a book that should be in every angler’s library. It is full of valuable information that will benefit the beginner, the expert and everyone in between.”

—Guy Clifton, Editor, Fishing & Hunting News


“Finally, a fact-filled book for California piers…how, what, where, why and when. Don’t go pier fishing without it.

United Anglers of California


 “This is the best pier fishing book I’ve ever seen. Piers are eminently accessible, mostly free of charge and offer excellent fishing. And the information in PIER FISHING IN CALIFORNIA is just what you need for a successful fishing venture anywhere along the California coast.

—Bill Karr, Editor, Western Outdoor News


“Pier fishing is great fun. And now there is a book that reveals how to pier fish with confidence, and how to catch each of the many species California’s 80-plus piers have to offer.”

—Ron Kovach, Author of Saltwater Fishing In California


PIER FISHING IN CALIFORNIA is an outstanding guide. It provides a first hand, insiders view to every pier in California. It’s eminently useful to everyone from the beginning angler to the expert.”

—Jim Matthews, Editor, California Angler Magazine


The Pier Rats Speak —  Amazon.Com — Customer Reviews — Pier Fishing in California, 1st. Ed.

Classic fishing in the mode of simplicity, December 20, 1999  ★★★★★ Reviewer: gurdonark from La Crescenta, CA  

“Consumerism has invaded fishing much as it has ruined many other pastimes. We are constantly called upon to buy more and better exotic products, in pursuit of the perfect trade magazine nirvana. No longer can one just go to a pleasant locale and just fish—one must be on a five day trip in Mexican waters aboard a luxury yacht with a ton and a half of electronic equipment and shiny tackle materials that make graphite seem archaic. Pier Fishing in California is about a simpler way—fishing from public piers across the state. Here are simple, inexpensive ways to have a day of fascinating fishing, without the need for boat, high tech tackle, trawling motor, or (in the cases of public piers), even a fishing license. The book does the job just right—a pier by pier rundown of where to fish, what you’ll catch, how to catch it, and how good the fishing is, usually with a pier picture. All “how to” books should be this simple and useful, and pier fishing is a sport that deserves more attention. I suspect if more young people were taken to piers and taught patient technique rather than taken on expensive charters and taught how big money = easy fishing, then we might generate more young people with a genuine love for the sport.”

One of the Finest Books on Saltwater Fishing Ever, August 2, 2001 ★★★★★ Reviewer: jimbojack  from Huntington Beach, CA  USA 

“Ken Jones has written a masterful book that details California piers up and down the coast. This books tells you the secrets and tips for more successful fishing adventures on California piers. An in depth look at each pier, what types of fish you’ll catch, and most importantly, how to catch them. Ken reveals what baits to use, how to hook them and even some favorite recipes to prepare your catch. Also included are pictures of many species to easily identify fish. You will learn knots, rigs and what type of tackle you’ll need to become a better angler. This book is no nonsense and straight to the point but never lacks for detail. This book is great for saltwater anglers no matter where you live. If you love fishing the way I do, this is a must read… Great book!”

Bible for the California Saltwater Shorefisherman! August 3, 2001 ★★★★★ Reviewer: Salty Nick from San Francisco Bay Area

“A must for any person who enjoys saltwater fishing in the state of California. Ken has done a wonderful job of clearly and concisely describing fishing tackle & techniques for angling at California’s coastal piers, as well as environments and species available at each specific pier. Though useful to any fisherman—as a boatless shorefisherman, this guide has been invaluable to me. The author’s obvious years of experience are reflected in this book, which has greatly increased my learning curve (and fish count). And the illustrated reference guide in the back of the book is a great tool in identifying what you’ve hooked into. Makes me want to go fishing!”

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

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

Pier Fishing In California and the website 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,

He’s also the rat behind the online version of the book, at, (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


 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

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

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 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 is that it includes a link to Ken Adelman’s 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.