The Pier Rats Speak, Vol. 1, Chapter 2

Chapter 2

The Pier Rats Discuss A Plethora Of Diverse, Interesting, and Sometimes Unfocused Topics

Dusk at the Redondo Beach Pier

One of the things that keep the PFIC Message Board going is, I think, the diverse topics that emerge. It’s not all reports and people showing what they’ve caught although certainly they’re predominant. Thankfully, even though we get pretty far reaching at times, most of the threads deal, in one manner or another, with fishing. 


From the earliest days PFIC has espoused conservationist attitudes toward angling and tried to be a medium by which pier and shore anglers could become better educated on the issues.

October 3, 1999

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Victor

Subject: Please conserve our fishing resources

There has been a serious decline in the fish population over the last ten years. I remember 10-12 years ago fishing Redondo Beach King Harbor, there would be schools of Spanish mack, Pacific mack, and bonito that would literally change the color of the ocean. Used to take my ultra light pole with 6-pound test and have a blast catching 4-5 pound bonito. There would be so much fish that I would hook up at least 30-50 fish each time I went (of course all of them released). Now there isn’t much fish around! I used to see people catch buckets full of fish and a lot were 6-8 inches long. Now for the true fisherman who enjoys fishing for the sport can no longer enjoy the sport due to the greed of a few people. Please release all undersize or small fish. I do occasionally keep some fish for bait but rarely keep any fish. I am very concerned that in 5-10 years there will be no more fish. So please keep only what you can eat and don’t waste our limited resources. Please respond whether you guys feel this is correct or I am just flat out wrong. All comments will be greatly appreciated. Thank!!!

Posted by Songslinger

You are flat out RIGHT, sir! Absolutely! A good angler is a responsible angler who knows that conservation is the creed we accept and practice in return for the bounties of the water.

Posted by fongster

I totally agree with you. I catch and release 99% of the fish I land. I never take full limits or enough to feed the neighborhood. I boast with pictures, not dead fish. Besides people taking every stinking thing they catch, loss of habitat/kelp, pollution and other man-imposed elements such as dredging, damming, and beach destruction all have impacted our fishery. I’m probably preaching to the choir here, as those who take everything they catch tend to be lower income, non-online, sustenance fisherman of generally Asian or Latin backgrounds. Don’t go off on me here on some race thing. One, I’m of Chinese descent, and two, I’m just telling what I see. They’re also the ones who don’t have licenses but have enough money for bait and their fishing tackle. Not to mention their clothes and a car as well. The worst is when they play dumb about not understanding English or the regs. They know. In a way I can’t blame them as they come from cultures that have only known exploitation and survival. Sorry for going off like this but this ticks me off as much as the white collar Anglo with all the graphite-framed reels filling his sack just to prove his manhood.

Posted by mjonesjr

Fongster, well put! I agree with the whole post. Screaming Reels

Posted by Always Skunk

I too am Chinese. And I too believe in conserving our natural resources. I believe in protecting our waters and fisheries is necessary and important. I wasn’t raised here but I would hate to see the fishes becoming fewer and smaller. I wish there is something we can do about this. People needed to be brought to awareness of what is going on. Action should be taken fast.

Posted by fongster

We all need to support conservation groups such as United Anglers. There’s a so. cal chapter as well as others. See their site (just do a search for United Anglers of Southern California). Also, take the time to help tactfully educate these people you see fishing like that. If they’re idiots and keeping species illegally call CalTip, I think the number is on the back of your license.

Angler Center at Goleta Pier dedicated to ethical angling

Posted by Squidley Diddley

Not to mention 1/-2 day mentality…It’s a multi-fold problem. You have an increased population fishing yearly…from shore and boat…better fish catching methods…better fish locating methods and with gps…. everybody and their mothers knows the spots. On the shorefront…you have all these people not to far removed from their Third-World-origins…. with no regard for limits…size or quantity…or licenses to boot. Then you’ve got all those @#$%!! Long-liners from all over the fricken world…who can fish waters that affect us (200 miles out) all. Not to mention the live-fish poaching industry that has grown, especially in So. Cal. Then there’s your local commercial fishermen making a buck and, last but not least, you’ve got all this pollution from increasing treated sewage flow and run-off to boot. Not to mention the oil refineries, which dot our coast and pump nasty-chemical water into the bay…. (I’m talking specifically about the one off El-Porto, in El-Segundo), but if they do it (“Because people care…”…yeah right), I’m sure they all do it. Then there’s the disappearance of precious wetlands, which are basically fish nurseries. I agree with the post above…fishing was a hell of a lot better 10-15 years ago. I recall those large schools of bonito breezing under the pier in King Harbor… also seeing schools of yellowtail, surfperch by the hundreds…. outrageous night barracuda runs…. not to mention excellent opaleye fishing…all from right off that short, stinking pier. It hasn’t been like that in years unfortunately. Certain laws should be revised… I think they should limit bonito to no more than 2 fish per person…and perhaps barracuda and all bass to 5 or less. I just wonder how long our fabulous barracuda and sand bass fishery can last if people keep killing them during the spawn.

Posted by Randy

Is that the reason why I don’t see anybody fishing in front of the oil refinery? I did well around by the rocky area. I landed a lot of Barred Surf Perch and Corbinas. I never knew that they were polluting the water. I guess that’s why there weren’t any surfers there either. Randy,

Posted by Squidley Diddley

Well, it’s not directly into the surf line now but it used to be like 5 years ago when I surfed more often. There used to be a pipeline that went under the sand and directly into the surf line pouring out something like 3 million gallons of chemical effluent (roughly). I don’t remember exactly how much but a huge quantity. I only found out about it by reading an article in the Times about how the Surfrider foundation had won a suit against them and about how they were moving the pipe two miles further out. It doesn’t seem like much of a solution to me just shifting the problem away from the surfers but still keeping it in the bay. They never said in the article exactly what the chemical(s) was but I remember surfing that place a lot and the further you got towards the refinery, the stinkier the water was. When you got out if you didn’t take a shower right away, your skin would feel sticky and nasty and your eyes would burn. Well, it’s two miles offshore now. It’s the fishes problem and not the surfers which is really twisted when you think of all their PR commercials portraying themselves as caring about the earth and the environment… “because people care….”

Posted by Monkfish

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people complaining about not knowing what to do with all the fish they catch on multi-day trips…my solution is to release at least 1/2 of them. It ain’t just the pier… it’s this kind of mentality where if the fish are biting WFO…get as many as you can… like this Giant Squid business. I kept 10 on the trip I went out on… could have kept 30, and I’m glad I didn’t… I mean I still can’t figure out what to do with all the calamari in my freezer from just those ten. Then there’s all these tuna guys keeping like 15-30 fish in the 15-40 lb. range and up, then having to trade them in nice, beautiful fish for a few crappy cans cause they can’t haul all of it back or donate it to shelters. It’s human nature to be greedy unfortunately… if the limit says 10 or 15 of a species… then by golly, that’s what I’m going to take… and heaven forbid if there isn’t a limit on a species during a WFO bite… like albies in U.S. waters or even surfperch for that matter. I think saltwater fishermen should take a lesson from freshwater bass anglers… they got the right idea with catch and release. I agree that the DFG ought to change some rules as far as limits go. I think they should definitely limit albacore in the US to somewhere between 5-10 fish per day. I also think they should change the size limits on Calicos, and maybe Sand bass, so that yeah… you keep the minimum size at 12 inches or even up it to 14 inches… then add any fish between 20-26 inches must be released… so that you have a good breeding population out there and if someone does catch a trophy… it ain’t against the law to keep it. As far as I’m concerned… the lousy 12-inch minimum on bass, especially “residential” Calicos just ain’t cutting it. I don’t know how many times I’ve been out on party boats and heard people comment to others, “Nice Calico”…and they were talking about some puny 14 to 15 inch bass. Shows how the state of the calico fishing has declined… then there’s the countless time I’ve heard the comment, “hey, that’s a legal bass!”…. pathetic. I’ve also had deckhands practically rip the 12.5″ bass out of my hands when they see me throwing them back and try to give them to others who are fishing to “limit out.” Equally pathetic.

Posted by fongster

So true Monkfish. I mostly fish OC but took a trip up to Ventura on the Coroloma and the crew couldn’t believe that we were releasing our calicos. They were grumbling…”who are those guys…” I explained we were helping preserve their fishery. The captain said we didn’t need to do that out here at Santa Cruz Island because there’s so many of them. I replied, “yeah, that’s what the Dana Point boats used to say too.” Well, they suddenly shut up when I got the JP fish (tanked and released after weigh-in) and tipped them most of it. “Come back anytime and release as many bass as you want”, says Capt. Gary. Funny, how money motivates people. I tell eager deckhands that don’t worry, I’ll take care of you, i.e., tipping, instead of cleaning fish I wanted to release–shuts them up every time. Hey, I caught it and I can release it if I want. Also, I keep tabs on legals I release for their counts.

Line recycle bin at the Goleta Pier

Posted by Kanamit

Excellent post — very well said. I’ve also noticed that along with the obliteration of our resource by these inconsiderate people is that they are the ones who tend to litter and leave trash all over the pier. Last Thursday night (once again) I had the “pleasure” of cleaning up after this group of jerks. It’s too bad some of these idiots are not on-line reading these posts.

Posted by Kanamit

This is one of the reasons I feel fishing licenses should be required at piers. If people can afford the tackle and bait, they can afford a license as well. With each license people should be forced to take a regulations booklet so there is no way they can plead ignorance. I know phones aren’t readily available while you’re fishing but you should always call CalTip when you see laws being broken; by breaking laws these inconsiderate a**holes are only stealing from us.

Recycled line at the Goleta Pier

Posted by Jackie

I agree with everyone’s statement. I also remember about 15 years ago when I went with my sister and her family to the Pismo Pier. We saw literally thousands of baitfish! We couldn’t believe our eyes as we saw them dart around the pier, and then change course, and dart back again. I have never seen that again, and we go to Pismo very often. I have talked to other people on the pier and they haven’t seen it like that again either.

Posted by goatfish

Excellent posts, everybody, but I think Fongster is right in saying that, for the most part, we here at the PFIC board know this. It’s the people that don’t have access to this board or are too ignorant to understand or know what they are doing that are the problem. It reminds me of a high school teacher of mine that had some great words of wisdom on his bulletin board which I will never forget…”Be aware of the environment which surrounds you, READ and LISTEN- Ignorance is no excuse.” Not to put myself, or any of the rest of us, on a pedestal, but it is incumbent upon all of us “in the know” to spread the word and educate those who don’t. I do this all the time with people on the pier; some really don’t know, others look at me like “who the hell is this guy to tell ME what to do?” I don’t care, I feel as if I’m doing a service to those who DO fish responsibly, and to all the fish I’ve yet to catch. Kinda reminds me of a Steely Dan song “…throw back the little ones, and pan-fry the big ones, use tact, poise, and reason, and gently squeeze them.” (heh) only I throw back just about everything. Tight lines!

Posted by fongster

Dearest Goat, you strike me as being an intelligent, thoughtful person. Email me and tell me more about you, you know, the regular drill…age, type of work, kind of fishing you like, all that. Thanks for your kind words. Talk to ya soon.

Posted by Ken Jones

Guys, Great posts; you make me proud to be a pier rat! Now if we can just educate a few more of the anglers who visit our state’s piers to protect and conserve this valuable resource. Maybe I should have some “Good Job At Protecting Our Fishery” certificates printed and we could give them to people we see doing a good job. Do you think they would motivate anyone? Would you guys be willing to distribute them if I had them printed? What about some certificates that said “Loyal and Proud Member of the California Pier Rat Fraternity.” Does it sound too weird? Give me your thoughts.


What WOULD you do if scientists reported that fish felt pain in the manner that we experience pain? It’s a tough question with, I believe, no easy answers.

White Seabass from the Ventura Pier

Date: October 17, 2000

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Mola Joe

Subject: Do Fish Feel Pain?  

The original reason I brought the subject up about fish feeling pain, was not so much about if they do or not, but would you continue fishing if it became fact that this was the case. I’ve had a few people over the years tell me they would stop fishing if conclusive studies showed such. I was just curious what others on this board would do.


I would be affected… but… after a while I would get used to it because I know that almost 90% of my fish or more live when I catch and release them. Plus, I have been fishing my whole life, and millions of other people fish that I am sure would get over any moral effects of the fish having pain when they catch them. Maybe it would make people more weary of the laws and help them enforce them. We all know that fish will not scream out any time soon and since there is a lack of enforcement of our current laws on the correct way to fish in the ocean, we all need to do what we can to educate and enforce these laws.  I know I can do more. How about you?

Posted by Red Fish

I would quit today…well, maybe tomorrow. I’ve done just about everything in fishing except catch my world record sturgeon and great white shark, but with the current laws as such, my fun is spoiled anyway!  Maybe after a few more trips I will quit: After Tarpon, Bonefish, and Groupers in Florida, Big Blues in Kona, Blacks in the Bahamas, Roosterfish, Wahoo, and Yellowtail in the Sea of Cortez, Sharks in Australia, and Pacific Halibut and Salmon in Alaska I’ll call it quits. (lol) But seriously, Bat Rays appear to be suffering as they gasp for air or snort from anger, no matter how small their brains are. Sharks and Rays are in their own category aside from fishes.

I highly suggest to all of the fisherpersons on this board to take a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium if you get the chance. You may find yourself with a totally different perspective and appreciation of the species of fishes that inhabit these California waters. “There’s nothing like petting a Bat Ray on the nose in the shallow tank that inhabits about 100 rays @ Monterey Bay as they swim peacefully about.” Rays are very friendly when they are not struggling for their life at the end of a hook.  FISH ON, maybe?????????????????

Robert (Redfish) and a sheephead taken at the Cabrillo Mole in Avalon

Posted by Sport Barbless

You know fish feel the pain! Do you see the fear in their eyes upon release? Some submit, and act calm. Others fight to the end, and never give up, as they swim to get away…in the air! No tree cries when you saw that branch off. The tree still lives and closes up the wound. I’ve re-caught fish with a rusty hook in its mouth and released it again. I’ve seen fish swim with the float still attached. Fish are tough! It’s released again to live. Now, if it doesn’t survive, some nasty seagull (I’ve witnessed about 5 seagull’s gang-up, and pick at a pigeon dying in the water) will fight for it, as it floats on top of the water. And if it swims sideways for a few hours slowly dying under the water, you know how easy a pray it will be in the ocean’s food chain. I hate the way nature works! But, this is how I see it in my metaphysical world. Barbless Sport

 Posted by harukan

The short answer to your question is, Yes, I would continue to fish. If you want to read the long answer, here it is:

First, I believe that fish do feel pain. Pain is one of nature’s most important survival mechanisms, and it is asinine even to imagine that fish cannot feel pain. Brain size and intelligence have nothing to do with it FEELING pain–a chicken has a small brain, too, but it can definitely feel pain, so there is no reason to think that a fish can’t. Where brain size and intelligence make a difference is in the ability to respond effectively to pain or to communicate the experience of it. For instance, a man with a fishhook caught in his thumb can use his other hand to pull it out, or ask a friend for help. A fish cannot do either, since it has no hands and no ability to speak. A man can also scream and curse; a fish cannot, because it has no voice. A man with no voice can still contort his face to make expressions of pain, and use his hands to make gestures. A fish cannot, because it has no hands and its face is rigid and unable to form expressions. The fish cannot EXPRESS what it feels, but that’s no reason to assume that it has no feelings. When caught on a hook, a fish acts exactly the way a human would at IF the human had no hands with which to pull the hook out, no voice with which to scream, no ability to communicate with expressions or gestures–it thrashes and flails and tries as best it can to escape from the hurtful thing that has snagged it.

“Fish don’t feel pain” is self-serving bullsh… invented by people who don’t want to deal with the knowledge that they are hurting a living creature. Lab technicians tell themselves the same crap: “Oh, they’re just rats (or cats or guinea pigs or whatever); they don’t feel pain the way WE do.” For that matter, slave-owners in the south said much the same thing about slaves — Oh, it doesn’t hurt them when you whip them; they have thick skins and don’t feel pain the way a white person does”–this, despite the fact that the slaves COULD scream and contort their faces and otherwise communicate the fact that they felt pain!

Does believing that fish feel pain stop me from fishing? No, for two reasons:

First, I can’t eat a fish unless I kill it, and I can’t kill it unless I catch it, and thanks to the stupid laws that prohibit me from using a more humane method, such as a net, I can’t catch a fish without using a hook. So, if I want to catch a fish and kill it and eat it, I don’t have much choice except to subject the fish to the pain of being caught on a hook. (Buying fish in the store is not the answer. First, fish in the store are never as fresh as the ones I catch myself. Second, since I’m the one who eats the fish, I bear responsibility for any pain the fish suffered in being caught and killed, regardless of who does the actual catching and killing.)

Second, the natural fate of almost all fish is to be killed and eaten by a predator. “Natural” predators such as birds, sea-lions, and other fish either swallow their prey whole, or tear it to pieces while it is still alive and then swallow the pieces–both of which are just as cruel and painful, if not more so, than being caught on a hook. In short, if I don’t catch that fish, it’s going to die a cruel and painful death ANYWAY, and probably a worse one than I would inflict upon it.

Finally, I don’t see why I should make any great distinction between myself and other predators. If a sea lion doesn’t care about the pain it inflicts on the fish it rips to pieces, why should I care about the pain I inflict on the fish I catch with a hook? The sea lion isn’t being deliberately “cruel”; he’s simply catching his food the only way he can–after all, he can’t use a net, either! Likewise, I’m not being deliberately cruel; I’m catching fish the only way the law allows me to.

Posted by Leapin Bass

I might. I’d probably take up snorkeling and underwater photography. For me most of the fun in fishing is finding, enticing, fighting, seeing, and most of the time releasing the fish. Photographing them would give me at least half those pleasures plus a few new ones.

         But since they don’t feel “pain” the way we do I have nothing to worry about. I have been told numerous times and I believe that a fishes “pain” is more like a pressure. They can’t think – they only react by instinct. The reason they fight is because they either instinctively think something is trying to take their food or take them (the instinct to survive is not pain). The reason they flip out when they’re not in the water is because they have been removed from their environment (if you were being held underwater would you feel any pain? Does drowning hurt?). Anyone who fishes halibut knows that a lot of the time a halibut will not fight all that hard until the first time you bring it to the surface, then it will take off and fight like hell. Does it all of a sudden feel more pain from the hook? No – it’s instinctively fighting against being removed from its environment. I believe the sensation a fish feels when you’re pulling against it with a hook is no more “painful” than if someone grabbed another person by his/her hand and tried to lead them somewhere they didn’t want to go. Also, if a fish was in “pain” when it was fighting I highly doubt there’d constantly be other fish racing around it trying to steal the thing that is causing the “pain.”

Shovelnose shark (guitarfish) caught by Pete Wolf (Leapin Bass) at the Goleta Pier (Mr. Wolf is also the owner of Big Hammer Lures)

Posted by stinkyfingers

Mola, I think it’s an interesting topic for discussion you posed. Personally, I truly feel that only about 25% of fishermen (and women) would stop fishing. I would be in the 75% that continues. We are near the top of the food chain, look at our teeth (canines) – we are meat-eaters. That makes us killers by instinct and nature. No matter how civilized we get, we all have that little something inside of us from our roots as hunters. It all comes down to keeping it in perspective. As long as you don’t torture or abuse any creature – and use every part of it you can, you are not a sinister person.

I think my signature line sums it up…”I take from this world because I am a hunter. I thank all creatures that allow me to take them. They understand me, and I respect them. ***RELEASE — or eat all”

Posted by baitfish

I have already said how I felt about pain, but I don’t think I could answer whether or not I would stop fishing until it actually happened. I would make a decision at that point. However, I think that we have all been surprised if not fascinated the first time we caught a croaker. This is his defense mechanism and probably the closest thing you will ever see to screaming. But I agree with Harukan, sometimes we disassociate ourselves from the food chain, just because we usually don’t kill the food ourselves, and we don’t often become the losing part of the food chain. But we are predators, the largest and worst of them all, and it gives me satisfaction that I caught the food myself.  Tight Lines, Baitfish

Posted by Leapin Bass

Old Whitey won’t be… thinking about my pain when he comes up under my tube and chomps my legs off!!

Posted by baitfish

Old Whitey won’t be…Uh oh… Bass drumsticks… I’d be careful.

Posted by Kyle

Has anyone ever heard a mackerel “croak” like a baby alligator when caught? If u have grabbed the mackerel and tried to take out the hook, they seem to “croak”  -Kyle

Posted by stinkyfingers

Catfish bark! I’ve heard catfish bark like a choking dog. Freaked me out the first time it happened…

Posted by Mola Joe

Some excellent answers. As for me, I would not give up fishing. I definitely would be more conscious on the way I fish and probably would give up fishing light tackle for large fish that take several hours to bring in. My wife has no problem with me fishing for small fish, which can be brought in right away. She does have a problem when I tell her about the big fish we sometimes fight for hours down in Mexico. She believes every living thing feels some degree or type of pain, including plants. We both eat beef and chicken, and she knows how their killed, but her take on this is whole thing is this, if fish do feel pain and fright while you are bringing them in (which she believes) then fighting a fish for several hours would be like torturing a cow for two hours before you kill it. Because I release it after, means nothing to her. I’m torturing this fish for my own enjoyment and releasing it after the fight almost makes it worst. She says, at least a big game hunter doesn’t torture the animal for hours before he shoots it. Oh well, I think I’m in a no win situation with her point of view, but to be honest, she really doesn’t give me a hard time because she knows how much I love this sport. I also never hear a complaint when I throw a big fresh dorado steak on the BBQ. Talk to you guys later!!!!

Posted by baitfish

Ahhhh the woman started the wheels turning. I was wondering why a seasoned fisherman like yourself was just asking this question now? Well I think it is good to reevaluate what you do every now and then.  Tight Lines, Baitfish

Posted by Mola Joe

Baitfish, actually I’ve been married to my wife for 15 years, and we have been together for more than 20 (that’s kind of scary). This question about fish feeling pain was asked to me by someone at work a few weeks ago, and from time to time it comes up with friends. My wife was reading one of my posts as I was typing it and made a comment on the last big marlin I caught that took about three hours to bring in. It’s pretty much a non-issue with us as we’ve been together so long and I know her point of view and she knows mine. Some things she can’t put up with, sand crabs running around on the kitchen counter, hooks left in my pockets, sand all over the carpet and in the bed, an anchovy that has been in my bucket for a week and stinks the house up, cleaning fish on the kitchen counter and getting blood and guts all over the place, piling all the food on top of each other in the fridge to make room for a 10 pound halibut, and phone calls from the beach saying I’m going to stay a couple more hours because the fish are starting to bite and we’ll go out to dinner some other night. One thing I’ll tell you about her that you probably won’t believe but it’s the truth, in the 20 plus years we have been together, not once has she told me I couldn’t go fishing. I wouldn’t trade this woman in for all the marlin in Mexico.

Posted by Red Fish

Forget the fish… man, the fish story is how you found a woman like your wife. My last beau would get mad and send me immediately out of her apartment when I reeked of anchovy oil. Even when I deliberately would cut a fishing trip short to drive her somewhere! She definitely could not be the material of a potential fisherman’s wife!

 Posted by baitfish

Good call Red Fish! I have a friend who married a girl like that, long story short she wouldn’t talk to him for two days just because he smelled like squid when he got home. She is kind of a clean freak though, one time she found a single ant in the kitchen and cleaned everything in it. This includes every dish, glass, pots and pans and canned food. I would wonder about his judgment, but it was a shotgun wedding! ouch!  Tight Lines, Baitfish

Baitfish (Adam) with a small kelp bass from the Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon

Posted by baitfish

LOL!!!!! Man I swear I married her twin sister: Well I have only been married for 5 months, but we have known each other going on 3 years now. She is exactly the same, in fact we just got cell phones for exactly that reason, so I can give her a call and let her know I’ll be late. But it sounds like you found the right one, congratulations! I don’t know how many times I have gotten that look when the vacuum cleaner sucks up a split shot:-) Tight Lines! Baitfish

Roosterfish (Rebecca) and a small sheephead from the Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon; Rebecca is the wife of Adam (Baitfish)

Posted by stinkyfingers

Ever seen her face when she steps on a little hook that was lodged just below the surface of the carpet? -Made me want to hide somewhere. What a forgiving girl – bless her heart!

DolphinRider (Lisa) and a nice leopard shark from the Berkeley Pier; Lisa is now married to stinkyfinger

Posted by Red Fish

Oh-one last bite.  With the stories, you guys made me remember another incident with the same X-girl. One of the times when I let her use my truck she pricked her finger on a trout-sized Kastmaster I had in my ashtray while she was rummaging through my car for parking meter change. The audacity of someone searching through your car, and then, complaining to you about getting hooked by a lure in YOUR ashtray.  “Having sharp hooks pays off.” LOL

Posted by stinkyfingers

Oh yeah, you’re fault…That’s like someone breaking into your house, triggering one of your booby-traps, and then suing you for their injuries… (yes, I have booby-traps… you know, when I travel and stuff. Never know when you might come home to find that you’ve caught your limit of burglars)

Posted by baitfish

LOL!!!! Maybe…you should have put them on the seat as well. See if she borrows your truck again.

Posted by Snookie

Good question! Do fish feel pain? That is a very popular question. Probably, however, they feel pain merely as a warning sensation and do not suffer as we do. A fish cannot laugh or weep or scream. In other words, it cannot show its emotions or express pain. The fish brain is not highly developed. That part (the cerebral cortex) that stores impressions in higher animals is not found in a fish; in other words, the fish has little or no memory. Every angler has heard of incidents in which some fish has been caught two or three times, often within a short time. And it is not an uncommon incident for an angler to catch a fish that has a hook embedded in its jaws.

Although fishes, like other animals, may differ between individuals and between species, they are essentially creatures of reflex rather than action brought about by brain power. Therefore, an educated guess may be allowed here, and we might say that the physical sensation of pain in fishes is not very keen and that if there is any impression of pain recorded in their brain it is quickly forgotten.  NO ONE SHOULD FEEL THAT FISHING IS CRUEL.  Snookie

Posted by Leapin Bass

Great message Snookie. In my search for reasons I forgot about fish being caught over and over. I’ve been tagging largemouth bass for years and have caught some of them over and over. In fact, one time at a pond I used to fish in Washington, D.C. 3 guys (me included) caught the same 17 inch bass 4 times within period of 50 minutes. It was first caught on an ultra light rod with 2 lb. test and a small weightless plastic worm. The fight lasted at least 3 or 4 minutes – then I tagged the fish. About 5 minutes later my friend nails it on a chartreuse buzzbait. Then I got it again on a chartreuse spinner bait. Lastly my other friend got it on a slightly different chartreuse buzzbait. That was the only time I’ve ever had the same fish eat 4 times in a row but there have been many that have eaten twice within just a few minutes. Not only did the fish eat 4 times in a row, but the last three times it ate lures that are very similar. I just can’t believe that fish felt any kind of pain while being caught.


Pain revisited in regard to sharks and how to put them out of their misery (if they are in misery). There’s not a pretty way to do it.

 Date: November 16, 2004

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Red Fish

Subject: Dispatching Fish Re-visited


I don’t think I got an answer that makes any sense to me out of the discussion before. I pasted the below response because I figured maybe this person that is studying marine life may know more than the average angler.

What I don’t understand:

1. What kind of pain is a shark or fish going to feel if you bleed it while it is still alive?

2. What method of “humane” kill was suggested.

Once again referring to the “party-boats,” from what I understand, they always bleed their sharks (usually by making an incision around the tail). Now, I am not sure whether they club the shark to death first or not as I have NOT been on a shark fishing charter, just have seen pictures of the cut tails. I think that sometimes the shark is just tied off on the side of the boat when caught and bleed alive.  A simple answer will suffice.  Just want to make sure that we have a consensus on what is the “politically correct” way of dispatching a fish so at least the info is out there. I know this is a recurring conversation but from the information I got previously it seemed the consensus was that fish don’t feel pain the way we do (to put if plainly.

Posted by dompfa ben

Two sides of the argument…which one do you buy? from —

Fish lack the brains to feel pain, says the latest school of thought

By Rajeev Syal in London

February 10, 2003

Anglers rest easy. Fish cannot feel pain, the largest study into piscine neurology has concluded.

An academic study comparing the nervous systems and responses of fish and mammals has found that fishes’ brains are not sufficiently developed to allow them to sense pain or fear.

The study is the work of James D Rose, a professor of zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming, who has been working on questions of neurology for almost 30 years. He has examined data on the responses of animals to pain and stimulus from scores of studies collected over the past 15 years.

His report, published in the American journal Reviews of Fisheries Science, has concluded that awareness of pain depends on functions of specific regions of the cerebral cortex, which fish do not possess.

Professor Rose, 60, said that previous studies which had indicated that fish can feel pain had confused nociception — responding to a threatening stimulus — with feeling pain.

“Pain is predicated on awareness,” he said. “The key issue is the distinction between nociception and pain. A person who is anaesthetized in an operating theatre will still respond physically to an external stimulus, but he or she will not feel pain. Anyone who has seen a chicken with its head cut off will know that, while its body can respond to stimuli, it cannot be feeling pain.”

Professor Rose said he was enormously concerned with the welfare of fish, but that campaigners should concentrate on ensuring that they were able to enjoy clean and well-managed rivers and seas.

Despite the findings of Professor Rose’s study, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has invested heavily in an anti-angling campaign, said: “We believe that fishing is barbaric. Of course animals can feel pain. They have sensitivity, if only to avoid predators.”

The Telegraph, London

And the other side of the argument, from


Fishing means intense pain and stress for millions of fish every year. Fish are treated in ways, which would cause an outrage if cute, furry creatures were involved — but fish suffer just as much.

Pain begins when the hook pierces the mouth and the fish is reeled in. Many people remove the hook while the fish is still alive. Anyone who has ever had a fishhook stuck in their own flesh needs no convincing that this is extremely painful.

Pain is further increased if large fish are landed with a gaff hook. This large hook on a handle rips into the flesh of the live fish to pull it out of the water.

Live baiting is another barbaric activity that increases pain. A live small fish is threaded up as bait for larger fish. Here is one description of how to do this, taken from a fishing magazine:

“The needle is passed through the front of the eye socket of both eyes. The material is then pulled through so that the hook sits on the head of the baitfish.”

Remember that the baitfish is alive and feels pain, just like a dog or a cat (or indeed a human) would.


Once out of the water, fish suffocate rather like we do underwater. In their death throes fish writhe, gasping and flapping their gills as they desperately try to get oxygen. Anyone who has ever been unable to breathe even for a short time won’t need convincing that this is a terrifying experience.

Intense stress is also caused by live baiting and “playing” fish on the line, as is done particularly with big game fish such as marlin. Research has compared the behaviour of fish in these two situations with the behaviour of fish in a tank into which alarm substance had been released. Alarm substance is normally released by injured fish. This chemical causes panic in other fish, who flee as quickly as possible. In the experiment, the behaviour produced by the alarm substance was very similar to behaviour produced by live baiting and game fishing. So, these activities cause panic, like alarm substance, but the fish can’t escape and the panic may go on for hours.

Attitudes to Fish

It’s hard for fish to arouse our compassion. They can’t show their agony by screaming. They don’t have the sad eyes of a seal pup or a dog.

In an article in The Adelaide Advertiser, Professor Bill Runciman, professor of anaesthesia and intensive care at Adelaide University, was quoted as saying:

“Fish constitute the greatest source of confused thinking and inconsistency on earth at the moment with respect to pain. You will get people very excited about dolphins because they are mammals, and about horses and dogs, if they are not treated properly. At the same time you will have fishing competitions on the River Murray at which thousands of people snare fish with hooks and allow them to asphyxiate on the banks, which is a fairly uncomfortable and miserable death.”

Since fish have the same nerve endings, the same chemicals for transmitting and blocking pain, and the same receptor sites for anxiety-reducing chemicals as mammals, it is absolute nonsense to suggest that fish do not feel pain or fear.


Animal experimenters acknowledge that fish feel pain and stress. In one of its newsletters, the Australian Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching advised researchers to reduce the pain and stress suffered by cold-blooded vertebrates (including fish) used in experiments.

 The article recommended that: “humane restraint, analgesia and anaesthetic should be adopted whenever necessary. Adequate levels of analgesia reduce apprehension and stress, and decrease or suppress the perception of painful stimuli.”

Fish Feel Pain

If fish can’t show their pain, how can we know whether they feel pain at all? There is very strong scientific evidence to show that they do.

Fish have nerve endings near the skin, which are very similar to those of humans and other mammals. We all have receptor cells (called nociceptors) near the skin, which are stimulated by events severe enough to cause damage to body tissues. The lips and mouth of fish are particularly well supplied with nerve endings.

Fish produce the same pain-transmitting chemicals as humans. There are two main chemicals involved. When a nerve ending is damaged, a substance called bradykinin is released. This causes the nerve cell to fire, sending an electrical impulse along the nerve. When bradykinin is released near the skin, a second chemical, called substance P, is released near the spinal cord.

Both substances are known to be involved in transmitting pain. For example, if bradykinin is injected into humans, it causes intense pain, even if a local anaesthetic is used. Both bradykinin and substance P are found in mammals, birds, frogs and fish.

Fish produce the same pain-blocking substances as humans. When in severe pain, humans and other vertebrates (animals with backbones) produce pain-killing chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins block pain by stopping the release of substance P.

Fish Feel Anxiety

For any chemical to be able to affect our brain, there must be special areas in the brain, called receptor sites, to which the chemical can attach. Fish, like mammals, have receptor sites for anxiety-reducing chemicals, such as the Valium group of drugs. Dr Andrew Rowan, a Dean of Veterinary Science, has said: “This suggests that most vertebrates are capable of experiencing a form of anxiety which is physiologically similar to that seen in humans.”

What YOU Can Do

Choose ways of relaxing and enjoying the outdoors that do not cause suffering to animals.

If people you know won’t give up fishing, at least try to convince them to kill fish as soon as they are pulled from the water, rather than removing hooks while they are still alive and letting them suffocate.

In NSW, fish come under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA). Write to the Minister for Agriculture and say how barbaric you consider gaffing, live-baiting and big-game fishing to be. Say you want them banned as cruel under the provisions of POCTA.

Posted by garth

You shouldn’t hook baitfish through the eyes…they’ll die too quick. That’s kind of a sideways comparison…one is more of a scientific examination of how fish brains work, and the other’s a little bit shrill, more of a bombastic kind of “cut it out!” screed. It also seems to be Australian! it seems like many of the statements in the second part are directly addressed in the first one…such as the “response to threat stimuli” gosh this is making me tired.  I’d like to see a response from the same people to the Prof. Rose piece.

Posted by dompfa ben

That’s my point, Garth Though I am jaded, that is how I have always seen this argument.

The side of “fish don’t feel pain” is generally backed by science.

The side of “fish DO feel pain” is generally backed by emotion.

Exceptions prove the rule.

Moreover, if it were categorically proven that fish do experience “pain,” how many of us would throw out our fishing gear and never fish again?

Such a thing would require a lot of personal inventory for me.

Subject: Posted by 2d

I’m higher up on the food chain… get in my belly!! Treat fish with respect whether it’s because you feel sorry for the poor little guys or because you want to ensure the life of the fishery matters not a whit. I do so for the latter because, well, I’m cold and heartless. Plus, I refuse to anthropomorphize.

Posted by garth


Seems to give some scientific credence to the “fish feel pain” argument. My post was more pointing out the discrepancy between what the first part of your message was shaped as and the second. more of an “apples and oranges” thing, you know? I’m sure there’s emotional appeal for catching fish, as well as scientific appeal for not fishing. I’d like to see a scientific “don’t fish” message compared to a “fish” message. That’s all. Obviously, I’m on the side of “fish”, I’ve done it all my life, and I don’t really feel a need to justify it. I’m more interested in the arguments.  I guess if it turns out that fish have rich inner lives and complex societies (and it seems there’s vast differences from species to species), I’ll just end up a misanthrope or a fishanthrope.

Posted by dompfa ben

One notable point in both articles, regardless of your stance (I would imagine most of us side with the first article), it is pointed out that immediately dispatching something by decapitation will result in no pain. So… as someone mentioned previously, severing the spinal cord seems to be the most humane way of dispatching fish, whether they can feel pain or not.

Posted by garth

I remember something like that coming up in a thread a while back. Perhaps the archives should hold some of these threads to refer to if we have this come up again…so much useful info, maybe keep a thread dealing with “ethics” for the newcomers (or oldsters who don’t want to deal with all this hand-wringing) to peruse at their leisure.

Posted by Salty Nick

That’s what I do…


The vast majority of anglers feel that fishing is not like what it used to be—and they want someone or something to blame. As for myself, I think it really depends upon how you ask the question. Some types of fishing are far worse and some species definitely are down as far as numbers but there are other species that seem to have very healthy populations.

And, some years, things seem almost as good or better than the past.

Date: July 6, 2002

To: PFIC Message Board

From: johnr

Subject: Long-rangers = pier fishing decline?

Yellowtail, bonito, etc. appear to follow currents/warmer water and migrate into So. Cal waters in summer and into fall. Long-rangers appear to get to the fish before entering Cal. waters. I question if Long-rangers did not exist would pier fishing in So. Cal be more productive for yellowtail, barracuda, bonito, albacore etc.?  I don’t know the answer but what I do know is that if you ask any old timers they will tell you that Pier, bay and surf fishing was much more productive 20 to 30 years ago for these migratory species. Certainly commercial fishing contributes to the decline…but I also wonder if there is any correlation with the Longrangers and the decline of Pier and surf fishing in So. Cal waters. When you hear of the long-rangers bringing in 1000 to 2000 fish on each trip and multiply that by the number of boats and the number of trips each year, that’s A LOT OF FISH. It would seem that sooner or later the numbers of fish will decline. This is just speculation. No science here. On Striperkiller’s trip I’m not 100% positive, but it appears that limits were exceeded:

Mexican Fishing regs:

Daily Bag Limits and Other Regulations:

Each fisherman is permitted to catch up to ten (10) fish per day, with no more than five (5) fish of any one species. In addition, anglers are subject to the following limits:

No more than one (1) full-grown Marlin. No more than two (2) Dorado, Tarpon, Halibut, or Sailfish. In brackish waters, anglers are permitted to take up to twenty (20) Perch and twenty (20) Carp per day.

260 yellowtail were caught on that one day would have exceeded limits. So, with 34 people on board…the max yellowtail limit would have been 170 not 340 (max. 5 of any species) as Striperkiller thought. Of course it could be rationalized that spread out over a 5 day trip limits were not exceeded. However private boaters don’t receive that benefit so I may be wrong but I don’t think that the long-range boats get a special way to “spread limits out”. That’s like a person who goes out on Sat. but gets no fish then on Sunday he goes out and catches 4 salmon. He figures…what the heck on average I was within the law for my “2 day trip”. This is wrong justification and long-rangers should not use this to justify exceeding daily limits. The cost of the trip or if the fish are donated should not be a factor either.

I spoke with someone at H&M Landing today.

I posed the question as if I was inquiring about taking a trip: “On a 5 day trip and the boat is skunked on the first 4 days. The max. fish I can get on the 5th day is 10 overall and 5 of any one species, right?”  Their response was “no you’d be allowed 25 fish of any species and 50 fish total.” I asked but how about Mexican laws that state the limits are “daily limits” not overall trip limits. Do you have an exemption? Their response…” no we don’t have an exemption but wouldn’t they have to catch us” OK if that is their best response this is what I have been saying folks. “Many people, even legit business/people have a disregard for the Mex. fishing regulations.” We should care about this…because many of these fish migrate into Cal. waters and even if they didn’t we should still abide by their laws.  It’s all about money and business and greed. Fill the coolers and you have people willing to pay money. I paid my $1,200 dollars for a 5-day trip and I want a lot of action/fish to show for it. I may be completely off base in my assumptions/bias here but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. John

Posted by johnr

SK assumption (in a prior post) that “Mexican limits provide for 10 fish per species, per day” is very wrong and I hope it was a mistake. If it wasn’t, I’m sure it was not intentional. SK’s assumption would mean 10 YT, 10 albies, 10 cudas, 10 YFT etc., etc., per day would be allowed. Wow it adds up. And sorry for the example SK but it demonstrates the lack of knowledge of their regs. You are definitely not alone in your incorrect assumptions; in fact you may be more the norm than the exception. Many, and I say many, people disregard their regs, either intentionally or just by not knowing what is a limit. The Long-rangers also appear to allow this to occur.  John

Posted by hookedonfishing

Don’t blame long rangers…. Unfortunately, I guess I’m an old timer, and you couldn’t be more wrong. 20 or 30 years ago, pier fishing wasn’t really any better than it is now [with the exception of bonito]. If anything, forums like this board and Ken’s book have helped pier anglers do much better. The halibut fishing is much better now than any time since the early 1960′s, the white seabass are better than any time since the early 1950′s.

Ditto barracuda, the last couple of years surpasses anything back to the mid 1960′s, although they have mostly been a “run and gone” situation on most piers.

Very few yellowtail were ever caught on piers [except Redondo and Ocean Beach], but during 1959, 1983, and yup, 1997 El Niño’s things were good for yellows if you knew what to do. Heck, in 1983 I knew several people who caught yellowtail at their moored boat inside Shelter Island yacht basin.

As for albacore, 1999 was the best year EVER for albies. Only a confirmed 1982 6-pounder on Venice Pier, and a 1969 24-pounder on Venice Pier which turned out to be hoax showed anything to pier anglers.

Long rangers are very careful about obeying the Mexican limits, but like any place else, occasional problems occur.

Many fish shortages are simply caused by environmental factors, but commercial over-fishing is the culprit in many more.

 If the long-range boat mentioned violated laws, they should be cited.  With the extreme pressure being put on sport anglers these days, unjust finger pointing is not a good idea.

Posted by mola joe

John, if you look at the numbers of fish caught commercially compared to sport caught fish, it’s staggering. Here’s a link to just a few numbers. Lots of info on the net about both sport caught and commercial caught fish.  Commercial fish are usually measured in metric tons, as sport fish are counted per fish. Just in one year by one commercial fleet in one part of an ocean (Eastern Pacific), took 370,000 metric tons of tuna. That figures out to about 31,307,692 fish. Sport boats are not even a half a drop in a bucket compared to this. All the fish caught by the whole sport fleet for the whole year doesn’t account for just one day a commercial fleet can put in. These large ships now process and can the fish right on the boat. Search the web to get some shots of these massive vessels. Smaller boats now unload fish to these mother ships and can go right back out to drop again. No need to go back to the dock when your boat hold is full like the old days. By canning right on the boat, these boats can hold huge quantities of fish. These numbers are just what’s reported by the commercial fleet. Pirate ships will bring this number up another 50%. Not to mention the discard of hundreds of thousands of fish like marlin and sharks which is off limits to these boats but still die on the long lines and nets and are thrown back dead. The sad fact is world population is growing and so does the need to feed. Very hard to regulate the waters surrounding third world countries and I’m sure the abuse is far from being stopped.

Posted by johnr

Thanks Mola, It’s a tough predicament…more people=more demand for fish=more money for commercial operators=less fish=sport fishing impacted. That’s where our worlds collide with the commercial operators. Thanks again…now I’m going to watch a movie with my wife and next week continue to get ready to catch those roosters from the East Cape beaches. John

Posted by Ken Jones

Two different issues here…You’re discussing two different issues in your post: (1) the conduct of long-range partyboats and (2) declines in the fishery at the local piers.

As far as the conduct of the partyboats, if their conversation on the phone was as reported then they deserve to be condemned—and reported to the appropriate authorities. Doesn’t matter if it’s at the local piers, on a California partyboat at Catalina, or on a boat fishing in Mexican water, the rules should be followed. Period! I realize a $1,000 trip on a boat is expensive but you’re there for the fishing adventure—not for the meat—I hope.

As for the supposed decline in pier fishing, it’s largely a myth. You specifically mention yellowtail, barracuda, bonito, and albacore. Albacore have not been seen at most piers since the ’20s and even then they were not common to very many piers. Yellowtail and barracuda were seemingly common until about the ’40s but showed a decline in pier catches since that time. Bonito were common at times in the ’60s but have been fairly uncommon since those years. And unless I’m mistaken, long-range partyboats did not really get into full swing until the late ’60s/early ’70s. So it is a little hard to blame the decrease on the numbers of these fish on those boats.

Overall, the huge increase in California’s population since WWII (and associated fishing pressure), environmental degradation, commercial over fishing and waste, and poor management polices and practices by the Fish and Game Department have been the primary causes of any decrease in today’s fish populations.

As far as every old timer being aware of the decrease in pier fish—balderdash. There were some sporadic miracle years when barracuda attacked anything, when large yellows showed at the piers, and bonito swarmed inshore waters. Most of these were El Nino years and were anomalies when compared to traditional pier results along the coast. I’ve only been fishing the piers since the early ‘60s but results today aren’t too different from those years—with the exception of the El Nino years.

To reinforce these thoughts, let me share the following section from the new book (Pier Fishing In California, 2nd Ed.):

Fish and More Fish

Are there still fish to catch? The answer to that question is an unqualified yes. There is a sustained yield of fish. Although the mix or types of fish that are caught by pier anglers has changed on some piers, and although far fewer large fish are seen, the overall number of fish is still high.

That fact is brought home each year when I make my trips up and down California’s coast on the Highway 1/101 corridor (the old Pacific Coast Highway). Most years I fish from at least 50-60 piers and generally the range is from Imperial Beach in the south to Crescent City in the north. Throughout the length of the state, anglers and fish continue to be in evidence. Talks with fellow anglers, tackle shop owners, and Department of Fish & Game personnel, present an image of a still viable resource, even if it’s a resource buffeted by the challenges I’ve discussed. People continue to fish and continue to reel in fish from the piers. For many, fishing has never been better.

Some will question that statement! After all, everyone knows that fishing was better back then, whenever then was. And, it’s a valid question if limited to the larger, quality gamefish. The numbers of those fish is far down. In addition, there is a definite drop-off when comparing today’s fish catch with that of the piers up to about the mid-to-late 1930s (when California’s population really began to explode). Prior to that time an angler hardly even needed a boat. Tales of large black sea bass, yellowtail, white seabass and other large gamefish being caught from piers was a common occurrence.

Those days are gone. Today the pier fishery is for most anglers a fishery that concentrates on small to medium size fish and for those fish; there really has not been a drop-off in the past forty years. Some may still disagree and for those naysayers I offer up the following studies, even while realizing the inherent possibility of error found in both scientific studies and personal anecdotal information.

California Fish and Game Studies. Two studies were made of California’s sportfishing resources in the ’50s and ’60s. The first survey examined the area from Point Arguello to the Oregon border (Miller and Gotshall, 1965), the second concentrated on southern California (Pinkas, Oliphant and Haugen, 1968). Between 1980 and 1986, a new survey was made of the Point Arguello to Oregon area (Karpov, Albin and Buskirk, 1995). The study tried to measure angling effort, catch, and species composition. Although only surveying the northern and central sections of the state, it provides at least some comparative figures to measure the change in the fisheries.

Overall, the study estimated that the 1981-86 fishing effort for this section of the state averaged 2,685,000 days a year compared to 1,628,000 days a year in the years 1958-61 — a 65% increase. At the same time, the population of the twenty counties surveyed along the coast had increased 57%, and the statewide population increased 64% (from 15,576,000 to 25,614,933). Angling effort increased slightly faster than population growth. However, there was quite a difference when the five main types of fishing effort were compared.

Fishery Effort – Average Annual Effort (in fishing days)

Point Arguello to the Oregon Border

1958-61 1981-86 % Change

Pier and Dock* 531,000 587,000 +11%

Shore** 603,000 735,000 +22%

Skiff 227,000 936,000 +312%

Partyboat 227,000 406,000 +79%

Skin-diving 40,000 21,000 -48%

Total 1,628,000 2,685,000 +65%

* When the 1958-61 southern California and central/northern California studies were combined, the largest overall angling effort was from piers. If a new study were done of the southern area, I think the figures would again show the pier fishery to be the most visited (since most of the large piers are in the south).

** Includes beach, bank, jetty and breakwater areas.

These results are rather amazing. Most interesting is the apparently decreasing percentage of people who are fishing on piers and the shoreline (their numbers decreased relative to population increase)—and the tremendous increase in number of people skiff fishing. The explanation offered by the authors was that “the relative decrease in shore fishing effort may be a reflection of changing lifestyles of low-income people. A 1989 survey of southern California found that a significantly larger percentage of “recent” anglers (people who had gone fishing at some time in the last three years) had annual incomes in excess of $50,000 than people who had not (Fletcher and King). Loss of interest, insufficient time, pollution of oceans, bays, and estuaries, and high costs were the main reasons given by past anglers for not fishing.”

 I suppose there may be some truth to their conclusions, especially in regards to the increase in skiff fishing. During the 1980s, a tremendous number of people increased their personal wealth and moved up the ladder into yuppiedom (or whatever the modern classification is), so to speak. Many used at least part of their wealth to acquire material goods like boats and I’m sure that helps explain the explosive increase in the skiff fishery, together with other factors like new marinas, more boat shows, marketing, etc.  However, I’m not so ready to accept the conclusions regarding piers. Although piers are primarily home to the young, old, and poor, they’re also home to families and what I’ve described as true “pier rats,” those who find a special significance to piers. The numerical decrease seen on piers means either (1) a decrease in one of the normal groups that fish on the piers, (2) a decrease in new anglers, or (3) other factors at work.  Is there a decrease in some of the normal groups on the pier? It appears yes, some people may indeed be forsaking piers for the more expensive forms of fishing: private skiffs and commercial sportfishing boats. This has always happened but never to the extent seen in the last twenty years. However, this probably does not apply as much to children and the elderly. I think the drop off with the young or elderly (if accurate) may be traced in part to social reasons. As previously discussed, there was a period of time in the ’80s (the time of the study) when behavioral conditions and crowding on many piers was deplorable and thankfully it has improved. Such behavior would not only discourage families from visiting the piers but also would offer an excuse for restrictions on visits by kids, alone or in groups. I’m sure many elderly anglers also shared the discomfort at some of the piers and abandoned them for new venues. I also feel, and this is unfortunate, that as the immigrant populations increased on the piers there was a corresponding drop in the older resident groups. For whatever reasons (fear, racism, etc.), many people left the piers.

The majority of new anglers are normally the young. Kids learn to fish at the inexpensive and accessible piers and then, as they grow older and have a little more money, they graduate up to the party boats (and as seen, private skiffs). Later, they often return to the piers. An interesting phenomenon that I have noticed during the last few years is the decrease in numbers of youthful anglers—with the exception of minority youth. One of the interesting findings of study by Miller and Gotshall back in the early ’60s concerned the number of children under the age of 16 at the piers. Their studies showed that youth of this age made up approximately a third of the angling effort during the school year and slightly over 50% during the summer. They concluded that 40% of the overall angling effort on the piers was due to this age group. There are fewer kids on the piers and the question is why? I’ve already discussed a couple of possibilities—fear of “trouble” on the pier by some (especially at the time of this study) and ethnic or cultural differences. I would like to add a couple of more reasons and here I may show my bias as a teacher. I feel that not as many families (especially among non-ethnic groups) are spending time with their kids as in years past. One socio-economic reason is the struggle to provide an adequate standard of living for the family. Mom and pop both have to work to support the family and sometimes there is simply less time to spend with the kids, or to haul them down to the local pier. Family time, for some, has become the hours spent in front of the television with the entire family. It isn’t new but it’s getting worse.

There is also a growing gap between those moving up and those moving down the economic ladder. The common denominator is education: better educated people make more money and they can afford to leave the crowded piers. Families still visit the piers and lots of kids still fish the piers but most are from minority groups, groups that have not, as yet, moved up that ladder. In school my hardest working students are often immigrant youth (who see a reason for working hard) and the strongest family bonds seem to be with the immigrant and minority groups. These families still spend time with their kids and still expect them to work hard. What about the rest? I’m going to get in trouble here but I believe far too many middle class kids are home in front of their televisions or, today, sitting in front of computers (which the affluent can afford). There is nothing wrong with being computer literate but all too often kids are sitting home playing computer games, or chatting in chat rooms, when they could be in healthy outdoor settings like the piers. A balance is needed for the health of our youth.

What other factors could have contributed to a decrease in the number of pier anglers? One cause may have been the damage done to many piers in the 1983 storms and the subsequent loss of access to those piers. Among the piers closed were those at Pismo Beach, Avila, Capitola, and Point Arena. In addition, there was a loss of some piers in the San Francisco and Humboldt Bay areas. When piers are closed no one will be fishing the piers. I would suggest that the low numbers for pier fisherman, or low percentage increase, might be skewed because of these conditions.

Although the number of pier anglers is important, so too is the numbers and type of fish being caught on the piers. Are the numbers going down?

Average Annual Catch Per Day

Point Arguello to the Oregon Border

1958-61 1981-86 % Change

Pier and Dock 1.9 1.6 -16%

Shore 1.7 1.2 -29%

Skiff 2.8 2.4 -14%

Partyboat 5.4 6.0 +11%

Skindiving .5 1.9 +280%

Total 2.4 2.4 No Change

Pier fishing shows, according to these figures, a 16% drop in daily average catch—from 1.9 to 1.6 fish. To my way of thinking, the figures really do not tell me much with the exception of presenting a broad but minimal decrease. More important is to ask if there was a decrease in any specific types of fish or size of fish?

Two quotes from the study stand out in examining these questions. “Recreational catch by number and weight for most major species increased greatly between the two surveys. Exceptions were vermilion rockfish, barred surfperch, redtail surfperch, shinerperch, silver surfperch, striped seaperch, walleye surfperch, jacksmelt, kelp greenling, and white croaker. The major decrease in number and weight was confined to the surfperch.” In other words, most species showed greater number and weight with the exception of these, mostly pier-important species (vermilion rockfish being the exception). In specific regard to pier fishing, the report showed “decreases in white croaker, shinerperch, walleye surfperch, barred surfperch, and silversides (mainly topsmelt), and increases in Pacific herring, Pacific staghorn sculpin, bocaccio, Pacific sanddab, Pacific mackerel, and brown rockfish. The most pronounced changes were the decreases in white croaker, barred surfperch, and silversides.” Since many of the decreases were with the primary pier species, especially white croakers, barred surfperch, and smelt, there is considerable room for alarm.         

Again, the question becomes why? Is there overfishing (doubtful since the number of shore and pier fisherman didn’t show the same increase as boat anglers and their fish numbers were up); are inshore waters more polluted and if so is it hurting the fish; are the increases in several other species detrimental to these species (since there is a competition for food); or is there another factor? No answer is given. Personally, I think the fact that so many small, juvenile, under-sized fish are being kept is hurting the pier fishery. Juvenile surfperch, white croaker and smelt like to school around piers and they’re easy to catch. Most of these used to be returned to the water and were allowed to reach adult size where they bred and produced new fish. Today some people keep all the fish they catch, no matter the size. A safe conclusion to make is that further studies need to be made in an attempt to clarify the reasons for these declines.

In summary, the fish caught per day on piers showed a decrease from 1.9 to 1.6 fish per day, and several of the most important species for piers appear to be declining. It isn’t a rosy picture even if the changes seem somewhat moderate. However, the results are very different from what my personal records show.

Personal Data. I have fished from California’s piers since 1962. During those years I have visited the piers over a thousand times, caught more than thirteen thousand fish, and taken 102 different species. I have also kept records of all those trips. I offer the following to show how my results have changed over the years, as well as a comparison and contrast to the state study. As way of explanation, I give every fish I catch a point value from one to ten points. Thus if I catch a small perch (one point) and a decent size croaker (4 points) the average would be 2.5 points or the same as a medium sized barred surfperch or croaker. In comparing the number of fish I catch and the average points, I can see if I was catching fish, and see if the fish were small or large sized. It’s only a rough picture of the trip but one that becomes informative once a pier is visited enough times (and it probably takes at least 10 trips to a pier before one has even a rudimentary understanding of the pier).

Personal Statistics 1970s —1980s —1990s — Totals

Southern California*

 Fish Per Hour 7.94 — 3.95 — 7.16 — 7.11

Points Per Hour 15.56 — 6.92 — 12.76 —12.91

Central California

Fish Per Hour 6.09 — 8.76 — 7.71 — 6.94

 Points Per Hour 9.73 — 10.78 — 11.57 — 10.52

 San Francisco Bay

Fish Per Hour 3.50 — 5.89 — 4.93 — 4.15

 Points Per Hour 5.14 — 6.63 — 8.44 —  6.56

Northern California

Fish Per Hour 13.24** — 3.23 — 3.84 — 3.99

 Points Per Hour 13.38** — 6.12 — 8.79 — 8.39

What do these figures show? In each geographic area the points per hour were higher in the ’90s than in the ’80s. In almost every region, the Fish Per Hour and Points Per Hour figures for the ’90s exceed or are comparable to the overall figures. Thus my results have gotten better over the years.

The two differences that stand out in my mind are the drops during the ’80s in Southern California and the drop from the ’70s in Northern California. The first I can’t explain with the exception that the ’70s figures included several extended July-August vacations when the fish counts are typically at their highest. The ’70s count in Northern California is an inflated count that represented high Pacific tomcod and/or bocaccio catches at the Point Arena Pier. I have rarely seen such schools of either fish since the new pier was built.

* Almost all of my trips in the ’60s were in Southern California and for comparison reasons that is why I have not included the statistics from those years. However, if I did, they would affect a major change to the Southern California picture. The result of those early years was a dismal 2.00 fish per hour and 3.69 points per hour. If included in the overall total, Southern California’s statistics would drop to a Fish Per Hour total of 4.87 and a Points Per Hour mark of 8.87. The reason for the low figures was my early trips, especially a number of long-hour, low-fish, low-point trips. Looking back, it is clear that if I were to have fished then the way that I do now, the totals would have been far different. The fish were there; I just didn’t know how to catch them.

** Limited number of trips

Posted by johnr

Thanks Ken, I hope you didn’t do all that for me. As I said before I have negative feelings against the Long-rangers and it got out of control. If it’s legal I feel it’s a social injustice taking all that fish…34 people taking 1,000-1,700 fish per 5 day trip.

It appears and I’m not 100% sure (I’m just going by what I was told on the phone today and my interpretation of their laws) that they are in violation of Mexican Fishing laws. This really made me mad what they said to me “well we have to get caught”. As if the fish are theirs for the taking unless they are caught.

Responders please don’t be argumentative. It’s just a social/ethical stance I have. That is…”be a steward of the environment”. Take a little now and then, have fun, be protective, educate others when they appear to be doing something wrong. It’s hard to go backwards with many species and events (black sea bass, pollution, etc.). If we have no or few fish we have no sport.

Ken, as for the second issue it’s hard to get accurate facts sometimes, gov. and private scientist say much of the world’s fisheries are in serious decline and on the other hand your experience and hookedonfishing’s say otherwise.

I was part of the demographic that started on shore, piers, surf etc. and bought a boat in the early 90s. A nice Boston Whaler Montauk at that. Salmon fishing was up and down during the 90s. Shallow water rockfish certainly declined during my watch. My first year I always nailed rockfish and ling cod in the shallow reefs of Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay…it was automatic. But the next couple of years it really dried up. That type of fishery got nailed by the higher number of small sport boats and skiffs and makes sense with your conclusions of higher number of boaters.

 I don’t have enough knowledge to comment much on the pressure by commercial fishing operations. I have mixed feelings about that. The commercial guys are doing it for their jobs and to fill a market demand. No demand=no market to sell to=no income=stop fishing. With population increases it’s hard to stop demand. Perhaps safe fish farming is one answer.

On the contrary…people on Long-rangers are taking huge amounts of fish for pleasure and perhaps violating laws at the same time. The Long-rangers also make an easy target because of all the self-promotion they do about the many hundreds or thousands of fish they catch/kill each week/month.

Sorry for using your board space up for my personal purposes but if Long-rangers are violating laws I wanted people to know about it. John

Posted by Ken Jones

No problem…education and the sharing of ideas is what PFIC Is all about.


And now for something different.  It’s amazing how many habits and superstitions people display and if anything, anglers are even worse.

Date: November 19, 2001

To: PFIC Message Board

From: joromaca

Subject: Habits and Superstitions? 

A while back I read on a Fla. fishing message board, a number of posts about rituals, habits, superstitions and things people do before they go fishing that they think will bring them good luck. Like wearing lucky hats, shoes, shirts, praying to the “fishing gods.” I often heard spitting on one’s bait was suppose to bring good luck and considered this an old wives tale until I read an article that said saliva contains an enzyme (pectin? any biochemists out there) that actually acts as a fish attractant. I’m only going by memory and the memory is faulty. Was wondering what rituals, habits and things people on this board do to bring them good luck. Personally I always wear my fishing sandals and although I’ve come close to having my toes nibbled on—I’ve never been bit—just lucky I guess.

Posted by mola joe

I’ve never been one for superstitions, especially since I go by the name Mola, which is supposed to be the most unlucky fish you can catch, or just come across. Legend has it that many ships have gone down right after crossing paths with a mola-mola, and catching one will curse you for life. The other one is bananas on a boat. NEVER EVER bring bananas on a boat. Not sure where this one started, but even on some of the pangas in Mexico, I’ve had captains ask me to please throw the bananas overboard. Last year, there was a story that after a Cabo captain asked a customer to throw the bananas over and then a large blue marlin came up in the prop wash and ate the banana. The last one is eating the heart of your first albacore. Didn’t do that one either, never seemed to give me bad luck on future trips. I could just see me trying to get my wife to kiss my fishing rods before a trip. I’m sure I’ll need help removing them from a certain area of my anatomy. Tight lines!

Picture borrowed from Boat Ed

Posted by gyozadude

I never shave with Edge gel before fishing. Statistically with trout at least, I’ve been skunked so many times when I shaved with Edge gel that I just stopped. Don’t know if there’s any adverse effect on saltwater species, but I’d just as soon not get skunked at all.

- Gyozadude

Posted by readership

When I was in AK, I knew a lot of fisherman had such things… boats wouldn’t leave the harbor on Fridays, don’t tick off the cooks. When gambling, I like to have a pretty girl rub my head. If there’s none around, and I feel like I seriously need some rubbing, I rub my shoe… maybe i should try it for fishing. Sometimes I’ll do a fish dance if I’m feeling stupid enough.

Posted by lucy

So THAT’s my problem! I don’t have a superstition! No lucky hat, no lucky lure that I carry around whether I use it or not, no personal rituals, nothing. (I do wear a hat, not because it’s lucky, but to keep the sun off my delicate skin, hee-hee.)

Regarding the bananas, I read somewhere that there’s some kind of poisonous insect—centipede or something—or maybe a type of poisonous snake, whatever—that commonly hides on stalks of bananas, and it isn’t unusual for one to come crawling or slithering out of a stalk of bananas after it’s been harvested. Maybe that’s where that superstition about bananas came from originally.

Posted by needlefish

I have a superstition. I’ve learned to leave the camera at home because when I have it with me, I can pretty much bank on the skunk showing up, lifting his tail and letting me have it.  And since I’m sure everyone’s losing sleep over it…. pectin is not found in saliva, rather it’s a kind of fiber found in foods (like fruit) and saliva actually has two enzymes, a bacteriolytic enzyme, lysosome and one to digest carbohydrates, salivary amylase.

Posted by josh

My Mom. Has NEVER gone fishless when she comes on a fishing trip.

Posted by Red Fish

Oh — I’m not real superstitious but a few that have proven themselves time in and out:

1. Lady luck

2. A ringer (like a “hotshot” kid)

3. I find it a jinx to enter jackpots a lot of the time.

4. Putting a stringer in the water before you catch fish. More than one person has told me that’s a bad omen, but I have usually put fish on it when I do that.

5. Bringing a camera jinxes some folks. I usually keep my camera in the glove box or a disposable one in the tackle box is good.

6. Telling someone to “get the grease ready” is an awful one. I will never say something like that unless I have been hitting a “hot spot” with some consistency.


I used to have a lucky fishing hat but not anymore.

I do have a lucky fishing vest though. Why is lucky you may ask? It has my fishing license attached to it.

I like the idea of a fishing dance. I wonder what fish will bite if I start doing the moonwalk????


Some would say that superstitions are odd in themselves (or at least the people who really believe such things are odd). But they are nothing compared to some of the following.

 Date: June 29, 2002

To: Pier Fishing in California Message Board

From: Scooterfish

Subject: Crucifix Fish

So was doing my daily web rambling and found this interesting information about the sailcats I caught last night.

“Re: Crucifix Fish? Has anyone ever heard of this fish? There is a legend that goes with it. Perhaps it is known by another name. Greatly appreciate any information. Make it a Great Day! Thanks.

YES…there is a such thing as a crucifix fish… I have one here at home. Actually the fish itself is a sailcat. The legend of it is that the Lord used the skeleton of the sailcat to tell the story of his crucifixion. On the skeleton you can see a cross and on the cross you can see the figure of the body of Christ and also you can see the sword and on the other side you can see the Roman shield. When you shake the skeleton it is said that you can hear the dice rolling that the Roman soldiers used when they were gambling for Christ’s robes. I have a post card with a picture of it on there. I will scan it for you and send you a picture. It is truly an amazing thing to see. The first time I saw it and shook it and heard the dice I had chills. I was trying to find some information on it on the net my friend wants to take it to church and tell the children in her class about it. Thanks; any questions feel free to email me. Charlene” 

Apparently the skeletons wash up on the beach looking just like the pic… wacky eh?  Scoot

Posted by Sinker

Maybe we should do a thread on stuff like this and: The Dove in a Sand Dollar; The crystal in the head of White Seabass; Etc., etc., etc.

These are all collectibles and many do not even know they are there. I have seen so many white seabass cleaned yet no one will cut open the skull to get the jewels/crystals. When I say something, they were not even aware they existed. I am sure there are many I know nothing about and I know I would be interested in hearing about them.

How about it guys and gals, what do you have to let us in on?

Posted by Ken Jones

Good idea…

Posted by anglerbuddy

You know what… When I was in 8th grade, my teacher had the story of the dove in the sand dollar in her science class. I didn’t pay much attention to it. I think it was because it was too confusing to me. I didn’t know what it was about but there was like a shell or something… Tell me more about it. I also loved looking at the fish specimens in her class case. — Will you be my BUDDY?

Posted by Ken Jones

One unusual story… at the Hermosa Pier… Although this does not fall into the realm of many of these stories the following is rather amazing.

Rarely does religion come into play at the piers (unless you count an angler praying for a fish to bite). Thus, the following story intrigued me when I first heard it. On the Oprah television show one day the topic was doing good to others. Lo and behold two of the guests were fishermen who had met at the Hermosa Beach Pier. Their names were Rick Wilson and Frank Rembert and evidently Rembert was pretty sick when they met; his kidneys were not working, he was on a dialysis machine, and the doctors said he was going to die unless he received a transplant. One day his wife took him to the pier for a little relaxation and a chance to get his mind off his troubles. There he happened to cut his hand, a neighboring angler, Wilson, offered a band-aid, they struck up a conversation, and they quickly became friends. Wilson soon learned of Rembert’s need for a new kidney and when he got home he couldn’t put his new friend’s need out of his mind. Two days later, over the objections of his family and friends, he called offering to donate one of his own kidneys. Eight months later the operation was performed and both men emerged in healthy condition (although they had to remove one of Wilson’s ribs to get to his kidney—and polished pieces of the rib bone are now worn on silver chains around each man’s neck). Why did Wilson do such a thing for a stranger? He said some force had told him to move to Hermosa Beach, the same force had told him to fish on the pier, and the force seemed to direct him to offer up his kidney. Soon after the operation he moved from the beach. He attributed it to his religion and who am I to argue?

Posted by Corbinaman

I Heard About That Ken…Wow!

Posted by Ken Jones

Could someone explain the dove in the sand dollar?

Posted by geckomd

In keeping with Sinker’s thread… Legends of the Sand Dollar Dove…

Legend of the Sand Dollar

Upon this odd-shaped sea shell,

a legend grand is told

About the life of Jesus, the most

wondrous tale of old.

 Its center markings plainly show

the storied Guiding Star

Which led to tiny Bethlehem,

three wise men from afar.

Five wounds suffered by our Lord

from nails and Roman spear

When he died upon the Cross

are wounds shown plainly here.

Within the shell, when opened

five Doves of Peace are found

They celebrate this legend, so may

Peace and Love abound.

Author Unknown


Posted by pEsCaDoR5312

That was awesome… very nice story. Never heard it told that way but its now my favorite. thanks for sharing.   don’t bother me… I’m fishin. <*)))>=<|

Posted by pescare

The sand dollar story and a gorgeous pic of one. The “dove” is a calcification that forms inside the sand dollar and there can be up to five I believe. Problem is, you have to break a beautiful shell to get them, or search in pieces to find them on the beach. Ed

Posted by Ken Jones

Sinker, please explain to people the crystals in white seabass. 

Posted by chamacko

Stones in white seabass? I haven’t caught a legal, so I don’t know what it looks like personally…

Posted by Mola Joe

The so-called stones are ear bones. From what I understand, the seabass use them for balance. Never heard them called crystals before. When I was a kid, I remember seeing a big jar filled with ear bones at one of my dad’s fishing buddy’s house. They can also use them to get a very accurate age of the fish.

Posted by Sinker

Mola Joe has nailed it again. White seabass and red snapper both have these stones in their heads. The are used as an equilibrium balance type thing if I recall correctly, so yes an ear bone would be correct. These stones, for a lack of a better word, look much like a pearl, with the iridescent color but are more oval in shape rather than round. After cleaning your catch, cut everything away from the head and stand it up so to speak. Take your knife and slice its head open straight down (in half). The stones will be located about halfway from their lips to back of their head. They will be covered will a skin coating on both sides, feel for them gingerly, and use a filet knife to cut away the skin if needed. We always called these extra presents from the catch and it was a big deal to get them. Anyway I tried to find some info on the Internet about them but couldn’t. If I ever catch another WSB I will take photos of the removal process and stones.

Posted by danyull

If my biology is correct, I believe most organisms have something similar to this to keep their equilibrium. Humans have it in the ear canals. Balls of calcium carbonate keep us from tipping over. That’s why there are so few astronauts. One of the effects of zero gravity is severe nausea and other illnesses related to the body’s confusion. An interesting phenomenon is molting crayfish. Right after they molt, they swallow pebbles to keep their equilibrium. If you feed them iron filings right after they molt and then put a magnet above them, they will flip over because they think they’re upside down.

“Edibility is a state of mind…”

Posted by Ken Jones

Snookie, could you explain about the earthquakes?

Posted by Snookie

This all started in 1952 just about three days before the Tehachapi earthquake in July. On Newport Pier the halibut, all sizes, and the rest of the bottom fish such as rays and skates took to the surface and started swimming to deeper water from the surf areas. They would not even look at a bait. The earthquake that destroyed the town of Tehachapi was at 6 in the morning. It was a big earthquake even in Orange County. Since we were awake my mother said we are going to the pier to fish. All of the fish were wide-awake and hungry. It was one of our best fishing days.

Since then I have been aware of the changes in the fish showing us what might happen. The fish on the surface is one thing, but the most reliable happening is the baitfish on the surface to the extent that their dorsals are even above water. You can see these schools quite easily if you know what you are looking for.

The Whittier earthquake was an easy one to expect. A friend of mine told some strangers walking on the pier (Balboa Pier) that I predict an earthquake in the next day or two. Well as you all know now it did happen. I always wonder who those people were and what they must have thought about that.

The San Francisco earthquake (the recent one-not 1906!) was another easy one. I told a friend who had wine bottles balanced rather precariously in her apartment to take them down and protect them. She lived on the fourth floor so when it hit here that evening at 5 she was prepared and startled. Although at ground level here the earthquake wasn’t noticed, it was noticed several floors above the ground and on the seventh floor it was very noticeable.

I have a good friend that also calls me a witch because of the Whittier earthquake. I told him to watch out for it coming and he laughed, but not afterwards.

As to where and when and how big, I can’t say. I just know that the fish will tell if it is going to be felt near Balboa Pier or wherever I see this happening. It can take up to several days to actually happen, but it does happen. I do know it has to be a low frequency electrical current. The fish are very sensitive to that. When the San Francisco earthquake (which was actually over by Santa Cruz) happened, the Navy discovered some low frequency changes in the waters off Santa Cruz. I have wondered if they have since pursued this information to further understand it.

This is knowledge gotten from years of observation of the fish. You learn their patterns of behavior. My friends accept this and most of them are fascinated by this ability. It’s fun! Snookie

Snookie doing what she does every Tuesday at the Balboa Pier — fishing for halibut

Posted by Lucy

That is interesting. Could there also be very low-frequency sound waves coming through the tectonic plates?

Posted by Ken Jones

Pierhead, could you tell about the giant bass at Stearns?

Posted by PierHead

I’ve just updated the page at my website that quotes the original article and I’ve added some additional information as well that you should find interesting. See the link below.


As an aside I spent 2 hours at the library this afternoon trying to locate the original article on microfilm so I could post the picture that accompanied it. Very mysterious— it seems that the entire newspaper file for the year 1925 has disappeared. But even stranger all the remaining files are numbered in sequential order and there are no breaks! I can only conclude that I must be citing the wrong newspaper … PierHead


Posted by Ken Jones

Great story—and really big fish! Also like the page

Posted by Ken Jones

What else?

Posted by Pierhead

Mermaid’s Purse? Here is an interesting item found occasionally on our local beaches. The story and additional information is from a previous post (see link below). Pierhead

“Swell Shark (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum) The swell shark lives in the kelp forest, along rocky areas where algae is present. It’s small (less than four feet) and brownish in color. It has a stout body, a flattened head with large oval eyes, a short snout, and very wide mouth. Its mouth is filled with lots of tiny teeth. The swell shark is nocturnal and eats mainly small fish and any prey it can easily swallow. It will sometimes invade lobster traps for an easy meal. However, it’s not dangerous to people. Like the horn shark, the swell shark lays eggs. Unlike the horn shark, its egg case doesn’t look like it’s from a machine shop. The swell shark egg case looks like a drawstring purse, and is sometimes called a mermaid’s purse. After seven to ten months, the egg case hatches and the swell shark pup emerges. It’s called a swell shark because it can pump water into its stomach, causing its body to “swell up.” This makes it difficult to pull out from between rocks, or for bigger fish to swallow it.” I’ve attached a picture of the egg case or Mermaid’s Purse that I found on the beach last month. Enjoy,

Posted by pesk21

Bananas on tuna trips? What’s the story???

Posted by Mola Joe

Of all the fishing superstitions, the “don’t bring any bananas” has to be the one I hear the most. I believe it started with the tuna boats way back when, but seems to have crossed over to all types of fishing. Tagging along as a small kid fishing with some of my dad’s hardcore fishing buddies, I would hear lots of stories about the bananas. God forbid I would ever think of bringing one along. These guys really took it serious on their albacore trips. I’ve heard at least a half dozen versions of why they are considered bad luck, but the two I’ve heard more than the rest have to do with the old tuna fishing fleets. First one is simple. Someone eats a banana and drops the peel on the deck. Captain comes down, slips, and takes a header right into the railing. Captain happens to be the owner of many of the fishing boats in the fleet and declares “no more bananas on my boats”. The second, and the story I hear the most, is that the absolute worst job in the world back then was working the old banana boats coming up from South America. These boats would park next to the tuna fleets and the crews working the tuna boats would watch in horror the conditions on these boats. Rat and spider bites would cover the crewmember’s bodies. Boats would be old and falling apart and the smell of the gasses of the ripening bananas made people sick. Just bringing bananas on board your boat became taboo and bad luck. Personally, I like eating bananas when I’m fishing, especially on the pangas down in Mexico. The East Cape hotels usually put one in your lunches. I did have one captain who would always take my bananas out and leave them on the beach. It became a big joke between us over the years. I even brought him a banana hat one year. Still, he never wore it out in the boat, and if he found out you brought bananas that got past him, over the side they go!

Posted by Songslinger

Sailors would eat bananas and throw the peels overboard. The peels floated long enough for pirate ships to track their journey. Thus it became a no-no to bring bananas aboard because they were “pirate chum.”  Many thanks to Captain Bags who told me this version. 

Posted by Ken Jones

Pirate chum…um…was thinking, maybe a few PETANS..

Posted by baitfish

Heard the same one as Slinger before.

Posted by 2d

From what I heard it goes back to a Hawaiian legend (at least in Hawaii) having to do with the kapu (tabu) system back in the ancient days. I did some checking, and it seems like a worldwide belief, so maybe there’s something to it. All the fishing cultures of the world can’t be wrong.

Posted by Mike. C

In the old days in Hawaii the King was the only one allowed to eat bananas. Anyone beside the King was supposedly cursed. So of course no one going to sea wanted bananas on their boat. Now all of this was told to me by Barry Canaverro. How much is true… that’s anyone’s guess.

Posted by Corbinaman1

Fruit Of The Loom Underwear?  Notice how the banana is no longer on Fruit Of The Loom brand underwear? I heard that fisherman lobbied to take it off the label or something to that effect!

Posted by Ron’s Reel Repair

Some Bass Fishing Worms are scented with Banana Oil. Ron


This was a fun thread that derived from a picture taken at our annual PFIC Get Together in Avalon. Truth be told, I have no idea what we were doing.

April 30, 2002

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Pierhead

Subject: A prayerful moment…

(Reference Catalina picture)—Baitfish and Skipper invoking the fishing gods—notice the salted offering in Baitfish’s hands.

Posted by baitfish 

hmmmm slamalama lama White Sea Bass LOL!

Posted by lucy 

Om mani padme CATCH; nam myoho renge FISH

Posted by PierHead 

You’re too much Lucy … you too Adam… I can’t get off the floor. Thanx for the laugh! PierHead.

Ps: my major was comparative religions and so naturally, having done field studies, I recognized immediately the spiritual significance of that moment on the Green Pleasure Pier.

Posted by lucy 

A bit of sacrilege with apologies to whomever—

The Angler’s Prayer

Our father, who art in water,

Hallowed be thy fins

Thy children bite, and not take flight

At the sight of the bait we give them.

Give us this day a whopper or two

And forgive us our bragging

As we forgive those who outfish us.

And lead us not into bird’s-nests

But deliver us from the Skunk

For thine is the bent poles, the screaming reels, and the glory


Fish on!

Posted by baitfish on April 30, 2002

Makes me want to go to confession…LOL!

Posted by PierHead 

Bless me Father for I have fished…?

Posted by Corbinaman1 


Posted by Mike. C 

Lucy are you suggesting Nichiren Shoshu Buttism?

Posted by lucy 

YES!!! Ha-ha! Good one!

Posted by Songslinger 

Hare Fishna

Posted by Mikey 

The Sound of One Fish Flapping…

Posted by dompfa ben on November 12, 2004 

(In reply to: Or Ben for his monster lobster? posted by Ken Jones on November 17, 2004

With apologies to all of my parochial school teachers…

Dompfa ben and a spiny lobster

The Panulirus Creed

(based loosely on the Nicene Creed)

We believe in one Lobster,

the Benthos, the All-Spiny,

taker of hoop-bait and mirth,

of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Pull, Heavus Heist,

the only Fun of Cod,

eternally begotten of the Benthos,

rod from rod, Light-line from Light-stick,

huge bug from true tug.

Be-boiled, not filleted,

of one Being with the Gauge.

Through him my dinners were made.

For us and for our salivation

he came out from reef-haven:

by the power of the Holy Mackerel

he became netted from the Sturgeon Scary,

and was made 1/7 of a limit.

For our sake he was boiled under Caphalon;

he ruddied, died and was buttered.

In a few minutes he was sliced and eaten

in fulfillment of the Pictures;

he descended into my belly

and is seated at the right hand of my love-handle.

He will come again in plumbing to sludge the living and the dead,

and his memory will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Mackerel, the bait, the giver of Lobster,

who proceeds from the Squid and the Sabiki.

With the Squid and the Sabiki he is frozen and zip-tied.

He has spoken through PFIC.

We believe in one holy, aesthetic, and sanitary Pier.

We acknowledge one license for the avoidance of poaching.

We look for the resurrection of the kelp,

and the capture of Lobster to come.


in nomini panulirus, spiny, et Sabiki sancti…

Dompfa ben and Brandy with a lobster from San Clemente Pier

Posted by gyozadude   


Posted by dompfa ben   

For bugs, of course

Posted by pescador619     

Or Church of Scientology – Diafinics/Fishinetics

Posted by oldmanandthesea

and my fingers are not cold.

Posted by dompfa ben 

One of my favorite quotes from the movie Rudy: “Prayer is something we do in our time. The answers come in God’s time.” Certainly applicable in the context of the fish gods, especially if you’ve ever given it your all and walked away with a skunk.


If we are going to have prayers we might as well also have songs. Right?

Date: November 30, 2001

To: PFIC Message Board

From: SteveO

Subject: What’s your favorite fishing quotes from movies?

Here is a couple from “A River Runs Through It”

“In my family, there was no clear division between religion and fly fishing.”

“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things, trout as well as eternal salvation, came by grace and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy.”

Posted by Ken Jones

Or from songs?

“I’m a goin’ fishin’,

Mama’s goin’ fishin’,

An de baby’s goin’ fishin’ too.”

Taj Mahal

Posted by wrxfisher

From Neil Young’s “tonights the night” album/cd:  MELLOW MY MIND

Baby mellow my mind,

Make me feel like a schoolboy on good time,

Jugglin’ nickels and dimes,

Satisfied with the fish on the line.

I’ve been down the road and I’ve come back

Lonesome whistle on the railroad track

Ain’t got nothing on those feelings that I had.

Something so hard to find,

A situation that can casualize your mind.

I’ve been down the road and I’ve come back

Lonesome whistle on the railroad track

Ain’t got nothing on those feelings that I had.

Baby mellow my mind,

Make me feel like a schoolboy on good time,

Jugglin’ nickels and dimes,

Satisfied with the fish on the line.

Posted by Leapin Bass

Another original — Here’s one I wrote back in 1993 when I was in NO SaNER. I was visiting here in California and we were trying to squeeze as much fishing in as possible. On the way up to the Santa Ynez River after fishing all night on Goleta Pier my cousin fell asleep at the wheel. No one was hurt but the truck was totaled. The kind of thing you laugh at afterwards. My uncle couldn’t stop talking about how we always try to cram 30 hours of fishing into a 24-hour day!

Asleep At The Wheel

Twenty four hours, the day ain’t long enough

For Josh, me, and Willy’r gonna catch that big ‘un

No time for rest, we fish all night and day

From the pier to the river we were on our way

Up through the mountains along that windy road

Gotta hit that river before that rooster crows

See that smallmouth leapin’, oh what a sight

This vision it haunts us, stay awake all night

Who turned out the lights?

Asleep at the wheel

About five miles in, all so warm and cozy

Mesmerizing road makin’ eyelids heavy

Dreamin’ away Josh starts a gardenin’

Watch’n crawdad’s flyin’ as we pulled in

Smash into a rock, tear down a tree

Trimmin’ the hedges so we could see

With fear in our eyes we finally came to rest

Looking out the window examing our nest

Who turned out the lights?

Asleep at the wheel

Posted by stinkyfingers

Hey — I know that one! Like the time when I woke up and saw that I had gone over the WRONG BRIDGE!! God help me, no more sleepy driving.

Posted by Songslinger

Nice, Leapin!

Posted by: SteveO

My Mom came up with this song that she remembers from way, way back. Not sure of the artist/author. But I’m sure one of ya diehards might. We’re thinking somewhere around the Woody Guthrie time period.

You get a line, I’ll get a pole, honey

You get a line, I’ll get a pole, babe.

You get a line, I’ll get a pole,

and we’ll go down to the crawdad hole.

Honey, oh baby, mine.

Posted by Leapin Bass


Jaws: “He’s gone under the boat, I think he’s gone under the boat!”

On Golden Pond: “He’s a crafty old son of a bitch!”


Primus: John the Fisherman, Fish On, The ‘ol Diamondback Sturgeon

“Taco flavored Doritos and my orange life vest I caught a hundred pound sturgeon on 20 pound test. Well I got him the boat he measured six foot long I was so damn impressed I had to write this song called Fish On!”

Posted by Songslinger

Yeah, Les Claypool! Avid fisherman. Also a pretty good bass player, heh heh.

Posted by Leapin Bass

Pretty good? I don’t think the guy is human! Some of that stuff he plays is mind boggling (and then to sing while doing it). You know what I’m talking about!

Posted by baitfish

Jaws: “We’re gonna nead a bigger boat.”

Not a quote but a scene from Grumpy Old Men. When they are fighting on the ice and Walter Matthau tries to stab Jack Lemon with a frozen Walleye! great scene along with the accompanying line from Burgess Meredith ” Hey! Drop that Fish!” Damn kids! Can’t live with em…can’t shoot em.” Hehehe

Posted by Leapin Bass

Grumpy Old Men — excellent movie(s). How about, “You couldn’t catch crabs from a $10 hooker”

Posted by baitfish

I cried when I heard that one, completely forgot! Some great writers wrote those movies, Grumpier old men is one of the few sequels that I liked more than the original.

Posted by Leapin Bass

You got me watching them right now! “Yeah, like that 40 pound musky your always yakin’ about” “Caught my limit, I see you only snagged one.”

Posted by neptune1234

Wheel of Fortune….”Somewhere over the rainbow trout” — tonight’s episode

Posted by gotem

From Jaws 1, “It’s a twenty-footer”, “Twentyfive”, “Three tons of um”

Posted by Dan V

From Jaws:” We need a bigger boat”

Posted by 1014 on September 8, 2004

Rising Tide “Mr. Pole Bendah”

Mr. Pole Bendah

performed by: Rising Tide


(Bradah Kea, the pole bendahz runnin brah da big Uluas’)

(oh we go)

(oh brah shoot, I going tell my wife, I come back I meet you hea)

(ok brah)

(we go bradda)


Oh I like a friend me call to tell me there’s no moon

He said the tide is on the rise you know what to do

So pack up the fishing gear and hurry along

And the way to the ocean we sing this song


Hey Mr. Pole Bendah where are you

Slide your dinner down the line just for you

Hey Mr. Pole Bendah we comming for you

If ring that bell watch out we gonna catch you

Well we reached our destination in time for a strike

Ulua fish on the run we watin for the bite

Blowin suddenly out of nowhere I hear this sound

It’s the sound of the bell and ring going round and round



As the tug-of-war wages on I’m getting tired as the night goes on

Just when I thought that you were mine you start to swim away cuz you broke my line

Woah Woah Woahhhh

Posted by ReelHabit

My favorite from A River Runs Through It

“If he had his way, nobody who did not know how to catch a fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching it”.

Posted by Jim Babwe

Another Jerry Tune — Catfish John

Mama Said don’t go near that man

Don’t be hangin’ around ol’ catfish John

Come the morning I always be

Walkin’ in his footsteps

in the sweet Delta Dawn

Posted by oldmanandthesea

Three little fiddies in a iddy biddy pool: Three little fiddies and a mommy fiddy too.  Fim said the mommy fiddy fim if you can and they fam and they fam right over the dam. Oop shoop fidum fadum fam, oop shoop fidum fadum fam and they fam and they fam and they fam, right over the dam.


From the get go, PFIC has tried to maintain strict standards as far as profanity and what we feel are inappropriate posts. While the moderators generally are the ones to delete a message, the board can often regulate things pretty well itself.   

Date: January 11, 2002

To: PFIC Message Board

From: fishpimp

Subject: hookers wanted!

Jus wanted to let all the hookers out there know that i have jus purchased a domain name and building a site dedicated to all the hardcore bay area fishin folk. im directing it mainly towards the bankers (people without the privlige of a boat like myself). i would like to get all reports from anyone with some type of info being bad or good i will a gallery section so u can post your photos. i will put the time in on this page to keep it updated weekly giving u the latest info ive recieved. im asking all u hookers out there for your help on keepin the info comin in. check it out soon da fish

Posted by lucy

Does anybody else find this offensive? “Fishpimps”? “Hookers wanted”? Look, I’m not Ms. Ultra-Sensitive, and neither “language” nor sexual innuendo offends me. However, pimps DO offend me—pimps are worthless scumbags who make their living exploiting poor dumb prostitutes. Pimps are the lowest of the low, right down there with child molesters and kiddy-porn pushers and other creatures who, as Gyozadude would put it, “don’t deserve the air they breathe.” Why would you choose to call yourself such a thing? Do you think it’s cute or funny? Well, it isn’t.  I fail to see any connection between a sport such as fishing and a scummy, sleazeball activity such as pimping, except for a lame and puerile play on words. (“Hookers.” Oh, please.) Sounds to me like you got on this board just to brag about your catch and tout your website. Well, here’s one ANGLER who is NOT interested.

Posted by pescare

Juvenile came to mind also.

Posted by Ken Jones

Yep! I agree 100% with Lucy and just wish I could have stated it as well. I think if you want to attract some people change the name. Although we may have some “heavy metal” fishing (due to the mix of toxins entering the S.F. Bay waters), we don’t need “gangsta rap” fishing. Oh well, back to my Dylan and a little glass of wine (medicinal of course).

Posted by stinkyfingers

Ken — you are too much… “heavy metal” — PCB’s, mercury, etc. vs. “gansta rap”?? ha hha ha! I’m on the floor! Thanks for a good start on a Monday.

Posted by FISHPIMP

no i dont think i came on to this site to brag at all, just wanted to show the skills. ive earned every single one of those fish spending endless days and endless nights goin after em. the cost to this date three jobs 4 girlfriends because of all the time ive devoted to the it braggin if ya will but as for me im pimpin on!

Posted by redneckgirl1970

lucy i find your reply very offensive you complain with the name fish pimp? i complain about the way you act in public and the stuff you write…. you dont think what you wrote is more offensive then the word “PIMP”?… well i do and so do amny others here i think you need to check your self and step on back woman….and as for these people being show offs well heck ya if you caught what they caught (which i see no pics from you) then you would post to…its not showing off it showing whats out there to be caught…so get a clue and be happy for someone who caught what you cannot….and as for those hookers they can walk away and they liked to be pimped ….but hey you sound like uou talk from experience in that field….so hey so sorry hes not your pimp but get over it. and ya know what i think your the worthless scumbag here for putting down some damn fine fisherman.

 Posted by Frenchy

Oh Boy! When will people stop making new log-ons defend themselves? It is obvious when a one-post member signs on to defend a five-post member what’s really going on!  If you have something to say, have the balls to say it with your real name. Stop trying to hide behind another name! Andrew

Posted by lucy

Thanks, Frenchy. I was going to say something like that myself, but you beat me to it.

Posted by Frenchy

No problem!

Posted by fishpimp

lighten up people its jus fishin. i apologise for bringing offense to anyone! but i mean come on r we really that uptight over fishin. i dont know about u folk but fishin to me is all about escaping the everyday norm and havin fun at what i love to do and what im really good at.let me all tell u how i came to the name fish pimp.fishin out at sols pier probably with ten other anglers no one catchin nuthin but hey look at me my rod is goin off 3 fish in 45 minutes 1 monster sturgeon.a little old man walks over and asks me what im usin he says he usin the same and he dont get ithe looks at me and says u gotta be a fish pimp or sumthin and walks back to his thats the story the name has stuck ever since.when me and my buddys go fishin its all about the story u get to tell when u back home and the braggin rights u get to have till the next not out there tryin to get a meal i let everything go back to the water hopin the next guy gets a chance at him so if a little word like pimp or hooker offends you im sorry, go back to watchin tv then

Posted by lucy

You miss the point. I’m not uptight over FISHING. I’m offended by the mentality that considers a “pimp” to be anything desirable or admirable. I used to work in the hotel district of San Francisco, where I had the chance to observe and meet quite a number of prostitutes and pimps. Pimps are slimebags and parasites. If you know anything about how they operate, then you know damn well that they’re about as admirable as tapeworms. (Actually, comparing pimps to tapeworms is an insult to tapeworms!) If you don’t know anything about it, then you should educate yourself before you go calling yourself a “pimp.” If you are good at fishing, then call yourself something that indicates PRIDE in your ability, not something that derogates and degrades both you and the sport. I suspect that you don’t know anything about “pimping”– because if you did, you would slap hell out of anyone who called you a “pimp” and you wouldn’t even THINK of using the word as a screen name.

Posted by Songslinger

I’m with Lucy on this one, absolutely. There is nothing cool about “pimp” and it is remarkably offensive. People who aspire to gangsta affectations are limited in their imaginations. No threat, just a promise: I will not respond further or aid anyone with that mindset on this board. It denigrates fishing.

Posted by Frenchy

“Pimp” is a term that is now used freely by the younger generation. I also don’t agree with it’s use, but I don’t think it’s going away either. Young people now refer to themselves and each other as “pimps” if they get with a girl, and for this and that. It started because it was one of the many-featured words in Rap music, and rappers use it in everyday conversation. People say Rap music is not a bad influence, but here is one example of how they encourage kids in a negative way. I could give a hundred other examples like glorifying drug use, alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, sex with many partners, woman bashing, cursing, gang life, etc. etc. God bless America, and free speech huh?

Posted by BooBoo

No comment because it seems like some people forgot what it was like to be a “kid” and the terms that were used and they meant to their group of friends.

Posted by lucy

You’re right about that. And I may be guilty of overreacting to use of a word that just doesn’t mean the same to others as it means to me. Several of the words that were popular slang when I was in high school were highly offensive to parents and other adults—which of course was exactly what made them SO much fun to use!

Posted by FISHPIMP

what point its jus a freakin simple play on words like u say .u act like im on here tryin to promote prostitution, gangsta lifestyle and whatever else u threw in there.i think if i was really tryin to promote that type of lifestyle i would do it on sumthin other than a fishing page.i think yur the one who needs to grow up

Posted by stinkyfingers

Check it out fish-player: These folks are seasoned, wise, older folks. Keep in mind that you and I can learn a LOT from them. Being young, and being used to being around people our age sometimes makes us “slip” in the company of “proper” folks. You’ll get better responses from the people if you try and stick with the substance, instead of “dressing up” the conversation with “hip” words, jive, whatever. I hope you understand what I’m saying. I know that when young folks talk nowadays, they like to put color into their words, and run off with slang and Ebonics and foul language. Is it wrong – no way – it’s fun for you and your friends and you have a right to do it. I’m just telling you that you’ll get better responses here if you leave that “style” out of it, and stick to putting your thoughts on here. Just pretend you’re in a big room with a hundred people – most of them being over the age of 40, intelligent, and good-natured, and DAMN WORTH the respect they deserve.



Criticism — Is widdle kevvie-wevvie gonna cwy now?

Date: November 30, 2000

To: PFIC Message Board

From: kevin

Subject: Tides

What tide is best for surf fishing?

Posted by Scooterfish

20 questions?

Hey Kevin….The last thing I want to do is discourage you from asking questions, but maybe try doing a little research first?? Try using the search utility built into the message board… how about trying a search of the YEARS of archived messages? Or perhaps checking out all the very detailed Pier of the Month archives??? Many of the questions you are asking indicate you have not even glanced at these resources…. Just a suggestion… Scooterfish

Posted by Songslinger

I’ve been thinking along the same lines. We certainly don’t want to discourage you from asking questions. This is the right place to do so. But it would have been better to write things down first and then approach this forum with a single posting. I believe you would have received more responses this way.

The link below is to my site. I’m not promoting it so much as offering it as a decent place to start. For example, much of what you have asked about would be covered under the Style and Technique section. And there are many other links to pursue that will be of help.

Another thing you should do–and most fishermen will agree with me-—is to go and talk with anglers on the piers. Obviously you don’t want to interrupt someone who is casting, or tying a leader, but you would be surprised at the bulk of knowledge you can pick up during a conversation with a veteran pier rat. Fishermen love to talk, they absolutely enjoy giving advice and tips and sharing lore. Also, just simple observation will be worth a great deal. Watch the fishermen. Who is catching fish? Who is not? Take a good look at the various methods and practices. Some day you will devise your own way of doing things, based on what you’ve seen, read, or picked up along the way. Best of luck!  And always feel free to ask questions here.

Posted by Leapin Bass

Not to sound like a broken record but I’ve also been wondering how many times you were going to ask the same questions. No matter how much someone tells you about fishing there’s no lesson like going out there, experimenting for yourself and finding out what works for you. I don’t want to be cruel or anything but I’ve read most of your posts and responses and it seems like all of your questions have been answered—sometimes more than once. Go out there and get some fish—then post a report.

Posted by stinkyfingers

Since we’re all “letting it out”, would you also mind using proper punctuation?  I hate to sound anal, but all your questions are posted with such little effort and lack of grammar, in contrast with everyone’s responses to you where they observe sentence structure, etc. I haven’t seen a single period or upper case letter in your posts. Additionally I think it would be a good idea to thank people ahead of time, for their time. Your questions just come off demanding. (“Show me this, tell me that, what’s that”) -Without so much as a “Thanks for any help guys.” I think it just shows a lack of respect…. but who the hell am I to complain, right?

Posted by kevin

You guys are all rude you won’t hear from me again

Posted by harukan

Awwww! Ain’t THAT a shame?

Did those big bad fishermen hurt poor widdle kevvie’s feelins?

Awwwwww! Izzums po’ widdle kevvie-wevvie gonna cwy now?

Listen, you little nit, you posted THIRTEEN messages to this board asking things like “Where do I fish?” and “What rigs do I use?” and “What bait do I use?” and “What hooks do I use?” and on and on and bloody ON (and that’s not even counting follow-up questions!)–all of them questions you could have found the answers to merely by buying and reading ONE general-information book about fishing in California! You could also have obtained the information for free, with a minimal amount of effort, by using a search engine. There are HUNDREDS of excellent web sites covering everything to do with fishing, from how to choose a rod to how to tie knots to you-name-it! One of your recent questions concerned bait for halibut. I typed “halibut” and “bait” into a search engine and got 5,900 matches!! Did you ever even bother to look at the Department of Fish & Game’s web site? They have a HUGE amount of information on saltwater fishing!

Even so, people on this board patiently answered your questions again and again and again until it became obvious that you were making NO effort whatsoever to find out things on your own, but were expecting people to take the time to spoon-feed you information. And now you have the NERVE to accuse them of being “rude”?

The people on this message board–especially the “regulars” like stinkyfingers and Songslinger and Leapin’ Bass and Snookie and too many others to mention—are very generous with their time and with their knowledge—knowledge that they’ve accumulated through spending YEARS fishing and learning. They were generous with you, too, until YOU abused their generosity and helpfulness.

Since this is a “family” web site, I can’t tell you what I really think of you, but trust me, if I could, your computer monitor would go nuclear and vaporize you right where you sit on your spoiled, lazy, whiny little (?) ass.

You can go sulk if you like, but if you have any sense (which I rather doubt), you’ll (a) apologize to the people on this board for acting like a spoiled, lazy little snot; (b) forget about fishing for the time being; and (c) and go back to school and learn the basic communication skills that you obviously managed to miss, such as spelling, punctuation, grammar, and so forth.

AFTER you’ve done all that, if you’re still interested in fishing, then prove it by (a) doing some studying on your own, and (b) going fishing. After you’ve spent several dozen hours reading, and several dozen more hours freezing your ass on a pier and untangling snarled lines and getting skunked repeatedly, you’ll have considerably more appreciation for the information you’ve been receiving, and a hell of a lot more respect for the people who’ve been so generous in providing it.

Posted by kevin

Hey guys I am 9 years old

Posted by harukan

Well, if I’d known that I wouldn’t have blasted you as bad as I did, but I still would have scolded you for calling people “rude” after they’ve tried to help you out. People are more than willing to help you, but you have to put some effort into it yourself—and that’s true whether you’re nine years old or twenty-nine years old or ninety-nine years old. Do ask questions—but AFTER you’ve spent some time trying to find the answer yourself.  Also, there are lots of fishing programs for kids and there’s probably one where you live. Look into joining it–the best way to learn anything is by doing it with people who can answer your questions and show you how to do things.

Posted by kevin

Well I guess I was petty stupid and I am sorry. I have a thing when people say that to me I get mad.

Posted by harukan

Apology accepted. So now get out there and catch a halibut! I still haven’t caught one, so you’ve got a good chance of beating me to it! Good luck!

Posted by kevin


Posted by stinkyfingers

Lessons in Life. There are a lot of things I wish I would have learned younger. One of the most important things in your life will be how you get along with people. Kevin: You’re getting a jump-start on all the kids your age, and you’re going to by way ahead of them. My small point, and I stick with it to the grave, is simply that using proper English and grammar elevates you to higher class of people. It gives you more credibility (they believe you), you will appear smarter, and you will show people that you’re not just a “do-it-half-ass” kind of person. Remember that when people share info with you, they are, in a way, giving a piece of themselves to you. Treasure it. That is worth more than any material present – and they should be aware that you’re grateful – so make sure and thank them nicely. Good luck, with everything in your life.

Posted by Stinkyfingers

Oh no, I typed by instead of be. Great person to be giving lessons.

Posted by harukan

Hey, happens to everybody—Bad grammar and spelling annoy me too, but no one’s immune from the occasional typo! One of my pet peeves is seeing “it’s” used as the possessive of “it”—and guess what I’ve caught myself doing a couple of times? Duh! Oh, and then there are the classic typos, like “doe snot” instead of “does not,” and “lawshit” instead of “lawsuit” (actually, that may be closer to the truth!) . . . but the best one I’ve done was typing “impossible” and hitting an “i” instead of the “o.” Kidney problems, anyone?

Posted by Ken Jones

Or the time you left the “l” out of public pier and I’m not referring to the pier.


People being flamed is a characteristic of most message boards on the net. Most of the time PFIC is mellow and pretty quiet. But not always as seen in the thread above. 

Response to such situations is of course mixed.

I’ve always loved, by the way, Lucy’s analogy equating the message board to a  “neighborhood pub.” Visions of a corner bar like “Cheers” comes to mind and it does seem appropriate given both the cast of characters and the diverse discourse that takes place on the board.

Date: January 29, 2002

To: PFIC Message Board

From: SD Fisherman

Subject: Stinky, I’m p#!*ed off!…….

I was in my second paragraph of this post when unexpectedly the connection went out. Oh well. Anyway, I appreciate the URL regarding the PETA issue. What’s funny is that I only recognize about half of the names from that thread: yours, Nufo (Yeah, screw em’ all LOL), Nopal, and Frenchy (and maybe another one or two I missed). I was wondering, since you (any other long-timers are welcome to comment too) have been around quite awhile (coming up fast on that 3,000th hit Stinky LOL), what do you think is the average length of time a person posts here? I haven’t been around for very long, but I’ve seen nary a post from the other half of that thread, names like Oregongreen and Prometheus, etc. I, for instance, thrive on offering and receiving info here. It prepares me for my future fishing trips. Is it just that people stop posting after the novelty wears off? -Don aka SDF PS: I’d like to try whale meat, what the heck.

Posted by lucy

You could think of this as a big, neighborhood pub. There are people who show up every day or nearly every day, other people who show up regularly but not as often (say, every weekend), and others who show up only occasionally. Some people “talk” a lot (like me, alas!), others talk less, still others throw in only a rare comment now and then, and others don’t talk at all (lurkers). Some people who come in become “regulars,” and others drop in a few times and move on. Why do people stop coming? Well, some move away, some find another place to go that they like better, some lose interest, some go through changes that rearrange their priorities (new job, new baby, whatever), and once in awhile somebody gets in a huff over something or other and goes storming out, never to return. Every now and then, some obnoxious individual shows up and starts insulting people or telling obvious lies or otherwise annoying people, and they get fed up and give him the what-for and he leaves—or, if he gets really out of line, the bartender eighty-sixes him. Just the variety of humanity. It’s just the same with this message board.

The message count is deceptive because the count only goes back to a little over a year ago. So there are some people like Black Marlin who have been around forever, but don’t post very often and thus have a low count, while other people who’ve been around for a much shorter length of time have a much higher message count (like me—jeez, I’m over 800 now, time to shut up!)

Posted by stinkyfingers

Nicely put, Lucy…Yeah, SD Fisherman – it’s like an AA meeting, you just keep coming back for more. I don’t know…For me it started as something I didn’t think much of at first, I made this name “stinkyfingers” because it just popped into my head. My intentions at the time were only to post a question or two—get my answers and move on. And I came back, and read the responses. Then I read a few more threads that didn’t have anything to do with me. And then, I just found myself reading. And I came back again, and again. It’s become my morning coffee, and when other workers are hanging out at others cubes bs’ing, I’m on here. While they sit and read the news, I sit and read about fish. While they gab on the phone to their friends, I gab on here with my friends. Like Lucy said—it’s a pub, where everybody knows your name. But as Lucy said about the post count (I don’t like it personally, I think it creates an idea in people’s heads that a post count actually means something more than statistics), Rider said last night that we should show how long a person has been a member—THAT says a whole lot more. Quality over quantity. So, with that, I was thinking about retiring my name, partially due to the fact that my post count is so high. I don’t want newcomers to look at it and treat me any differently. Yup, I’m thinking about pulling the old “switch-a-roo”…

Posted by lucy

Oh, NO!!! No more “stinkyfingers”?? That’s unstinkable — I mean, unthinkable. If you’re just tired of the name, that’s cool, but don’t change it on account of that stupid message count thingy. Anybody who’s been around long enough to know anything (like, more than two days) knows it doesn’t mean anything.

Posted by stinkyfingers

And yes, the name itself is rather… well… you know… I mean — stinkyfingers? Come on… it’s kind of out there, isn’t it? A little wacky, you know? It was me, in a state of hilarious humor, but seriously—I’m growing up and perhaps my tag name should mature with me. Besides, haven’t you noticed that I’m a bit more tame nowadays. Yup — I’m starting to do “it”… you know, the dreaded thing called “growing up.” I don’t know. I haven’t decided for sure yet. I’ll keep thinking about it, and hear what people say.

Posted by pescare


Posted by lucy

Yes, and your point is? The name is a little “out there” . . . a little “wacky” . . . yeah, and??? I seriously doubt that you’re ever going to “mature” to the point that you’re not a little “out there” and “wacky” are you? Not going to turn into a stodgy old bore as you age, are you? I certainly hope not.

Posted by SD Fisherman

Lucy, Stinky…thanks for the info. Good analogy also Lucy. I agree with you two that post count really means nothing. Anybody could sit there entering two-liner post after post and become a “Senior Member” in one night. The main thing to me is the quality of the information presented. For instance, I printed out many of the recipes posted in response to my recent “barries and bonito” message. I will put them to good use the next time I “hook up” with one of these species. Stinky, it’s your prerogative to change your name, but it’s not necessary to do it on account of the opinion of newcomers. Once they get past your ” mild abrasiveness, LOL”, they’ll see you’re a good guy who really just tells it like he sees it. I find it amusing, but I have a personality profile in my head of most of the people that post here, provided I have seen a few of their posts. Some are animated, others more stoic. Fortunately most everybody is generous with their tips and know-how. -Don aka SDF

Posted by baitfish

We should have a wall with retired names! LOL! Put them up on Jerseys.

Adam   Will work for fish!

Posted by caffeinehigh

I’m here almost every single day. I try to read all the posts but sometimes only end up reading the ones that interests me. I always read the “reports” and any posts with pictures attached first.  I don’t post often but I’m always here.

Posted by Mikey

Well, I’ve been posting on this site for 2 years, yet I only have a little over 300 posts I believe. The key is to give and receive (relevant) information, and little more. Some have 1,000 or even close to 3,000 posts…Mike

Posted by martyborboa

I’m here too. Ditto, caffeinehigh. I actually hold myself back from posting sometimes but do post when someone requests info or tips that I have. If I don’t know the answer then why post. Like in “Kung Fu” the TV series…”It is better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool, than open it and remove all doubt.” Tight lines, Marty B.


 Although the number of lady anglers has grown over the years, there is still a paucity compared to the numbers of guys. Why?

Date: October 9, 2000

To: PFIC Message Board

From: stinkyfingers

Subject: Girls

I knew that would get your attention. I’m just wondering if I’m the only lucky guy that has a wonderful girlfriend that loves to come out fishing with me – in the morning, at night, whatever. The only one of all my girlfriends that’s ever been willing to do it. She’s the best. There’s nothing like going fishin’ with your buddy and your girl. You drink and make jokes with your buddy, you catch fish and she gives you kisses…. Life is good.

Posted by wes

Heh cool but how u know she really likes it?  Heh,  jk

I would kill to have a girl to go with me fishing.

Posted by Dion

Maybe she is willing to tolerate it until you marry her. You know, you make a good living where the both of you could live comfortably or at least she can and she doesn’t have to work for the remaining part of her years. On the other hand, you may be the lucky one. Congrats on having a one in a million lady by your side.

Posted by Jeepin and Fishin

Well, you’re not alone; my girlfriend likes fishing too and supports my habit. She comes along whenever she can and she even cleans the fish she catches. She’s awesome and a keeper. I love her. Jeepster

Posted by Ken Jones

Many ladies love to fish and there are several organizations set up for the distaff side. And, don’t forget Snookie whom I consider an angler par excellence!

A true story! When I was seventeen I talked my steady, and future wife, into going on an all-night fishing trip to Shelter Island Pier in San Diego. I believe the goal was sharks but that isn’t the story. We headed home about 6 a.m. in the morning and Pat quickly fell asleep—with her head on my shoulder and my right arm around her shoulder. At the time there used to be a semi-circle you had to go around on Rosecrans Ave. and when I got to that section I slowly went around the circle but apparently crossed slightly (a foot or so) into the second lane. I was going very slow, no more than 20 mph, and there were no other cars around, but I was driving with my left hand and apparently (although I’m still not sure) drifted into the inner lane.  I soon saw the blinking lights of the cops behind me and was stopped. They said I had crossed over the line and gave both Pat and I tickets. My ticket was for crossing over the line, her ticket was for interfering with the driver (even though she had been asleep). Soon we both had to go to court, although to different courts. Pat had to go to Adult Court while I wound up in Juvenile Court. Pat, who is three weeks older than me and had just turned 18, didn’t even have her driving license yet. When she explained what had happened the judge excused the case—although with a warning not to interfere with the driver again. The judge in my case also tossed the case. In the 36 years since that incident Pat has accompanied me on many a fishing trip, and she has been driving for 35 years, but that is the only ticket she ever received.

Posted by stinkyfingers

Ha ha. I notice that I get less tickets when my girl is in the car with me. Maybe the cops look at me and think since I have such a pretty girl I must be a nice guy – which I really am anyway. But it helps, I’m sure of it. One more added bonus of having her with me while I’m fishing – anytime I catch a fish I’m a hero to her. Feels good.

Posted by BAITFISH

I go fishing with my wife all the time! She enjoys it as long as we are catching something. She never fished before meeting me, so I chalk this up to being a novice. But then again, she always catches as many if not more fish than everyone else on the trip. But nothing is better than getting a fish and a kiss. Tight lines! Baitfish

Posted by Anchovie

WOW you’re a lucky guy if she continues to fish with you. I was tricked! Before we were married my wife and I used to go fishing all the time at Balboa Pier (till 2 AM sometimes) and even on charter boats. But from the day I said I do she hasn’t gone with me since (5 yrs) and doesn’t even clean or cook the fish. Go figure. Well, if she likes to go with you she is definitely a keeper. Congratulations, Anchovie

Posted by dave.Mush

My lady goes fishing by herself…top that. –Dave

Posted by BAITFISH

Wow! I don’t think mine would do that!

Posted by Dave McD

My wife MAKES me go fishing!!!!! When my wife and I first got together, we were overseas and she would go fishing with me sometimes because if nothing was biting we could always scoop shrimp from the shore with a dip net, that way she would keep occupied and interested…. Since we now live in San Diego and fishing can be hit or miss, she’s stopped going because she says she gets bored, but if the freezer gets empty she hands me my gear and sends me out to go catch something edible for the pan! She has actually done this twice in the ten years we’ve been married. I thought the first time she just wanted me out of the house for a while, so later on I let the stock decline again, and what do you know? She sent me out to catch fish again! Ain’t life grand! Now my five-year-old daughter goes with me on the few fishing trips we make to Shelter Island Pier, and my two-year-old son is just about ready to learn to cast, too.

Posted by Red Fish

A woman supporting ANYTHING that is important to you is going to be a plus. It shows that she is paying attention to you and also it shows that she cares. Two short stories similar to Ken’s. One: X girl. We fished most of the night @ Alameda beach while we cuddled in a blanket under moonlight and lantern light. (One good bite, that was it.) Big fun. Two: Same X. Supported me in the Chabot catfish tournament (placed third). Fished and fished with me, even though she doesn’t know how. Another X. Started to go fishing with me @ Berkeley Pier. We made it to the parking lot, and had a nice argument in the car (about what, who knows). The first X sounds like a KEEPER. It would be nice to meet a woman possibly that is also interested in fishing, and not just following along to keep me company. Otherwise, I will stick to fishing alone. Finding a woman like that is like catching a record fish, it just doesn’t happen every day. I met a couple of women that were very pretty, very feminine, and hell of fisherwomen. I not only fear them (as serious competition), I respect them (lol).

Posted by ben

My wife loves to go fishing as long as we don’t use pile worms. lol. She goes with me to Berkeley, Dumbarton, Santa name it. Friday night she even went catfishing with me till 3:30 in the morning. Fish on

Posted by stinkyfingers

Yeah, catfishin’ is one of her favorites. She thinks they’re so cute, with their whiskers and all. As soon as I land one, she’s all over me – “Hurry, baby – throw him back before he gets sick.” She just gets so excited every time the poles bounce. It actually increases the intensity and makes it even more thrilling for me, too. I’m smiling right now just thinking about it…And the more I do think about it, the more I think that I’m going to marry this girl. When I do, I’ll put up a quick post just let you fellas know that this fish has been landed. It might be worth it I just went down that river!

Posted by BAITFISH

Good luck stinky! It is worth it. Fishing, girls and marriage!

Posted by Ken Jones

Did I tell you pier rats about the ultimate pier romance—a marriage out at the end of the cement ship on the Seacliff State Beach Pier? A guy dressed as a naval officer married them, and they had a small band and flowers—the whole bit. I just happened to be fishing there that day and don’t know if it’s happened more than once out there but it sure was interesting (and I never found out if the bride and groom were pier rats). However, when I suggested to my daughter Kimberly that she might want to get married out at the end of a pier in honor of her father, perhaps at Pacifica, she just sort of turned up her nose and walked away. Guess a few sea gull droppings, dried bullhead slime, fish guts, and miscellaneous other interesting tidbits at the pier just didn’t appeal to her as the proper ambiance for a wedding. Of course I didn’t get married on a pier either. However, on the second morning of our honeymoon (back in ’66) I did manage to rent a rowboat and paddle out from the pier at Avalon (on Catalina) and do a little fishing. Pat watched me from the window of our hotel and says that she knew right then that she would always have to share me with the fish (the only significant other is a fish—sounds strange). But we’ve been married 34 years now so I guess we both have adjusted fairly well.

Posted by Kyle

I also saw a marriage at the Redondo Beach Sportfishing Pier.

Posted by baitfish

I knew I had a keeper when she suggested we go charter fishing on our honeymoon! Tight Lines, Baitfish

Posted by Leapin Bass

When a woman is willing to float tube in the ocean you know you’ve found the right woman!

Posted by Dave.Mush

We have a winner.

Posted by Snookie

I made sure that HE knew how to fish before I would marry HIM. We still fish together on our boat and the surf but I fish the pier without him. It is now 43 years later and we are still fishing. You see? It works both ways.

Posted by stinkyfingers

Snookie, I’ve been waiting to hear from you on the subject. I showed this whole string of messages to my girlfriend and she loved it! She was huggin’ and kissin’ away…Anyhow, she wanted me to pass on a thanks to all you folks, especially Ken, she loved your stories. We just made her an id for this board, too—she’s “stinkyswoman.” It’s nice to know that we’re all good men out there. I’ve noticed that fisherman treat their women well. Cheers to us all!

Posted by Snookie

Welcome Stinkyswoman. Snookie

Posted by Ken Jones

And now the wedding is scheduled for December!  A toast to Martin and Lisa

 Stinkyfinger (Martin) and Dolphinrider (Lisa) arrive at Avalon for the first Catalina Get Together in 2002


Although Lucy rarely posts any longer she deserves a place in the PFIC Hall of Fame. She was witty, sharp as a tack, and didn’t suffer fools too readily. She helped the board grow and for that I am thankful.

Date: May 4, 2002

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Ken Jones

Subject: We want YOUR autobiographies…












Ron Crandell

Who did I miss?

Posted by lucy

Well, if you insist . . . Screen Name: lucy

Real Name: Madonna. No, wait, that’s wrong—this week I’m Cindy Crawford. No, wait, I misplaced my mole, so I have to be somebody else until I find it. (Note to self: fire personal assistant and hire one who can keep track of that damn mole.)

Personal Information/Occupation: Ask my P.R. agent. Oh, wait—forget that, I fired him because he misplaced one of my limousines. Ask my biographer. No, leave her alone, she’s busy writing my bio. Or she’d BETTER be. Oh, hell, just make something up; that’s what everybody ELSE does. (Note to self: tell lawyer to sue the National Enquirer, again. Also hire hit man to “take care” of big-mouthed former high-school classmate for telling all those LIES.)

Seriously, though, I haven’t been fishing long enough on a more-or-less regular basis to have much of interest to say. Aside from a little fishing during childhood, I’ve only been fishing a couple of years, and most of that has been confined to places I can travel to easily and quickly by public transit—i.e., the north shore of San Francisco (Fort Point, Crissy Field, Yacht Harbor Jetty, Muni Pier.) I’ve grown pretty bored with those (and pretty tired of the delay and inconvenience of public transit), so I’m saving up to buy a vehicle.

As for a favorite pier, I don’t have one yet, nor do I have any “memorable” pier fishing experiences to share. Same goes for favorite fish—I haven’t caught enough different kinds yet to be able to say.

Words of wisdom? Well, considering my comparative lack of experience, I’m not exactly a font of fishing knowledge, but here goes: First, buy a car BEFORE you take up fishing; you’ll save yourself an immense amount of wasted time, annoyance, and frustration. Second, study and learn everything you can, but don’t try to do it all at once or you’ll go nuts. Focus on one thing at a time. Finally, use the Internet—there’s an IMMENSE amount of information available, and it’s free—all you have to do is look for it.

Posted by PierHead

Why so modest? Certainly someone who could manage over 1,200 posts to the board has something to say! I can understand your reasons for not sharing personal info but as one of the few women on the board who actively post your reasons for taking up fishing (and your initial experiences and reactions) would be of considerable interest to the rest of us. And it might encourage more women to begin posting as well.  Please reconsider.  PierHead

Posted by Songslinger

Which means you probably know more about Fort Point, Crissy Field, Yacht Harbor Jetty, Muni Pier than 99% of us. That’s vital knowledge. I can understand demurring from personal information, though. I’m always worried people are going to show up at my door and borrow money.

Posted by lucy

Modest? MODEST??? Wah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha

No, I’m not at all modest, just a smart-ass. Since my own life isn’t all that intriguing, I thought I’d try to toss some humor in there. As for number of posted messages, that doesn’t mean diddly, except that I probably spend more time reading and posting on this board than I spend fishing. But if you really want the dull details, here goes:

I live and work in San Francisco. Occupation is officially “document processing,” but what that usually means is fixing other people’s documents after they’ve screwed them up so badly that nothing works. Other things I’ve done include tending bar, managing an apartment building, and selling encyclopedias door-to-door—or maybe I should say, NOT-selling encyclopedias. As a salesman, I was an abysmal flop. Actually, I like my present job, and so when I hear somebody say that “The worst day fishing is still better than the best day working,” I can’t agree—I’d much rather be sitting in a nice warm office, surfing the internet or even working, than freezing my buns off on a pier while catching nothing but hypothermia. I’m NOT one of these die-hard types who can spend six or seven hours suffering serious physical discomfort while getting skunked and still manage to talk themselves into believing they had a good time.

I have three cats and a boa constrictor, and more hobbies and interests than I have enough time for. In fact, I haven’t been fishing much lately because I’ve been busy with other stuff—some of it other hobbies, but most of it long-neglected chores that got put off in favor of fishing—like trying to clean out that hell-hole of junk that’s SUPPOSED to be a walk-in closet. “Walk-in,” HAH! It’s more like, put on a hard hat, assume a defensive posture, and open the door V-E-R-Y slowly. I spend a lot of time looking up stuff, both fishing-related and otherwise, on the Internet. Some of the things I’ve done or at least dabbled in: origami, carving soapstone, woodworking (I built the cabinet in which the boa constrictor resides), sewing (not my favorite, but I CAN do it if I have to), and leather work (which somehow doesn’t qualify as “sewing” in my mind, even though it involves sewing). I even once taught myself to crochet, concluded that it was way tedious, and that was the end of THAT.

On the topic of fishing as it relates specifically to women—I think one reason there are so few women who fish is that for many years, fishing was largely regarded as a “male” activity, like hunting, and most of the men who fished would take their sons fishing but not their daughters. That’s changing, and one of the things I like about this board is seeing the number of fathers who take their daughters fishing, or plan to when the daughters are old enough. There’ll certainly be less of a male-female imbalance among anglers in the future.

Another thing is that many areas are decidedly woman-UNfriendly because of the lack of restrooms. A man can unzip and take a whizz anywhere where there’s a bit of concealment (and I’ve seen a number of them who didn’t even bother to try to conceal what they were doing), but a woman can’t. Consider Muni Pier, for instance—there are restrooms, BUT they’re only open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., which is totally stupid in view of the fact that the pier is open 24 hours a day and the area is heavily visited by tourists and sight-seers well into the evening. There’s a Port-O-San halfway out on the pier, but it’s so utterly vile that you’d have to be in the worst of dire straits to be willing to use it—and frankly, I think I’d rather climb up the hill, go into the bushes, and run the risk of encountering a skunk! In many places of course, there are no “facilities” at all, and if there aren’t any handy bushes around, a woman is just out of luck. Anatomy may not be destiny, but it can certainly be irksome!

Another thing too is that women are much more worried than men about being victims of crime, and considering that one out of every four women is raped, and many more are subjected to lesser but still frightening assaults, their worry is justified. A man may feel perfectly safe going to the beach alone at night to fish—but a woman wouldn’t, not unless she was six feet tall and a black belt in kung fu and had a couple of loaded Uzis with her—and even then, she’d probably be looking over her shoulder so much that she’d get whiplash.

On the other hand, I think too many women are fearful when they don’t really need to be, and allow their fear of what “could” happen to limit them too much. Yes, you MIGHT run into trouble fishing on the shore at night—but you could just as easily run into trouble anywhere else. I may be lucky, but so far, I haven’t had ANY seriously unpleasant run-ins with anybody while fishing, and certainly none that involved violence or even a fear of violence. The worst I’ve run into so far is the occasional bore who comes up and starts giving me all kinds of unasked-for advice and telling me about all the fish he claims he caught last week or last month or whenever.

Now, as for being all that knowledgeable about Fort Point, Crissy Field, etc., I don’t think I am. Hell, Striperkiller, who has been fishing those areas for years, knows FAR more about them than I do, so he’d be the one to ask. For about the first year I fished around here, I didn’t really know what I was doing, didn’t know much about tides or currents or what fish to fish for when, etc. I’m somewhat more knowledgeable now, but a long way from being any kind of expert. Ask me again ten years from now, and then I might be more qualified! There!

Posted by pescare

Very Cool.

Posted by Sinker

Well now Lucy,

Smart-ass—I think not, good sense of humor I’d say and at times a bit off center, but good nonetheless.

Fully agree with your remarks about the number of posts.

As for jobs—mine is a long list of good to bad. The one I have now allows me to be with my daughter and time to fish—I am a lucky man.

Facilities on piers are lacking, for women and men alike. True men can just unzip, however this is not appropriate or right in my eyes. The restrooms on my local pier close before the restaurant does—go figure. As a gentleman I have on a number of occasions walked with women to a secluded spot, turned my back and let them take care of business, then returned them safely to the pier to continue fishing.

I would gladly escort you to the pier and back home but alas I do not live in your area. I am not a pervert (I don’t think), would not try anything. Now I am not a big guy so am not intimidating to others, although I have been told my looks could scare them away (I don’t think they meant that in a good way either) however due to past experiences and jobs I am capable of taking care of myself.

I too feel I know very little about fishing, in fact when you started talking about tides and what fish to target I realized your knowledge is superior to my own. We can all learn something from most anybody. I feel as though my bio has no place being with most of these others as I am far from their level. Hell if I got time, I throw in some bait and hope for the best and that is about it.

Then again I have never met you. You could be a psycho woman who would let me walk you out to a secluded spot and then cut off my head or something gruesome like that. Hope you’re not.  “Get Bent”  “Sinker”

Posted by PierHead

Good stuff! I knew your autobiography would be interesting—you have a work background as varied as my own. And as for sales I too was a dud.  Nothing like having a customer service job (billing inquiries for the telephone company) turn into a hard sales hit on every caller. I just couldn’t do that and was secretly proud that I was always the low salesperson for the month! Got out of there just ahead of the dreaded ‘pink slip’. But not before carpal tunnel caught up with me – word of advice: Take ergonomics seriously; I can’t play my guitar anymore even after the surgery. As for roughing it, I’ve been there and done that. No need to prove anything anymore. All I look for is a bench and a railing—out of the wind! If there are fish and people to talk to so much the better! Looking forward to seeing you at the Mud Marlin Derby! Maybe all of us novices can sit together so we won’t feel so intimidated—hehe!  PierHead


The student was asking questions and the board was providing answers.

 Some of the answers bear repeating.

Date: November 10, 2005

To: PFIC Message Board

From: soc student

Subject: Fishing community

Got another question, how many people do you usually fish with? What types of people are these? Friends? Relatives? Fishing legends? If you’re inclined…. why do you fish with these people? Thanks again for all the help! Joel

Posted by eelmaster

Friends, to show ‘em how it’s done, of course.

Posted by soc_student

Competitive nature in pier fishing? Any of you guys do that whole betting thing, fishing pots? Or is it enough to pull in a bigger fish, kick back and not say anything (everything that can be said, is currently waiting for a place on the dinner table)?

Posted by eelmaster

ALL fishermen are a little competitive. I don’t care who they are. Funny thing is, I have never been competitive in sports. When I played baseball, if I blew a save, it really didn’t bother me. I mean I gave it my best. It’s different with fishing for some reason. I do like to gamble, but it’s completely out of line in fishing. IMHO Instead, it’s more of a “I already have two on the deck. Where’s yours?”

Posted by pinoy

My wife is fishing with me all the time. It’s a hobby that we both enjoy. If there’s no fish, then we just have long conversations and relaxing time.

Posted by Ken Jones

Piers are by their nature social institutions. If you want solitude you’re a surf or rock angler; most piers are too crowded to provide that feeling. However, I typically fish alone until I have a chance to meet a new pier rat and then I often have a new, ready-made friend.

Posted by jae519

Roommate: Fortunately my roommate likes fishing so I usually go fishing with him whenever he is available.

Neighbor: He sometimes goes fishing with me in order to see how people catch fish on the pier. (He is a boat-fishing guy.)

School friends: I go fishing with them to introduce and teach how to fish on the pier including fishing etiquette and fishing regulation. Some never went fishing before, and the others had only done freshwater fishing.


There comes a time in (I think) most angler’s fishin’ days when doubt enters into the soul.

The appreciation that develops over time in regard to our natural surroundings

 is multiplied when we observe the fish we catch. An affinity develops and sometimes the affection leads to a question: “is it right to fish for and kill these creatures?”

The answer, my friends, has to come from within your personal heart and soul but the following posts show how the arguments are answered by some.

Date: October 24, 2005

To: PFIC Message Board

From: pierhead

Subject: Confessions of a reluctant angler … (longish)

Many men go fishing all their lives without realizing that it is not fish they are after Recently I ran across an old post of mine that used this quote in the signature. Thoreau probably meant it to be provocative and this time it was … it started me thinking about why I go fishing … what am I “after”?

Here are some of my reflections…

First and foremost I enjoy the constant intellectual stimulation that comes from learning about the environment and the various ecosystems around me.

I grew up reading the old National Geographic and became somewhat of an amateur naturalist … collecting and studying all sorts of creatures … frogs, snakes, mice, butterflies etc. I joined scouting as a way to further that interest and to hone my collecting skills. After school I did my homework at the local library where books on the outdoors were a frequent, but welcome, distraction. On weekends I was either haunting the local Museum of Natural History, standing in awe of the dioramas and other displays, or out in the nearby foothills, creeks and beaches actively exploring.

Fishing was frequently a part of those explorations and I gloried in being able to try out newly acquired skills and knowledge in predicting when and where the fish would be and what combination of baits or lures and retrieval techniques might attract them.

But, always, there was a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that it didn’t seem right to put a fish through all that without a better reason than momentary satisfaction. I was uncomfortable with the blood and the occasional fatalities. It wasn’t so much the amount of harm that I was doing to fish, as important as that is, because my ‘take’ was minuscule and I’m aware of recent scientific studies that seem to indicate that there is not much pain involved. But still the fact that I was prepared to inflict even minor pain, in pursuit of pleasure has always bothered me. Why this particular sensitivity I don’t know nor no longer question … it’s just me.

Documenting my catches for the reef species survey at Goleta or meat fishing for myself or others didn’t bother me as much … those fish were being utilized for a good cause and I employed circle hooks and other techniques to reduce the incidental damage. Even the extended out of water photo sessions for subsequent posts seemed justified as long as the intent was to be informative and promote an interest in pier and shore angling.

Eventually though even those reasons failed to pacify my uneasiness and I found myself fishing less and less … mostly in solo trips along the coast … as much for the peace and solitude as for the angling itself.

To be honest I can’t say that I ever needed to fish for food and I rarely eat finfish anyway, other than halibut. But I do enjoy exploring new areas and fishing allowed me to get a bit closer to nature than I otherwise would. Unfortunately the method used in satisfying my interest resulted in some pain and often-considerable stress for the fish. Feeling the way I did was beginning to have its effect.

Unlike PETAns I certainly don’t think that what’s appropriate for me should be the norm … it’s just most ethical positions are on a continuum and I happen to find myself at the far end of this one. Many anglers decide to opt out at various levels for personal reasons … hence the popularity of C&R and the reluctance some feel at exclusively targeting species for the fight alone. The question I’m asking myself then is where do I stand… where do I draw the line?

Do I have to give up fishing all together or is there a middle way … one that would allow me to continue participating without making myself uncomfortable? I think there might be.

Tentatively I have been exploring hookless fishing…, which relies instead on finessing the fish to the surface for identification, and into the (soft) net if necessary, while it is still holding onto the bait. In the past I have had some accidental success with halibut and lingcod … both toothed species with reduced inclination to let go once they have fully committed. For me this is certainly an intriguing approach and if successful could overcome many of the objections raised against our sport … but I think it is still going to be a difficult transition :)

What I want to assure the rest of you is that I am really trying to keep an open mind on this and there is no intent to be judgmental -this is just a personal struggle I’m going through. The reason that I am sharing this is that I suspect that I am not the only one who feels uncomfortable and it might be good subject for a general discussion.

And perhaps I’ll pick up a few tips on how to avoid what looks like a spectacular upcoming run of skunked outings. Peace, Pierhead, Proud Supporter of UPSAC

Posted by socaljerry

Being there is a good enough… Reason to fish. I often say that fishing is an excuse to be out of doors in scenic locations. Although like you stated I wouldn’t turn down a fat halibut. I have had offers to go on fishing trips where the bite is hot but the location is drab and ugly and opted to fish in some beautiful location only to get skunked. It’s like I say fishing is not what we do, it’s who we are.

Posted by Red Fish

Imply having a respect for nature as indigenous people do.

Posted by surfNturf

For me, fishing is solitude, a way to get away from the rat race and sort my thoughts. It makes me feel alive and present on the earth while at the same time making me aware that my time here is limited.

I don’t mind a bit taking fish that I’m going to eat, not waste. I will even take one or two fish home for my dogs if I can. They love to eat them and I can tell that it gives them a vigor that they are not getting from eating canned dog food.

When I catch a fish that is undersized or undesirable, I either remove the hook using my fingers or maybe a pair of long nose pliers, or, if that is not possible, I cut the tip off the hook with a large pair of wire cutters. The hook comes right out and back in the water they go. I think fish are a resource, meant for harvesting, and needing to be respected. And we can and should do both.

Posted by mel

Fishing is a culmination of things…and when you catch fish, you get paid off for all of your planning. It’s so nice when you’re rewarded for your time and effort that you put in, especially when targeting a certain species. I don’t know why it is I’m so “hooked” on fishing, but I don’t know what I’d be doing otherwise.

Posted by Lucky Larry

There’s no question why I fish, when I was a kid (this was more than 40 years ago) we had a cottage on a lake in Michigan. We had a wooden rowboat, fished with cane poles, and everything we caught that was legal was cleaned, fried and eaten. I don’t think we needed to catch fish to eat but we enjoyed catching them and we enjoyed eating them.

A hundred and fifty years ago my grandfather’s grandfather may have needed to catch fish to eat and he probably enjoyed the fishing as well as the eating. Nowadays, if my family wants fish for dinner, it’s more likely to come from Whole Foods than from the ocean. But I still like to fish and sometimes I like to eat what I catch. Although I’m glad my family’s supper isn’t dependant on it.

Posted by josh

Fish lack the nerve center needed to process pain. They do not manifest emotion at the level you and I think of it, although they do have basic emotional states. They are a resource, just like lettuce or cotton. Work to maintain and nurture the resource, enjoy it, and be confident that you are in the right.

You are probably indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds or thousands of animals that do feel pain, die slow unhappy deaths after short unhappy lives, and do feel complex emotion – this too is ok, but it’s something most people avoid confronting and never come to terms with. Fishing should be the last thing on your mind. Everybody from time to time will see a fish gasping on a cold pier deck and feel bad for it – this is a comforting reminder that we haven’t lost all our empathy and caring – I’ve thrown back edible fish for no other reason than that I wanted to see them swim away – but on a realistic level, it’s pointless. Do what you are comfortable with, but be sure you have reason to feel the way you do.

Posted by sandpounder

Very thoughtful. But only you can judge the benefit/risk that you are creating. Your beliefs are well founded… but, for me, I believe that “respectful fishing,” meaning caring for the fish & taking only what you need, is all that is necessary. If MORE fishermen were like you, this great thing we call “fishing” would be better!

Posted by bigfoot

I’ve been struggling with this for the last few months, and you’ve really hit it on the head.

I don’t really know what to say at this point, I’ve only recently begun exploring the issue. But yes, lately I’ve grown uncomfortable with fishing.

Posted by josh

Also, you got me thinking about why we fish. There are a lot of things people like doing. What our hobbies are, what we do for fun, these things are the result of a lot of things – our upbringing, our income, what we’re exposed to and what our personality is like. Most of these things, whether it be sports, cars, fishing, hunting, hiking, involve an identical set of features: A basic social association with others in your group, a skill set and field of knowledge that is necessary to move up in ability or participation, the opportunity to go out to new places or get away from everyday life, and challenges and risks that reward you if you succeed.

Frankly, I think they are largely interchangeable. If I’d grown up in a different family, with a bigger emphasis on sports, or hunting, or dirt bike racing, I’d be doing that. What matters is that those basic features are present. If you tried to get me into competitive poker today, I’d have zero interest. It’s hard to think that kind of thing would ever appeal to me. I’m not so sure, though, that at one point it wouldn’t.

This can be a very difficult idea to accept – it’s a bit hard to think that this thing that you love is no different from everything else. You can say that fishing has things that you know you like – the ocean, the chance to enjoy nature and see exotic sea life up close. I’d wonder if, at one point, those things wouldn’t have been that interesting. I think our hobbies dictate our interests as much as our interests dictate our hobbies.

But, enough psychoboredom. This is about the fishing, and I should get to that. If something about your hobby, fishing in this case, is making you unhappy, I think your interests will shift to accommodate this. You might find something else that has the same elements of a hobby that you like, without the guilt. I guess what I’m saying is, have you ever tried scuba diving?

Posted by mel

I may be making up for lost time too? My Dad was an avid fisherman. I remember as a child being amazed at the huge stripers he would catch at Ocean Beach (SF) in the surf and huge halibut from Bakers. About 20 years ago I laid down my fishing rods, and pursued other things. My dad passed away almost 10 years ago. I really began to miss him, and about 4 or 5 years ago decided to pick up my fishing rods again. I don’t think I’ll ever lay them down again. The comfort and solitude that I find when fishing is irreplaceable and cannot be duplicated by anything else.

Posted by kenj5

I “joined” this website a few weeks ago, as a source of good info regarding the hobby/ sport that I would like to rejoin after 40 years of “not enough time”. I appreciate the information shared by all of you.  This thread has shown that I am in the company of a group of diverse, thought provoking people…Thank-you!

Posted by Ken Jones

Back in the early ‘70s, I too went through a period of doubt regarding fishing. The question was not could I fish but should I fish. I had become pretty proficient by that time, and was able to catch fish pretty easily, but amidst all the news in the papers regarding declines in the numbers of fish and the environmental reports predicting doom I just wasn’t sure if it was the thing to do.

Obviously I resolved my personal doubt on the side of fishing and decided to plunge forward. Today I consider myself an ardent conservationist angler and for the most part I am also a catch and release angler. But, I do not feel there is a moral problem catching fish and/or killing a fish for bait or food. If I believed there was a moral imperative against killing fish I think I would also have to be a vegetarian since it would be the putting to death of another creature that would be the issue. Some say the only issue is they themselves putting a creature (fish) to death but when you think of the millions of creatures raised for the slaughterhouse, I think the issue become greater than just personal involvement in the killing. The issue may be moral equivalency among species. Is the life of a spider equal (in whatever way) to the life of a human? Same for any other species. Some religions teach that there is this equivalency; most of us reject that thesis. But it’s also one of those questions that cannot be answered by science; it can only be answered by the thought process taking place in individual minds. In some ways it is like the question of a soul. There is no proof that humans do indeed have a soul but the mere fact that we are concerned with other species, and are engaged in a discussion such as this would, I argue, be a good indicator that humans do indeed have souls.

Posted by Green Shark

Hello to all! This post is very interesting.

The only fish I really feel bad for that are kept/eaten (except in life/death situations i.e. starvation) are the sharks…………… they are apex predators and are vital to the ecosystem.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Would I eat a HAWK?

Would I eat a BEAR CUB?

Would I eat a WOLF?

Then ask yourself………Would I eat a SHARK?

There are plenty of other tasty fish out there that reproduce more frequently and produce offspring than sharks. Please C&R all sharks………

Posted by Ken Jones

Actually I have eaten bear meat. My grandfather used to have a cabin in Mist, Oregon that was surrounded by apple orchards and the bears loved to dine on those apples. One bear got a little too comfortable and finally had to be shot. We had bear meat (hamburger) that was somewhat sweet, probably due to the apples.

As for bear cub meat, no, I’ve never had it. But bear cub meat would probably be more tender than adult bear meat and if we used the slot approach for bears as we do for some fish, it would make more sense to kill a cub than a reproducing adult. Right?

As for your question/supposition, personally I think it is hard to say it’s OK to eat one fish but not another. True we all have our favorites, and some reproduce differently than others, but they are still fish.

I’m reminding of a time when Pierhead caught a bat ray in Morro Bay and gave it away only to later regret it forever. That bat ray had looked up at Boyd with its Bette Davis eyes (which are unlike most fish) and it was the last time he fished for a bat ray. I know how he felt having seen a few of those eyes myself but also feel that every fish should be given respect—even the lowly bullheads and throw-em-backs. Each fish serves its place in nature and while we should recognize and respect that fact we do not need to glamorize it.

Posted by Lucky Larry

We may be evolving toward non-fisherman. What I was trying to say in my earlier post in this thread is that we are changing, slowly, from a race of hunter-gatherers to other means of food production. Within the span of several generations we have gone from reliance on fishing for sustenance to fishing becoming more of a pastime. In some of us the instinct to fish is still very strong. Those who question the morality of fishing only have the luxury of doing so because of the advances in out technology, etc. As time goes by the instinct in people to catch fish may disappear. As many have said in this thread, it’s up to individuals to decide for themselves and respect the decisions of others.

Posted by Ken Jones

Nah, we’re still killers and meat eaters at heart. We just don’t like to admit it.

Posted by StripeSideChaser

Sorry, but I refuse to evolve!  As long as I can make fire and spear animals, why would I want to change?




4 Responses to The Pier Rats Speak, Vol. 1, Chapter 2

  1. Glen Gustavson-Falck says:

    I’m sorry but you may not use my song for publication. It is copyrighted. As indicated. My permission is required and is not given at this time.

    “(C) Songslinger, 1996″

    • Glen Gustavson-Falck says:

      Someone has made this a PFIC Message Board issue. IT IS NOT. It is a legal issue concerning copyright and the author’s rights. Read this:

      I would have preferred to stay out of the fray–and especially out of PFIC, at which I have not posted for over two years. But the owner of this site has had attribution problems in the past. The rigs illustrated in the 2nd Edition of Pier Fishing In California were drawn by me, but nowhere am I cited or accredited. Common courtesy should have applied then.

      If it becomes a subject for the titterers and gossips at PFIC, then additionally:

      I was recently banned from the message board even though I have not posted there since November 2011. I do not quarrel with the decision, though it is a petty one based on private messages which should have remained so–and publishing those is in fact in violation of the STATED forum rules. But it is beyond chutzpah to ban me and yet use my words. Even so, it is unlawful to republish copyrighted material without the author’s written permission. Which I am not granting.

      Due diligence is given and copies of this post have been recorded for future action.

      Leave me out of these writings. And, if the owner of this site has any shred of decency, he will delete all Tackle Tips on the PFIC site. Only fair. Ban me, then be thorough about it and not reprehensible.

    • kenjones says:


      I am a little amazed at your comments although I understand your anger at the ban. I have no problem removing your song and have just done so. When I posted it I gave your name and your copyright date which I thought clarified that you were the author but if you do not want it in there, no problem. As for the rigs you mentioned in PFIC, 2nd Ed., the title by the rig says “Songslinger’s Berkeley Pier Rigging” which I thought gave you credit. I did not go into greater detail because you had once said you did not invent the rig and thus didn’t deserve credit. Although you have not posted for quite a time I never banned you until a few days ago and that was due to sending PM messages through the site. If you want to send someone an email message that’s your business but people who post on the site should not have expectations of receiving attack-type PM’s due to the mechanics of the site.

  2. Glen ustavson-Falck says:

    Thank you.

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