The Pier Rats Speak, Vol 1, Chapter 1

Chapter One

Piers, Pier Rats and the Pier Rat Nation

The title is “The Pier Rats Speak,” but just exactly what is a pier rat?  Scientifically, humans and rats are both members of the Animal Kingdom and share a phylum—Chordata, as well as a class—Mammalia. However, that’s where the two species break apart with humans falling into the order of Primate and rats into the order Rodentia. The genus-Homo, and species-sapiens, is of course unique while the rats’ genus-Rattus has more than fifty species. But again, we’re talking here of pier rats, an unusual critter found only in certain localities. Scientifically I guess they would be in the animal kingdom, chordates, and mammals but homo-rattus seems a little weird for a genus name and the species might carry a name unique for each pier. Science does not provide the answer for the rats themselves, instead an esoteric list of traits and actions better define and gives insight into the species.

However, when I dared posit the question of pier rat nomenclature to the PFIC board, one of the board’s most articulate, eloquent and erudite writers responded brilliantly:

Date: August 26, 2006

To: PFIC Message Board

From: dompfa ben

Subject: Highlights from PFIC taxonomy

The full Linnaean classification for Pier Rats is Animalia Chordata1 Mammalia Primates Hominidae Homo sapiens, or for purposes of brevity, the binomial nomenclature, Homo sapiens.

[1 This species should not be confused with the Common Poacher, whose Phylum is Platyhelminthes. Like the tapeworm, the Common Poacher is a spineless parasite.]

Understanding the wily pier rat, however, is not that simple. Without an advanced degree in cladistics, or, barring that, a holistic understanding of phylogenetic systematics, we can never fully comprehend the myriad subspecies, forms, and varieties of Pier Rat. However, the following list identifies several that one might encounter on a pier (note: this is not a complete list)

Homo sapiens sanguinea From the Latin word for blood/red, this variety is easily identified by terrible sunburn.

Homo sapiens rugosa From the Latin word for wrinkles, rugosa are common at piers between the hours of 9 A.M. and 5 P.M.

Homo sapiens scandens From the Latin word for climbing, scandens rarely fish, instead climbing around on the pier railing near fishing varieties.

Homo sapiens arenaria From the Latin word for sand, arenaria usually starts fishing on the beach, but comes up on the pier during low tide, to get bait or snacks, etc.

Homo sapiens glacialis From the Latin for “from cold places,” this subspecies is found only during the coldest nights on San Francisco area piers. Often confused with Homo sapiens nocturna.

Homo sapiens prostrata Characterized by falling asleep on the pier surface.

Homo sapiens viscosa A sticky variety, viscosa is always covered with a thick coating of fish slime. Closely related to Homo sapiens malodorata.

Homo sapiens dompfaeii Yours Truly.

 But what about that esoteric list of traits and actions that I mentioned.

Date: August 9, 2004

To: PFIC Message Board

From: oldmanandthesea

Subject: Are you a Pier Rat?

If you rummage through your local pizza joints trash looking for discarded anchovies to use as bait……You might be a Pier Rat. If you haven’t had a bite in hours and getting hooked up in a kelp paddy gives you a thrill…….You might be a Pier Rat. If your clothes smell like bait and it inspires you to go fishing…….You might be a Pier Rat. If you fish on your lunch hour and have squid tentacles on your sandwich……you might be a Pier Rat. If pushing your pier cart wears you out…….you might be a Pier Rat. If you climb down pilings to get mussels……you might be a Pier Rat.

Posted by SDBrian

“If you climb down pilings to get mussels……you might be a Pier Rat.” That is Big Rich! Great stuff. You are the man Rich.

Posted by garth

If you find sliding sinkers, barrel swivels, and scrounged swim baits in your pockets at work…you might be a pier rat.

If you’ve caught more than two birds on fishing line in your life…you might be a pier rat.

If you can base you entire opinion of a person on whether or not they throw back that 11 and 15/16″ sand bass…you might be a pier rat.

Garth and daughter Lisa — Oceanside Pier

Posted by dompfa ben

…if you’ve ever flossed fast food out of your teeth with 20 lb. test, you might be a pier rat.

…if you’ve ever used part of your sandwich or burger to chum for baitfish, you might be a pier rat.

…if your clock radio alarm is set to indicate the time to wake up for high tide, and not to indicate morning sunlight, you might be a pier rat.

…if the popsicles in your freezer have a subtle “bait” flavor, you might be a pier rat.

…if you’ve ever wrapped up a serving of “all u can eat” shrimp in a napkin, and slipped it into your pocket for later use as bait, you might be a pier rat.

…if your bathroom has several old Cabela’s catalogs and a water-stained copy of PFIC 2nd edition, with a brand new 3rd edition on top of it, you might be a pier rat.

…if you have ever packed a black lawn and leaf bag for a fishing trip “just in case it rains,” you might be a pier rat.

…if your car’s glove box is an eclectic mix of lures, line, sinkers, and sunflower seeds, you might be a pier rat.

…if you’ve ever thought your neighbor’s kid’s stroller could be retrofitted into a great pier cart, you might be a pier rat.

…if you’ve ever ruined a perfectly good pair of shoes catching sand crabs, you might be a pier rat.

…if showering between fishing trips has been put on hiatus, “because you’re just going to get fishy again anyway…” you might be a pier rat!










Dompfa Ben and a bonito from the Cabrillo Mole, Avalon, Catalina Island

Posted by gordo grande

If your wife asks “Do all of our vacations have to be near the ocean?” you’re a pier rat.

If fishing rods and reels have taken over your garage, you’re a pier rat.

If you keep an “emergency” rod and reel in your trunk at all times, “just in case,” you’re a pier rat.

If you lie awake at night, thinking of new and improved pier carts, you’re a pier rat.

If all your boat fishing buddies think you’re nuts, you’re a pier rat.

If you tell them that you fish for free twice a week, you’re a pier rat.

If you travel hundreds of miles to hang out with friends you only know by cryptic screen names, you’re a PFIC pier rat.

Gordo Grande (left) and an angel shark from the Avila Pier

Posted by garth

I keep six rods and reels, plus a hoop net, an umbrella net, a tackle box, four sand spikes, and two folding chairs (and a small folding cart) in my trunk at all times. Oh my!

Posted by gordo grande

My trunk isn’t that big, or I would keep that much as well. You should have seen the back of my old pickup truck.

Posted by Heretic

You can too fit it all into a small car, Gordo! My 2001 Honda Civic Coupe trunk: bucket, hoop net, two folding chairs, tackle box, rope, 60 qt rolling cooler, aerator, and backpack with various snacks, supplies, Ken’s book, and a blanket for those benches. If I really need to jam it up, I can put the four rods there too, but just to prevent damage, they’re in the back seat. I have these at all times in case I need to escape from work. Needless to say, when I go grocery shopping the stuff goes into the cooler or the passenger seat now. Heh.

Posted by gordo grande

I think you need a minivan!!!!

Posted by oldmanandthesea

If your screen name is dompfa ben and you can think up that many quips……You might be a Pier Rat.

Posted by  StripeSideChaser

If your name isn’t Ken Jones, and you are reading this, you are probably a pier rat!

Posted by  Red Fish

If you expect a pier fishing website to solve all of your life’s problems and issues, then you are probably a pier rat.

If every timeout you get at work you are looking to see if even (1) new post has been added since you looked at the site 5 minutes, then you are probably a pier rat.

If you have been going to Berkeley Pier on Friday nights and fishing with Bob instead of out chasing women, then you are probably a pier rat.

Robert (Redfish) and a soupfin shark from the Berkeley Pier

Posted by  Red Fish

Is this a true confession Ben? LOL

Posted by oldmanandthesea

If you wake up early and compose more than one book about pier and shore fishing…you might be a Pier Rat

Posted by John714

When you’re not on the water and instead stuck at home on the web at the message board and constantly hitting the “refresh” button to anxiously see the new reports/pics. Might you be a Pier Rat if you do that?

Posted by 1014

…or stuck at work hitting refresh?

Posted by Daniel E.

Checking PFIC before your e-mail at work. And if PFIC is your home page or at top of favorites list. You might be a pier rat.

And waking up from a nap after fishing from sun up till sundown and getting on-line for a report. You might be a pier rat.

And if you are pulling in the driveway at your home on a hot summer day and your trash can is really putting out the stench and your neighbor has their nose plugged with their fingers. You might be a pier rat.

If you have to force yourself to leave the pier only because you’re worried about falling asleep on the drive home. You might be a pier rat.

Posted by garth

If you go to a fancy restaurant with your girl’s parents, and all you can think is that everything in front of you has been used for bait….you’re a pier rat.

True story. I had seafood linguine (mussels, calamari, clam and shrimp) with calamari appetizers & clam cakes at “Fiore” at Harrah’s Rincon. Delicious and expensive.

Posted by SandCrab

If taking your girlfriend pier fishing for a romantic date, you might be a pier rat.

If you propose to her while pier fishing and she says ye, you both are pier rats!

If you ditch school and go take the bus and go pier fishing you might be a pier rat (btw I’ve done this before).

If you go to class smelling like bait you might be a pier rat.

If you draw things about pier fishing on you notebook you might be a pier rat (done this too. lol

Posted by Ken Jones

If you’re attending a wedding at the Hotel Del Coronado, one of the nicest weddings you’ve ever attended (with great food, great entertainment, and great company—including the groom, your webmaster Rich Reano), and yet you’re watching the time because you and two of the other guests are going to head over to Crystal Pier as soon as the activities wind down. Yes, maybe you are a pier rat!

Rich Reano and a gray smoothhound shark — Coronado Ferry Landing Pier

Posted by PESCADOR

Hahaha I was wondering if you were gonna post that.

San Diego contingent including Webmaster Rich Reano and Arvin (Pescador)

Given the different traits and actions discussed above are we actually discussing a different breed?

Date: August 17, 2004

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Ken Jones

Subject: Are pier anglers a different breed?

For quite some time I have made the proposition that piers are the spawning grounds for California saltwater anglers. Young ‘uns and their families visit the piers, a certain number are infected with the fishing bug, and many of these anglers begin a life-long addiction to fishing.

However, two groups develop. Many, if not most, of these anglers spread out to encompass other types of fishing—surf fishing, rock fishing, boat fishing (1/2 day, 3/4 day, all day, long-range, etc.), and perhaps even freshwater fishing or the newest fads—yaks and tubes. In other words, they fish the whole panoply, or at least a good part of the variety, that makes up the world of sportfishing. Piers become less important while the goal, quite often, becomes bigger and bigger fish (or more exotic fish). They want more excitement. The hunger may or may not be satiated over time. Many of these people do eventually return to the piers when they are older and their outlooks and desires have changed.

A second group seems to be content with pier fishing even though the results (size and number of fish) may not be the same as those commonly encountered on the boats. An occasional boat trip may even take place but the real home is the pier. I have had some people say the difference is monetary. It costs more to fish regularly from a boat no matter if it be a private boat or sportfishing boat. But are the costs involved really that important?

I have long articulated that there is something unique about piers that brings the disciples back, week after week, sometimes day after day, to their favorite piers. Why are so many pier rats content to fish the piers even though their typical daily take may be rather inconsequential? Why is the pier group able to find satisfaction in the experience itself, the fishing itself, in contrast to those who are constantly looking for the bigger and bigger fish?

Are the breeds different? Is one group a more extroverted, testosterone-induced assemblage that craves greater and greater excitement while the other group is more introverted and passive? Is there a basic difference in the value structures of the groups?

What is the main difference between pier rats and those less content to spend their time leisurely fishing from a pier? Or, is there really little or no difference. Your thoughts?

Posted by venom242

Well as for myself, when I go fishing it’s always from a pier. I usually don’t catch much if anything. I get giddy when I get a smelt on a snag line. I don’t really have a fondness of boats. On the open ocean I get sick, and I can’t swim so naturally I am not comfortable on a boat. On a pier, it is solid ground. I like that. The whole pier fishing experience is not all about fishing to me. It is about getting together with friends, taking in the clean ocean air, and relaxing. It is an escape from the daily grind that some of us live. We can go out there and forget our troubles for a little while. It brings us closer to nature. Maybe it even appeals to our hunting instinct. I mean, how often do we go out and kill our own food?

Ok, I may be rambling a bit. Yes, I think I am of a different breed. Going out to the pier is one thing. Catching a fish is like a bonus. If I don’t catch a thing, I can always go away knowing that there’s plenty more fish in the sea.

Posted by pierhead

Agreed… the last thing I want when I go fishing is more hassles — party boats are just that for me. I prefer the slower pace of pier fishing and the ability to choose my own locations and styles of fishing.  Perhaps it would be different on a private boat but unless I owned it I would still have to go with what the owner wants … and then there is the expense and hassle of maintenance etc. Just my 2 cents worth. Pierhead

Boyd (Pierhead) and a large shovelnose shark (guitarfish) — Ventura Pier

Posted by corbinaman1

Very True Venom242.. I have been fishing the DP Harbor Pier some, mainly for the socializing aspect and the swapping of stories with the regulars. Any fish I catch/release there is just a bonus. I do love boat fishing as well, but have gotten tired of the party boat crowds. Enjoy the solitude of rock fishing/surf fishing as well without the crowds. In conclusion, I basically like any kind of fishing regardless of where it is.

Corrbinaman1 and a nice kelp (calico) bass

Posted by thecrw

Convenience, Safety, Monetary…Are some of the reasons why Pier Fishing is the starting point for many anglers. What’s more convenient than pulling into a parking lot, unloading your stuff and fishing off a pier? You have seats, bathrooms, access to your car (most of the time). Even shore fishing is a little more involved cause you usually have to hike over non-paved terrain to get to your spot. Than there’s the safety aspect for those who don’t swim or don’t want to hike over rough terrain. If you have little ones, piers offer some protection (be sure to keep your eyes on them none the less).  Monetarily you don’t have to have a license or spend money on other gear such as waders to go shore fishing. I think given the chance, many who pier fish would like to get on a boat and increase their chance of catching fish. Unless the catching comes secondarily to the serenity of hanging out at the pier or hanging out with your friends. In fact many of the anglers who frequent this board participate in other forms of fishing. Myself, I’m a big proponent of kayak fishing which is gaining momentum in NorCal and have turned on a few anglers from this site to the up and coming sport. So yes there is a difference, BUT there will always be Pier Fishing in my repertoire. ~Elric aka TheCrw

Posted by sethook

Quite different, I must say. Pier rats put in a lot more time to compensate the monetary difference you mentioned. That includes finding the spot, catching fresh bait, keeping it alive/fresh, changing water, netting catch, keeping it fresh, bleeding/cleaning it. That in itself is a joy, for being self-sufficient or just for the fun of it. Another important factor is freedom. The freedom to relocate from one spot to another, to have your space, to pick your fellow rats, or to fish alone, to fish when you want to, leave when you want to, and most importantly, the freedom to carry all the gear & tackle you need. Though it’s great to sometimes get out in open waters and catch the fish, it’s never like catching it from a pier – that is, for a pier rat, even if it took much more time.

Posted by ob pier rat

Is it possible that most of us die hard pier rats are that way because we were exposed to pier fishing at a very young age or as our first exposure to fishing? I know my very first memories of fishing, as a 5 yr old, are from a pier. Since then, I’ve always preferred pier fishing. Sure, I ventured into party boats, offshore charters, freshwater bass boats, etc. but it didn’t take. And no matter where I went I always seemed to take special notice of any pier I saw and wondered about the fishing there. I never was that way about any other fishing methods I tried. Perhaps if a youngster’s first fishing experience is say a boat on a lake, then maybe that person is more prone to become a freshwater bass angler and so on? Just a thought…

Mike (OB Pier Rat) and a bonito from the Ocean Beach Pier

Posted by prometheus

When I first came to CA I was a student with an out of state DL. That meant basically that fishing from the pier was my only option since 80 bucks was too much for a fishing license (they’re $16 in Minnesota). However I really wanted to fish in the ocean, and actually was perusing this site months before coming out here. I was gung-ho to catch a leopard shark – and did land two small ones my first outing. Over time my collection of gear grew and I started buying licenses so I could fish spots like the Bulb and Powell St. After a while I found that these shore spots offered better fishing and much more privacy. I don’t enjoy being surrounded by complete strangers, which is why I never go to smaller crowded piers like Pacifica or Oyster Point, and the behemoth Berkely Pier is my favorite pier. (PFIC members aren’t strangers)

After a trip to Santa Cruz I learned about the skiff rentals there and did that a couple times with decent results, then I saw a tandem kayak in Sportmart for $299 with seats and paddles and thought, shoot that’s four skiff rentals and change and I’m not limited to a few fished out kelp patties. Of course a month later DFG shut down rock fishing…

The kayak gives me the most bang for my buck as far as thrills go, traversing the surf zone subduing big fish on your lap, ect. But it’s got a couple drawbacks, you have to get up extremely early since the weather sours as the day goes by (no beer on Friday night), you have to have your wits about you (no beer), you can’t pee easily (no beer) and you may get seasick (no beer). Now at the Bulb or Berkeley you can kick back in your folding chair with a brewsky and BS the evening away with your mates, and some autumn nights demand such service – so there’s always a place for the shore/pier because you can relax and let your worries fall away.  I’d be happy with my kayak but for two things – the rockfish closures leave me scraping for salmon or halibut, both of which are hit/miss when you’ve only got a mile or two of range – and my wife wants to fish with me, but isn’t really gung ho enough to do the kayak thing. People getting bisected by whitey doesn’t help matters there either (with the wife). So I’ll probably be acquiring a larger craft in the next few years, but it’ll have the same objections that the kayak has (though it’s easier to take a wizz) and a few extra (ramp lines…). So those autumn nights will still see me kicked back somewhere along the shore/pier in my folding chair.

Posted by calrat

It’s more rewarding…While catching a whopping “hog” off a boat is great fun, (I used to have great fun deep sea fishing with my dad and grandfather) I think that it’s more rewarding to catch fish off a pier simply because some of the fish one can “land” are unexpected. My dad used to freak out when I brought home ling cod from the shore thinking that any keepers could only be possible from a boat. On a boat, an angler is taken to the fish, in a pier situation, one must often rely on the ability to “macgyver” a fish in with some thinking and preparation. I think that’s the greatest reward, at least for me.

CalRat (middle) with halibut from the Berkeley Pier

 Pier Rats — Catalina 2006   

 Of course not everyone likes to be called a rat!

Date: May 25, 2006

To: PFIC Message Board

From: danthefisherman

Subject: Why couldn’t we be Pier Cats? Why Rats?!?!

Posted by danthefisherman

NM! I figured it out…it must be the carts packed with junk.

Posted by dompfa ben

Pier Echidnas? Pier Wombats?

Posted by Ken Jones

ME Bad, I always thought it was Pier Brats. Love those sausages. Must be the John Madden in me.

While some may question being called a pier rat, there are others that just plain do not like pier rats—or pier anglers—no matter what we may call them. Of course most people understand that rats fight back when attacked!

Date: August 21, 2005

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Numba1GI

Subject: Regarding pinfish’s earlier message

Pinfish, I agree with you. Piers obviously attract a certain breed of angler, one which is not a true sportsman, and they are here to stay. This board is obviously the mother ship of the stinkin’ rats. I visit this site to get valuable fishing information, because it is here, but I will never really give any real info. I will not contribute to the molestation of our coast as does this site.  It does not take a genius to realize that when you provide a place for these pier rats to report that they are catching a lot of undersize fish or just fish period, this attracts hoards of pier rats to the specified locality who we all know will capitalize on this information and use the info to go fill their buckets up to the brim without any care to the law and to our nearly depleted natural resource. A very elementary mathematical equation indeed. I apologize to those on this site who are sensitive to our oceans and abide by the laws.

Posted by 1014

How unfortunate… how you feel about this website and its users. How even more unfortunate, that you come here and learn valuable information but repay with insults.

Posted by pescare

Yeah, pretty interesting that in all this time he was never moved to help with a tackle question or rod recommendation – or anything. Just sit back, suck up info, and don’t give anything back.

Posted by StripeSideChaser

Lowest form of lurker? Sorry, but if you have nothing to add, maybe you should go somewhere where you can offer some value! People like you are the main reason so many people have quit posting info regarding any areas that can get blown out! Maybe we should all go through life, taking all we can, and giving nothing back! Oh wait, then we’d be like you. Also, how about changing your screen name… it embarrasses us military retirees. What a shame. Maybe I’m just defensive, since I’m proud to be a pier rat. I purchased a nice boat, so I have the choice, but I’ll never quit fishing from piers.

Posted by Red Fish

What makes you think the Rats live here? The Neanderthals that you speak of probably don’t know how to turn on a computer. Not to say anyone that doesn’t own or use a computer is an idiot but let us not be hypocritical. Hypothetically what about the what ifs: What if someone was garnering the information from this board and catching more fish because of that but was following all DFG regulations? Would they be a ‘stinkin’ rat’ then in your estimation? We promote good ethics and conversation as well as C&R here so if one of good brethren and staunch members sees any illegal activity on the water, most of them have cell and know how to use them right G! So, you have a right to feel that way you do but the upright members of this board will defend the good ethics that Ken Jones has established with this very outstanding site. Ask yourself this; is information dangerous?????

Posted by 2d

You obviously have an axe to grind with someone, and I’m guessing that it’s personal. Either some individual on a pier angered you, or you have a personal beef with someone closely affiliated with this board and site.  If you’d bother doing a little checking, I believe that this board is model of ethical angling, erring, if anywhere, on the side of conservative. Each angler from this board that I’ve met has been among the most upright citizens I’ve ever met. I cannot say this about members of other fishing boards that I frequent. If anything, the quick ostracization that reported transgressions are greeted with may be too much, as the board as a collective is sometimes too quick to condemn and too slow to educate. In the end, though infractions are virtually always spotted, pointed out, and the correct course of action is explained.

For you to say that this board promotes illegal and unethical activities is a slap in the face of all ethical anglers who devote time and energy posting, educating and learning here. It is a finger in the eye of the mods and webmaster who donate their time to ensure that this open forum remains worthwhile and family friendly. It is, lastly, an unimaginable insult to the man who provides the site and who literally wrote the book.

So, in the end, you come here, don’t read any posts from the near or far past and proceed to insult the denizens of this online community. Go away. Every community and every civilization is built upon a set or more and ethics by which the inhabitants operate. The obvious one here, if you’d bother to read a little, is that of ethical angling. The more subtle set, which you obviously won’t/don’ get, since you can’t even see the obvious one, is of ethical living. Spouting off insults without basis does not fit.

Posted by pinfish

Yeah, as someone mentioned earlier it happens in other aspects of life as well as other types of fishing. So I can basically say, “why surf fishing can suck” or “why Benicia Salmon fishing can suck” or “why fishing on charter boats can suck.” “why riding on the BART can suck” etc. I do notice that crowds appear after whenever some people post big catches so I’ve reminded myself to not reveal secrets. This board is good though. I’ve been fishing here in California off and on for several years without any consistency and after surfing over to this board and doing my homework searching and reading and comparing I’ve picked up a lot of tips and tricks to improve my game. I owe a lot to this board.

Posted by Red Fish

Welcome to the Pier Rat Nation…as Ken calls it. I just call it the PFIC Board. I still think the word rat should be left out. But, I am glad you are open-minded. Together we can clean up some of the mess out there and set an example. We all need to observe the rules on the water and NONE of us is above the law. And, I may have a few secret spots of my own to put more fish on your stringer in the Bay Area.  Fishing from the shore is not too difficult because there is just so much land that accesses the water. You just need to known the right time to be at the place you are fishing. Let the season be the reason.

Posted by climberb9

“… because the very people responsible for #1-10 are lurkers on this board who leech information and won’t give back.”-Bigfoot. You have described yourself as exactly one of those people. You say you “visit this site to get valuable fishing information, because it is here, but I will never really give any real info. I will not contribute….” You sir, fit bigfoot’s classification to a tee. Is that not rather hypocritical?  And secondly, if this is the mothership of the stinkin’ rats,  that must be implying that Ken Jones is the leader of the stinkin’ rats. Since when has Ken Jones been a stinkin’ rat? lol. I accept your apology personally, although seeing that is 90%+ of us, I think you have gone a little overboard. Perhaps an individual apology would be better. Better start typing, because it will take a while with all of us law-abiding, ocean-respecting, honorable fishermen.

Posted by FakeFisherman

Actually…I’m about 90% more aware of fishing regulations and definitely a more conscientious fisherman since joining these boards. Not to mention the great groups of people I met on this site. Do you even read the posts here or do you just look for fishing reports? There’s a lot of educational info on this site, and for you to say that you’ll never contribute, well that sounds like you’re one of these “stinkin’ rats” that you talk about.

WTG, bro – way to represent.

Posted by pierhead

What we believe …..

The Pier Rats’ Code — As responsible anglers, we recognize that our actions should always be governed by what is right-ethically and legally-and we understand and agree that the best ways to accomplish our goals is through personal example and education.

We’re dedicated to preserving the pier rats’ environment in the following ways:

We will work to protect all species of fish. Fish that will be kept for food will be killed in a humane manner. Fish that are to be returned to the water will be handled with care in an attempt to assure their safe return to the water. All species of fish-both sport fish and incidental species-will be given the same respect and treatment. We will attempt to avoid the capture of unwanted or prohibited species.

We will work to improve the environments of the piers themselves as well as the waters around the piers. We will dispose of trash in trash containers, make sure there are no lines or discarded tackle on the pier, and clean up bait from the surface of piers as well as the railings. Where possible, we will assist in the removal of lines and tackle from pilings and pier structures. We will not throw pollutants (of any type) into the waters adjacent to the pier. We will always try to leave the pier as clean or cleaner than when we arrived.

As guardians of the pier environment, we will, to the best of our ability, try to reason with and correct anglers observed to be acting in a manner detrimental to that environment. We will, if necessary, report cases of abuse to the relevant authorities. Observations of illegal fishing methods will be reported to the Fish and Game Department (CalTip). Observations of destruction to the pier will be reported to local agencies.

We will encourage good fishing etiquette. We will learn and obey all fishing regulations. We will treat fellow anglers with courtesy and respect. We will endeavor to educate our fellow anglers in sound and safe angling methods and fishery conservation.

—Ken Jones

“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

—Baba Dioum

If you can take the time to complain perhaps you should consider taking the time to make a difference as well. Why let those others set the tone on a pier?  Pierhead, Proud Supporter of UPSAC

Posted by Ken Jones

The reason we have PFIC and UPSAC is because some people do indeed fail to practice the ethical and legal approach we espouse. One of our main jobs is education and the results of this 8-year effort are manifest in the opinions AND ACTIONS shown by our regulars. They are conservationist minded, they follow the laws, and they try to do what is right even if sometimes the issue of right and wrong is vague. To slam our group and this site shows a lack of understanding on your part as to what the site is about and insults the “pier rats” that home base on this site.

Posted by Red Fish

Conversation promotes Conservation…that is what I was thinking before. And, this board generates a lot of conversation about fishing and good ethics for fisherman. See Ken, the work of your board continues on and it is not yet time for some to graduate yet!!!!!!!!

Posted by StripeSideChaser

BTW, great way to introduce yourself to this board. I’m sure you’ll make lots of friends here!

But how exactly do you know if you’re a pier rat? The following thread resulted as one consequence of the above thread and it helps answer that question.

Date: August 22, 2005

To: PFIC Message Board

From: dompfa ben

Subject: Proud to be Pier RATS…read on if you are, too.

Perhaps some of the recent negative attitudes about pier anglers could be improved if we put a more positive slant on the term, “RATS.”

The word rat connotes the verminous mammal, nose twitching, beady eyes peering back from amidst the urban rubble. But not all rats are bad. Look at that friendly sewer-rodent in the 1972 classic film, Ben. A young Michael Jackson’s stirring and solemn ballad about his beloved pet rat would make a bricklayer from Patterson, NJ weep in remembrance of pets-gone-by. Walt Disney’s original personification of “Mortimer Mouse” was made more loveable with a name change: Mickey. And who could deny the wily charms of Templeton, the ascetic-yet-loyal rodent from the celebrated film, Charlotte’s Web, voiced ably by the legendary Paul Lynde (perhaps better known as the long-time center square on Hollywood Squares in the 70′s and as “Uncle Arthur” on Bewitched)?

So I got to thinking (you’ve been warned), and I considered that RATS, in the Kenjonesian context, must be a creative acronym, the meaning of which has been surreptitiously albeit deliciously placed in the lexicon of pier anglers. Hoping to achieve an enlightened level of angler-consciousness, I submit, for your consideration, my discoveries about RATS thus far:

RATS: Repeating Angling Techniques for Success

RATS: Real Anglers Tie Squareknots

RATS: Remain Attached To Shore (I like this one!)

RATS: Removing All Trivial Stereotypes

RATS: Rendering Assistance To Someone

RATS: Release All Tiny Seabass

RATS: Reeling Around Tenacious Structure

RATS: Redirecting Apathetic Teenage Stagnance

RATS: Reflecting About Time & Space

RATS: Realizing: Atman, Truth, Soul

RATS: Relaxing At The Shore

RATS: Replacing Antiquated Tackle Selections

RATS: Retaining A Tasty Sea-creature

RATS: Respect, Attitude, Teaching, Sharing

Each of these acronyms, proffered with a bit of humor, reflects and acknowledges some part of the Pier Rats Code. I don’t know whether or not Ken had the above in mind when he popularized the term, “Pier Rat.” A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

I’ve sometimes thought of fishing on a pier like driving on the freeway. You have all types of cars and drivers, all heading to different destinations, each with different levels of driving skill, experience, and purpose for being on the road. Yet at the same time, despite your differences, all of us are heading in the same direction, even if only for a moment, and even if only at our own pace. To be successful on the freeway, you need not know everyone around you, where they are going, what they are doing, and why they do what they do. You only need to know where YOU are going, and GET THERE in a way that respects the rights of others to get where they are going.

Still… imagine a freeway where you DID know everyone around you. Imagine a freeway where everyone allowed others to merge, especially the slow or the inexperienced… where everyone used turn signals for the benefit of others, everyone made a conscious effort to follow the rules of the road, and everyone reaped the benefits of a group of drivers that, despite their different destinations and levels of experience, made the overall experience of being on the freeway BETTER.

Now…imagine a pier that worked like that. This is one of the primary goals of UPSAC, and perhaps the driving force behind PFIC– a pier environment that celebrates and develops a collective and individual sense of COMMUNITY, a sense of DUTY, and a sense of RESPONSIBILITY.

I’m proud and honored to stand and be counted among the ranks of people who believe this is not merely a dream.

With effort (and, uh, a Dominating Positive Fishing Attitude), it’s a distinct possibility.

Thanks for your efforts, and I wish each of you continued good fishing.

Dompfa Ben and a nice calico bass, Cabriillo Mole, Avalon, Catalina

Posted by gyozadude

RATS: Requesting Access To Shorelines

RATS: Requisite Alternative To Sedateness

RATS: Ready At Tomorrow’s Sunrise..

RATS: Responsible Attention To Surroundings

RATS: Rockin’ Attitude That Shines

GDude and a small calico, Cabrillo Mole, Avalon, Catalina

Posted by Red Fish

Didn’t Ben chew up everybody in the movie? And, lead all the other rats on a killing rampage as the leader of the “Rat Pack.” That is my recollection of the movie, although it has been awhile; must rent it again now. And, wasn’t Michael Jackson a lovable youngster at that time before he had his transformation. Anyway, I had a huge hamster when I am growing up and am definitely not anti-rodent. Maybe there is a difference between a domestic rat and a sewer rat. I have made friends out of the rats at Friendship Shimada Park and I feel that they respect me. They always give me space in the spot, greet me in the morning when I go there to fish, and have not once stolen my bait. Maybe I just have a knack for getting along with vermin. Maybe it is just me. Ben.

Ben, the two of us need look no more

We both found what we were looking for

With a friend to call my own

I’ll never be alone

And you, my friend, will see

You’ve got a friend in me

(you’ve got a friend in me)

Ben, you’re always running here and there

You feel you’re not wanted anywhere

If you ever look behind

And don’t like what you find

There’s one thing you should know

You’ve got a place to go

(you’ve got a place to go)

I used to say “I” and “me”

Now it’s “us”, now it’s “we”

I used to say “I” and “me”

Now it’s “us”, now it’s “we”

Ben, most people would turn you away

I don’t listen to a word they say

They don’t see you as I do

I wish they would try to

I’m sure they’d think again

If they had a friend like Ben

(a friend) Like Ben

(like Ben) Like Ben

Robert (Redfish) and a halibut from the Avila Pier

Posted by dompfa ben

Well, yes…um, Ben was the leader of a renegade group of bloodlusting rodents…but that weiner-kid that had no friends and could fit through the sewer grate seemed to get along with him well enough. Luckily, the movie was so bad, as to be relegated to KTLA’s “Movie for a Sunday Afternoon” time slot, generally sandwiched between episodes of “Good Times” and airings of Pippi Longstocking, rife with horrible English dubbing.

Posted by Kaleo

So who is our Willard?

Posted by Red Fish

Any candidates for Willard?

Posted by Uncle Ji

Real Anglers Teach & Share

Posted by pierhead

re: “… a pier environment that celebrates… and develops a collective and individual sense of COMMUNITY, a sense of DUTY, and a sense of RESPONSIBILITY.” Beautifully put, Ben …I can live with that as our motto :)

Boyd (Pierhead) and a kelp (calico) bass from the Goleta Pier

Posted by dompfapops

Ben, that was: Really A Terrific Sermon

Dompfa Pops and a nice kelp (calico) bass from the Cabrillo Mole at Avalon, Catalina

So if we’ve figured out what a pier rat is, do we need clarification on what constitutes a pier? The experts should be the Department of Fish and Game so the following thread gives a little clarification.

Date: October 6, 1999

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Ken A

Subject: What is a public pier?

I was confused about the DFG regulations on what was considered a public pier and therefore did not require a license. I thought that I would pass on the answer I received [from the Department of Fish and Game]!

Mr. Anderson — Your question was referred to me in Long Beach. You are correct in your research about 7153 F&G and 28.65(b) T/14CCR. Your question — does this indicate that breakwaters are consider a “pier” and a license is not required — if so, what about man-made jettys? As a general rule that we follow, there was some sort of Attorney General decision on a very specific case some years ago, involving something like this — the general rule — Man-made obstacles, that protrude into the water (water on 3 sides) that allow for free and open access of the public require no license. Concrete storm drain outfalls in Santa Monica Bay for example — they are man-made, protrude into the water, (water on 3 sides), and have no signs prohibiting people being out on them — no license is required. A pier inside of Point Mugu Naval property — a license is required because the access is restricted at a guard gate. I understand that there is legislation that is being proposed that will list the piers that are considered as public piers, and everything else will require a license.  Jim Beckwith, DFG — Long Beach

Posted by quik2

So does the Balboa and Laguna rock wall on the left side of Balboa, also the rockwalls on the left and right side of Seal Beach require no license? Because I wanted to fish there, I was going to get a license but that was only three months left. Anyway, I think it all depends on if the ranger is nice or not. Some rangers will try to write a ticket to anyone. This one guy tried to write me a ticket when I had two stripers and I caught a third one while he walked by, fish pulling, finally pulled it up and he wanted to write me a ticket. But having two doesn’t mean I can’t fish no more, it just means I can’t keep another one, so I released it. But he still tried to write me a ticket. I made him call his boss to find out if he can do that and finally his boss said no. So he took off really pi…. about it. I was like hello, read the DFG handbook.

Posted by Ken A

Take it for what it’s worth. I’m sure each ranger probably has his own ideas. It might help to print out the response I got, basically “Man made obstacles, that protrude into the water (water on three sides) that allow for free and open access of the public require no license” in case there is a dispute…but with this info, and the DFG official’s name that made the statement, I bet you could beat a ticket in court. I still have the original e-mail from the DFG if anyone needs it.

Posted by fongster

Good for you! You can keep fishing, you just need to release as you stated. I would advise everyone to be diplomatic with authorities even when you know you are right. Winning on the spot is great as it avoids court time which is where you’d win anyway; just more hassle. Probably good to keep a regs. book with you for reference. Never make anyone feel stupid. Dale Carnegie will be proud of you.

Posted by goatfish

Amen! It has been my experience that when dealing with the authorities, if you treat them with respect (which is why many of them went into law enforcement in the first place!) and don’t become argumentative with them, they usually lighten up and will sometimes let you off the hook. One time I was fishing in the American River at night in an area that was restricted for night fishing. I honestly didn’t know that I was in a restricted area and I could tell that he wanted to give my wife and I a ticket. I was really cool and non-confrontational about the whole incident and he finally just told us to leave and let us go. The funny part of the story is that when he approached us, I put my rod down to talk to him and while we were talking, out of the corner of my eye I could see my rod slowly being dragged into the water. I put my foot on my rod so as not raise his suspicion and continued to talk. After he left, I reeled in and had a catfish! Of course, this one went back. I wasn’t about to get caught with any fish after the warden had been cool like that. BTW, fongster, LOL on the allusion to Dale Carnegie!!

Posted by Ken A

I personally do a lot of surf fishing so have a license and have never had any problems with DFG authorities. The reason I wrote to the DFG for clarification (I always have my regulations book in my tackle box!) is that the two sections referred to are confusing and contradict one another. I never intended to make any one “feel stupid” and in fact basically wrote to the DFG for clarification so I could post the information on this board since I’ve seen a lot of questions in this area!

Further clarification comes from this thread that started off on a far different tangent.

Date: January 14, 2001

To: PFIC Message Board

From: harukan

Subject: Fort Point Pier

Got to the pier about 11:00 or so. Weather was absolutely GORGEOUS, the kind of day that makes you glad you live in the Bay Area. (Yeah, Songslinger, you SHOULD have gone fishing—it was far too beautiful a day to stay indoors!) It was even warm enough to do without a coat there for a couple of hours.

When I arrived, there were a couple of doofuses out at the very end of the pier with a boom-box cranked up loud enough to be heard in Tiburon. Since they were swilling beer, I hoped they’d get drunk enough to fall off the pier, whereupon I planned to go over and say, in a kindly, helpful tone, “Oh, hey, guys, don’t forget your boom-box!” and throw it in after them. However, while I was thinking about that, a DFG warden came along (a real one, gun and all) and the noise level went down REAL fast–and stayed down. From now on, I will have a soft spot in my heart for game wardens!

The fishing was not so good. I saw only three fish caught. A young woman fishing off the “stem” of the L caught a couple of nice perch (a striped perch and another one that was kind of white-silver with a few small, irregular black splotches–no idea what kind THAT is). She was using shrimp for bait. A fellow fishing off the other side of the “stem” caught a kelp greenling (big enough to be legal, I think); don’t know what he was using for bait. I think a couple of other people caught a fish or two, but it wasn’t exactly a hot fishing day. The current was very strong even on the landward side of the pier, and crab nets were being dragged around as though they weighed nothing.

Posted by Matt

Eek, you gotta deal with that stuff all the time there. Glad to hear about the game warden though, because I have seen enough sticky situations to show that they really need to be out there more, especially on Fort Point since there is so much illegal activity out there. If I could have a dime for every crime. Good job though, and keep up with the posts. Not everyone fishes that darned pier.

Matt and a sevengill shark from the Oyster Point Pier

Posted by stinkyfingers

Fort Point Pier, 1/14/01—CRIME? What goes on at the pier? Aside from some high-school kids getting loaded, are there any real concerns?  Batman asks…

Posted by Dan V.

Only crime I’ve ever seen there were lots of undersized rock crabs being taken but then I’ve seldom fished it in the last 20 years.

Posted by harukan

Here a crime, there a crime–I haven’t been to Ft. Point often, but I imagine the “crime” has to do mostly with keeping undersized crabs or fish, or with using illegal tackle. A Sabiki-type rig, for instance, is illegal in San Francisco Bay unless you remove the extra hooks so that it’s got only three hooks.

Also, there’s a two-device limit on piers–two rods, or two crab nets, or one rod and one crab net, or one rod and one handline, or whatever combination, and people violate that one all the time–you see somebody using two rods PLUS a crab net or two. You also see people use the “phantom fisher” technique–a guy will have two rods in one location and two others farther down the pier or on the other side of the pier. That way, if a warden comes along, he can claim that those other two rods over there belong to somebody else and he doesn’t know anything about them. Unless the warden hangs around long enough to catch him going back and forth between the two sets of rods, the warden won’t know the difference.

Then there are the people who bring along their kids so that they can have multiple nets or rods or both–two apiece for each parent, and two apiece for each kid, even though the kids aren’t big enough to see over the pier railing, much less haul in a crab net. DFG really should address that issue in its regulations: if a kid isn’t old enough and big enough to fish or crab on his own, then the parents shouldn’t be able to use him as a “straw man” to get around the two-device limit.

Posted by stinkyfingers

3 hooks? I’ve been wondering about something else pertaining to the amount of hooks allowed. Does that rule apply to regular fishing? Are people allowed to bait up three hooks on one line going for, say stripers?

Posted by harukan

Here’s from the DFG regulations I downloaded:

2.00. Fishing Methods–General.

All fish may be taken only by angling with one closely attended rod and line or one hand line with not more than three hooks nor more than three artificial lures (each lure may have three hooks attached) attached thereto.

28.65. General.

Except as provided in this article, fin fish may be taken only on hook and line or by hand. Any number of hooks and lines may be used in all ocean waters and bays except:

(a) San Francisco and San Pablo bays between the Golden Gate Bridge and the west Carquinez Bridge, where only one line with not more than three hooks may be used.

(b) On public piers, no person shall use more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs.

Are you totally confused now? As nearly as I can interpret this seemingly conflicting mess, the three-hook limit is for freshwater only, and you can use “any number” of hooks and lines in saltwater EXCEPT in San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, where the three-hook limit also applies, and EXCEPT where there are additional species-specific restrictions.

Posted by stinkyfinger

Attorney at Anglin’ — I tell ya’. We need to get ourselves an anglin’ attorney just to keep us all within the rules. Speaking of which, are any of you guys out there lawyers?

Stinkyfinger and a white sturgeon from the Martinez Pier

Posted by Songslinger

I’ve brought up lawyers when I was fishing on the bottom but I always throw them back.

Posted by Songslinger

3 hooks. Congratulations, you have it exactly right. But let us not forget 1.88, the definition of a public pier. This one is a lot of fun and gets me more intimate conversations with DFG agents than anything else:

1.88. Public Pier. A public pier is a publicly owned manmade structure that has the following characteristics: is connected, above the mean high tide, to the main coastline or to the landmass of a named and charted natural island; has unrestricted free access for the general public; and has been built or currently functions for the primary purpose of allowing angling access to ocean waters.

Additionally, publicly owned jetties or breakwaters that are connected to land, as described above, that have free unrestricted access for the general public and whose purpose it is to form the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor are public piers. Jetties, breakwaters, promenades, sea walls, moles, docks, linings, barriers and other structures that are not the most seaward protective boundary of an ocean harbor, are not public piers.

Posted by harukan

A pier by any other name —Yeah, I ran across that one while I was looking up the hooks thing. Seems perfectly clear to me: a public pier is a public pier except when it isn’t a public pier. But what in hell is a “mole” in that context?

Posted by Songslinger

Mole. At first I thought it meant that I could fish on Cindy Crawford’s face, which of course I would not do out of respect and admiration for another Illinoisan.

But a mole refers to a seawall. I’m not sure about etymology. Sounds like it comes from Greek. However, I have no worthwhile lexicon handy, other than what passes for one in MS Word. I do know that a synonym is groyne, with which we can truly delve into blue dialogue and salacious innuendo. Yet this is, after all, a public forum the kiddies can visit, and while I have little apprehension that the next generation will ever possess a vocabulary that could comprehend this discussion. . . it’s best to play it safe.

Posted by harukan

Okay, you asked for it—Here it is, from Webster’s Unabridged:

The word comes from the French, originally from Latin “moles,” meaning a large mass, dam, or monument, and means:

“a mound or massive work formed of large stones, etc., extended either in a right line or an arc of a circle before a harbor which it serves to protect from the force of the waves.”

Posted by harukan

And a groyne is—”a wooden breakwater or frame of woodwork constructed across a beach between low and high water to retain sand or mud thrown up by the tide.”

I.e., if it’s made out of rocks, it’s a mole; if it’s made out of wood, it’s a groyne (or “groin”).

Posted by Songslinger

And a groyne is—Perfect! An excellent summation. The ability to convey information simply and effectively is a gift. My fisherman’s hat is off to you!

By the way, I did look up Mole after my pretentious posting and my dictionary (American Hertitage) says that it originates from French (mole) from Late Greek (molos) from Latin (moles=mass). So my guess was partially correct. But mostly wrong.

Songslinger (left) and CalRat (right) with halibut from the Berkeley Pier

Just to show how impressive the numbers are in regard to shore fisherman, I posted the following information regarding the surprising information shown in the 2004 survey of California saltwater anglers (surprising to those who think the sun rises and sets only on boat fishermen). A corollary, given the dearth of attention paid to this group by publications and tackle manufacturers, is the fact that it is an underrepresented and unappreciated group. That’s one of the main reasons why United Pier and Shore Anglers of California was started—to have at least one organization committed to this group

Date: March 11, 2005

To: PFIC Message Board

From: Ken Jones

Subject:  8,166,038 angler days on piers —

CA Recreational Fishery Survey 2004 —

The 2004 survey shows the following angler days spent in California:

(1) Piers, jettys and breakwaters — 8,166,038

(2) Party and charter vessels — 725,319

(3) Private boats and rental boats — 672,965

(4) Beach and Bank — 302,468

The information can be found at  under Informational report 2, Table 2, Page 3.

According to Ed Roberts of the California Fish and Game, “A report on the CRFS (California Recreational Fisheries Survey), written by CDFG, was presented to the Pacific Fishery Management Council and is included in the briefing book for the March Council meeting.”

So yes indeed pier and shore fishermen are a force to be reckoned with.

Posted by newgen

Good numbers, wish gov’t would listen more.

Posted by garth

There are a lot of us as noted in the previous contamination report from SD, however, a lot of pier fishers can be subsistence fishermen, thus likely to be less knowledgeable on the issues. How do we get more info out to other fishermen and women? I think fishing regs are MORE important for those who fish for meat, as opposed to recreation, because getting tagged by a fine can result in your tools being taken away! not to mention that the money is likely to just pile on top as perpetual debt. That looks more like an UPSAC strategy discussion than a PFIC post…ah well, feel free to knock me out Ed.

Posted by garth

One last thing. When I say “more important” re: regs, I say that knowing full well that recreational fishermen (and hunters) tend to drive successful conservation efforts.

Posted by mel

Make that 8,166,039! I asked my wife if she ever got counted and she said no.

Mel and his “pet” sturgeon from McNears Pier in San Rafael.

Posted by gyozadude

Shouldn’t be too surprising. Simply put, when you look at the cost of one person going out on a charter or party boat, which is cheaper than owning a private boat (per person on the private boat after factoring in costs like tax, fuel, maintenance, parking, mooring, etc…) and clearly, Pier Fishing is the cheapest. It requires no license, and modest tackle and simple bait available from most grocery stores. I’d hazard a guess that the cost per person on a CPFV is about $70/day if we count parking, gasoline getting to the harbour/boat launch. It’s less than 1/10th of that to fish a pier or jetty which is primarily the cost of bait and gas to get out there.

But comparing the fish taken by each method, we’ve all fished piers where there may be 10 times as many folks on the structure as on a party boat, but the number of keepers taken can be quite slow. On a boat, they can chase the prey and move around rapidly, taking far greater fish per person-day time spent. In fact, my last rockfish boat trip out lasted merely 4 hours. I had over 25 fairly good-sized fish in that time, averaging one fish every 10 minutes or so. When I fish from a pier, the sizes are much smaller, and the frequency about one keeper fish the whole day if even that much. Often, it’s catch and release, which may be 7—10 hours. That’s easily 500 minutes per fish, or 50 times less resource depleting than boat fishing.

So while there are 8.4Million/1.4 = 6X more pier/shore anglers in total than boaters, the boaters are depleting the resource probably about 50X faster, or net, boaters take about 8—9X more fish than shore anglers. This of course, is based on an assumption that pier/shore anglers are like me and equally knowledgeable when fishing various venues. In fact, may pier/shore anglers may not be very good at targeting fish out there and therefore, even less likely to be productive relative to someone who frequents a website like PierFishing.COM.

I’ve read somewhere that DFG has estimated that pier and shore anglers represent something like 7% of take of near shore species. I think the analysis above would support that logic as being in the same ballpark.

So yes, Ken, Pier and Shore anglers are big in numbers but small in total take. Therefore, it’s clear that to effectively conserve species out there for future generations, emphasis needs to target boat anglers first where the biggest impacts are made. And as such, it does justify pier and shore anglers getting exceptions from closures. And I speak wearing both hats as a Pier/Shore anglers and as someone who takes boats out to fish too.

Gyozadude – Proud UPSAC Member, “Yes – I can roll potsticker skins”

James Liu (GDude) and a bonito from the Cabrillo Mole at Avalon, Catalina Island

Posted by Red Fish

O.K., I did the math! One box of squid, the old lady and six kids = a day of bliss at Berkeley Pier. Priceless.  I guess 7x$20 =$140 (1/2 day discount boat trip) +/- parking fees if any.

Posted by gyozadude

Priced Less == Priceless

With the pier analogy, you’ll need no licenses. With the boat example, that’s $7.50 per person 16 and over for a day license, plus boat rod rental for half day ($10).

But if things go well and I can drop you off a bunch of UPSAC loaner rods, Red, Berkeley pier fishing will truly be “priced-less.”

Posted by Red Fish

Priced Less == Priceless. I was just thinking about the things I left out before I opened your message. Assuming: the guy with six kids does not have (7) rods and daily fishing licenses, add another $105 dollars plus whatever gas/Bart/bus and food for the tribe. I guess you can’t feed a family on 1/2 day on water and sunflower seeds like I do, ha ha. Let me know on the rod loaning program. The Spring/Summer seems like it would be appropriate. Although I don’t know about organizing it. A kids derby (and a loan on that day) seems like something that could be done.

Posted by dompfa ben

More MATH! Put another way…Last year, if you totaled the total time spent by all pier anglers fishing, it would total 22,357 years, 4 months, 22 days, 16 hours, 3 minutes, and 55.55 seconds (Based on 365.25 as the year calculator to account for leap year, and a 30 day month). That’s a lot of time spent on piers!

So, it’s a given that a lot of people visit the piers but the question is still why?

Why do they like to fish the piers?

Date: November 9, 2005

To: PFIC Message Board

From: soc student

Subject: Why fish on piers?

Quick responses to why people pier fish (one word answers more than welcome!). Take what you want from the question, some leads: why piers rather than boat? Why piers vs. freshwater (please be cordial to freshwater fishermen)? My personal two cents: ease & fun. Thanks for the follow ups and the input I’ve received so far.

Posted by eelmaster

Free/offers structure/extends farther out.

Eelmaster and a halibut from the Berkeley Pier

Posted by Clayman

Piers are a lot cheaper and less hassle than taking a boat IMO. I like it when I’m able to decide on a whim that “I think I’ll go fishing today,” whereas usually with a boat there’s a lot of planning and money involved. Plus, when I’m on a boat I feel pressure that we HAVE to catch some quality fish since we planned it all out, spent money on gas, etc. When I’m on a pier or the shore, I don’t feel nearly as much pressure to catch fish because I didn’t invest any big plans or money into it. As for freshwater vs saltwater, I do both but I’m closer to saltwater than I am to freshwater so I usually end up fishing saltwater.

Posted by Ken Jones

Many people begin their fishing lives during a family outing and piers are one of the best places to take your entire family. They’re inexpensive, safe, usually provide facilities for food, most have restrooms, and most provide at least decent fishing most of the year. In addition, in California a license is not required if it is a public pier in saltwater. So, in a nutshell, it’s a low cost recreational venue for the family.

Posted by soc_student

Comments from single fishermen? Perception wise a question, do families embark on pier trips with the goal of a self-caught dinner or is that a perk to the goal of having quality recreational family time? Does it differ by individuals in the family (kids = fun, parents = food)? Singles any response?

Posted by dompfa ben

Because it scares people when I walk on water But seriously, folks–I’m here all week. Why piers? Because it is an entertaining, affordable, flexible, and accessible way to go fishing with family and friends.

Posted by its a keeper

Because I don’t have a boat. but seriously, piers are where 90% of the fishermen start. I can consider it is the first step to fishing and the most basic platform in fishing and actually catching something (depends where you are at nowadays, but in the earlier days, fish is bound to be catch on piers). Bottom line is you are more likely to catch something in the variety, from fish (baby to huge)/ mammals (namely birds/seals/and perhaps humans (an eye/finger/hand/foot and etc)) / crustacean (all sizes and shapes) / sea veggies / rocks / rigs / garbage / and don’t forget a shoe, on a pier than any other areas you choose randomly. Other than that, it’s also a way for the family to enjoy the sport / get together with out the hazards on a random beach/rock structure/jetty and such.

Posted by pinfish

Because “the Ocean is Free!”


because you can get close to the action without spending extra money on a boat or a license. Sometimes this could be construed as freedom of rules towards fishing and social interaction as well.

Posted by baitchucker

To Pier or not to pier!  Pier = Brotherhood

Posted by carl west

It’s fun, cheap and I get to watch the ever changing groups of people on the pier and beach. And occasionally catch a fish.

Posted by kaleo

soak bait and sip an

appropriate beverage

there’s fish here somewhere

Tagalog, Russian,

what is kingfish in Farsi?

U.N. on pilings

splinters, seagull poop,

rotting bait and shouting kids

and we’re still in the car

Posted by Songslinger

Nice Haikus

Posted by StripeSideChaser

I fished many years off pier and shore, and although I now have a boat, I still fish a lot from pier and shore… why? When shore fishing, you are much more at the mercy of the current and snags. On most piers, (not all) you can fish with the current, and greatly reduce the number of snag problems, once you learn the area. Also, you have the entire length of the pier, which gives you a larger range of depths/distance from shore, than when actually fishing from the shore. Piers also provide natural structure, which attracts baitfish, in turn attracting larger fish.  Also, piers don’t cost me 6 gallons per hour in gas, and don’t have to be thoroughly scrubbed clean and dried when I get done fishing! Plus, I don’t have to pay $5 to $10 to launch a pier!

StripeSideChaser and a striped bass at Berkeley Pier

Posted by Red Fish

Convenience. Also, you can’t fish in the S.F. Bay at night on a boat. If I had a boat I would use it for relaxing trips to the Delta where you could pull up to one of those floating dock restaurants and have a bite to eat. I would also do the black bass thing in the Delta as well as enter the local amateur fishing contests in that area. Oh, sorry, Why piers, lol. Seriously, I figure out what kind of fish I want to catch and where there is access to them and then I find the simplest way to get to them whether by foot, bike, boat, plane.

Posted by gordo grande

Why not?

We started off this chapter with a post by one of PFIC’s best WRITERS, Ben Acker.

Mr. Acker, better known as dompfa ben, not only knows how to write but does so in a manner that illuminates and brings warmth to the page. This is one of his posts that has a reserved space in my “Favorite Posts” folder—as well as my heart. As every regular on the PFIC Message Board knows by now, I’m a maudlin kind of guy and sentimental to a fault, and that’s especially true when it comes to the “Pier Rat Nation.”

Date: May 3, 2004

To: PFIC Message Board

From: dompfa ben

Subject: Reflections on Ripple and PFIC

As per my reading of analysis of “American Pie” online a few months ago, I submit, for your perusal and improvement, how the song Ripple is a guide and testament to our family:

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine

And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung

Would you hear my voice come through the music

Would you hold it near as it were your own?

Certainly, the collective body of knowledge here at PFIC, both in archived form and daily reports, tips, and suggestions, is a manuscript of our lives. The vast amount of information here is illuminating, it glows. Each of us plays our tune on a “harp unstrung”–a rod of graphite, aluminum, bamboo, or fiberglass, with a single string. Each of us knows the familiar song of fishing–the zing of a drag, the melodic sounds of a fish thrashing in the water, the rhythmic cadence of a clicking reel, the airy sounds of shorebirds, and the rich bass of crashing surf. We know this song, we “hold it near,” and though it is not our creation, we take ownership and responsibility for it as it were our own.

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken

Perhaps they’re better left unsung

I don’t know, don’t really care

Let there be songs to fill the air

Reports and information here are not always complete–sometimes willfully so. We share tidbits of information, but it is not always in our capacity or willingness to paint a complete picture. Pride and protectionism sometimes cause us to avoid divulging too much, perhaps rightly so. Yet there are some, especially those with years of experience, that “don’t really care” if someone knows too much about their spot, their pier, their corner of the ocean. They “fill the air”–or the Internet equivalent thereof–with songs (information) for all of us to utilize, for all of us to conserve and protect.

Ripple in still water

When there is no pebble tossed

Nor wind to blow

That’s a fish! Cast already!

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty

If your cup is full may it be again

Newcomers, regardless of their skill or experience, are invited to share in the bounty of knowledge that exists here. Questions are handled with care, a nudge is given to utilize the resources–both archived and human. And for veterans, realized fishing goals are reset higher, achievement is not an end unto itself, but an invitation to improve. More literally, no one goes hungry or thirsty at PFIC get-togethers. :)

Let it be known there is a fountain

That was not made by the hands of men

Your nearshore fishery, your secret spot, your stretch of beach, or your favorite rock…are not yours at all. Rather, they have been here for all to discover, as they will, with conservation, be here for others to enjoy after we pass. All are welcome to take from the fountain that is our coastal ocean, just as all are bound to protect and preserve it.

There is a road, no simple highway

Between the dawn and the dark of night

And if you go no one may follow

That path is for your steps alone

At first, I considered that this might be the 101 freeway, the path that connects north and south. But in a more existential sense, each of us walks our own path of learning. Second hand reports are no equal to firsthand experience. Each angler here comes from a different walk of life, and each person, no matter how much they read here, must get out and fish, if fishing is his or her goal.

Ripple in still water

When there is no pebble tossed

Nor wind to blow

That’s a fish! Cast already! Really!!!

You who choose to lead must follow

But if you fall you fall alone

Literally, I am picturing Boyd falling off those darned rocks by the freeway. However, it also serves to illustrate how supportive PFIC is to those who choose to lead by following legal and ethical practices on the ocean. Those who do not…well, they are not always met with acceptance, but often with encouragement to take personal responsibility for the fishery and improve one’s knowledge of regulations and reality.

If you should stand then who’s to guide you?

We celebrate the knowledge and experience of our veterans, and we respect their humble approach to teaching us. Quiet understanding is far superior to self-important grand-standing.

If I knew the way I would take you home

For many, PFIC is “home.” It is a place to share stories of the day, to relive adventures of the living and the dead, a place from which to embark on journeys of discovery, and a place to be comforted when we feel defeated. It is friends, old and new. It is a place to gather, to share, to celebrate. Thanks to each of you for making this a “home” of sorts.

Continued good fishing,  Ben

email DOMPFA: Dominating Positive Fishing Attitude!

Ripple in still waters. When there is no pebble tossed, no wind to blow. -The Grateful Dead

DompfaBen and a lobster from the San Clemente Pier

Posted by kds99

Thanks for making the day a little brighter.

Posted by Ken Jones

Lucy likened our little group once to the friends you see at the corner bar and I think she was right. The range of emotions can run the gamut from maudlin to feisty but in the end it seems to come together more often than not, which, given the diverse nature of this group, is a little amazing.

Posted by pierhead

Thank you, Ben – beautifully said!

Posted by Songslinger

Intimations and dissertations on Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia…quite apt and very much appreciated. Thanks, Ben.

Posted by Mikey

Wow Dompfa. One of my favorite GD tunes. Good call – glad to know a fellow angler knows decent music. Mike

Posted by shorepounder

I really enjoyed that Ben!

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

  1. hg says:

    is it considered unethical to scrape up a pier pileing to start a feeding frenzy ?

    • kenjones says:

      While that was once a common practice it’s no longer considered wise. I’m not sure if it’s unethical but it’s not good for the pilings and if done too often might lead to a decrease in the number of fish that feed on the mussels. It’s also now illegal at some piers (which usually are posted).

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