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

San Clemente Pier at dusk

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

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

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

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

San Clemente was a busy pier that Friday night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cortez Bonefish

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

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

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


Black Croaker

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

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

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

The San Clemente Pier during the day — beautiful shoreline

The rules

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

Two nice “Golden” Spotfin Croaker caught on fresh mussels

Mina Kim and friend with a Pacific Mackerel

Bonito caught by “Dusty”


KJ and DompfaBen — Reunion time

A Pacific mackerel and a really nice family that we met

Spotfin Croaker


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

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

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