Daily musings…

No Licenses for Pier Fishing​ — A History

Licenses for Pier Fishing​

Pier Fishermen Need No License​ — The new State law requiring people fishing for game fish to secure a license has caused considerable agitation among pier fishermen. It has been rumored around that all people fishing for salt water or fresh water fish would have to take out a license.

A letter received by George Cline from the State Game and Fish Commission clears up this misunderstanding and will put the pier fishermen at ease. The letter states that only people fishing for game fish and members of the Rod and Reel Club will have to secure a license. The game fish includes all fresh water fish and certain salt water fish. The tuna, jewfish and other game fish at Catalina will be protected by this law and yellowtail come under the ban.

People fishing off the piers will not have to secure a license. All saltwater fishing for profit is exempt from this tax. This license is to help protect the game fish and to raise funds for the purpose of keeping up the hatcheries and restock the fishing grounds. Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1914

​Fishing Boats and barges were empty and Pine Avenue pier deserted by all but a handful of fishermen as a result of the State Fish and Game Commission enforcing the old law requiring licenses for ocean angling; scores of tourists announced they were going to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida where taxation was not required. Long Beach Independent, February 8, 1930

Pier Fishing Puzzle Solved — Newport Beach — Questions of fishing licenses were answered today to the satisfaction of anglers.​ — Anyone may fish from piers of Newport Beach and Balboa, or other coastal cities, without purchasing a state license, according to notice received from J.P. Cassidy, assistant secretary of the California Fish and Game commission. It is required that sport fish caught in surf-fishing be thrown back into the ocean. Fishing from sport boats requires a license. Santa Ana Register, March 2, 1938

Move Called Slap At ‘Poor Man’s’ Fishing — Santa Cruz sportsmen were alarmed Friday over the proposal of Assemblyman Harrison Call of San Mateo to submit a bill to the state legislature which would require salt water fishermen to pay $1 for an angling license to fish from wharves or in the surf in California.

The assemblyman, chairman of the assembly interim fish and game committee, said the bill, which would tax anglers who fish off the local municipal wharf $1, will be introduced at the 1942 session of the legislature. (Under existing laws, there is no license required to fish off the wharf or in deep sea for non-game fish). Call said the plan is “exactly what the sportsmen and commercial fish and game interests in California want in the way of a new law,” the United Press reported.

Merle Briggs, president of the Santa Cruz Rod and Gun club, said that “on the surface the bill sounds like a good thing. The fish and game commission spends money to protect these fish that are caught from the wharf, they fight for preservation of sardines, and I feel that those who fish should pay something for that right.”

Secretary Mike Morelli of the same organization took an opposite stand on the proposal. Morelli pointed out that the enforcement angle of the bill would be a problem and he pointed out also that a fisherman, by buying a $1 license, would be eligible to fish for game fish, which now costs any angler $2.

Present law, which permits fishing without a license from piers, requires that no game fish be taken. In order to catch game fish a $2 license is required. The proposed law would probably be to the liking of San Francisco’s 60,000 striped bass fishermen, Morelli said, in pointing out that they are now required to buy a $2 license.

Malio J. Stagnaro, active in all sportsmen’s affairs, said he was against any move to tax “poor man’s fishing,” as deep sea fishing for non-game fish is called. “It is all wrong to charge for poor mans’ fishing,” he said. “Deep sea and wharf fishing has always been regarded as poor man’s fishing and with a license required, you will see the number of fishermen decrease greatly. He pointed out that if the proposed bill should become a law, anglers could wade out into the mouth of the San Lorenzo river and fish with a $1 license, half the price of a regular license.

The San Lorenzo river, mecca for anglers during the winter steelhead run which starts in January, will be able to be fished for $1 in its tidal water areas. However, it would cost $2 to advance up the stream to do any angling for the same fish in fresh water.

Senator H. R. Judah, declining to comment on the bill until he had read it, said he wants to talk with Assemblyman Call in regard to the motive of the bill. “There is a growing sentiment in Sacramento opposing taxation of inherent rights of Californians and this would apply to those who fish from wharves and surfs of the state,” the senator added.

One sportsman said he believed the proposed bill was written to favor southern California anglers who do not have streams nearby from which to fish for fresh water fish. Most of the angling in the south is done from barges and small boats. Fishing for game and non-game fish would appear legal under the early interpretations of the proposal, he said. Santa Cruz Evening News, November 7, 1941

Sports And Wharf Fishermen To Need License After Friday —Deepsea sports and wharf fishing will probably drop 25 to 50 percent when a new fish and game law, passed by the last state legislature, goes into effect Friday, Malio Stagnaro of the Stagnaro Fishing corporation predicts.

The law will require persons 16 years of age and over to buy a $2 fishing license before they can legally drop a line into salt water here and throughout the state.

After January 1, the license fee will increase to $3, Stagnaro said, adding that the assembly bill, 610 and 745, will affect not only pleasure fishermen who may only practice the sport here once a year but also aged and convalescents.

It will put an end to the last tax fee privilege of the people of California and will retard business in the entire Santa Cruz bay area, Stagnaro pointed out. Already, according to the commercial fishermen, many people have called the wharf protesting the law in the last four or five days. “This act will not be felt by the commercial fishermen, but will, without doubt greatly hinder the sports and poor class of fishermen,” Stagnaro added. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, September 19, 1947

A bill is before the state legislature to allow pier fishing without the customary $3 license fee. That will make great copy for another sermon which we’ll do in our next column, entitled “What’s Wrong With the License Setup?”—Andy Anderson, Fishin’ Along The Coast,The Long Beach Independent, June 1, 1951

Governor Signs Non-License Public Pier Fishing Bill​ — Sacramento, June 21 (AP)—A bill permitting you to fish in the ocean from a public pier without a license was signed today by Governor Warren. But the fishing must be for fun, not for profit, says the new law, proposed by Assemblyman Gordon R. Hahn, R., Los Angeles. The statue goes into effect in September. —Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 21, 1951

Anglers who frequent the Santa Cruz Wharf for fishing the year around are wearing broad smiles in anticipation of free fishing beginning September 1. Governor Earl Warren last week signed the measure which will permit public pier fishing without a license, as long as the fishing is for fun and not for profit. Those who fish for profit must continue to purchase a license.Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, June 24, 1951

No License for Pier Fishing​ — Thousands of persons who annually enjoy fishing in ocean waters at Princeton and in San Francisco bay waters forming the eastern boundary of San Mateo county, will not have to provide themselves a state fishing license if the fishing is done from a public pier, State Attorney General Edmund G. Brown had ruled today.

The ruling will affect particularly those who fish from the Patroni pier at Princeton and those who fish from the Redwood City municipal yacht harbor piers. An estimate made at Hazel’s Seafood Tavern at the entrance to Patroni’s pier, Princeton, was that more than 24,000 persons annually fish from this pier. The average is 15 to 20 daily and more than 400 each on Saturday and Sunday, almost the year round. No estimate was available at the Redwood City harbor. At the present time smelt, perch, flounder and king fish are being caught in abundance at the Princeton pier.

Brown made his ruling at the request of the state division of fish and game to clarify changes in fish and game provisions made at the last session of the legislature. He said ocean waters of the state include all enclosed bays along the coast which are contiguous to the ocean, such as Humboldt, Tomales, San Francisco, San Pedro and San Diego bays. Also included are open roadsteads such as Santa Monica, Monterey and San Luis Obispo bays. San Mateo Times, October 10, 1951

Anglers Need No License On Piers—Fishermen of distinction. That’s what you might call anglers who fish on public piers in ocean waters, because these anglers are not required to have a state license to fish. However, if the pier is not open to the public then a license is required.Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1960

California’s Longest Piers

The question in regard to the length of California’s piers is one that has come up fairly often and there is a lot of misinformation out there. Here’s the lengths —

Pier— Length — Comments

1. San Mateo Pier — 4,135 feet — Part of the old San Mateo Bridge — now closed
2. Berkeley Pier — 3,000 feet — An old pier originally used by cars to reach the Berkeley- San Francisco Ferry— now closed

3. Santa Cruz Wharf — 2,745 feet —Large old commercial wharf; shops, restaurants and fishing

4. Santa Monica Pier — 2,000 feet — Much of the shore end is over beach instead of water; used mainly for recreation

5. Ravenswood Pier — 2,000 feet — west end of old Dumbarton Bridge — now closed
6. Dumbarton Pier — 2,000 feet— east end of old Dumbarton Bridge

7. Ocean Beach Pier — 1,971 feet — Supposedly the longest concrete pier in the world

8. Ventura Pier — 1,958 feet — Supposedly the longest wooden pier in California

9. Stearns Wharf — 1,950 feet — Large commercial wharf; shops, restaurants and fishing

10. Oceanside Pier — 1,942 feet— Some sources say 1,950 feet
11. Seal Beach Pier — 1,865 feet — End section under reconstruction
12. San Francisco Muni — 1,850 feet — Could use some help (repair)

13. Huntington Beach Pier — 1,830 feet

14. Avila Pier — 1,685 feet — Closed for indefinite time, may need to be totally rebuilt

15. Monterey Wharf #2 — 1,636 feet — Large commercial wharf; used by commercial fishing boats at the end, recreational anglers inshore.

Pacific Glasseye

Phylum: Chordata — Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish)— Order: Perciformes (perch like)— Family: Priacanthidae  (bigeyes or catalufas)— Genus: Heteropriacanthus (Fitch and Crooke, 1984)

Species: Heteropriacanthus carolinus (Cuvier, 1829); from  the Greek heteros (different), prion (saw), and akantha  thorn) and the Latin carolinus (in reference to geographic area).

Identification: Silvery pink, mottled red or solid red in color; median fins with faint dark dots. Pelvic fins dusky or pale and without distinct spots. Section of preopercle behind canal striated and without scales. Dorsal spines (total): 10; Dorsal soft rays (total): 12-13; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 13 – 14.

Size: Most that are seen are around 8 inches in length; maximum length about 20 inches.

Range: Circumglobal in tropical and tropically influenced seas. Common in island habitats throughout the central Pacific. In the Eastern Pacific found along island habitats from off Baja California to the Galapagoes; probably uncommon along coast of Mexico, Central and South America, questionably to Chile.

The stressed fish prior to release

Habitat: Common in lagoon and seaward reefs, primarily around islands. Typically found in water 10 to 100 feet in depth although recorded to a depth of about 900 feet. Under or near ledges by day.   Nocturnal, feeding mainly on octopi, pelagic shrimp, stomatopods, crabs, small fish, and polychaetes . Solitary, during the day usually occurring singly or in small groups; at dusk it may gather in large numbers. Known to produce sound.

Piers: In California, only recorded at the Cabrillo Mole, Avalon, Catalina Island.

Shoreline: Not recorded in California.

Boats: Not recorded in California.

Bait and Tackle: The one caught was at night on a piece of shrimp.

Food Value: Marketed in fresh fish markets although some reports of ciguatera poisoning

Comments: In December 2017, I made a trip to Avalon on Catalina Island. The last afternoon was spent fishing on the Cabrillo Mole with the usual species being caught. At 5:30, with darkness descending, I stopped fishing and headed over to get a cup of hot chocolate. Upon my return I packed up the gear and sat down to relax and wait for the last ferry back to the mainland.

My rest was interrupted when I saw a nearby angler pull in a fish. I walked over to see what he had caught which, I expected, would be a type of rockfish or a salema, both of which hit well at the Mole after it is dark.

However, the fish turned out to be a species that was new to me (and a quick check of my reference book did not reveal a picture). My first thought had been of a tiny, juvenile giant sea bass (it was only 5-6 inches long) but the fin structure was wrong. My next thought was of a was a popeye catalufa, the fin structure was about right but the color was wrong. My friend Hashem and I talked the angler into letting us take a couple of quick photos before returning the fish to the water.  Since I am always seeking out new species, that fish, even though I didn’t catch it, put the final cap on the trip.

Upon returning home I sent a copy of the pictures to Milton Love at UC Santa Barbara for identification but he said he’s never seen it before. He said he would send the pictures out to a network of experts who should be able to identify it. It took a while but eventually it was decided that the fish was probably a  Pacific glasseye, Heteropriacanthus carolinus, a fish more common to indo-Pacific waters like Hawaii and Australia.

Unfortunately, we had returned the fish to the water which Mr. Love let me know is generally good but in this case might have provided a definitive answer to the species (me bad!). Nevertheless, it may be the first recorded sighting of the fish in California.

Main Reference: FishBase — Starnes, W.C., 2018.FishBase.World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, ( 06/2018


“The glasseye fish Heteropriacanthus, previously known as a monotypic genus, is now divided into three species based on morphological and genetic features. After examination on the type specimens and literature, herein we resurrect two junior binomens, H. carolinus (Cuvier, 1829) from the Indo-Pacific Ocean and H. fulgens (Lowe, 1838) from the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. Heteropriacanthus cruentatus (Lacepède, 1801) is now considered to be restricted to the Atlantic and southwestern Indian oceans. In light of these observations we discuss the evolutionary history of the genus.”


“Glasseyes or glass bigeyes (Heteropriacanthus) are a genus of the bigeye family found in all tropical seas around the world. It occasionally makes its way into the aquarium trade. It grows to a size of 50.7 cm (20.0 in) in total length…  All glasseyes used to classified in a single species, Heteropriacanthus cruentatus…but recent morphological and genetic analysis indicates that glasseyes should be divided into three species: Heteropriacanthus cruentatus (Atlantic Ocean and southwest Indian Ocean), H. fulgens (northeastern Atlantic), and H. carolinus (Indo-Pacific).




2018 Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby

Sunday, September 9, saw youth assemble at the Trinidad Pier (in the beautiful redwoods just 24 miles north of Eureka) to participate in the 5th Annual Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby sponsored by United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers, Pacific Outfitters, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Although the day would turn a little windy and cold as it progressed, both the 36 youth and the total crowd estimated at close to a hundred people agreed it was a fun day at the pier.

Some of the loaner rods

Free loaner rods and reels, free terminal tackle, free bait, free hot dog lunches, raffle prizes, and a winner in each age group helped generate excitement. Of course catching some fish also helps and the fishing was improved from the previous years with quite a few perch caught along with brown rockfish, kelp greenling and two lingcod.

Volunteer John “Grondo” Grondalski

The loaner rods are rigged and ready to go

David Shigamatsu with an undersized lingcod

Crab caught by David Shigamatsu

Ed Roberts IV and Seth Noel

Rex Bertrand and a brown rockfish

Kelp greenling caught by Emma Sobrehad

Warden Agoitia, Patricia Figueroa, Grondo Grondalski and Warden Hampton

David Shigamatsu and his dad with a legal-size lingcod caught on a shinerperch

Due to the wind that was picking up, and the chill that was creeping in, the derby was called a little early which meant time for some hot dogs and the raffle prizes.

Hot dogs, chips and drinks were available for all participants. The chef was CDFW volunteer Patricia Figueroa

Next up was the raffle. Prizes were provided by the Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers and Pacific Outfitters.

Dan Troxel (who made and donated fishing rods) on the left and Warden Norris with the tackle box

The age group winners were then announced.

The under-6-year-old winner was Karter Quinn of Trinidad

The 6-year-old winner was Rex Bertrand of Arcata

The 7-year-old winner was Leona Sobrehad of McKinleyville

The 8-year-old winner was Robert Pitts of Eureka

The 9-year-old winner was Jordan Taylor of Fortuna

The 10-year-old winner was Dillon Dirrocco of McKinleyville

The 11-year-old winner was Alise Walker of McKinleyville

The 12-year–old winner was David Shigamatsu of Davis

The 13-year-old winner was Jonathan Pitcher of Arcata

The Grand Champion was David Shigamatsu of Davis

Many thanks to the entire group that once again made this  a fun event for all the participants and their parents!

Back row: Katie Terhaar (CDFW), Ed Roberts IV (CDFW) Dan Troxel (CDFW Volunteer), Patricia Figueroa (CDFW Volunteer), “Grondo” Grondalski (CDFW Volunteer), Grant Roden (Trinidad Rancheria)

Front row: Ed Roberts III (CDFW) and Todd Rowan (Trinidad Rancheria)

Marin Rod & Gun Club — 30th Annual “Kids Day On The Pier”

August 15, 2018 saw the 30th Annual “Kid’s Day on the Pier” at the Marin Rod & Gun Club on San Quentin Point in San Rafael, California. The event was co-sponsored by UPSAC (United Pier and Shore Anglers of California), PFIC (Pier Fishing In California), and the IGFA (International Game Fish Association).

The day saw an enthusiastic group of 67 youngsters amidst a crowd of 175 people. The weather was great and the kids caught a fine mess of fish, which meant a lot of happy, smiling faces.

Loaner rods and reels were available as well as free bait and assistance when needed. Combined with the fishing was a free hot dog lunch and every participant received a rod and reel from the club.

The United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC) and Pier Fishing In California (PFIC) brought tackle and people to help out while the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) provided certificates for the winners.

Dr. John Evans and his heavy pole for the big ‘uns

Dave DeJong and a California Halibut


52-inch leopard shark caught by David Shigematsu

After the fishing, it was time to retire to the clubhouse for lunch (hot dogs and chips), the award ceremony, and the raffle.

Each individual age group winner received a 1st Place trophy, a beautiful IGFA certificate, and an autographed copy of Pier Fishing in California by Ken Jones.

The 5-year-old and under winner: Ryan Radomski   

The 6-year-old winner: Owen Radomski  

The 7-year-old winner: Tyler Green

The 8-year-old winner (tie): Vincent DeJong,

The 8-year-old winner (tie): Logan Jackson

The 8-year-old winner (tie): Lucas Strosahlortega  

  The 9-year-old winner (tie): Parvati Nag

The 9-year-old winner: (tie) Parker Thompson

The 10-year-old winner (tie): Michael Monteiro

The 10-year-old winner (tie): Kody Monteiro

The 11-year-old winner: Kiana Choi

The 12-year-old winner (and overall champion): David Shigematsu

The 14-year-old winner: Dylan Monteiro

The largest fish of the day was a 52-inch leopard shark caught by David Shigematsu and a total of 77 fish were caught by the participants. Included were three leopard sharks, two California halibut, one striped bass, one bat ray and 69 large jacksmelt (12-14 inches).

Raffle Prizes — Every participant received a rod and reel

All agreed that it was another outstanding derby.

Representing the Marin Rod and Gun Club: Chairmen Gary Colmere, Vice-Chairman Roy Jackson, John Evans and upwards of 20 or more club members who performed a plethora of duties—serving as judges on the pier, cleaning and fixing rods and reels for both the derby and the raffle, cooking the hot dog lunch, setting up and cleaning the auditorium and kitchen, and helping announce the results of the raffle. A special thanks goes to Mary Ellen Smith who was busy doing many things—helping at the registration table, helping to tabulate the scorecards, helping with the certificates, and helping to cook the lunch. She stayed very busy!

Representing UPSAC: President Ken Jones, Vice-President Robert Gardner, and Secretary Brian Linebarger.

Representing the Pier Fishing in California (pierfishing.com) website family were the above UPSAC members as well as Melvin Kon (who took the pictures of the award winners and raffle winners), Kris Linebarger, Alex Poon, and David DeJong.

UPSAC Vice-President Robert Gardner

A huge thank you goes to the Marin Gun and Rod Club and the various other organizations and volunteers for putting on this great annual event.