September 17, 2019
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
The fun part of fishing in Southern California is finding the free piers to cast your line. Any day that you’re fishing the Pacific Ocean is a good day, and getting to do it for free is even better! Next time you’re visiting SoCal, drop your line early in the morning as the fish are the most active and looking for some delicious chow. Double check before you head out as there are some Southern California piers that do not allow anglers to cast. Here are the best fishing piers in Southern California.
Redondo Beach Pier is a favorite for anglers and non-anglers alike. It’s a pier with something for everyone: a fisherman’s wharf, dining, shops, and entertainment. It’s part of a very large shopping and dining complex that actually used to be two piers. Locals call it either “Ol’ Dondo Pier” or the “Endless Pier” since the pier is horseshoe shaped and loops around. Redondo Beach is located South of Santa Monica, and is about a thirty minute drive West from Los Angeles.
The pier sits roughly 25 feet above the water and has around 70,000 square-feet of open space – plenty of room for anglers to get their lines in the water. And because the fishing is so consistent, there’s almost always other fishing enthusiasts sharing the pier. Unlike other Californian piers, this pier has the deep-water Redondo Submarine Canyon that lies close to the pier, giving access to Pacific Mackerel that is generally limited at other piers. Other fish you’re able to catch at Redondo Beach Pier include Jack Mackerel (Spanish Mackerel), jacksmelt, sardines, barracuda, yellowtail, guitarfish, bat rays, and sharks.
Locals like to call Huntington Beach “Surf City, U.S.A.” – but there’s also a fishing community here that enjoys casting from the pier. Stretching 1,850 feet long, Huntington Beach Pier is one of the longest piers on the West Coast and is an iconic focal point of the city. There’s also plenty of restaurants and attractions on the pier for families to enjoy.
One of the best areas to fish on the pier is the inshore area from the surfline to lifeguard building. You’re sure to find some shallow-water corbina, croaker, and surfperch. At the mid-pier area you’ll find a mixture of inshore and offshore species. At the end of the pier you’ll find pelagic species such as mackerel, bonito, and barracuda to name a few. Though not edible, bonito are the fan favorite species to catch due to the ferocious fight they’re known to put up. They’ll have your adrenaline pumping and rod doubled over from the first bite! No matter where you find yourself on the pier, be sure to bring your net to help bring the fish up. If there’s surfers in the water near the area you were hoping to cast, be sure to move to another area of the pier.
The town of Newport Beach is located just down a few miles south of Huntington Beach, and actually has two piers: Newport Pier and Balboa Pier. Both are fantastic Southern California piers that are worth a visit. Newport Pier is primarily an angler’s pier, while Balboa offers fishing as just one small part of the attraction. Newport Pier is historically known as McFadden Wharf, and you can find the Dory Fisherman bringing in their catch of the day, selling them at the Dory Fleet Fish Market.
Newport Pier runs 1,032 feet long and gets anglers right to the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean. Like the Redondo Pier mentioned earlier, Newport Pier lies near a deep canyon where several mackerel can be found. Other pelagic fish can be reeled in here such as bonito and barracuda, to name a few. You can also stay close to the pilings for perch or baitfish.
Located about an hour’s drive South of Newport Beach, the San Clemente Pier is one of the friendlier, cleaner piers of California. The pier was rebuilt in 1985 as a wooden structure and reaches 1,296 feet long. It’s a top tourist destination and offers spectacular panoramic views of the vista. The pier is open from 4am to midnight, giving anglers plenty of time to reel in some nice keepers.
There’s a tackle shop on the pier that you can pick up your fishing essentials. Get your bait (frozen squid or shrimp are great options) and get ready for a great day of fishing. Among the species available to catch at San Clemente Pier include croaker, guitarfish, walleye, surfperch, jacksmelt, a variety of rays, and sharks. If you move far enough out on the pier you can also catch halibut. You’ll have your best chances to land a halibut during the months of April or May, we recommend dropping live bait (such as anchovies or small queenfish) to the ocean floor. The frantic movement of the live bait will hint to the nearby halibut that there’s an easy meal waiting for them.
At the end of Route 66 you’ll find the famous and historical Santa Monica Pier. There’s shops, restaurants, and attractions for locals and tourists. Anglers can visit the Santa Monica Bait & Tackle shop found at the end of the pier to get everything you’ll need for a day of fishing. The pier is about 1,600 feet long, and a great place to hang out for the day, whether you’re fishing or not.
If you decide to drop a line, you can access the separate fishing deck at the end of the pier, or there is also a ramp at the North side of the pier. You’ll find a variety of species including perch, mackerel, white sea bass, stingrays and sharks. The pier is open year round, and is a must-see for anyone visiting the piers of Southern California.
No matter which of these piers you choose to visit, you won’t need a fishing license to reel in your catch. There may be some costs to parking, and of course your equipment costs, but with rod and reel in hand you’re able to set-up your spot and have a great day of pier fishing.
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