Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Intro to SoCal pier fishing

Ruoxi and I spent the holiday break in southern California, and during my stay we made three short trips to Oceanside Pier, and one trip to Shelter Island Pier.

12/22/2015 - Oceanside Pier

Ruoxi and I stopped by to check out the pier, but we didn't bring bait, and the shop on the pier was closed.  It was mid-morning, the tide was low, and it was windy.  I threw a krocodile spoon on a fish finder rig from about three quarters of the way to the end of the pier.  I hadn't used a lure with a fish finder rig before, but I felt it was necessary to keep my lure below the surface of the water with how strong the wind was .  I caught a few clumps of seaweed and then got a nice hit by this barracuda.

Pacific Barracuda (Sphyraena argentea) - new hook & line species #314

12/25/2015 - Oceanside Pier

The time of day, tide, and wind were the same as above.  I know rising and high tides are better for fishing, but I worked with what I was given.  This time I was armed with squid left over from bat ray fishing.  I set up one line with a dropper loop and small baitholder hook and the other with a fish finder rig and circle hook.  This time I fished about half way to the end of the pier.  Each rig caught one yellowfin croaker.  We didn't get any other bites.

Yellowfin Croaker (Umbrina roncador) - new hook & line species #318

12/27/2015 - Oceanside Pier

For my third trip, I checked the tide charts the night before and drove to the pier early to catch the rising tide.  Ruoxi wanted to sleep in, so I was on my own.  I set up at the end of the pier with a fish finder rig with a circle hook and a big chunk of squid as bait.  It didn't get touched all day, and I swapped the squid out every half hour.

With my other rod I fished a sabiki rig, sometimes straight down close to the pilings, and sometimes out as far as I could underhand cast.  On a slow retrieve, I got some quick taps and reeled in five chub mackerel.  Two flopped off, but I landed the other three!

Pacific Chub Mackerel (Scomber japonicus) - new hook & line species #319

I swapped out the squid on the fish finder rig with fresh cut mackerel, but it still didn't get any bites. It was a nice sunny day though, and I enjoyed myself a lot more than my previous trips.  Pods of dolphins cruised by every so often.

12/29/2015 - Shelter Island

For our last fishing adventure of the trip, Ruoxi and I drove to downtown San Diego to fish the Shelter Island Pier.  We set up as the sun was setting over Point Loma, and the tide was moving out.

I tied two dropper loops in one of the lines and tossed it out as far as I could.  It got hit pretty quickly, and both Ruoxi and I landed some nice barred sand bass.

Barred Sand Bass (Paralabrax nebulifer) - new hook & line species #320

I put out a fish finder rig as well, but it did not get touched.  While we waited, I rigged up my micro rod with a small hook and a piece of squid tentacle.  I dropped it as close to the pilings as I could and right away got small taps.  After a few juvenile barred sand bass and kelp bass, I caught a tiny California scorpionfish (the locals call them sculpin).

Kelp Bass (Paralabrax clathratus)

California Scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata) - new hook & line species #321

Conditions weren't the best on this trip, partially because it was December, but also because of poor timing on my part with respect to the tide, wind, and time of day.  Nonetheless, it was fun to experiment and catch a few fish, learning a little more about southern California fishing each time we went out.  I'm definitely looking forward to spring and summer when I come out again!


  1. Like you I enjoy fishing for as many fish species as possible. Love the pictures, always a good day when you get a large variety of fish like this.

    1. Thanks! Do you keep a lifelist of the fish you've caught?

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