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Fishing from Piers & Surf Fishing the Beaches

The miles of wide, sandy beaches, rocky outcroppings public fishing piers throughout Southern California make for fun, inexpensive fishing to thousands of avid fishermen year round. For year round fun, a fisherman needs only an fishing rod & reel, an extra hour or two, and few items of tackle in his pocket. On the fishing piers, not even California fishing license is needed.

Many popular game fish are available to the shore angler. In fact a number of world's record fish, for fly fishing line classes, have been taken literally in the shadow of expensive condominuims from shore in one of the largest cities in California.

Map of California Pier and Surf Fishing Spots

Nearly everywhere where sea meets shore is a possible fishing spot, so to list them for the entire Southern California Coast would be silly. The following chart and table shows some of the more popular shore fishing areas and the major piers you'll find in Southern California:

Map of California Pier and Surf Fishing Spots

Locations of California Pier and Surf Fishing Spots

Surf Fishing Beaches

No. Name City Location
S1 Imperial Beach Imperial Beach Seacoast Drive
S2 Pacific Beach Pacific Beach Mission Blvd
S3 Solana Beach Solana Beach Old Highway 1
S4 Carlsbad Beach Carlsbad Old Highway 1
S5 San Onofre Beach Camp Pendelton Off 5 Freeway
S6 Huntington State Beach Huntington Beach Pacific Coast Hwy.
S7 Bolsa Chica St. Beach Huntington Beach Pacific Coast Hwy.
S8 Dockweiler St. Beach Playa Del Rey Imperial Hwy.
S9 Will Rogers St. Beach Malibu Pacific Coast Hwy.
S10 Pt Magu St. Beach Pt Magu Pacific Coast Hwy.
S11 Pitas Point Beach Ventura Off 101 Fwy.
S12 Carpenteria Beach Carpenteria Carpenteria State Park
S13 Goleta Beach Goleta Goleta State Park

Fishing Piers

No. Name City Location
P1 Imperial Beach Pier Imperial Beach Seacoast Drive
P2 Shelter Island Pier San Diego Shelter Island Drive
P3 Ocean Beach Pier Ocean Beach Newport Ave.
P4 Crystal Pier Pacific Beach Mission Blvd
P5 Oceanside Pier Oceanside Pacific Blvd.
P6 San Clemente Pier San Clemente Del Mar Blvd.
P7 Balboa Pier Newport Beach Balboa Blvd.
P8 Newport Pier Newport Beach Balboa Blvd.
P9 Huntington Beach Pier Huntington Beach Pacific Coast Hwy.
P10 Seal Beach Pier Seal Beach Main Street
P11 Belmont Pier Long Beach Ocean Blvd
P12 Cabrillo Pier San Pedro Cabrillo Park
P13 Redondo Beach Pier Redondo Beach Torrance Blvd.
P14 Manhattan Beach Pier Manhattan Beach Manhattan Beach Dr.
P15 Venice Pier Venice Barnard Way
P16 Santa Monica Pier Santa Monica Ocean Ave.
P17 Malibu Pier Malibu Pacific Coast Hwy.
P18 Port Hueneme Pier Port Hueneme Surfside Dr.
P19 Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara Cabrillo Blvd.
P20 Goleta Pier Goleta Goleta Beach Park
P21 Green Pleasure Pier Avalon Catalina Island

Best Times of Year for California Pier and Surf Fishing

Following is a chart of the commonly caught pier and surf fish, and the time of year you're likely to catch them. Be SURE to check with the California Department of Fish and Game for the latest regulations on closed seasons, closed areas, minimum size and maximum bag limits on any fish you plan to take. The regulations change often. This information is available on-line on the Cal DF&G website at:

Fish Best Fishing Possible Location Best Bait
Corbina May-Oct Year Round Surf Line Sand Crabs
Barred Perch Nov-Mar Year Round Surf Line Sand Crabs
Spotfin Croaker Aug-Dec Year Round Surf/Piers Clams
Yellowfin Croaker May-Oct Year Round Surf Line Bloodworms
Jack Mackerel Jan-Jun Year Round Mid Piers Mussels
Jacksmelt Jan-Jun Year Round Mid Piers Bait Rigs
Queenfish Year Round Year Round Mid Piers Bait Rigs
Halibut Nov-Mar Year Round Surf/Piers Live Bait
Leopard Shark Nov-Mar Year Round Surf/Piers Cut Bait
Guitarfish Nov-Mar Year Round Surf/Piers Cut Bait
Bat Rays Year Round Year Round Bays/Piers Cut Bait

The Best Techniques for California Pier and Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is generally done with lighter tackle than in other areas of the world. Usually freshwater tackle is sufficient with 6lb to 12 lb test being the preferred. A sinker and tiny hook holding sand crabs, bloodworms, ghost shrimp, or pieces of clam or mussels is cast right into the whitewater areas. Sometimes Corbina can even be seen feeding with their backs out of the water, so it is totally unnecessary to cast far out past the breaking waves.

On the piers, light tackle fished in the surf line for those species, or in the mid pier area for others, usually offers the best results. A few piers can stretch right out to shallow reefs, where kelp stands grow, In these areas, see the section on Kelp Bed Fishing for suggestions on the most productive techniques in these areas.

At night, the piers and bay shores become the domain of the sharks and rays. Heavier tackle is needed because these fish can get over a hundred pounds! Normally cut Mackerel strips are the preferred bait for these nocturnal feeders.


Fishing boat plans

Ever think about building a boat?

It's easier than you probably imagine. You could be out fishing in your home crafted boat yet this summer. Stop by my other web site for lots of information and to download free study plans for many different boats you can build. There's also free e-books, videos, and photo essays of boat construction.

Spira International Boat Plans Web Site

Fishing and Navigation Books by Jeff Spira

Wrecks and Reefs Book

Wrecks and Reefs

Shipwrecks and Artificial Reefs of Southern Califormia for Fisherman and Divers

The most complete listing of wrecks and reefs of Southern California complete with GPS coordinates!

Wrecks and Reefs Book

Saltwater Angler's Guide to Southern California

Over 400 pages crammed with information, maps and everything you'd ever want to know about fishing the Southern California Ocean

Wrecks and Reefs Book

Seamanship and Navigation

A simplified approach - companion book to the class taught by Jeff of the same name.

Wrecks and Reefs Book

Celestial Navigation

A simplified approach - companion book to the class taught by Jeff of the same name.

Just click on the book or title to be taken to the Spira International Web site for more information or to order