"You get a line and I'll get a pole, we'll go fishin'
in the crawdad hole" goes the old refrain and it is especially
applicable here ... believe it or not that's just about all you will need
to get started pier fishing.
Pier fishing, by its very nature, is a very laid back pastime not requiring
an expensive outlay in tackle. In fact the competitive approach,
revealed by those who believe that 'the more extensive your toys the greater
your joys' , is the very antithesis of pier fishing and strikes at the
heart of the 'day at the pier' experience.
Perhaps that is as it should be since the offering at most piers is
a rather limited selection of species and sizes compared to offshore
So what is it that continues to draw anglers to our piers year after
year if it isn't the spectacular catch rate? The 19th century American
naturalist and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau conjectured that 'most
men fish all their lives without realizing that it is not fish they
The popular bumper sticker - 'the worst day fishing beats the
best day working' is a more contemporary statement of the same
sentiment ... that there is much more to pier fishing than just catching
Piers are a way of temporarily escaping from our daily routines ...
and if the fish cooperate so much the better. Looking even more closely
though you might even find an angler who has his line in the water but
no bait on the hook ... guaranteeing an uninterrupted session of necessary
and restorative daydreaming.
So, with that in mind, let's get started by selecting the bare
minimum of tackle needed to proceed.
the beginning pier angler that would consist of a medium weight 7'
fiberglass rod with an inexpensive spinning reel - the 'sale' combos featured
in most sporting good stores generally for around $30 - $35.
Pictured is the Shimano combo that I used for the 2002-2003 reef survey,
catching over 535 fish in 114 trips. Shimano makes a very reliable
low end product line for the beginning angler backed by terrific customer
Add to that 150 yards of 12-15 pound monofilament line, a couple
of packs of #4 or #6 pre-tied hooks and a handful of 1 ounce lead sinkers
and the basic setup is complete.
The next order of business is tying it all together. For
that begin with what is known as a hi-lo or surf leader by tying an overhand
loop in the business end of the fishing line to which you attach one of
the lead weights. Then tie another overhand loop about 1 foot
up from the weight and a second loop another foot further up. Moisten the
loop ends of 2 pre-tied leaders and slip one through each line loop pulling
Attach a small piece of bait to each hook and drop the line in the water
... either holding the pole by hand or propping it up against the railing.
It is a proven fact that most pier fish cluster directly below you around
and between the pilings so there is no need to learn to cast at this point.
That is all there is to it ... the rest is just simply
a refinement on the basic technique and can be learned from fellow anglers
or diligent internet searches.
It is a truism that what makes for a successful angler is simply time
on the water ... the more you fish the more you learn and the more productive
your subsequent fishing sessions will be. Rather than spoil that learning
experience by overloading you with abstract, arcane and unnecessary information
I will leave you to your own devices for the time being. Enjoy!
Various Goleta Pier habitats:
Inshore: Refers to area between the breakers and
the Angler Center. This is a sandy habitat that sees croaker, corbina,
surfperch, halibut, rays and small sharks. Best area for the beginning
Pilings: Goleta's pilings sport large colonies of mussel..
This natural food source attracts many different species some of which
prey on the mussels (perch) and others (halibut) which prey on the perch.
Generally requires the use of shorter rods and light-weight line when fishing
tight to the pilings. Wave surge can cause line to become entangled so
some caution is needed.
Kelp reef: Rocky bottom area 30 - 50 yards west of pier
and running its entire length. Noted for its surface canopy of brown kelp.
The kelp forest below shelters rockfish, bass, lingcod and cabezon. Because
of the necessity of long casts and the difficulty of retrieving fish through
the sometimes dense canopy this area is only for the more experienced angler.
End of pier: Often the largest of the sharks as well as
many pelagics (mackerel, bonita) are found off the end in the deeper water.
For many reasons this is not an area suitable to novice anglers especially
at night. Interesting to watch but best to fish it only after having
gained experience on the tamer sections of the pier.
Pier Fishing Styles:
Note: the page is a work in progress ... check back frequently.
and Release (C&R): Fishing primarily for sport and not
for food. Features the use of techniques and tackle that seeks to
increase the survivability of the hooked and released fish.
Subsistence: Fishing for food. Most fishing is a mixture
of C&R and subsistence.
Cut bait: Generally refers to packages of frozen squid,
frozen or salted (dried) anchovies, fresh dead or frozen sardines and mackerel.
May be used whole, chunked or cut into strips.
Live bait: In the summer and fall large schools of smelt,
sardines, anchovies and occasional herring surface near the pier.
Anglers use a multi-hook jig rig, locally called a sabiki, to obtain a
supply which is stored in plastic buckets with aerators. The live
bait is rehooked and used to attract the larger predators such as halibut,
bass, cabezon and lingcod.
Perching: Using various techniques anglers obtain a chunk
of the mussel colony around a piling. The individual mussel shells
are opened as needed placing small amounts on tiny #6 or #8 hooks
which are dropped to a level with the bottom of the mussel colony in order
to attract the various perch species already feeding there.
Plugging: In recent years the practice of casting and retrieving
artificial lures or soft plastic swim baits has become increasing popular.
The frequent success these anglers have is directly related to the amount
of exposure their 'bait' gets ... the more ground they cover the
more predators see it. This style usually requires frequent changes
in location as the angler tries to discover the 'hot spots'.
Crabbing: Crabs can be caught by dropping a hoop net to
the bottom with chunks of bait wired to it. Because of the
multiple rings (hoops) used to support the mesh the net is dish shaped.
When the net is 'pulled' the sides lift up entrapping the enclosed crabs.
Also called hooping especially when the target is lobster.
Snagging: The practice of dragging a line, consisting of
multiple, evenly spaced and unbaited large treble hooks, across the sea
bottom in an effort to entangle various bottom feeders such as corbina.
In shallow and clear water the snagger ties white flags on either
side of the group of hooks. By viewing the area between the flags,
like goal posts, the snagger can see the fish crossing and rapidly jerk
the hooks into it.
Poaching: The practice of willfully ignoring the regulations
in pursuit of fish or shellfish. Rarely done out of ignorance and usually
motivated by greed accompanied by a complete disregard for the best
interests of both the targeted species and their fellow anglers.
Often seen in the company of disreputable business owners seeking to encourage
the illegal 'black market' sale of the poached commodity.
Questions or comments? ... email Pierhead
Copyright © 2007 by Boyd Grant. All Rights Reserved