Pacifica Pier Fishing Guide: Mastering the Art of Ocean Angling

Embark on a serene yet rewarding fishing adventure at Pacifica Pier, a coastal gem that stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of urban convenience and ocean allure. Uncover the mysteries of Pacifica Pier’s diverse ecosystem, understand the types of fish that grace its waters, and equip yourself with invaluable tips, strategies, and gear recommendations to make the most of your angling experience.

Types of Fish You Can Expect to Catch:

  • Striped Bass (Migratory): The stars of the show, particularly from April to September. They gracefully navigate the shoreline, and trolling lures or baitfish near the surface or mid-water is essential.
  • Surf Perch (Year-round): Barred, Calico, and Redtail Surfperch thrive near the rocks and sandy stretches. Lures or bait fished near the bottom offer a delightful light tackle experience.
  • Rockfish (Resident): Sculpins, Grass Rockfish, cabezon, and the occasional Lingcod lurk around the pilings and rocky areas. Jigs, bait, and sabiki rigs can tempt them out.
  • Sharks (Seasonally): Leopard Sharks and Bat Rays make occasional appearances, especially at night near the sandy bottom. Use bait with caution and respect these magnificent creatures.
  • Halibut (Occasionally): Pacific Halibut might venture near the pier during migrations, particularly in deeper areas. Large baitfish or jigs fished slowly might tempt them.
  • Herring (Seasonally): Large schools of herring, especially in the spring and fall, attract other fish and offer exciting jigging opportunities near the pier.

Local Insights:

  • Know the Tides: Incoming tides bring baitfish closer to shore, attracting predators like stripers and perch. Outgoing tides are good for bottom feeders like rockfish and crabs.
  • Fish the Rocks and Pilings: Cast jigs, bait, or sabiki rigs near these structures for rockfish, Cabezon, and even the occasional surprise. This is prime territory for sculpins.
  • Trolling Secrets: Trolling lures or baitfish along the shoreline towards Sharp Park or Pescadero can yield stripers, herring, and even the occasional halibut. Experiment with depths and speeds.
  • Night Fishing: The pier comes alive at night! Try bait near the sandy bottom for sharks and rays, or lures near the surface for stripers chasing anchovies.
  • Respect the Environment: Pacifica Pier is a popular spot. Be mindful of other anglers, share the space courteously, and dispose of trash properly.

Unique Things to Pay Attention To:

  • Limited Parking: Parking near the pier can be tricky, especially on weekends and during peak fishing seasons. Consider alternative transportation like biking or public transit.
  • Strong Currents: Currents can be swift, especially near the pier ends and during outgoing tides. Be cautious when wading or use proper anchoring if needed.
  • Ocean Conditions: The Pacific Ocean can be unpredictable. Be prepared for wind, fog, or sudden changes in weather, and dress accordingly.
  • Pay Attention to the Waves: Rough waves can make fishing difficult and dangerous. Check the forecast before heading out and avoid fishing during dangerous conditions.

Specific Locations (A Few Examples):

  1. Pier End: Cast jigs or bait for stripers, surf perch, and rockfish around the pilings and edges. This is a prime spot for halibut during migrations.
  2. Rocky Areas Under the Pier: Fish near the rocks with jigs or bait for Cabezon, Lingcod, and other rockfish. Be mindful of the currents and depth.
  3. Sandy Stretches Near the Shore: Cast lures or bait for surf perch in the shallows. This area can be productive year-round, especially during the summer months.
  4. Open Water Along the Shoreline: Troll lures or baitfish near the kelp beds or deeper areas for stripers and halibut, especially during migrations.
  5. Sandy Bottom Near the Lifeguard Tower: This area attracts sharks and rays at night. Try bait fishing with caution and respect.

Additional Tips:

  • Grab a California Fishing License before heading out.
  • Check seasonal regulations for specific fish, especially halibut and sharks.
  • Pack snacks, drinks, and sunscreen for a comfortable fishing experience.
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions, particularly on the Pacific coast.
  • Most fish here favor lighter tackle, so bring appropriate rods and reels for a fun fight.

Check out our Gearlist for the gear we for trips like this

Our Gearlist account lists all of the gear we use. Discover our top picks, where to snag them, and stay informed with our regular updates.

Pacifica Pier offers something for everyone, from families chasing surf perch to seasoned anglers seeking a striper trophy. With these insights and a dash of local knowledge, you’re well on your way to reeling in a memorable fishing experience at this iconic California spot.