At 1,971 feet the Ocean Beach Pier is supposed to be the longest concrete pier in the world. It also has a T-shape at the end extending 360 feet to the south end and 193 feet to the north end. The far end extends into the Point Loma kelp bed and is blanketed by kelp much of the year. This can attract some kelp resident species but can also cause a lot of tangles, usually at the most inopportune time—such as when you have a large fish attached to the end of your line. At this far end, where the water is 25 feet deep, the most common species are kelp bass, sand bass, several variety of perch, bonito, mackerel, scorpionfish, halibut and, quite often, California lobster. Occasionally a black sea bass (giant sea bass) will also pass through this area. In August of 1997, a 9-pound baby black was caught and quickly released back into the water. Who knows, mama and papa blackie also might be around.
Midway out, on both sides of the bait shop, is the best area for the smaller white croaker, queenfish, jacksmelt, walleye surfperch, barracuda, mackerel and white seabass (usually the small, illegal, juvenile fish called sea trout). This area also seems to yield the majority of halibut (spring to summer), guitarfish and bat rays; it was in this area that I once caught a nearly 4-foot-wide California butterfly ray (Gymnura marmorata). Another day I got an uncommon, just barely 6-inch-long deepbody anchovy (Anchoa compressa) that hit a bait rig intended for mackerel. I believe there is a reef on the north side of the pier in this area and that probably explains why a majority of the fish are taken on that side.
Inshore, the foot of the pier is built over a rocky cliff area and, although shallow, its location presents exposure to many of the rocky shore species. Here, if tidal conditions are right, high tide with small breakers, anglers can often catch rubberlip seaperch, blackperch, halfmoon, opaleye, bass and less common pier species such as senorita and blacksmith. Anglers fishing at night might also latch onto a moray eel. This shallow area is also a good area for lobster.
The pier receives a lot of angling pressure (more than 500,000 visitor-days of use per year) but, because of the length of the pier with more than a mile of railing space, it rarely feels crowded. Regulars used to include such characters as Halibut Harry, Bonito Man, Buffalo Kid and Big Mama, but the cast and names change with the times.
Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego California
photo Jon Pinter
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