Take the Kids Pier Fishing - Part One

Young girl is enjoying pier fishing in San Diego.

It’s a sunny Saturday and you’re casting about for an adventure. Something outside, something for the whole family, and equally important, something that won’t break the bank. A smile spreads across your face. You recall a family outing from when you were a kid—the time your parents took you fishing on San Diego Bay. The fish are waiting so let’s go.

Where to Go
No fishing license is required when you fish from one of San Diego’s great public fishing piers that dot the bay—just toss the line in the water and be sure to stay on the pier.
Looking for a bigger adventure? Consider renting a boat. Seaforth Boat Rentals (www.seaforthboatrental.com) has family-sized boats for rent by the half or full day. They have easy-to-find locations on both sides of the bay.

When to Go
While the old saw about the best time to go fishing is “anytime you can,” some times really are better than others. More species are active in summer’s warm water than during winter, but fish can be caught twelve months of the year. Spend a few moments with a tide chart. Look for the days with a substantial tidal exchange—3½ feet or more—because all that water moving about the bay stirs up food. An incoming tide fishes marginally better than the outgoing because the rising water drives the fish food closer to shore. Find San Diego tide information at www.wavecast.com/tides.

What You Might Catch
Each cast into San Diego Bay is an adventure because you never know what might bite the bait. Three species of bass—spotted, sand and calico—swim in the bay. California halibut grow to 20 pounds, more than enough for a bundle of fish tacos. Then there are corvina, the different croakers (spotfin, yellowfin, white and black), topsmelt, jacksmelt, mackerel and the toothy, lightning-fast barracuda. At least five shark species live in the bay with the leopard being the most likely to end up on the line. Lucky anglers tangle with the Cortez bonefish. Visit www.oehha.ca.gov/fish/so_cal/sandiegobay.html for a health guide to eating San Diego Bay fish.

Regulations
If you fish any place in the bay besides a public pier, then anglers 16 and older need a license with an ocean enhancement stamp. Those modest requirements are waived July 5 and September 6, 2014, as they are Free Fishing Days designated by California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Annual, short-term and discounted licenses are available. You can find all regulation and license information at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing.aspx.

Before gathering the family and heading out the door, don’t forget sun protection—the water reflects sunlight. Pack a lunch with plenty of water and plan to make a day of it. You’ll soon have fish tales of your own.

For more information about fishing in San Diego, including what equipment to use, fishing techniques, getting a guide and more, visit www.sandiegofamily.com/out-and-about/over-400-things-to-do/1612.



San Diego Bay Free Fishing Piers

Imperial Beach Pier
1,491 feet long
Open 24/7
http://www.sandiego.com/beaches/imperial-beach

Coronado Ferry Landing
377 feet long
Open 24/7
www.pierfishing.com/resources/index.php?id=piers:coronado_ferry_landing

Shelter Island Pier
200 feet long with a 500 foot-long T-extension
Open 6 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
www.portofsandiego.org/shelter-island-shoreline-park.html

Embarcadero Park South
95 feet with a 300-foot-long T-extension
Open 24/7 but parking closes at 10 p.m.
www.portofsandiego.org/embarcadero-marina-park-south.html

Cesar Chavez Park
600 feet long
Open 6 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
www.portofsandiego.org/cesar-chavez-park.html

Chula Vista J Street Marina
700 feet long
Open 6 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
www.portofsandiego.org/chula-vista-marina-view-park.html




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Freelance writer, David Paul Williams, is the author of Fly Fishing for Western Smallmouth.

Published: June 2014




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