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Angling at the Pacifica Pier in Northern California

Updated on October 17, 2012

Rev. Herschell Harkins Memorial Pacifica Pier

Pacifica Pier; Pacifica, CA. CC BY-SA 2.0
Pacifica Pier; Pacifica, CA. CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

About the Pacifica Pier

One of the best fishing locations in California is located just a few miles south of San Francisco in the city of Pacifica. The Rev. Herschell Harkins Memorial Pacifica Pier (also known as “Pacifica Pier”), located at Sharp Park Beach, extends a quarter-mile (400m) west into the Pacific Ocean and is in the form of an L-shape. For directions to the Pacifica Pier, you can click here: 2100 Beach Boulevard, Pacifica, CA 94044.

Several Bait & Tackle shops are located within the vicinity of the pier and offer better selections at cheaper prices for anglers rather than the big chain sporting good stores in neighboring cities. It is open admission-free all year round from 4:00am to 10:00pm PST, but may temporarily close due to repairs or extremely rough weather.

Originally, the Pacifica Pier was built in 1973 with one use in mind: flushing waste into the Pacific Ocean. However, this was stopped in 2004 when Pacifica opened up a new water treatment facility. Now, anglers of all levels come every day in hopes of snagging that big catch! It is lined with fish cleaning stations, benches, and lights. The Chit Chat Café at the pier serves warm food and beverages and offers restrooms for both men and women with handicap access.

spunsmurf's Crab Trap

Catch of the Day

The California Department of Fish and Game provides regulations for those seeking to catch seafood off of the pier. While no fishing license is required, anglers MUST obey the rules on which types of fish or shellfish can be taken during the season, their minimum weight requirement, and how many can be taken home. This is regulated by Fish and Game officers who visit the pier and check the buckets and coolers of all anglers. Citations are issued to those found breaking any of the Department’s laws.

While there are a variety of fish caught at the Pacifica Pier, the most common include:

1. Dungeness Crab. Season: Mid-November through June/July. Minimum Size: 5.75 inches. Bag Limit: 10 crabs.

2. Red Crab & Rock Crab. Season: Year-Round. Minimum Size: 4 inches. Bag Limit: 35 crabs.

3. Jack Smelt. Season: Year-Round. Bag Limit: No limit.

4. Striped Bass. Season: Year-Round. Minimum Size: 18 inches. Bag Limit: 2 striped bass.

5. Ocean Salmon EXCEPT Coho. Season: May to September; Thursday through Monday only. Minimum Size: 20 inches. Bag Limit: 2 salmon per day.

6. Shark. Please see the Dept. of Fish and Game’s regulations page for specific sharks.

Again, please see the Department of Fish and Game for any changes, how to measure, additional regulations, and more information at

While fishing, many anglers spot sea lions swimming around or eating at crabs through the crab nets. Whales are also seen, but only during their biannual migration. Pelicans can also be found, however, it seems like there are more seagulls trying to sneak some food out. This is an excellent location for bird watching and a nature walk along Sharp Park Beach.

SharkMan650 Catching a Thresher Shark

Almost Free Food

My dad taught me how to fish at a very young age.  He would sit out on the wooden piers or on seemingly study rock edges along California's northern coast and we'd huddle together with my brother to keep warm.  My brother and I started with the unsightly task of chopping off small fish heads and squid tentacles for bait before hooking them on at the end of the line.  Most days were cold and foggy, so my brother and I would stay home.  Then one day, in Benicia, he caught the biggest fish he's ever snagged and had his picture in the local newspaper, which is plastered in a family photo album and buried somewhere in his closet.

I took my father's teachings and, in hopes of catching my own food to provide for my family, I continue to fish to this day.  I want to upgrade a couple of my fishing gear, so technically I'll be paying to fish... but that's until I catch enough in a weekend or two to pay it of and then some!

Grubbin' on Seafood

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    • geokhris profile image

      geokhris 5 years ago from Stanislaus County

      Love the Pacifica pier....I shop at rusty hook and new coastside ....great your hub

    • profile image

      Ron 5 years ago

      Great, thanks for sharing this awesome hub.Really thank you!

      Ron from