Southern California is easily one of the most picturesque destinations in America. If you’re looking for fun in the sun, a trip to SoCal is precisely what you need. Beyond the gorgeous beaches and excellent weather, southern Cali also offers some of the best pier fishing in the world.
From white seabass to halibut to leopard shark and tons of other species in between, SoCal’s waters hold an incredible diversity of ocean life. With so many piers in the area, it can be challenging to decide where to start. That’s where we come in!
Read on, and we’ll share the best list of fishing piers in Southern California so that you decide on the best place to find your next monster fish.
1. Redondo Beach Pier
One of the most historic and storied piers in the country, Redondo Beach Pier, was erected in 1888 to facilitate the growing logging economy of the Northwest. It’s gone through tons of changes over its 100+ year history, but it remains one of the best fishing destinations in SoCal.
Today, there are two separate piers that both offer plenty of opportunities to catch fish. The “Endless Pier” is the original, while the Monstad pier, built in 1926, has become the de facto destination for anglers. Hit the south end of the Monstad pier, and you’ll have a shot at pulling up monster mackerel.
The pier is exceptionally long because of its horseshoe shape, but it doesn’t extend especially far into the water. Fortunately, the deepwater Redondo Submarine Canyon sits close to the pier, providing a haven for deepwater pelagics you’d rarely have a shot at catching from a pier.
Redondo Pier is one of the most popular destinations in SoCal, so you should expect a crowd when you come. On the bright side, there are tons of shops to grab a quick bite, bait, gear, or anything else you may need on your trip here.
2. Huntington Beach Pier
To the south of where Main Street intersects with the Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, you’ll find an iconic 1,850-foot fishing pier that’s been delighting locals and travelers alike for over 100 years.
The pier offers ample room to fish on either side. The seafloor is flat and sandy for the most part, which makes this pier an excellent choice if you’re targeting halibut, sand perch, or any of the other species that make the area around the pier their home.
Anglers will find ample municipal parking along Main Street, a short walk from the pier, but it can be pricey (as much as $20 per car during peak season.) There are also tons of shops to enjoy along the boardwalk after you’re done fishing or if you need to pick up some tackle.
3. Newport Beach Pier
With roots stretching back to the late 1800s, today’s Newport Beach Pier was rebuilt in 1940 after a particularly fierce hurricane destroyed the original McFadden Wharf. The Newport Beach Pier stretches over 1,000 feet into the ocean, offering anglers access to deep waters they’d have no shot of reaching from shore.
Newport Beach Pier also sits on the edge of a deep-sea canyon that makes the area a popular spot for pelagic species like sculpin, barracuda, and amberjack. You’ll also find plenty of delicious California halibut in this area, which is arguably the best table fare you’ll find in the state.
Arrive early for a chance to stake your claim to the “Mecca,” the northwest corner of the pier, which has long been the hottest spot for catching fish. If you’re hoping to score a few mackerel, this is one of the best spots in SoCal to catch them.
Arriving early becomes doubly important at Newport Beach because parking comes at a premium. Show up late, and you can anticipate a mile-long walk from your vehicle to the pier.
4. San Clemente Pier
One of SoCal’s most picturesque piers, the expansive San Clemente pier stretches nearly 1,300 feet into the ocean, and it’s home to some of the most diverse sea life in the area.
At any given time, San Clemente pier is home to croaker (spotfin and yellowfin), jacksmelt, guitarfish, Pacific mackerel, bonito, and much more. When the bonito are boiling, it isn’t uncommon to see a large mako picking them off and making a quick meal. The presence of mako and great whites makes this pier a top destination for shark anglers, as well.
When it comes to the question of “what is the best time to fish off a pier,” you can seldom go wrong at San Clemente. The pier is only closed from midnight to 4 am, and there’s ample (affordable) parking a short walk from the pier. During the summer, there’s also a trolley that will drop you off at the base of the pier so you can avoid the walk altogether.
Once you’ve wrapped up your day of fishing, the area surrounding the pier offers fantastic dining, shopping, and nightlife, and the Spanish-style architecture provides a gorgeous backdrop for you to enjoy a beautiful day in SoCal.
5. Santa Monica Pier
The storied Santa Monica pier has existed in some form since the 1870s, but it began to take its current shape in the early 1920s when two independent businessmen built adjoining piers to replace the aging pier that predated them. While the one pier was mostly used for industry, the adjoining Pleasure Pier became a noted leisure destination and is one of SoCal’s most historic places.
The west end of the pier remains the destination for anglers, and it offers some of the best fishing in the area. The pier extends more than 1,000 feet beyond the tide, making it an excellent place to catch sea bass, halibut, turbot, croakers, and perch. While it’s almost always busy, there’s usually plenty of room along the pier to accommodate the anglers.
Stop into the Santa Monica Pier Bait and Tackle Shop at the west end of the pier, and the staff will be happy to share some advice on what’s biting, what is the best bait for pier fishing, and much more. You can even rent a pole here if you find yourself on the pier without your rod.
There’s ample parking along the pier, and it’s affordable even during the summer season. There’s also free disabled parking available, and all the parking areas are a short walk from your car to the pier.
6. Dana Point Harbor Fishing Pier
This tiny and picturesque bayside harbor is one of the best places in all of SoCal to bring your family fishing. It’s much smaller than most of the area piers, but it also receives considerably less traffic, from people at least. Dana Point Harbor is one of the busiest in the area for boat traffic, so you’re guaranteed to see some excellent scenery while you’re fishing.
This pier offers a typical assortment of smaller bay fish, given its location. Common species here include smelt, queenfish, Tommy cod, croaker, seaperch, halibut, and turbot. At night, sharks and rays also work their way into the mix.
While the hard-fighting pelagics other SoCal piers produce are less common at Dana Point, bonito and mackerel do show up in numbers when the conditions are right and can be had using strips of squid or cut bait on a high-low rig.
This quiet escape is rarely too busy to find an excellent spot to fish, and parking near the pier is also plentiful. While this small pier might not offer the best fishing, it’s an ideal spot to enjoy a quiet day in the harbor.
7. Green Pleasure Pier
If you’re enjoying a getaway at Catalina Island, the Green Pleasure Pier is your best destination for pier fishing. It’s quiet and picturesque, so it’s perfect for the whole family. It’s also the home of the island’s official weigh station, so it’s common to see sport anglers bringing monster marlin and swordfish.
The unique location off the mainland means that you can catch an incredible diversity of fish you’d seldom see on one of the mainland piers. While the usual fish of the area are common, you’ll also see species like Halfmoon, sheepshead, rock wrasse, several rays, blacksmith, California scorpionfish, and many more.
The pier is a hair over 400 feet long, and while it was once a noted destination for pier anglers, the space available for fishing has shrunk considerably. It’s best to arrive early or later in the afternoon to secure a coveted spot along the small stretch of the pier that isn’t reserved for other activities.
8. Coronado Ferry Landing
At the top of San Diego Bay, this protected cove is a picturesque and family-friendly pier that often yields excellent fishing.
Although it’s a short pier in the bay, the water gets quite deep in spots, making for some solid fishing and a wide assortment of wildlife. The muddy bottom under the pier is a favorite hangout for halibut, and the grassier areas near the ferry landing yield some excellent bass with decent frequency.
Fishing is permitted across large sections of the pier, and there’s usually no shortage of choice spots on most days. When you’re done fishing, the ferry landing is home to some of Coronado’s best shopping and dining options.
9. Balboa Pier
Located just a stone’s throw south of the iconic Newport Beach Pier, Balboa Pier offers excellent fishing, and it’s usually a bit quieter than its sister pier, at least as far as fishing is concerned.
Newport Beach Pier is perhaps the most famous of the fishing piers in Southern California, and more anglers flock to it than Balboa Pier for this reason. Still, the fishing is no less good down here, and there’s usually much more room to ply your craft.
The pier is an interesting location given its proximity to a deep water trench and the much shallower Newport Bay. Given the geography, there’s always a broad assortment of fish, from pelagics like bonito and mackerel to sculpin, sand sharks, halibut, and much more. You never know what you’re going to get fishing this pier.
The fishing piers in Southern California are the unofficial mecca of pier fishing. There are so many amazing and historic spots in the area where you can wet a line. Whether you’re hoping to spend your day picking through croakers and perch, put a big halibut on the dinner table, or try your luck with a monster shark, California offers some of the best opportunities in the world.
If you’re wondering, “how do you pier fish in Southern California,” the best thing you can do is grab your rod and some bait and head to one of the storied piers throughout SoCal. There’s simply no wrong way to spend a day at the pier, so get out there and enjoy yourself!