A pier community

Nate and Chelsea Day


I will not ignore the seaweed: I like to eat fish. To be honest, that’s what drew me to fishing. I mean, why buy the cow when I can get the fish for free?

A man once said that fishing in Chelsea was just an excuse to sit around and have a beer with the family. Fortunately, I don’t drink beer and I want my kids to be around all the time. It’s all part of what makes everything I do for fun.

My family didn’t always go fishing. As a kid, friends of my parents invited us out fishing and boating about three times that I can remember. The best memories were on the Columbia River in Washington looking for a prehistoric fish called the sturgeon. It was fun getting off the little boat and watching my fishing line drift with the current.

But that’s how far my fishing line goes. I have to start over now and find out the details all over again. After a successful camping trip in the Sierra, I learned that I love trout fishing. I also learned that fishing is something that I can learn relatively easily and pass on to the youngsters … so we might have an excuse to sit around and drink chocolate milk.

When I live in San Diego, I don’t always have the opportunity to travel to the mountains of Northern California with the boys. What I have is a number of docks that are easy to fish and accessible to newbies and professionals alike. Public coastal piers can fish for free in California as long as you follow the rules about the size and quantity of fish.

Chelsea and I packed up the boys and headed to Oceanside to check out the fishing opportunities. I quickly learned that there is a definite compromise between my newfound way of fishing and trout fishing.

Every hour I saved by driving to the pier as opposed to the mountains was an hour I spent holding a rod hoping a fish would be fooled by my squid bait. Also, I had no idea what kind of fish I was going to catch.

Unlike in the loneliness of the mountains, where my only companion was the cool breeze and the whisper of pine trees, the pier was full of fishermen of all kinds. Some had simple poles and some fancy. Some came with a single and others with eight, hoping to improve their chances. I have also learned that a chair is the wise man’s tool here. My biggest bite to eat on my first pier fishing was: If you’re completely unprepared, go to the pier shop. In the middle of the pier was a small shop selling bait, pegs, hooks, sinkers, and even rental poles. We brought our own, but we followed the advice of the seaman who called us, “Go all the way to the end of the pier. Right side. Mackerel bite.”

He also gave us a flyer detailing the fish generally caught on the pier and the size and quantity restrictions for each fish. On the few docks I’ve spent time on, I’ve found that the end seems to be exactly where it is, and the locals are full of knowledge they are happy to share. Furthermore, it’s all a matter of patience and timing. Many fishermen believe that the best time to go is when the direction of the water changes from low tide to high tide and that older docks are better suited for fishing than newer docks as established barnacles attract fish to the area.

Being close to civilization also meant that the boys – as excited as they should be – had a restaurant nearby to revive their spirits. That’s what chocolate shakes and fries are for, right? I had to start a conversation with my pier neighbor and find out he was in town for a Missouri wedding, hoping to catch a fish from the Pacific.

And then it hit me. This was a kind of community all centered around the love and joy of fishing. So many different types of people came to the pier to meet up with friends and write a message … or ten. They waited and walked back and forth, talking about their personal life, their sport, or the fish they had “caught” the day or week before that they now seemed to be mysteriously missing. Some read a book and others listened to portable radios while sitting in a chair, but each of them seemed part of a larger community to which they had dedicated themselves with stick and rod. And there I was waiting … for my fish.

I managed to catch a special type of fish known to the locals as the “barnacle-covered pile”. I’m not entirely sure what this type of fish looks like, but I can say that it was VERY strong and took not only my bait but also my hook and weight with it. Greedy little bastard. In any case, I was addicted to this pier community. Next time, however, I’ll come back with a chair for me and the boys … and a cooler. The clever ones had coolers. With chocolate milk, I’m sure.

If any of you are looking for a sense of community, I recommend looking no further than fishing. A great place to start for parents is TakeMeFishing.org, where they have a list of the 2017 best family-friendly fishing and boating spots across the country. Prepare to Get Addicted!

You might like it too

Nate and Chelsea Day

Nate and Chelsea Day

Proponents of brave family life, Nate and Chelsea Day, believe that small moments make a big impact. They share adventurous activities with their three boys (soon to be four!) On their blog “Someday I’ll Study”. Nate offers practical fatherhood and a direct approach to life’s challenges. Chelsea adds color with creative guides and commentary on the harsh life of a modern era. The blog culminates in a humorous diary that documents the family’s daily exploits.

Comments are closed.