Antioch Fishing Pier

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38.01833,-121.81333

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Commonly caught species


This fairly long pier is the oldest Wildlife Conservation Board Pier in the area and receives quite a bit of angling pressure, although nowhere near the action I would expect in this area. However, it is my guess that more pier anglers head up to the Antioch Bridge Pier and an increasing number head over to the pier by the Antioch Marina.

Environment

The pier provides fishing in the San Joaquin River and is a timber structure 489 feet long and 14 feet wide. It was first dedicated in 1967 and then refurbished in 1984. Water depth ranges from fairly shallow inshore to fairly deep, and fishing seems better to me than at the marina pier that sits just downstream. Similar to the marina pier however is the ledge, which runs parallel to the pier. Just past the ledge is a sharp drop-off and good sturgeon fishing, but the ledge is also a great tackle grabber. Be careful and bring extra terminal tackle. There does seem to be less overall obstructions in the water than at the marina pier. Across the water are Kimball Island and the Sherman Island Waterfowl Management Area.

Species here are mainly anadromous or freshwater species: striped bass, white and green sturgeon, largemouth bass, channel and white catfish, carp and squawfish. A few starry flounder will also be encountered each winter and spring but most anglers basically fish for striped bass or sturgeon.

As with other piers in this area, freshwater species that live here year-round mingle with several species that enter and leave with the seasons. Thus large stripers are most common from the fall (October-November) to the spring (March), sturgeon like this area from late winter (February-March) to the late fall (November), salmon and shad will be seen passing through from the fall to winter months, and a few steelhead will be seen each winter. Most other species, and small striped bass, are resident.

Fishing Tips

Anglers can concentrate on the larger species such as striped bass or sturgeon, or size down for smaller fish. One approach is to concentrate on large striped bass during the fall and winter months (with medium heavy tackle) and then either go heavy (for sturgeon) or light (the rest of the species) for the remainder of the year. Personally, I would go light for most of the spring through fall months unless I heard the sturgeon were really on the bite.

One problem you will encounter is a lot of undersized (under 18 inch) striped bass. Always return these fish to the water. Also, remember that smaller hooks can help insure the life of fish returned to the water. Studies show that fish caught on hooks, size 8 and smaller, have a much higher chance of survival than fish caught on larger hooks. So, even though the use of smaller hooks might mean that you hook more small fish, those that you do land should have a better survival rate. Of course, this isn’t practical when pursuing the larger stripers or sturgeon; but it will work on the rest of the species.

Remember that for the larger stripers you should use medium heavy tackle equipped with 20-30 pound test line and size 2 to 4/0 hooks. For bait, use cut anchovy, shad, or sardine. Secondary baits are grass shrimp, ghost shrimp and pile worms. All of these should be fished near the bottom, and most people will use a sliding leader that allows the fish to swallow the bait without feeling the sinker. Concentrate on these fish during the late fall to winter months.

During the summer, concentrate on smaller species unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool sturgeon fisherman. Try for catfish using oily/smelly cut bait — shad, anchovies, sardines, mackerel or other natural baits such as grass shrimp, pile worms or the little Delta black clams. If you want to get exotic try some of the prepared catfish baits or make up your own “stinky-dinky, blood-an-fixings, proven-to-attract-’em stink bait”. Most of the catfish will be white catfish but you may also encounter channel catfish and possibly brown bullheads and black bullheads (the bullheads primarily at night). Whatever you use to attract Mr. Whisker, keep only enough to eat — if you plan to eat them.

Another common species you will encounter is the much-maligned Sacramento squawfish (even though most I have caught put up a decent fight for their size). Unfortunately most aren’t too big (10-15″), although they can reach a larger size. Most of the squawfish I’ve caught were on pile worms and fairly small hooks.

Largemouth bass are also a possibility although not in the numbers you will catch in quieter waters of the Delta. If you want to try for them, and maybe even a few smallmouth, use live minnows or spinnerbaits in the inshore areas.

Other fish you may encounter include carp, both black and white crappie, and even a few starry flounder (in the winter or early spring). A few salmon and steelhead also swim through the area each fall and winter. For these, try artificials like spoons and spinners.

Special Recommendations

(1) This is a windy area so always bring along warm clothing. (2) Remember to bring a freshwater fishing license. (3) Throw back most of your catch. The state recommends that you eat no more than four meals per month of any striped bass from this region — because of elevated mercury levels in their flesh. And, women who are pregnant, nursing mothers, and children under 6 should eat no fish from the delta.

History Note

In July of 1849, twin brothers, Joseph Horton Smith and William Wiggin Smith, arrived in San Francisco from Boston on the brig “Forest.” A few days later they were able to get jobs at New York of the Pacific (today’s Pittsburg) and shortly thereafter acquired land north of that site to build their own landing — Smith’s Landing. At a picnic on the Fourth of July, 1851, a by-now larger group of citizens chose the Biblical name of Antioch for the settlement. The local wharves, including the Antioch Municipal Wharf, remained centers of economic activity well into the 20th Century.

Facts

Hours

Open 24 hours a day.

Facilities

Lights, a fish cleaning station and somewhat decrepit restrooms are located on the pier. Free parking is a short walk up the hill from the front of the pier. Do not park in the parking lot adjacent to the pier, it is private and reserved for the River View Restaurant.

Handicapped Facilities

No handicapped parking or restrooms. Posted for handicapped.

How To Get There

The pier is located at the foot of H Street in downtown Antioch. From Highway 4, go north on G. Street; follow it to Second Street where you will turn left; follow Second Street about a block to the free public parking lot near the Jerome Waldie Plaza. A short walk through the park and down the hill will take you to the foot of the pier.

Management

City of Antioch.


Reprinted with permission from Ken Jones, Pier Fishing in California, 2nd Edition, June 2004