A favorite past time for many people who live on the California coast is pier fishing. With some of the countries most famous piers and boardwalks right in our backyard, it’s easy to plan a Saturday afternoon sitting in the sun with a fishing rod.  

Even though it’s a popular practice, there are still quite a few commonly asked questions about pier fishing. That’s why we composed a list of these questions and their answers below!

Do I Need A Fishing License?

This is the most commonly asked question, and the answer is no! You don’t need a license to fish that Santa Monica and Venice Piers. If you fish from a boat near the piers you will need the proper licensing, but because the towns already hold the licensing necessary, the piers are free to use! If you decide you would prefer to fish off of a boat instead, you can find the proper licensing here!  

What Parts Of The Pier Can I Fish From?

On the Santa Monica Pier, most people fish from the fishing deck that wraps around the far end of the pier below the amusement level. You can access it from a stairway at the very end of the pier. Others fish from the upper pier past the amusement rides and vendors. The Venice Pier is made for fishing, so the entire length of the pier can be used to fish!

What Kind of Fish Are Commonly Caught?

At the Santa Monica Pier white croaker, queenfish, sardines, walleye surfperch, salema, sargo, scorpionfish, kelp bass, sand bass, Pacific mackerel, jack mackerel, and bonito are commonly caught according to PierFishing.com. You can also find the occasional white seabass or even yellowtail if you fish towards the end of the pier in deeper water. 

You can catch similar types of fish at the Venice Pier, as well as sharks and rays. Just  a reminder that the types of fish that are surrounding the piers can change from season to season, so the information provided by PierFishing.com could be inaccurate.  

Can I Eat What I Caught?

It depends on the fish! If you are planning on eating what you caught, be sure to check The California Office of Environmental Health Hazards’ list of Fish Safe to Eat from Santa Monica Bay and along the coast. As a general rule, fish that should never be eaten when caught from the Santa Monica Pier include Topsmelt, Barred Sand Bass, White Croaker, Barracuda and Black Croaker. 


As for Venice Beach, similar rules apply, but double-checking the list of Fish Safe to Eat is always the best idea.