Pier fishing is prime at the San Francisco Municipal Pier, also known as the “Muni.” There are no other piers in the Bay Area that allow free fishing or crabbing. November through July is the crabbing season, and in the winter, you can find an abundance of Dungeness crab not available anywhere else in the bay. If you fish from the pier, you’ll have a chance of catching many different kinds of fish, including bat rays, skates (big, California), sharks (leopard, brown smoothhound), striped bass, rockfish (black, brown), California halibut, sole (English, sand) starry flounder, Pacific sanddab, Pacific tomcod, jacksmelt, perch (shiner, pile, white, black sea, striped sea, silver surf), walleye, and white croaker.
Winter and spring are the best seasons for the large perch varieties, which can be caught by fishing inshore along shoreline rocks or toward Black Point Wharf (Transport Wharf 4). Summer months are when small perch are abundant (silver, walleye surfperch, white seaperch, shiners). Note that there is a strict perch closure in the bay from April 1 to July 31 which applies to all perch except shiner perch. Use pile worms, mussels, shrimp and size 6-8 hooks for all varieties of perch, and fish at mid-depth for best results.
During winter, starry flounder may be caught, with a sliding sinker rigging using pile worms or anchovies, by fishing further out on the left side of the pier. Pacific sanddabs sometimes show up in winter seasons and can be caught with almost any rigging/bait (best chance for a catch is at daybreak, but they bite all day). Pacific herrings are plentiful during their spawning runs which can come close to the pier; anglers using bait rigs will have good luck. Pacific tomcod are not numerous but your best chance for catching them comes in February and March, fishing at mid-depth.
Fishing for rays, sharks, and skates is best in summer and fall during the night. Squid is the best bait (followed by anchovies, ghost shrimp or mackerel).
Almost any time of the year, you’ll have a fair chance of catching flatfish (using cut anchovy or squid, fished on the bottom) and smelt (using a few size 8 hooks under a float, baited with pile worms, shrimp or anchovy).
Fishing around pilings means finding rockfish of many varieties (black, blue, olive, grass, kelp), cabezon, lingcod, buffalo sculpins, kelp greenlings and giant kelpfish. This is a fun fishing time for kids, as almost any cast will get a catch (use a size 8 hook and a bit of pile worm, mackerel, or squid), but most catches are too small to keep. There is a two-fish, ten-inch minimum limit on juvenile bocaccio, which are not often caught.
Pacific Municipal Pier Fish:
Pacific Municipal Pier boat ramps:
The following boat ramps provide access to Pacific Municipal Pier.