One hour north of Los Angeles is the classic southern California beach town of Ventura. Here is a vacation wonderland, with pristine beaches, remote surf spots, beautiful parks, and a vibrant, friendly atmosphere. Ventura’s Main Street features distinct architecture, beautiful inns, boutiques, restaurants, and antique shops. A busy arts district is buzzing with galleries, artisans, along with street and stage performers dazzling daily and nightly crowds. There is a 13-mile coastal bikeway for pleasant dose of exercise. Ventura Harbor Village is filled with interesting shops, fine and casual dining, and offers cruises to the nearby Channel Islands, or along the stunning Pacific coastline. This town is known for its outdoor activities, with year-round comfortable temperatures and very little rainfall providing the perfect atmosphere to avoid the indoors. Especially important to the economy and the pleasure of Ventura, however, is fishing. Around here, there is rarely an excuse not to get out on the water; and it’s difficult to come back empty-handed.
Ventura Pier is open 24 hours a day, and the main location for those who prefer to fish from land. Constructed in 1872, this pier ended up being much larger than planned, to accommodate such a high demand for fishing. Ventura Pier is also home to a restaurant, snack shop, and various other fishing facilities. The pier features a wide variety of species, as its length covers bottoms ranging from sandy to rocky, growing clearer all the way out. Youngsters and less experienced anglers may find enough rewarding catches closer to shore, while the locals will crowd around the middle and all the way out to the end. The Channel Islands lie only 14 miles offshore, providing great numbers of popular sport fish, among captivating scenery and a location which has earned them the nickname of “America’s Galapagos”. Half, quarter, and full-day charter trips leave from Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, and cruise these island waters and coastlines, hauling in loads of fish, daily.
The bottom areas around the pier are mostly sandy, providing good space for Surf Perch, Spotfin, and White Croaker closer to the shore. There are some areas of rocky bottom further out, which attract good numbers of Queenfish/Herring, Halibut, Kelp Bass, Mackerel, and Sand Dabs, which are small, tasty flat fish known by locals as some of the best eating fish; and quite popular for the younger or less-experienced crowd. Continuing out toward the end of the pier, varieties increase, including the afore-mentioned species, with the addition of large Sharks, California Skate, Bat Rays, and White Sea Bass. Seasons influence the appearance of species around the pier, as in deeper waters. June through September is prime time for Bonito, Kelp Bass, Halibut, Spotfin Croaker; even Barracuda and Thresher Sharks when the water is warm enough. Late winter through spring is the ideal time for Barred Surf Perch and Sea Perch to congregate around the pilings. White Croaker, Sharks, and Rays seem to be here year-round. Waters at the end of the pier come alive at night with baitfish attracting Smelt, Herring, and White Sea Bass. California halibut are popular along the coast, especially when they move into shallow water during spring and fall to spawn. These fish are a favorite for charter crowds, with some reaching sizes up to 50 pounds in weight. Various charters leaving from Ventura Harbor target Calico and Sand Bass, Dorado and Yellowfin Tuna, Red Snapper, Jack Crevalle, Albacore and Skipjack Tuna in deeper waters. Sculpin, Whitefish, Sheephead, and King Mackerel are also plentiful off Ventura’s coast, and around the Channel Islands. Even Marlin are no strangers to these waters, so don’t be surprised if you hook up with a monster.
Whether you arrive at Ventura for a quick stop-over during your pleasant drive along the Pacific coast, or if you come here intentionally to collect a personal bounty from the waters, you won’t be sorry you stopped. Ventura has long been a favorite destination for beach-goers and anglers from all over the country and, indeed, the world. Take a break from surfing or exploring the vibrant downtown and harbor culture. Wet your line in Ventura. You’ll be happy you did.