Home arrow Stories arrow Ventura Pier California Sunday, August 30 2015  
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Ventura Pier was constructed in 1872 at a price of $45,000 by R.G. Salisbury (also did the original extension to the Santa Barbara Wharf). The schooner "Free Trade" brought in the first pilings and the ship "Kalorama" brought in a 1,900 pound iron pile driver to set the pilings. It was originally to be 1,200 feet in length but ended up being 1958 feet in length and four fathoms (24 feet) deep at the end of the pier.

The pier was constructed to be a working wharf importing and exporting goods and was its main function from 1872 till1936. The large warehouse used for holding goods was so large that it started being used for exhibits which became the County Fair.

This pier has its own special place in history:
Historically, the coastline just west of the pier was a popular launching and landing site for the native Chumash Indians' plank canoes called "tomols". It was at the nearby village of Shisholop, meaning "in the mud", that Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first encountered California Native Americans living there in 1542. Shisholop was settled about 1,000 A.D.

There was a 105 foot, two masted schooner constructed on the beach just east of the pier that was named "San Buenaventura" after the city. It carried lumber and goods from Washington and Oregon to Ventura untill1910 when it was lost in a storm off Point George, Oregon.

The Sespe Oil Company commissioned the WORLD's FIRST oil tanker, the "W.L. Hardison in 1898 which started its service at this pier. This pier also unfortunately saw the 160 foot oil tanker become the first to catch fire and burn in a spectacular series of explosions on June 25, 1899.

Tragedies such as the W.L. Hardison along with storm and fire damage to the Ventura Wharf/Pier have been familiar to the pier. In 1874 the schooner Lucy Ann went aground in swells near the pier. In 1876 two steamships the Kalorama and the Crimea were driven ashore during a spring storm. In 1914 large storm swells caused the S.S. Coos Bay to sever the pier in half and then forced the S.S. Coos Bay onto the beach and pounded it to pieces.

When an oil barge cast off the last line from the wharf in 1936, an area of 64 years of the structure's service to the community came to an end and it took on its new role as a RECREATIONAL PIER that we enjoy today.

The Pier upgrades happened in 1993 when the pier underwent an ambitious $3.5 million restoration effort. It went through another $2.2 million upgrade - steel reinforced pilings and the square deck at the end in 1998.

Individuals and businesses can obtain a plank "Grant Deed" for donations to the pier (starting at $1,000.00). These donations go to keep the $1 million endowment fund to maintain, enhance and preserve the pier via the Ventura County "Pier Into The Future" organization.

  Present Day Overview
Ventura Pier is a heavily visited pier by both the local community and visitors to the San Buenaventura area. Ventura Pier yields a good catch on most days. It is an almost all sand bottom area, therefore seeing mostly sand-frequenting species. However it does unexpectedly sees catches of rock-frequenting species.
Ventura Pier is located within what is known as the San Buenaventura State Beach. The bottom here, as mentioned above, is primarily sand, the pilings have a good growth of mussels, and at times, usually late summer, there can be considerable kelp and seaweed about at the 3/4 mark of the pier. Sand frequenting species dominate the action. Inshore, barred Surfperch are the most common type of fish followed by Spotfin  and White Croaker, Sargo, Corbina are occasionally caught however this spot is not known for them. Moving on out towards mid-pier sees a variety of fish primarily, small Sharks and Rays (predominately Thornback Rays), White Croaker, Queenfish/Herring, Halibut, Sand Dabs, Bass (primarliy Kelp Bass), Mackerel, SeaPerch and Bonito. Continuing on out the end of the pier catch variety seems to actually increase, the species listed above are still routine catches with the exception of the Corbina and Sargo. However, larger Sharks and Rays are caught primarily Pin Back/Spiny DogFish Sharks, ShovelNose Sharks/ShovelNose GuitarFish, California Skate, Giant Skate, Bat Rays, SmoothHound Sharks, White Sea Bass and the seasonal Thresher Sharks.
Fishing Tips
Like most southern California piers, timing is a key to fishing the Ventura Pier. June through September is the prime time for Bonito (although Bonito do not frequent this pier as they have in the past), Kelp Bass, Halibut, Spotfin Croaker, and in warm water years Barracuda and Thresher Sharks. Late winter through spring is the best time for Barred SurfPerch and SeaPerch around the pilings. Almost any time of year will yeild White Craoker, and a mixture of Sharks and Rays. In the surf area concentrate on the bottom for Barred SurPerch - using Sand Crabs, Mussel, cut Anchovy or BloodWorms. For Perch use a light outfit with #8 to #4 hooks. For Sharks and Rays use a Medium to Heavy outfit with #4 to 5/0 hooks and up 7/0 while fishing for Threshers. Sharks and Rays seem to prefer squid and slide lines seem to be extremely effective especially at the end of the pier and while fishing for Threshers. While fishing for Bass, Halibut and White Sea Bass a medium outfit is recommended using whole and cut Anchovy. At night the end of the pier as a center area that is open and lit drawing baitfish (Anchovies and Sardines), following and feeding off of these baitfish are Smelt, Herring/Queenfish (called Sea Trout by the regulars), with the White Sea Bass coming into feed off the baitfish and Herring. A Sabiki rig with a chrome 1oz. Dart lure proves to be extremely effective in keeping the action going and acquiring plenty of live bait for Shark Fishing. Netting for Crabs and Lobster during Open Season is done with moderate success.
Alcohol is not permitted on this pier and is strictly enforced. This pier is routinely patrolled by the Ventura County Sheriffs Department on bicycles. Summer time weekends sees much activity from Friday through Sunday afternoon. Weekdays are relatively quite and peaceful making it easy to find a spot.
Ventura Pier 
Open 24 hours a day.
Restrooms,  Restaurant, snack shop, fish cleaning stations with fresh water, benches with bait cutting boards and lights with electrical outlets available. The Parking lot is open from 6AM till 11PM at a cost of $1.00 per hour not to exceed $5.00 per day. You may leave after 11PM as they do not lock the parking lot but only stop manning the pay station.
Handicapped Facilities:
Access to the pier is from the public parking lot and then up a number of stairs (which are steep) or Handicap accessible at the pier entrance off the main road. There is posted handicapped parking and restrooms.
How To Get There:
From Highway 101 take the Seaward exit west to
Harbor Drive
, turn right and follow it to the pier.                               
City of San Buenaventura.

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