Sitting about a half mile south of the famous Venice Boardwalk is the busy Venice Pier. First and foremost, fish bite in Venice – lots of fish bite. Not only will you get the standard Southern California fish like mackerel and smelts (and be careful when you’re catching those different smelts in Southern California, jacksmelt and grunions are fine, but topsmelt is contaminated) but you can get a fair amount of highly sought after sport fish like halibut, the occasional kelp bass and from time to time, even a leopard shark.
The cost to fish on Venice Beach is both very high and very low. Like so many piers in Southern California, there is no permit or direct cost to fish. There are a number of benches to sit on (although they are concrete, so if you plan on setting up for a while it’s a good idea to bring a lawn chair or some cushions at the very least) and the weather is almost always perfect. Because the pier extends more than a quarter mile out into the ocean, the end of the pier is comfortably breezy even on the hottest Summer days. Where you run into your costs on Venice Pier is parking, especially on weekends. There is a parking lot right at the end of Washington where the pier begins which ranges in price from $6 to $15. You can try and hunt for street spots but if you want to park close to the pier you have to pay $2 per hour on a 2 hour max spot. If you do happen to find a free street spot, then you will be looking at a mile walk or more before getting to your actual set up spot. The only way to offset the parking cost is to make sure you get there before 8am, that’s when the parking fees are at their lowest.
Finally, the people of Venice Pier. Even though Venice Pier was closed for almost a decade following damage from an earthquake in the late 90’s, Venice Pier is one of the oldest, most active piers when it comes to Southern California fishing. You’re never going to see fewer than 15 fishermen out there and on busy weekends there are as many as 75. Like California itself, Venice Pier is a melting pot of races, cultures and languages. Undoubtedly you will hear English, Spanish and Chinese with other languages like Russian, Greek, Vietnamese, Korean and Swedish not uncommon either. While the great many of these anglers are experienced, lifetime fishermen – there are a few overhead casters and general knuckleheads who will pop up from time to time. And the big crowds are a plus and a minus: dozens of fishermen are all out there because there are a lot of fish actively biting in Venice. But because there are dozens of fishermen out there, space can get cramped and lines and hooks can get tangled.
Again, the fish are biting out on Venice which is why there are so many people, but between the fishermen themselves and the walkers who stroll down the pier just to enjoy its beauty, you do have to account for the big crowd.