Ready for fun and adventure? I’ve got a recommendation that’s sure to perk up your winter-worn spirits — especially on a glorious weekend like this one is expected to be. Simply head on down to one of our local piers and watch the sun set … or watch the sun rise … or explore during the warmth of the afternoon.


Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

Oh, and bring a camera because you will fill the lens with some gorgeous scenery and wildlife. For some added fun, bring along a fishing pole and some basic tackle and bait. You don’t even need a fishing license when fishing from the pier.

Sunset — viewed from Goleta Pier — is extraordinarily pretty thanks to the relief of Campus Point. Sometimes the combination of glorious sunsets and the first lights twinkling on ashore, with yourself or a loved one in the foreground, provides an opportunity for a photo stunning enough to hang on your wall.

Sunrise at Gaviota Pier holds a special promise of a day worth living. You actually can sense the daytime world come to life and watch the critters begin their daily foraging for a meal. The Park at Gaviota is a special place to many, yet it rarely seems crowded there, especially at this time of year. Check out the amenities, the views and the fishing. Speaking of fishing, the Gaviota Pier is my No. 1 recommendation for a pier fishing hotspot.

An afternoon on Stearns Wharf, at the entrance to the Santa Barbara Harbor, is great fun for everyone you can squeeze into your car. There is a bait and tackle shop to serve this popular fishing spot. A variety of eating establishments, ranging from quaint and inexpensive to gourmet dining with valet parking, serve all appetites and pocketbooks. Shops provide entertainment, souvenirs and even wine-tasting. Most folks enjoy hanging out near the end of the wharf to watch all manner of boats go by.

Pier fishing is reviewed and revered as a fun and relaxing pastime. The more common fishing rigs are dropper loop or double dropper loop, with hooks in the loops and a weight at the bottom. Reverse dropper loops are also used to allow a light bait to flutter around right on the bottom. A reverse dropper loop consists of a hook tied to the end of the line and a weight suspended from a dropper loop about 18 inches up the line.

Favorite baits seem to vary from one angler to the next, but mussels, worms and small pieces of fish, shrimp or squid are common. Berkley Gulp! baits work well for those who prefer easy-to-use artificial baits.

There is quite a variety of fish to try for around the pilings of our piers, although perch seem to be the most commonly caught species. Barred surfperch make for some very good eating. Other fish caught while they feed near the pilings include jacksmelt and mackerel. These are good eating when cleaned quickly, kept cold and cooked that evening. Check current fishing regulations at the state Department of Fish & Game.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit group providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

Capt. David Bacon, Noozhawk Columnist

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.