OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Some people go fishing once and become hooked for life. In this Zevely Zone, I met a legendary California fisherman.
Not by land and not by boat, Ken Jones' favorite fishing hole is the Pacific Ocean by pier. "I love to travel," said the 75-year-old fisherman. There are 130 saltwater piers in California and Ken has fished every one of them. "You can catch some huge fish off a pier, big halibut, big bonita, sharks and rays," said Ken. It doesn't happen all of the time, Ken showed me a 50-pound yellowtail caught off the Crystal Pier.
Ken was going to publish a book on pier fishing near San Francisco. Someone beat him to it, so he set a bigger goal and wrote a bigger book. "I decided to do the whole state," said Ken who caught his first saltwater fish in 1956 off a San Diego pier.
"I just wanted to catch something, I saw people catching fish and I thought well this looks cool," said Ken. That was 66 years ago, and Ken's been sharing his love for the sport ever since. I watched a video of him in Catalina helping a woman catch a fish for the first time. "Yeah, she had never fished before," said Ken.
Ken shares his favorite spots on his YouTube Channel called Pier Fishing in California. He keeps a record of every fish he's caught dating back to 1962. "Partly because I want to know what the best piers are to fish and what time of year to fish," said Ken who considers himself an advocate for all fishermen.
"For years, I fought to get a list of what the public piers are," said Ken who loves fishing off public piers because there is no license required. "It's a great resource for families because you can bring your whole family out here and probably today the biggest expense is parking, parking and maybe a little bit of bait," said Ken.
He just hopes if you pick up a rod and reel, you follow the fisherman's code. "Always leave the pier cleaner than when you got there," said Ken who said during our shoot he was hoping to get a nibble. I threw a lure in the water and guess what? I hooked one! "Is this happening?" I asked. "This is going to be the greatest segment of my life." Just about the time I was about to brag about all of the fish I caught when I was kid, my fish got away.
The ups and downs that come with fishing are the very reason Ken says he'll never stop. "When they put me in the casket, I imagine. I hope I can last until then," said Ken who then urged me to try again. On my very next cast, I hooked another fish. The big one may have gotten away but in its place, I felt the victory of what could have been the smallest fish in the sea. "Can we throw him back?" I asked. "Yep," answered Ken. "There he goes. He's gone. He's swimming."
Ken is an educator, writer, and former business owner. He's lived most of his life in California where he has been a fisherman for more than 60 years. Ken is married to wife his wife, Pat, he has two children and four grandchildren.
Ken is the author of Pier Fishing in California, 1st and 2nd editions. He has caught 131 different species from those piers. To his friends and followers, he’s earned and is honored by the title of head “Pier Rat” and “Skipper." As well as a book author, Ken's written for many magazines including Western Saltwater Fisherman, California Angler, Western Outdoor News, Fish Rap Newspaper and Fish Taco Chronicles. For a link to Ken's YouTube channel called 'Pier Fishing in California' click here. Ken also has a website called Pier Fishing in California.
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