Where to Legally Cast a Line In Long Beach Waters

Sean Belk
A MAN FISHES inside a portion of the Colorado Lagoon in Long Beach, which is now off limits.

With summer in full swing, many anglers have flocked to Long Beach waters looking for a good catch. However, in some areas of the city, fishing is not allowed.

A portion of the Colorado Lagoon connecting to Marine Stadium has been a popular fishing spot for years. However, “no-fishing” signs will be posted throughout the lagoon by month’s end as the area has been desginated a biological reserve, according to city officials.

“No one has been cited or anything yet, but it’s the new rules,” said Capt. Cameron Abel of the Long Beach Fire Department’s Marine Safety Unit, who added that the rules were recently put in place after a project to restore the lagoon to a natural habitat was completed earlier this year.

Paul Rees, a 60-year-old lifelong resident has fished for months near the Pete Archer Rowing Center in Marine Stadium in Alamitos Bay despite “no fishing” signs posted nearby. One late night a few months ago, however, a marine patrol officer told him to leave and not come back or face getting an “expensive” ticket.

After being informed of the consequences of disobeying city code, Rees purchased a kayak and now ventures out to other harbors in Southern California, such as in Redondo Beach, Cabrillo Beach, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, where he hasn’t been cited or told to leave, he said.

Still, Rees, who only catches and releases fish for sport, said he feels people should have a right to fish in Marine Stadium and parts of Alamitos Bay Marina, as long as they have a valid fishing license and aren’t close to boats.

“It just makes you feel like a criminal,” said Rees, a retired Boeing employee who lives just a few minutes away from Alamitos Bay. “This is my city, I live here and should be able to use the marinas and fish wherever, short of going out on the slipways where all the boats are … I have a fishing license, but I can’t fish in my own backyard and I have to fish in other cities.”

Capt. Abel told the Beachcomber that the city’s restrictions on fishing under municipal code section 16.08.460 have been in place for many years and specifically prohibit fishing in Marine Stadium as well as from docks in Alamitos Bay and Rainbow Harbor marinas downtown.

“You can’t just walk down onto the dock and fish off the dock,” he said. “And you can’t fish off the sidewalk or anything in [the marinas]. Those rules have been around as long as I’ve been around.”

There are a few exceptions, Abel noted, adding that boat owners who rent slips at the marinas are permitted to fish from their docked boats, but they aren’t allowed to fish while putting around inside the marina.

Additionally, fishing is allowed at nearby “designated fishing piers,” including one located near the Los Angeles River next to the Queen Mary downtown and another located along the seawall between Mother’s Beach and the Appian Way bridge near Naples Island.

Abel said restrictions on fishing from marina docks most likely were put in place to keep the marinas clean for the boating community, since anglers may often leave a mess after using bait and fish entrails.

“My best guess is it’s a cleanliness, sanitary thing,” he said. “If someone is going to make a mess, since fishing can be messy, they want people to do that on their boat and not have people making a mess of the docks or the sidewalks throughout the marina.”

As for restrictions on fishing at Marine Stadium, Abel said it likely has to do with keeping the waterways safe for water-skiers and preventing fishing lines from becoming entangled in boat propellers.

“Fishing is allowed from the beach, but not the beach in Marine Stadium,” Abel said, noting, “There are other areas nearby where people can fish from.”

While fishing is prohibited from rock jetties along the L.A. River and San Gabriel River, fishing is allowed along nearby designated areas. City code also allows fishing from the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier as well as from the sand along the beach until midnight, Abel said.

He pointed out that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife enforces state laws regarding requirements for fishing, such as fishing licences and other stipulations, while the city’s marine patrol, a subdivision of the Long Beach Police Department, enforces fishing restrictions at marinas.

As for the Port of Long Beach, fishing from small boats is permitted inside the port’s waterways as long as it doesn’t impede traffic of large cargo vessels, confirmed port spokesperson Lee Peterson.

Three years ago, the Long Beach Harbor Commission amended a tariff that previously restricted access to small fishing boats inside the port due to security concerns after 9/11.

The port lifted the regulation to bring the policy in line with state law after being pressed by the fishing community, Peterson said, adding,  “The recreational fishing community is pleased with the new amended tariff.”

He pointed out that, even though people are allowed to fish from small boats inside the harbor district, port security continues to monitor the waterways and channels with the latest small craft radar technology to ensure safety for large cargo vessels traveling in and out of the port.

“We’re very much tapped into the security side of this issue and we do have the means to provide a safe environment for our commercial vessels coming in and out, even though there might be some fishing vessels that do have spots around the harbor where they go,” Peterson said.

Fishing from land in the port, however, remains restricted, except for a public fishing spot on Pier J along Harbor Scenic Drive, just south of the Queen Mary and Carnival Cruise Line, where there is plenty of parking, he said.



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