Pier Fishing Tips: Useful Guide to Catching More Fish

Pier fishing is a great method for catching fish!

In this article, we’ll cover some of the top pier fishing tips so you can catch more fish.

Various species can be fished from a pier. As well as being a fun activity, pier fishing is easy on the wallet.

Pier Fishing Tips Use Multiple Rods
Pier Fishing Tip: Use multiple rods to increase your chances of a fish biting while you wait.

When pier fishing, you do not have to worry about the expense of a boat. Another advantage of this is not having to hook up and tow your boat or rent one.

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In many areas, pier fishing doesn’t require a fishing license. This makes it easy to introduce those who are new to the practice without having them cough up the money for a day or year license.

Let’s jump into why pier fishing is fun and how you can catch more fish with these pier fishing tips!

What Is Pier Fishing?

Many people do not realize just how many species of fish move up and down the coastline and through waterways within easy reach of anglers on a pier or bridge.

Vintage photo of people pier fishing
Pier fishing has been a joyous pastime for ages.

Piers can range greatly in height depending on where you are and the tide. Also, water depth can be greatly varied.

You are casting your bait from a pier, much in the same way as you would from a boat.

The difference between pier fishing and surf fishing is that from a pier you can get further out into the water and from a higher point. This makes casting distance into deeper water much easier to achieve.

Pier fishing is not complicated and can be very exciting. All you need are a few basic items, that we will cover next.

Pier Fishing Tip: Where to Pier Fish

There are many prime locations to pier fish from the east coast to the west coast. Depending on your location or where you plan to be going, there are plenty of options.

Other factors to consider when thinking of location is the time of year and the species of fish you are going after.

Probably one of the most common piers, that most everyone has heard of is the Santa Monica Pier.

At any given time you can expect to find anglers of all ages fishing from this pier, with great success.

Florida has some great pier fishing that also offers credible success. Other great locations are California, Louisiana, and Mississippi, just to name a few.

The side of the pier facing into the tide is the best side to fish.

On this up-tide side, the scent from your bait will be swept into and along where the fish will detect it. The tide will hold your sinker firmly on the seabed, rather than getting under and dislodging it as it would on the down-tide side.

Pier Fishing Tip: Best Time to Pier Fish

The stages of the tide can make a lot of difference in the best time to pier fish. Most of the time fishing is best two hours before high tide and two hours after high tide.

Pier Fishing Tips Aerial Drone Shot
Pier Fishing Tip: Watch the daylight, tide, and fish migration pattern to increase your catch probability.

The same rule applies to spring tide. Two hours before and two hours after are excellent times.

Light is another factor when it comes to pier fishing. Low light conditions are good times because fish seem to be less cautious. With this in mind, dawn and dusk are peak times for pier fishing.

Pier Fishing Gear

  • Weights/Sinkers: To keep your bait deep in the water and to keep it from moving to fast depending on the currents.
  • Bait and Lures: Popular types of pier fishing bait include bloodworms, shrimp, squid, anchovies, and sardines.
  • Fishing Hooks: J hooks are the most commonly used when pier fishing.
  • Fishing Scissors: Anything strong enough to cut through the fishing line.
  • Fishing Knife: For cutting your bait into the right size for the hook, and for filleting your catch.
  • Fishing Pliers: Perfect for removing the hooks out of your catch.
  • Tackle Box: To keep your hooks, sinkers, bobbers, and etc. organized.
  • Bucket: To put your catches in.
  • Picnic Chair: To make your trip more comfortable while waiting for the catch of the day to come by.

Heavier tackle is definitely a good idea when pier fishing. Not only may you have a strike from a large fish, but may also have to lift the full weight of the fish from the water to the pier.

Reels can be either baitcaster or traditional reel, However, whichever the choice it needs to be strong.

This is not the time to skimp on rod length. Your rod needs to be long enough to reach out from the pier to sense strike direction.

Sea Striker lake, pier, and surf combos are a great option. PT40 spinning reel and a 7 foot Medium-Light action shur strike graphite composite rod.

Lake, PIER & SURF Combos
  • Sea Striker Shur Spin Combo
  • Spinning 40sz 6ft 6in 2 pieces Pink/Green
  • 40sz 6'6" 2 pieces

Fish will instinctively try to take shelter under the structure and/or around pilings. This can take some hard fighting to keep the fish from tangling up.

Fishing lines between 20lb and 30lb are a good choice. Mono line, not braid, as you will need a bit of stretch to absorb your fish’s attempts to shake itself free.

It can be quite a distance from your parking space to the pier where you will be fishing from. A fishing cart that can carry all your gear makes getting to the fishing faster and easier.

The Berkley Fishing Cart can handle this job effortlessly. This cart Supports up to 200 pounds and offers plenty of space for rods, a 48-quart cooler, chairs, and other essential fishing equipment.

Berkley Collapsible, Wheeled Fishing Cart
  • Collapsible design with adjustable handle for easy...
  • Supports up to 200 pounds and offers plenty of...
  • 6 removable rod holders, hook and loop straps, and...

Pier Fishing Tip: Landing Your Catch

After you have a fish hooked, you have to get it up on the pier. This can produce some challenges.

If you have a drop net, this can lower the risk of your fish getting free. If you do not have a net, you will have to bring the fish up and over the rail. This is where many fish get free.

If It is a particularly large fish and it is lip hooked, It can pull the hook out from the body weight of the fish.

A heavy mono-leader that reaches from the water to the pier, with a couple of turns on the reel, can help avoid line breakage.

Regulations and Requirements for Pier Fishing

Each state has its own requirements when it comes to a fishing license, permits, and day passes.

As a general rule non-private owned waterways require a fishing license as well as a daily limit on certain species.

It is a good idea to check the conservation page of the state you plan to fish in to get the latest updates.

Pier Fishing Tips Old Man
Pier Fishing Tip: Strike up a conversation with those fishing around you. You can usually hear some amazing stories especially from war vets.

Trash and debris are a big problem in many public fishing areas. It is important to have something to keep paper, plastic, and other debris collected it. This helps keep it out of the water as well as keeping the pier clean and looking.

Being courteous to other anglers is a practice in good sportsmanship. Be aware of where you cast and the distance you are from others.

It is a knee-jerk reaction to seeing someone catching fish and want to cast in the same area. This, however, is an example of what NOT to do.

Safety is a big factor when pier fishing. Railings are there for a reason, to protect you from falling in. It is not a good idea to sit on or hang over railings. Some states can issue fines for this.

Children should be supervised especially close when fishing from piers. A child’s natural desire to want to climb can prove catastrophic if they accidentally go over the railing.

Pier Fishing Tips: Final Thoughts

Pier fishing is a great way to spend time with the family or just get out to yourself and enjoy a relaxing day.

One of the major advantages to pier fishing is, you do not need special gear, a boat, or any large expense to enjoy a day of great fishing.

Many piers you visit actually offer the ability to rent the gear you need for a day of fishing at a relatively low fee. These shops are especially handy if you are not in a position to carry your own gear with you.

Going to the pier at night can be a very unforgettable experience. The atmosphere is completely different from the daytime. There can actually be better fishing at night as well.

Some of the more popular piers to visit are the San Diego Ocean Beach Pier, Santa Monica Pier, Ventura Pier, and Galveston Pier.

You can catch many of the same species of fish by pier fishing as you can by boat. Larger fish will feed around piers and close to the shoreline.

We strongly urge you to go out and enjoy a day of pier fishing. If you have never tried it, you will see what you have been missing. If you have tried it, you know exactly what we are talking about.

Let us know your favorite pier to fish in the comments below!

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