Pier fishing is a popular form of angling that provides the best of both worlds for ocean fishermen.
The convenience of shore fishing and the over-water access that is usually only achievable by boat comes together to create a one-of-a-kind experience.
This article will walk through the best tips and tricks for pier fishing.
What is Pier Fishing and Why is it so Popular?
Pier fishing is a technique that involves throwing a line over water on a pier. Piers are any structure raised over water, usually supported by wooden beams. There are several different types of piers, some of which allow water to flow freely under and some that act as a break.
Pier fishing is popular for several reasons, but mainly because it provides anglers with the convenience of fishing on open water without the need of a boat. Fish are frequently near piers, which draws anglers to hunt there.
Fish like to stay near piers to avoid predators and often use them as a safe haven in extreme weather. There are some places in the world that are famous for their pier fishing and some that simply offer better fishing than others.
One risk that comes along with this technique is pollution. Structures in the water tend to leech pollutants into the water, affecting the potential catches you may make.
Tips and Tricks For Pier Fishing
Pier fishing can reap great benefits once you get the hang of it. If you’re new to the world of pier fishing, or just want some helpful hints for the next time you head out, check out our tips and tricks list!
1. Choose The Right Equipment
As with any specific fishing technique, it’s important to make sure you have the best gear to get the job done. With pier fishing, it’s helpful to cater your rod to the technique.
A fishing rod that is between six and nine feet in length is a great, versatile choice that will allow for long casting lengths if you need it.
Spinning reels are a great choice for pier fishing as they are easy to use, and you can plunk the bait right in the water with no problem.
Monofilament is a good line to use. Keep it simple, and you’ll be a-okay.
Other handy pieces of equipment include a circle hook rig, sinker weights to drop your bait to your desired depth, and a bridge net. If you want to get very fancy with it, a fishing cart is a super convenient place to store all your gear, and you can roll it right out to the dock with you.
2. Fish During The Right Time
You’ll have much better luck fishing at some times than others and sometimes it’s hard to find the best time slot to get your hands on a couple of great catches. In general, you should be casting when the fish are hungry. Tides can also have an effect.
The general rule is to fish two hours before high tide and two hours afterward. Another good rule of thumb is to go out at dawn or dusk when fish appetites are the strongest. Fish tend to go for baitfish during this time. When in doubt, pay attention to the lighting. Low-lighting conditions are more likely to result in less-shy fish. When lighting isn’t as harsh, fish will venture into shallower waters, allowing an angler to have a better chance at a catch.
3. Find The Right Location
There is debate among pier fishermen on which side of the pier is most effective to fish from. While there isn’t a correct answer, you should know the differences between them to make an informed choice.
The down-tide side is a popular choice as it holds tackle away from the pier, eliminating the risk that it will get pulled under. However, fishing this side won’t necessarily increase your chances of pulling in more fish.
The side facing the tide has many perks associated with it. Firstly, It’s a good option because it will pull the scent of your bait out to the areas where fish are dwelling. The tide will also work as a glue for your sinker, holding it in place on the sea bed.
Overall, the up tide side has a few more pros than cons, so give it a try on your next fishing trip.
4. Match the Hatch
One of the most important aspects of attracting fish around a pier is to choose your bait wisely. Talk with the employees at the local tackle shop to get a good idea of the natural prey that frequents the area around the pier.
The term, “match the hatch” basically means to try to imitate the natural prey that your potential catches will go after. This is one reason why some prefer using live bait over lures. If you’re using live bait, bloodworms, shrimp, anchovies, and other baitfish are all popular choices that would likely give you a good chance at a catch.
If you prefer to use lures, make sure your lure can mimic the action and shape of the natural prey in that area and maybe even the scent.
5. Keep Live Bait Fresh & Healthy
Live bait is often one of the best attractors for ocean fish, but you shouldn’t be throwing dead, old fish into the water in hopes of a catch. It’s not likely to work. Rather, if you decide to use fresh bait, you should focus on keeping it alive and healthy for several reasons.
The natural scent, flavor, and motion of live bait are basically irresistible to ocean fish. Some fish are very picky and will only go after a bait that is fresh and healthy. To keep your live bait healthy, you’ll have to make sure they’re receiving plenty of oxygen. Filter the water in the tank with an oxygen pump and they’ll stay healthier for longer.
If you use dead bait, make sure that you buy it as fresh as possible. Freeze it immediately after buying to prevent decomposition. You can also sprinkle the bait with salt, which will keep the bait preserved and halt bacteria growth for a period of time.
6. Watch the Birds
Take a tip from those who know and love fish more than you do, the birds. Pier fishing is a great opportunity to do some bird watching, while also gaining some information about where and when you should be dropping your line.
Seagulls and other ocean birds are smarter than you might think. They can follow fish patterns and by paying attention to where they’re hanging out, you can gain some insider information to where the fish might be hiding. If a large group of birds is clumped in one area, there’s a good chance you’ll have a better chance at a catch there.
Also, pay attention to what time the birds are chasing fish. Believe it or not, they know better than us when it comes to hunting catches. Put on your bird brain for the afternoon and you might just come home with your next trophy catch.
7. You Don’t Always Need to Cast
One of the best aspects of pier fishing is that it won’t tire your arms out as much. Why? Because there’s no need for that pesky casting motion. If you’re fishing from a pier, you automatically have the benefit of having a great fishing spot right underneath you.
Fish are often attracted to structures that provide protection and a place to rest, and for that reason, you’ll likely have a hotbed of potential catches beneath your feet. You can achieve great performance by just plunking your bait in right off the pier.
However, that being said, it’s a good idea to look for some potential hotspots. For example, the feet of pilings often attract the natural prey of big ocean fish, which means it is likely that you’ll find the predators there, too.
8. Look for Sunken Lots
Just like piers can be a hotspot for fish, other underwater structures can also be a great spot to find potential catches. Sunken lots and other underwater structures are an excellent place to aim for because they provide protection for fish.
Although it’s not really necessary to cast when you fish off a pier, if you know of an underwater structure within reach, casting to that area could give you a great chance at a catch. Reefs, or man-made structures under the water, are often home to many fish. If you’re not sure where to start with finding underwater structures, there are plenty of online resources, including anglers forums and underwater maps that can play a helping role in finding them.
9. Use a Battery-Powered Bait Bucket
The worst part of using live bait is the work that comes along with keeping it fresh. And yes, as alluded to in the previous tips, this is very important to your fishing success.
The natural look, motion, scent of live bait can make it irresistible to predators. To make your bait as appealing as possible you’ll need to take special care in the balance of water temperature and oxygen. Water flow is one thing that can really assist in keeping the bait in lively shape, and this can be done through the help of a battery-powered bait bucket.
These buckets keep air moving through the water, keeping a small current that oxygenates the water and also flushes unwanted impurities from the container. Although they’re not the cheapest option, they’re an awesome piece of gear that makes a huge difference in your fishing performance.
Water flow can also assist in keeping your bait in good shape. While too much current in your bait container can jostle the bait enough to remove scales and exhaust them, a small amount can be helpful in flushing unwanted impurities from the tank.
10. Wear Polarized Sunglasses
Protecting your eyes is an important consideration to make when you’re out on the water, especially on the ocean when the light can be much harsher. Polarized lenses work with a special filter that deflects some of the harsh light that strikes back from the water. This helps reduce glare and some of the discomfort.
Polarized lenses can prevent damaging UV rays, but they’re also really beneficial for increasing your chances of catching a fish. Because they reduce water reflection, they increase the visibility of things below the surface, like structures and fish.
The only issue with polarized sunglasses is that they can reduce the visibility of LED screens, like your cellphone or laptop. However, if you use them strictly for outdoor activities, you’ll be protected and better off in the long run.
Now that you have some great tips and tricks to keep in mind, you’re ready to head out to the pier and pull in your next great catch. With the right tools and resources at your fingertips, you’ll be set. Happy fishing!