Complete Pier Fishing Guide [2020 Update]

Whether you call it a pier, a jetty, a dock, or a wharf, one thing is certain – fish love living around structure which provides a high opportunity of catching more.

Heading down to your local pier with your fishing rod in hand is a very romantic image, but it can also be a productive fishing adventure.

Piers attract all kinds of water life and provide shelter for large fish that would normally live in the deeper waters.

I have put together this guide to help you get more out of your pier fishing experiences. So let’s dive in.

Why pier fishing?

Piers offer structure and protection for fish that they can’t find anywhere else. This attracts fish in greater numbers and larger sizes than you would be able to find anywhere else.

Piers also generate entire ecosystems of life and food sources that attract fish from long distances away.

This combination of food sources and shelter mean that you can throw a bait under the pier and have a very high chance of catching big fish.

Piers also offer easy access and a clean environment so you don’y have to carry all of your fishing tackle and tackle box through miles to isolated fishing spots.

Piers sometimes have lights installed at night that can attract squid which are another great angling species.

Finally, pier fishing is also very popular for teaching young kids how to fish.

What is the best fishing line for pier fishing?

There is no doubt here that the best fishing line for pier fishing is a monofilament fishing line. Mono provides exceptional abrasion resistance which is critical for fishing around structure that can cut your line.

Fishing lines like braid offer higher strength at a thinner diameter but don’t have good abrasion resistance and would get damaged every time a fish swims back through the legs of the pier.

You can still choose the strength of line depending on what type of fish you are targeting but I would suggest going a bit heavier when fishing around a pier – you can often find some very large fish living around the pier.

We recommend 15 – 30 lb mono line for pier fishing.

To chum or not to chum

Chumming the water near your fishing spot is an age old method for attracting fish to your area. But for pier fishing chumming is not as important – the fish are already living there!

Chumming is the act of throwing fish guts, smelly oils, or other attractants into the water continuously while fishing to bring fish towards you.

Chumming can also be banned by local governments, so make sure you check your local regulations before heading down to the pier.

How to haul up a fish near a pier?

If you have been fishing near a pier before then you will know the feeling when a big fish strikes your hook and immediately wraps your line around one of the pier legs. Devastating!

The best way to haul up fish near a pier is to do it quickly. Set your drag pretty hard so you don’t lose too much line and retrieve the fish fast before it has an opportunity to cut your line on any of the structure.

This also means you will have to use a relatively heavier line and drag than you otherwise would be the same sized fish.

How much gear to take to the pier?

The good thing about heading down to your local pier is that it is easy to bring lots of gear with you. But generally you don’t need to take every piece of tackle that you own.

Here is our list of must haves to bring with you:

  • Your personal favorite fishing rod and reel
  • A variety of smelly baits
  • Spare terminal tackle including hooks, sinkers and swivels in a portable tackle box like a backpack tackle bag
  • Spare mono line
  • A fishing multitool
  • A fishing fillet knife
  • Hat and sunscreen

Best Bait for Pier Fishing

The best bait for pier fishing is bloodworms, shrimp, anchovies, and sardines – these should all be available from your local tackle store.

The thing to remember is that there is already plenty of food available under the pier. This is why the fish are living there to begin with. So you have to beat the competition.

That means that you should focus on highly attractive and smelly baits that will stand out among the existing food sources.

You can also use lures but these will have to be cast away from the pier and retrieved towards it which doesn’t give much time for the lure to be in the strike zone next to the pier structure. Because of this I always recommend bait fishing for piers.

The Most Popular Piers in the United States

This could be an entire article in itself, but we have made an attempt to list the most popular fishing piers in the US. If you have any others that you think deserve to be on this list then please leave a comment at the end of this article.

  • Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, Florida
  • Oceanic Pier, Maryland
  • Morey’s Piers, New Jersey
  • Skyway Bridge Fishing Pier State Park, Florida
  • Monterey Municipal Wharf II, California
  • Venice Fishing Pier, Florida
  • Jennette’s Pier, North Carolina
  • Chelsea Piers, New York
  • Redondo Beach Pier, California
  • Galveston Fishing Pier, Texas

What not to do

Piers not only attract fish – they attract anglers as well. So you will often be fishing shoulder to shoulder with other fishermen. This means that there are a few rules of etiquette that you should follow.

  • Never fish around swimmers or divers – piers often attract both, so make sure you don’t catch a human with your hook
  • Be careful when there are no handrails – the last thing you want is for the emergency services to be fishing you out of the water
  • A life jacket might be a good idea for kids around piers without adequate handrails – this can turn a tragic story into a funny story
  • Look out for people walking behind you when casting – the most dangerous thing might be your own hook
  • Check with your local tackle store about any rules, fishing licenses, or regulations that you have to adhere to

Pier Fishing Video Guide

For those of you who prefer learning from videos rather than just reading text then have a look at this Pier Fishing Hints and Tips guide by TA Fishing:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best fishing line for pier fishing?

We recommend 15 – 30 lb mono line for pier fishing

What is the best bait for pier fishing?

The best bait for pier fishing is bloodworms, shrimp, anchovies, and sardines.

Why do people fish around piers?

Piers offer structure and protection for fish that they can’t find anywhere else. This attracts fish in greater numbers and larger sizes than you would be able to find anywhere else.

How to haul in a fish near a pier?

The best way to haul up fish near a pier is to do it quickly. Set your drag pretty hard so you don’t lose too much line and retrieve the fish fast before it has an opportunity to cut your line on any of the structure.

Conclusion

That brings us to the end of this article – you can now happily head down to your local pier and be confident that you will be successful.

If you are looking for any more resources online, then I suggest having a look at this Cast and Spear article.

Please leave a comment below if you have any pier fishing wisdom to share – I love hearing from and interacting with our readers. There are plenty of experienced anglers out there with secrets and wisdom to share that would help everyone.

Happy fishing!

Russ Egan
 

Russ is an avid angler. He has fished all over the world, primarily for Saltwater game fish but also for local prize fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Tyrnos for an overhead reel or a Shimano Curado for a baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.

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