So you are looking to head out to a fishing pier to try your luck catching some fish from a pier. Fishing from a fishing pier can be tons of fun, but also can be a tad bit tricky to get use to. There are several things that you should learn about a fishing pier before heading out to see what you can catch. The first thing you need to know is what kind of fish is being caught at the pier.
This information is vital and will help you decide what type of tackle and bait you will need. If at the fishing pier you are fishing they are catching croaker or spot you will want to have baits that will allow you to target these smaller fish such as bloodworms or fishbites and also have smaller sized hooks to target croaker or spot. With that said if they are targeting predator fish such as bluefish or flounder you will want some bigger sized hooks and bait such as cut spot, bunker, squid strips, or mud minnows. When you know what your fishing for you'll know what gear to pack along. Well dig right into pier fishing starting with the fishing rod and reel.
Pier Fishing Tackle and Bait
- Rod & Reel - Fishing from a pier you don't necessarily need a monster rod, but a good medium heavy to heavy 7 to 9 foot spinning rod will do the trick. My go to pier fishing rod is an 8-foot Bimini Bay trophy or my 9-foot TICA surf rod. These two rods are perfectly matched for 2 to 4 oz of weight and can handle almost any fish that I would be targeting on a fishing pier. My reel of choice is an Okuma Expior bait feeder reel also Okuma makes a less expensive Avenger reel that is a great starter reel for fishing from piers. A bait feeder is great due to often hooking into a big ray or striper that will strip the line out and give you plenty of time to get up and pick your rod up and set the hook with watching your new rod and reel go over the rail. I've quite a few rods take a fall overboard when fishing a pier due to rays and folks drags tightened down. Another good rule if you do get a hold of a big skate when a fishing pier is crowded cut your line. It will save you from a monster mess when the ray gets tangled in everybody's line.
- Pier Fishing Rigs - The best rig out there I believe for fishing from a pier is sea strikers 1040HD top bottom rig. These rigs are great for pier fishing due to the length of the heavier rig, which allows you to use many different kinds of pre-tied hooks. For Croaker and Spot you will want to use size 4 or 6 pre tied hooks and for bluefish you need pre tied wire leader hooks in 2/0 to 4/0 depending on the size of cut bait you will be tossing out. If you are fishing for flounder where there is current such as at the Oceanic Pier in Ocean City MD you can put flounder spinner pre-tied hook with a mud minnow and squid strip on the hook and put it on the top connector and on the bottom connector put a 2/0 circle hook with a piece of cut bunker for some added fun. The spinner rig on top will spin in the rising and failing tide and often flounder will be attracted to the flash then take the hunk of meat below that is on a circle hook and the fish will hook itself.
- Pier Fishing Sinkers - A good all around sinker choice is a 2 to 4 oz bank sinker or if there is big wind and waves or current you may wish to turn to a pyramid sinker in 3 to 5 oz to hold the bottom. Holding the bottom is essential you don't want your bait swinging all over the place out there it will only get tangled in others line and you won't be able to detect the strike.
- Pier Fishing Bait - You will want to match your bait for what you are fishing for. The best advice I can give is go to a local bait store in the area and ask for help if you're new to the area. All bait and tackle stores will help you out and let you know what is biting and what bait you will need. Again if you know there are smaller fish you'll need bait such as bloodworms, squid, peeler crabs, fishbites, or grass shrimp. If the big guys are around then cut spot, bunker, squid strips and mud minnows are the way to go. Here's a little tip that I found worked on several piers in the Chesapeake Bay area and will save you some cash on bloodworms. Get yourself a couple a dozen of night crawlers and rig half night crawlers with a piece of fishbites. I have had more or the same success with this combo as I have using straight up bloodworms. I'm no fan of the bloodworm the price is killer on them, but fish will bite them when nothing else is working.
Pier Fishing Tips and Tricks
Now that you know what type of rod, reel, rigs, sinker, hooks, and bait to use now you just need to learn how to pick a good spot on the pier. When walking out on a pier it is often easy to see what spots are the best. Just look for the people that are congregated in these areas. Often there are spots with deeper water that is in casting distance and these are the hot spots also some piers such as Point Lookout Pier in southern Maryland have a monster snags that will be empty of people. At Point Lookout pier in Maryland the bad spot is dead in the middle of the pier at the end of the pier. If you are an excellent caster and have a 9 foot surf rod and when I say excellent caster I mean casting 100 + yards off the pier you can clear the snag monster and catch some awesome fish just beyond the snag. You will still loose gear casting beyond due to reeling in but sometimes it's worth it. If there is a crowd on a pier fishing in the good spots pick another spot on the pier and be patient spots will open up and then you will have the opportunity to give the hot spot a try. Another very important thing to know when fishing a pier is how to cast and cast straight. Please take the time if you're not accustomed to fishing with these heavier weights to go to a field and practice casting these weights. It can be very dangerous if a 2 oz sinker breaks loose when casting. That's why I would recommend everybody using a shock leader either 30 or 40 lb test in diameter. What a shock leader is a heavy piece of Mono that you attach to your main line. You only need around 15 to 20 feet of the heavier line attached to your running line. You can attach this line by using a knot such as a blood knot or Albright knot. Another great thing about using a shock leader is it will give you something to get a hold of with your hands if you catch a bigger fish and allow you to bring it over the rail. So what are you waiting for get your fishing rod and reel, rigs, hooks, sinkers and bait and head out to a fishing pier near you.