5 Tips For Fishing From A Pier

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Hello there fellow fishers and welcome to my post where we will check out my 5 tips for fishing from a pier.  Pier fishing is a popular method for many as it allows you to get to deeper waters and structures without the need for a boat – especially if it is running from the beach.

It is also a good option for those fishing with kids as you are away from the water and able to keep dry.  So for those of you looking to get into a bit of fishing from the pier, let’s have a look at my 5 tips below.

What is pier fishing?

Ok, so when we discuss pier fishing, we are talking about what is described in the dictionary as “a platform on pillars projecting from the shore into the sea”. these can range in size from quite small (although these are often called “jetty’s”) up to very large options with restaurants, ferry terminals and so on.

As above, this type of fishing is a popular option all over the world mainly due to its advantages.

  • You can cast lines into deeper waters than from the shoreline. 
  • You can avoid seasickness. 
  • Fish like to congregate and eat off of growth such as barnacles and weed on the pilons.
  • You can stay dry and sand free.
  • You can sit comfortably.

All in all, this is a great option for families giving you all the very real chance of catching a very big fish!

tips for fishing from a pier - fishing on a pier

Tips for fishing from a pier

Ok, so let’s get into some of my tips for fishing from a pier below…

1. Make sure it is legal

You may already be aware of this but fishing from a pier is actually illegal in many areas. This can be for conservation or sustainability purposes but to be honest it is generally more about the other uses of the pier than what is underneath. This can include:

  • The smell of bait etc. interrupting the ambience of restaurants and cafes on the pier.
  • Boat and ship traffic that uses the pier.
  • Commercial use.
  • Safety, i.e. the risk of falling through the floor.
  • And of course, the removal of fishing privileges due the the mess left by fishers in the past – sad but common I am afraid.

Regardless of the reason however, some jurisdictions levy heavy fines for illegal fishing from piers so always check for legality before casting your line – even if there are already others fishing on it!

tips for fishing from a pier - Pier rules

2. Know where the fish are

One common mistake that many make when fishing from a pier is assuming that you can just throw over the edge and all will be good. Just as it is with any other type of fishing, you should check for fish friendly areas such as structure, banks, holes and where the pilons are.

The best course of action here then is to conduct research first. Look for submerged structures or troughs during low tide as this is usually where the small baitfish that serve as a source of food for larger fish usually found. Fish are where the structure is and keep in mind that you may also find that you won’t need to cast very far out either as well as the pier itself is a structure.

The best course of action is to conduct research first. Look for submerged structures or troughs during low tide. Small baitfish that serve as a source of food for larger fish are drawn to marine development on structures. Fish are where the structure is. You won’t need to cast very far because the pier itself is a structure.

3. Know fish behaviors

This next tip could probably just be included above however just because there is structure, it doesn’t mean that the fish will be there. Hence, as water generally becomes deeper the further you move along a pier, there is a good chance that fish will move around as the day or night progresses.

For example, in summer, they will go deeper as the water warms meaning that either early in the morning or at sunset is the optimum time to fish from a pier. This time also draws baitfish which in turn draws out the large and predatory fish.

Alternatively, fish will not be nearly as active at dawn and dusk as they will be during the day if you’re fishing in a colder area during the winter. For this reason, you should drop your line at the peak of the day as they move to warmer, shallower waters.

4. Fish for the conditions

As we have mentioned above, one of the advantages of fishing from a pier is access to deeper waters and the structure around the pilons. This means that casting your bait or lure as far as possible is not usually necessary as dropping it near the pier pilings is a better option. In many situations, your target fish will be sheltering just beneath the pier for shade, structural protection or to feed on the creatures that grow on the pilings themselves.

Consider the wind and current before deciding on a location. If you position yourself with the wind at your back, all of your casts will travel farther. Choose a location on the up-current side of a pier will also allow the water to carry your bait beneath the structure, where fish may be lurking.

From here you will mostly be able to sit your rod against the rail and relax. However if the fish aren’t biting, then you can also try:

  • Pumping your rod up and down to provide some motion. 
  • Doing some “pier trolling” where you walk your line up and down the pier – obviously if there are no others in your way.
tips for fishing from a pier - pier pilons

5. Bring the right gear

And finally, what you bring with you for pier fishing significantly affects your chance of landing a fish. Keep in mind here that unlike a boat where you can use a net, you will often be required to pull your fish a fair way up to the deck of the pier once it is hooked.

This means that you will need a stronger line than you may usually use for on a bank etc. as it will need to be able to handle the dead weight of the fish as it struggles. And whilst we are on th3 subject, also consider the following:

Here are some fishing items that you could rely on:

  1. Rod and reel combo: As always, your rod and reel should be matched to the sort of fish you expect to catch. However, as above, because you’ll have to move the weight of the fish from the water to the pier, you might want to consider a heavier rod and reel combo than you usually use (unless you have a hoop net). A moderately heavy 7-foot to 9-foot spinning rod would suffice in most cases.
  2. Fishing cart: Get a wheeled fishing cart to make transporting your tackle and gear from your vehicle to the pier simpler. Many fishing carts now include rod holders, storage walls, tool racks, and adjustable handles.
  3. Tackle: One problem with pier fishing is the snags on the pilons. Hence it is always practical to keep a stocked tackle box for snags, varied bait needs and weather conditions. Remember to match the hook size to the size of your bait and sinkers to match varying currents.
  4. Hoop net: A hoop net is excellent if you target bigger fish species such as black drums or kingfish. This net allows you to get the fish faster and place them on a pier without breaking your line – although there is still a fair way to pull it first.
  5. Rod holders: These may be purchased or made from PVC to clamp onto pier railings. Rod holders allow you to fish with many rods or just relax without worrying about losing a rod over the pier’s edge.
  6. Portable chair: This item will help you relax as you wait for a bite.

Check out these: Fishing chairs with rod holders

Other tips for you to know

Here are some smaller things to consider as well.

  1. Find out if you need to have a fishing license at the pier of your choosing.
  2. Wear polarized glasses to deal with the sun’s glare and allow you to see into the water.
  3. Determine the gear limitations of the pier. Some pier admins only allow 2 to 3 fishing rods per angler.
  4. Always give your other fishermen ample room to cast a rod comfortably. Even if you locate a more productive position, always provide ample elbow room for the fisherman around you.


And there they are, my 5 fishing tips for your productive angling at the pier. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual,  let me know of your experiences here.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.