Pier fishing is not an overly technical term; it simply describes the act of fishing off a pier. Pier fishing is such a popular option because it’s so simple, all you need is a walkway that runs out into the water. You can do it with a rod and reel or even just a spool of line. All over the world, you’ll find people out on the coast and even along the shores of lakes out on piers, dropping their lines into the water. While there’s no great secret to getting started, there are a few things to know that will give you a leg up on reeling in the catch of the day.
One easy way to improve your experience is to pay attention to the environment. Part of this is for your own health, as pier fishing, especially in populated areas, often happens alongside commercial or industrial activity that can affect the water quality. Your local department of fish and wildlife or environmental quality office will be able to provide info on whether it’s safe to eat what’s caught in certain areas. Once you’re out there, pay attention to the other critters. They’re out there looking for fish too, and are probably a lot better at spotting schools than you. That doesn’t mean you should go casting at every wing-flap, of course. In fact, you rarely want to cast out from a pier. Nine times out of ten, the fish will be hanging around under the pillars of the walkway. Get a good weight and drop straight down, but if you see a spot below the pier with a gang of seals splashing around, elbow in! You should also pay attention to the time of day. Those experienced with pier fishing will tell you that sunrise/sunset are when your quarry is most active. The angle of the sun makes it harder for birds to spot things in the water, so this is the best time for fish to come out of their hiding spots. The tide can also have a big impact on the availability and location of different species.
Paying attention to the environment can help you get more fish, but paying attention to the people will help you enjoy the whole pier fishing experience. Strike up a conversation about the type of bait the folks around you are using or the best time of day to hook the desirable species. Unless you’re out there for commercial purposes or for subsistence (in which case you probably already know these tips), the experience is more about having fun. And while there’s no thrill quite like watching your rod tip jump as you reel in your prize, the vast majority of the time will be spent relaxing and waiting for that bite. So bring a good lawn chair, a bucket for your catch, and a cooler for your favorite cold beverage to share. And have fun.