Pier Fishing Tips For Beginners

Once springtime hits, anglers across the country start gearing up for a long fishing season. However, the one thing you can never count on in the spring is good weather.

Cold front, winds, and storms could ruin a trip for anglers that enjoy wading or fishing from a boat. That’s not the case with pier fishing. Standing on a stable platform that allows you to dress as warm or as cool as you like while also providing habitat for baitfish year-round is going to be perfect fishing for this season.

We’re going to go over some tips and tricks to help you be successful this year when you’re out fishing from your favorite pier. Check out the list below and see which items you might like to try the next time you head out to pier fishing.


Pier fishing can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. You can roll up to the pier with only one rod, reel, and a handful of hooks and be on your way. Or, you could be like some anglers who seemingly back up a U-Haul truck full of gear and camp out for the day.

Neither of these ways will be wrong. It will just depend on what you enjoy and are most comfortable with. When selecting your tackle, you’ll need to determine your gear based on both the conditions of the water as well as the fish you plan on catching.

Targeting smaller fish in an inlet will require smaller setups, where larger fish on the oceanfront will require heavier setups.

Bringing at least two rods with you will be your best bet. One rod and reel for lighter fishing, and one rod and reel for heavier fishing. This allows you to be ready for any condition. Adding additional rods can be done once you have a better feel of what works best for you.

Bait and How to Rig Them

pier fishing bait

Most anglers like to use a three-way swivel with a hook and snap, holding the pyramid sinker in place. This keeps the bait right on the bottom.

Usually, you will be using a dead shrimp or even a soft plastic. This is great if you’re fishing for a species looking for something that is not moving much.

Some species prefer to go after a moving bait, though. This means you will have to stop using the pyramid sinker and use an egg sinker instead. The egg sinker allows your bait to move around. If you’re using a dead shrimp, the egg sinker allows the current to push it around and make it look alive.

It would help if you had several different sinker weights in your tackle box. Make sure you have sizes 1-6. This allows you to be versatile when fishing and choose the best weight possible for the situation you’re in. The same goes for hooks. Size 4-1/0 will give a solid base of sizes and should handle most fish.

The best bait to use would either be live bait or cut bait. Ensure that the bait you use is whatever the fish in your area are feeding on at the time. This is going to give you the best possible chances to catch fish.

You can usually pick these up at local bait shops, or you could even catch these yourself with a cast net. If you don’t want to use live bait, then jigging a lure could be a great way to catch fish as well.

Picking your Location

pier fishing location

Longer piers are ideal for fishing year-round. The longer the pier, the more spots there are for baitfish to hang out and a larger distance to fish on top of varied water depth.

If they are not shallow, you can walk further down the pier to where the water is deeper, and the fish could be holding.

However, during the spring, you’ll usually find that baitfish are up shallow. Meaning if you don’t have a long pier nearby, then a short pier could work just as well. As the season progresses, you’ll most likely be fishing only on longer piers.

You may be wondering how you can actually locate fish when fishing on a pier, though. You’ll want to look for sand bars that run parallel to the beach near the pier.

This provides travel routes for both predators and prey. If possible, look for any cuts in the sandbar where water and prey will pass through on a moving tide. 

During low tide, look down beneath and see if there are any rock formations, deep pools, or other spots that have unique features. It’s here that bait fish will hang out, and game fish will be waiting nearby to ambush their prey.

Tips and tricks

You should avoid the urge to go to the end of the pier and launch your bait as far as it will go towards the open ocean. Instead, use the surveillance that you’ve used when looking at low tide. 

While the tide is moving, you’ll want to get your bait to the down tide side of sandbars or any of the cuts that you located before during low tide.

During the spring, you’ll also find that flounder will even chase baitfish right up to the shore. So, don’t neglect casting close to the beach, assuming no one is there swimming.

If you want, you could also jig a crab or shrimp against the pilings as the tide begins to rise. Sheepshead are going to be a popular species that can be caught this way. Use either live or cut bait. However, a soft plastic soaked in scent could also work well.


Pier fishing is a great way to get out and catch fish when the weather is bad, and fishing from a boat or from the water is not possible. Even if the weather is good, you’ll still find a lot of fun and success from fishing from a pier.

It can be a little overwhelming at first; however, you can go out confidently and know how to get started with the information above. Use these tips and tricks to help you get a baseline of knowledge so that you can figure out the best way to catch fish from a pier.

Once you understand the basics, you can then get creative and use your own style of fishing to catch fish, which will result in more time spent pier fishing!

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