The Environment of Pier Fishing


Understanding the environment of the pier is the most overlooked aspect of pier fishing, and the most critical. The pier fisherman is at the mercy of the pier. One cannot simply move down the beach like a surf fisherman or move to a new rock like a rock fisherman. Nor can a boat, kayak or tube be utilized to follow a school of fish or to locate a new school. The pier fisherman’s domain is the area underneath and around the pier. Because of this, the angler who wishes to be successful must know as much about the pier itself as possible and understand both the techniques and the bait and tackle which are specific for piers.

Luckily, most piers themselves attract fish. Pilings are covered with barnacles and mussels, crabs and tube worms, hydroids, anemones and sea spiders—a plethora of sometimes strange-looking  creatures that represent food for the fish that the anglers seek. In addition, the water under a pier is often calm, sheltered by the various pilings, and it’s frequently full of food dropped from above. The mélange attracts small fish and these attract bigger fish. Fish, of any size, attract fishermen.

The first rule to remember in the Pier Fishing Analects, the most basic rule for pier fishing, is that fishing close to a pier (rather than engaging in a casting contest) usually provides the best results.

If in doubt, ask yourself the following question: why do so many boat anglers try to fish structure areas like piers? Because they realize fish are attracted to structure because of the food and protection offered by that structure.

But do not stop there! Ask yourself and then determine the answers to the following questions:

• What is the base under the pier, is it a sandy beach pier or is it located over mud or rock?

• If it is sand, are there rocks nearby or scattered under the pier?

• Were any artificial reefs constructed around the pier—and if so, where are they located?

• Is the pier short, offering only a surf area fishery, or is it long, offering access to deeper water and more pelagic species?

Answering these questions will give you a clue as to what type of fish can be expected on a particular pier and if that is the pier you wish to visit. Generally, sandy-shore areas offer a smaller variety of fish but often larger schools of these fish, especially schools of the smaller perch. Rocky areas offer a greater variety of fish and often larger fish, but these tend to be non-schooling fish or fish found in smaller schools.

The second rule is that sandy areas, especially where there are also some rocks or reefs nearby, offer a better chance of catching fish. Rocky areas offer a better chance of catching large fish. Piers that are long and poke out into fairly deep water often offer access to pelagic species (which can mean both quantity and quality) and the largest resident species.

Of course, there are exceptions. In southern California some of the largest pier fish are the sandy-area, shallow-water surfperch (barred) and croakers (corbina and spotfin croaker). An important point to remember is that natural food is different in sandy and rocky areas and the angler must match his bait to the natural food found in the area he’s fishing. Match the hatch (as they say in trout circles) and you stand a better chance of catching the species inhabiting the environment.

Posted in Pierfishing, Saltwater Fishing and tagged with , , , , , . RSS 2.0 feed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>