A Beginner’s Guide to Pier Fishing

 This is a partnered guest post.

Like fishing but dislike boats? Pier fishing is a great way for anglers to get their hooks into deep water without the hassle and upkeep of a boat or the inconveniences of a beach. While many maintain fishing from a boat is the best way to catch “the big one,” most agree that pier fishing is the next best thing.



What You Need

If you’re interested in pier fishing, chances are you’ve already been boat or beach fishing and you already have your necessary equipment.
Other than lines and hooks appropriate to the species of fish you’re going after, people fishing off piers ought to bring gaffs and nets to yard the caught fish up to the top of the pier without losing it back to the drink. You’ll need something to keep your catch in, too, like a game bag or a cooler.  Most anglers bring two coolers — one for the fish and one for cold drinks and snacks.


As far as bait goes, that’s going to depend on the fish you want to catch. So, for both live and artificial bait, chat with locals and see what they recommend. When fishing in new waters, have an assortment of jigs so you have lots to try if you don’t get any luck with your first choice.

For rigs, a lot of people recommend beach-fishing rigs because of the long reach, but others find those to be hard to manoeuver on a pier with pedestrians around. Be aware some piers prohibit casting. Whatever rig you choose, have a clamp or some rope to secure the rod when you need my hands free for something else.

Don’t forget the peripherals, either. You’ll need sunscreen, a hat and polarized sun glasses, which cut glare so you can see the fish underwater and reduce eye strain.

Finally, if you’re going out of state, don’t forget you might need to buy a new fishing license.

What You Do

The first thing you should do, once you’ve assembled some gear together, is find the best times to fish at your nearest pier. Many species of fish are seasonal and that plays into your decisions for rigging your line.

Using your polarized lenses to check the water for evidence of fish movement, walk down the pier and see what the other people fishing are up to. You might notice most anglers are on one side or another. There’s a reason for that and that reason is most likely the current.

Follow their lead and set up your gear. You want your bait to be taken right, usually under you, where the fish are living in the artificial reef created by the pier’s support system.

Where to Go

Anywhere with a pier without local regulations preventing fishing is suitable. To get some first-class catches, try Virginia Beach, Va. or St. Petersburg, Fla. These two cities, and the smaller surrounding towns, boast long piers with lots of marine life under them. Virginia Beach has easy access from the boardwalk and a diversity of fish to catch. It helps that there are plenty of cheap hotels in Virginia Beach including some near the pier so you won’t miss out on any good fishing action.  Spanish mackerel and pompano are best to fish for in Virginia.

If you head south to Florida, head over to St. Petersburg. This is where you can catch grouper, mackerel, tarpon and jacks, and even shark off piers.


About the Author: Sandra Goden is a fourth-generation fisherwoman whose family get in regular disputes about what pier is the best fishing spot in the country.


I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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  1. Now this looks like fun. I haven’t gone fishing in forever.

  2. I don’t like fish, yet I’ve always found fishing to be relaxing and fun (as long as I don’t have to put the worm on the hook or take the fish off). Weird, eh? 😛

  3. We love fishing but there aren’t any public piers around us. We go out on my friend’s boat to fish 🙂

  4. We love to fish! There is a little pond that we fish from down the street.

  5. My six year old son loves to go fishing. We are planning on going pier fishing soon, since we live in Florida and we have a pier close to us.

  6. I wish we had opportunities for pier fishing but we aren’t near the ocean anymore!

  7. geez, the last time I was fishing when I was….. 7? lol. My 8yo always asks if we could go fishing though. Thanks for this list. Now I might actually go

  8. Interesting! I have a beach house but haven’t actually been fishing since I was a kid

  9. I love going fishing! I haven’t been in so long

  10. Great tips, we have been pier fishing many times!

  11. I LOVE boating. I haven’t fished to many times but want to.

  12. Looks like a fun time for sure!

  13. I’d love to do this with my husband and son.

  14. I haven’t been fishing since the 90s! Yikes!

  15. My son would love this!!

  16. I love fishing, but have not done it in years!

  17. I have so many fond memories of pier fishing! Thanks for sharing!

  18. I want to get my husband fishing. He’s good at it and I love fresh fish.

  19. When I was young, I would go fishing with my dad all the time. It’s a shame my hubby doesn’t like to fish.

  20. I have only been fishing once and it was off the end of the dock at the lake where we’d spend our summer weekends. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to eat fish, but I’m not good at the process of fishing for it!

  21. We love to fish, although we don’t catch any big ones!

  22. Great post!

  23. It has been ages since I’ve gone fishing. My hubby isn’t into fishing, but I want my son to learn how, so thanks for this!

  24. It’s also nice because you can just get the day license instead of the whole season.

  25. I love this post! When I lived in Florida the family did a lot of pier fishing. It was always such a good time!

  26. I’ve never been fishing, but have always wanted to try it!

  27. I do not have the patience to fish, it just seems so boring to me.

  28. That’s how we do a majority of our fishing here. My husband and youngest boy love to fish.