Salt Water Fishing From a Pier
A pier for your peers
Advantages of Pier Fishing
There are many different fishing programs aired every weekend but none of them specialize in pier fishing. The reason for this is simple. There are no pier salesmen. Oh sure, some fishing products could be advertised on such a show but the lack of good fishing piers around the country would guarantee the same old views to the TV watchers. Because of this fact, many anglers never consider pier fishing as an alternative to fishing from boats or from the shore. This is too bad as pier fishing is one of the easiest and most economical ways to enjoy the sport of angling.
Like any other type of fishing, pier fishing has its good and bad days. Some days the fish just won’t bite. But in this case one merely loads up the gear and walks away. No boats to load on the trailer or charters over rough seas back to shore. There are many other advantages of pier fishing if you think about it, such as being able to fish while the family plays on the beach or swims in the pool. If the fish are not biting you can join them or go watch sports on TV. This type of fishing trip enables your family to go along with you which makes the wife happy too.
This particular fishing pier belongs to a condominium complex on Amelia Island named Amelia by the Sea. Long before the condo was constructed this was a public fishing pier. As a child I spent many wonderful hours patrolling its length watching anglers pull in a variety of ocean denizens including flounder, shark, sea trout, sheephead, and many other species. But in the 60’s the land was sold to build the condominium and the pier became part of the complex. Since then the pier has been rebuilt and repaired several times to keep it in wonderful condition.
This pier has everything needed to ensure a pleasant fishing experience. There are fish cleaning tables with sinks and running water which avoid the mess your wife hates. Lights are provided for fishing at night because many anglers just don’t get enough of the sport during the day. Besides, it is nice to sit out on the pier at night with friends and watch the ocean and lights from the shore. Two covered shelters are there to seek relief from the sun and rain. There is also a landing net provided to lower beneath your catch and pull it up to the pier.
Easy Fishing From a Pier
Pier Fishing Techniques
Another great advantage of pier fishing is being able to catch your own bait. Using a cast net, one can catch fingerling mullet to use as live bait for the many species of fish. An aerator or floating bait bucket is required to keep the bait alive while you are on the pier. Menhaden and other bait fish can also be caught depending on the time of year. In the fall when the large schools of mullet start their runs it is possible to catch the large fish by the dozens if you can throw a cast net well. An extra length of rope is added to the cast net to enable you to reach down to the water. Throwing the net with the wind takes a little practice but you soon get the hang of it.
Many species of fish can be caught using these fingerling mullet but flounder is the primary target for many of us. Working the bait around the pilings is the best method to catch these wonderful creatures. Do not be surprised if you also catch red drum, Spanish mackerel, spotted sea trout, or even a shark while going after the flounder. Cut bait and live and dead shrimp will also catch the occasional fish if they are biting but live bait seems to work best.
Huge fish are not rare around these piers as tarpon and cobia also ply the waters around this type of structure. Landing one of these monsters can be difficult and I have watched as many large fish were worked back into the shallows in attempts to land them from the shore. The excitement caused by such a struggle is very entertaining to the onlookers and especially to the luck angler who hooked the creature.
Another side benefit of pier fishing is having a great view of the beach life. People riding horses, surfers riding the giant waves, kite surfers, and many other forms of beach activities keep one entertained while fishing for the big ones. Pier fishing is an excellent way to introduce salt water fishing to your kids and to your wife without risking boat trip or the chance of sea sickness. Elderly or handicapped anglers also benefit from pier fishing as no special contrivances are required.
All in all, pier fishing has something for everyone in the family. Finding a good pier to fish from is the only problem you face. Fishing piers are not as common as they once were before so many boats were available but there are still some around. A little searching should turn up one which will suit your own particular needs. So try pier fishing if you are looking for a more relaxed way to enjoy the sport of salt water angling, you will be happy you did.
Landing the Fish
The rods, reels, and tackle needed for pier fishing on the Atlantic are slightly different from that used on a boat. Because of the heavy surf and undertow, a heavier lead sinker is necessary. Start off with a 2 oz. sinker if fishing on the bottom. For most species of fish a #2 hook will be sufficient for landing your catch. Corks or floats are not normally used as most of the species strike below the surface, however a live fish used as bait beneath a float will sometimes attract a sea trout or other top water feeder. Twenty lb. and higher test fishing line is recommended along with a steel leader because of the possibility of the fish cutting the line with its teeth.
A good saltwater reel is recommended along with a fairly long rod. Being able to keep the fish away from the barnacle encrusted pilings and from wrapping around them is very important to landing your fish. The longer rod will help to prevent the fish from getting too close to the pier. Using a stiffer rod will also help in this endeavor while making it easier to maneuver the fish into the landing net. This is where volunteers offer to help and this is usually appreciated. Sometimes getting the fish into the landing net can be very frustrating and occasionally disappointing. Take your time.