February 27, 2023

Pier Fishing: A Comprehensive Guide to Catching Big Fish

Pier Fishing: A Comprehensive Guide to Catching Big Fish
Photo by Austin Neill / Unsplash


If you're looking for an exciting way to spend your day fishing, pier fishing is an excellent choice. Pier fishing offers anglers a unique opportunity to catch big fish without the need for a boat. Pier fishing is a popular activity that is enjoyed by many people around the world, especially in California where there are many piers to choose from.

Pier Fishing Equipment: What You Need to Get Started

Before you can start pier fishing, you need to have the right equipment. The type of equipment you need depends on the size of the fish you're targeting. If you're targeting smaller fish like Panfish, you can get away with a lighter setup. However, for bigger fish, you'll need a medium to medium-heavy outfit. A stout, short rod in the 6-7 foot range is ideal for dropping baits straight down.

In addition to the fishing rod, you'll also need a fishing reel, fishing line, fishing hooks, and fishing bait. The fishing line should be strong enough to handle the weight of the fish you're targeting, and the fishing hooks should be sharp enough to penetrate the fish's mouth. As for the fishing bait, it depends on the type of fish you're targeting.

Best Piers for Pier Fishing in California

California has a lot of piers that are great for pier fishing. Some of the best piers for pier fishing in California include:

  1. Newport Pier: Located in Newport Beach, this pier is known for its abundance of fish species.
  2. McFadden Wharf: Located in San Francisco, this pier is known for its large population of striped bass.
  3. Candlestick Point Park Piers: Located in San Francisco, these piers are known for their abundance of halibut and sharks.
  4. Pismo Beach Pier: Located in Pismo Beach, this pier is known for its abundance of mackerel and perch.
  5. Marin Rod & Gun Club Pier: Located in San Rafael, this pier is known for its abundance of striped bass.

Tips for Successful Pier Fishing

To have a successful pier fishing experience, you need to know what you're doing. Here are some tips to help you catch more fish:

  1. Choose the right bait: The type of bait you use depends on the type of fish you're targeting. For example, if you're targeting halibut, squid is an excellent choice.
  2. Know the tides: Fish tend to be more active during certain tides. For example, when the tide is coming in, fish tend to be more active.
  3. Fish during the right time of day: Fish tend to be more active during certain times of the day. For example, early morning and late afternoon tend to be the best times to fish.
  4. Pay attention to the weather: The weather can have a significant impact on fishing. For example, when it's windy, it can be more difficult to cast your line.
  5. Keep your fishing gear organized: Organizing your fishing gear can make it easier to find what you need when you need it.

Top 5 FAQs

Q1. What gear do I need for pier fishing?

  • Fishing rod and reel
  • Fishing line (typically 10-20lb test)
  • Hooks (size 1/0-3/0 for most species)
  • Weights (varying sizes depending on the current and target species)
  • Bait (such as shrimp, squid, or live baitfish) [1]

Q2. What types of fish can I catch from a pier?

  • Common pier species include snook, redfish, trout, flounder, tarpon, and snapper, among others
  • The exact species will depend on the location of the pier and time of year [1]

Q3. What is the best time of day to go pier fishing?

  • Early morning and late afternoon are often the best times for pier fishing, as this is when many species are most active
  • However, tides and weather can also play a role, so it's worth doing some research for the specific pier and species you're targeting [1]

Q4. What should I do if I hook a big fish from the pier?

  • Keep your line tight and try to keep the fish from swimming under the pier, where it could break your line
  • Use a net or gaff to safely bring the fish up to the pier
  • Be aware of any regulations regarding size or species limits, and handle the fish carefully if you plan to release it [1]

Q5. Can I eat the fish I catch from a pier?

  • In general, it is safe to eat fish caught from a pier, but it's important to check local regulations and any posted advisories regarding contamination
  • Additionally, some species may have size or bag limits, so be sure to follow any rules and regulations in your area [1]


Pier fishing is an excellent way to catch big fish without the need for a boat. With the right equipment, the right bait, and the right location, you can have a successful pier fishing experience. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced angler, pier fishing is a great way to spend your day.

So grab your gear, head to your local pier, and start fishing!