Beginner's Guide to Pier Fishing

Pier Fishing Tip No. 2: The Right Time

Okay, you've got the gear, but when should you throw your line in the water?

Early morning and sunset are the two most popular times to go pier fishing, each with their own distinct advantages. Some pier fishermen prefer the tranquility of a less-crowded pier during early morning hours. Less bait in the water means less competition for a bite.

But be aware, you've got to get there before first light; early morning fishermen often have their bait in the water as dawn breaks. "Morning is good, but early morning (6 a.m.) is best," said Frank, an avid pier fisherman from San Diego. "When I get here at eight, it (the fishing) is dead."

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Dusk is also another popular time to fish. Plan to arrive at the pier 30 minutes before sundown, to give you time to set up and have your bait in the water. The earlier the better, as it gets darker more and more people pack onto the pier during peak seasons. If you arrive after sundown, you'll have limited spots to choose from.

Another important factor to consider is the occurrence of tides. Seasoned fishermen will tell you the best time to fish is during the transition from low to high tide.

"You want a changing tide so your bait is moving in the water," advised Frank. "If you just have a low tide, you're really not going to catch anything."

Key: Use a tide calendar to plan your sessions for the most successful fishing.

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Pier Fishing Tip No. 3: The Right Location

Each pier is constructed differently with its own unique geography. Choose your location with this principle in mind: The catch is most plentiful where the fish seek food.

Ask the locals where kelp beds are—or if there are reefs along the pier--that you can set up near. Information like this can prove invaluable.

Some pier fishermen position themselves where sandbars and troughs commonly form. This can be found by locating where the waves break. Fish follow these edges looking for food dislodged by breaking waves, providing a good place to drop your line.

"I like to go where the waves break, there you catch the bigger fish," said San Diego fisherman, Ricardo.

Key: Ask the locals where sandbars and troughs are located to find the best location to set your line.

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