Saltwater Pier Fishing For Beginners

 Growing up, I learned everything I know about fishing from my father. He took my brother and me fishing almost every weekend. One of our favorite places to fish was on Bob Hall Pier near Corpus Christi, Texas. We always had a great time and you can too no matter what pier you choose. Let me share the basics for getting started.

What do you need to know about saltwater fishing on a pier?

  • The right gear and accessories will make your time at the pier more comfortable.
  • Carry a tackle box based on what kind of bait you plan on using: dead bait, live bait, or lures.
  • Always carry a valid state fishing license, even on a pier. Know the size and bag limits for your state.
  • Learn how to recognize the fish you catch
  • Choose a fishing rod and reel that is best suited for the fish you want to catch
  • Know the kind of fisherman you are to prepare and have a better time properly.
  • Watch and learn from others.

This article speaks directly about saltwater fishing techniques on a pier. I will step you through these points with sage advice, a few how-to videos, and links to other resources you need to get started.

Pier Fishing Gear You Will Need

There are fishing gear and accessories that will make your time at the pier comfortable and easier.

Basic gear includes:


  • Lawn chairs
  • Rod holders
  • Ice chest or fish bag and ice
  • Flashlight
  • Hand towels and wipes for handling fish

Advanced gear:


  • Fishing cart
  • Fish gaff
  • Fish net

Personal items:


  • Blanket if at night
  • Hat and sunscreen if during the day
  • Chapstick
  • Food and drinks

Pier Fishing Tackle You Will Need

A fisherman’s tackle box can be as diverse as their kitchen gadgets. Everyone has their lures and bobbers they have found handy.

So, here is the basic tackle you will need. You can add to it:

common tackle box contents:


  • Tacklebox
  • Utility and filet knives
  • Hooks
  • Sinkers
  • Leaders
  • Extra line
  • Stringer
  • Bobbers
  • Various lures
  • Fish pliers for unhooking fish
  • Fish measuring device

Here is where a fishing pro needs to know their target gamefish. Gear up for the specialty tackle required. You wouldn’t shark fish with a bobber, but you will use steel line leaders and a heavy-duty rod and reel setup.

Selecting Your Fishing Bait

One of your first decisions is whether you want to fish with live bait, dead bait, lures, or a combination. This will guide you on what fishing tackle you will need.

Dead Bait

We’ll start with the simplest solution: dead bait. This is the easiest bait because it requires little technique, and the fish come to you.

Examples of dead bait include frozen shrimp, finger mullet, squid, and cut bait. Bottom fishing is the best for dead bait.

You can use a casting or spinning reel for bottom fishing with a leader, weight, and “J” or circle hooks. Setting the drag on the reel is preferable but not required.

Live Bait

The next bait you can use is live bait. You will require a little more technique and tackle to work with this type of bait.

Examples of live bait are shrimp, finger mullet, and minnows. You will have more luck fishing on the top of the water and near a pier light if at night.

Spinning reels are the reel of choice with a bobber. You will need to be much more attentive when watching your bobber. Spotted sea trout are the favorites, and they hit fast when on the run.

Lures And Artificial Baits

Lure fishing is the least popular method for pier fishing for several reasons: it requires steady and deliberate reeling and casting, and the sheer height of the pier can give difficult angles when

Some lures include hard-bodied plugs, bucktail jigs, soft-bodied jigs, and spoons. I have had great luck with gold spoons for redfish.

Spinning reels give me the best control while casting these lighter baits and allow more acting ability in my experience.

Learn more about pier fishing baits. The excellent segment on saltwater lures!

Acquiring A Fishing License And Necessary Tags

Each state game regulation department has a resource for acquiring fishing licenses and associated fishing regulations. Here is a list for each Gulf State:

Each person using a rod and reel must carry their license. This is regulated by the game warden of each state with the power to fine and confiscate your fish. You can be fined even if you haven’t caught a fish.

Here is an awesome list of licensing costs for each state.

Game Fish Size And Bag Limits

Game fish are under close protection in each state. And each state’s regulations are not the same. State game wardens check licenses, the sizes, and fish caught per licensed fisherman.

I have witnessed pier fishermen being fined, and fish confiscated dozens of times. Here is a list for each Gulf State:

Each person using a rod and reel must carry their license. This is regulated by the game warden of each state with the power to fine and confiscate your fish. You can be fined even if you haven’t caught a fish.

How To Identify Your Catch

You will need to be able to recognize and identify the gamefish for your state before you catch one. You must be well-versed so your catch will not be out of the water for too long.

Here is a guide for identifying Texas pier gamefish and non-regulated “keepers” with the bag and size limits and some identifying information.

What Saltwater Fish Can You Catch Off Of A Pier? Watch some late afternoon to night fishing on a pier to get a feel for what to expect!

Selecting The Right Rod For Pier Fishing

Pier fishing rods have specific characteristics depending on the fish you are targeting. These factors include length, material, power, action, and the handle.

How To Choose The Best Fishing Rod For Saltwater?

What Kind Of Pier Fisherman Are You?

Are you a serious pier fisherman? Or are you just a casual fan? Knowing this will help you decide how much to invest and what tackle and accessories you should have in your arsenal.

What does a serious pier angler look like? First, they will often push a gear cart loaded with rods, chairs, rod holders, and such.

Pier Fishing Strategy For The Casual Fisherman

What makes pier fishing great is that there is always something for everyone. It’s a great bonding experience with your son or daughter and can be inexpensive. It’s a portable activity you can share anywhere there is a clean body of water.

A casual pier fisherman needs a strategy, even just for fun with your friends and family. Knowing the minimum you must do to have a safe and enjoyable time is important.

A casual pier fisherman:

  • Has a fishing license for everyone who will use a rod and reel
  • Is familiar with what the gamefish are regulated by the state they are fishing and their bag and size limits.
  • Is prepared for releasing any under or oversized gamefish
  • They should plan on catching and releasing any fish they catch if not prepared to keep and clean their catch. Or catch and release all fish to be casual. It is unlawful to waste fish in most states.
  • It has the gear and tackles for everyone who wants to fish.
  • Either have bait or knows how to use artificial lures.
  • It is equipped for cool or rainy conditions.
  • Casts their rod without snagging passing fishermen or crossing other lines
  • Are responsible for the safety of their children and their gear
  • You can safely bait a hook and unhook a fish. There is nothing like a casual fisherman asking others to do these basic tasks.
  • Studies and learns any skills they need to have a safe and fun fishing experience for their family and others.

If any of this seems overwhelming, don’t worry, this article will give you a good general understanding. Also, I have provided resource links at the end.Pier

Pier rats have stakeout locations as part of their fishing strategy.

Pier Fishing Strategy For A Pro

Pier fishing can be a thrilling adventure, especially for those experienced anglers who have mastered the art. These pier fishing pros have honed their skills and invested in the right equipment to tackle their fishing goals.

They carry the necessary fishing license and tags, know their desired target fish, and are well-versed in the gear and tackle needed for success. Understanding state bag limits and lengths is crucial, as is having knowledge of the ideal bait and fishing technique for their chosen gamefish.

They are skilled at landing large fish on tall piers and have a predetermined spot in mind before even arriving. Bringing a gaff or a long-handled net can be beneficial for safely landing your fish.

They prioritize fishing etiquette, avoiding crossing other fishing lines and conducting their activities in a safe and considerate manner.

Decide whether you’ll require a cart to transport your gear or a stringer to secure your catch. Decide whether you’ll be fishing topwater or on the bottom, as this influences your bait and lure choices.

Timing is another crucial aspect to consider. Different fish species exhibit varying levels of activity at different times of the day. Conducting research or seeking advice from local anglers can provide valuable insights into the best times for success.

Simply Hang Out And Observe

Some of my favorite times at the pier is just taking my kids and watching other people fish. Rarely is there no action or nothing to see.

At night is when we have seen the unusual. I remember seeing flying fish skipping along the water. Schools of hundreds of jellyfish pass by and then in 15 minutes they were gone. Some of my favorite moments were watching manta rays pass by under the pier lights.


When you’re at the pier, make sure you have the right fishing gear and accessories like lawn chairs, rod holders, and ice chests to keep you comfortable. It’s also important to invest in a tackle box that suits the type of bait you plan on using, whether it’s dead bait, live bait, or lures.

Don’t forget to carry a valid state fishing license, even when fishing from a pier, and familiarize yourself with the size and bag limits for the fish in your state. Learning how to identify different fish species can help you target your favorites.

Selecting the appropriate fishing rod and reel for your target fish is crucial. Take the time to determine what kind of fisherman you are so you can prepare accordingly and have a more enjoyable experience.

And don’t be afraid to observe and learn from others at the pier. Watching what they’re doing can provide valuable insights as you embark on your fishing journey.

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