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Random question here, I have never pier fished as I am typically freshwater bass fishing but when I go to coast I'll typically bring a couple rods just in case. I've contemplated going a couple times but want to be at least semi prepared if I do so. As a general question, what are some of the do's and don't of pier fishing? Distance to fish from someone else, length of time to fish in a certain spot? How to keep lines from tangling up with other peoples with currents? What if their are surfers or swimmers around? etc. I'm sure there are many things I'm overlooking.

One thing that's held me back from trying it out is that from watching some YouTube videos it seems like you can hook up on some pretty big fish and since you're so high up a large net that you can drop down is required. Does everyone typically have their own net or is it a common practice that people share nets?

Also I imagine most people fishing off a pier are fishing with some sort of cut bait or live bait and are throwing something out and letting it sit. Are there any other methods of fishing from Pier that people commonly do?

Welcome any other information that you think might be helpful for first time pier fisherman.
 

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Watch out for everyone so you don't get hooked by them. Seriously, it's about who gets were first then spread out how many rods they allow you to use, and get to fishing! Cut bait or live bait works for lots of different fish, depending on what's in schools and running close to the pier you can throw some plugs but you have to get down at the end of the pier so you got room to pitch them out, then you have to really be careful of everyone, people crowd up and get excited if they see fish or if someone else catches a fish. It can be fun, some people fish at night.
 

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Cam,

Relative to your question regarding nets...I'm not sure about now but back in the day most piers had a hoop (drop) net available for common use. As for etiquette, never look another fisher person in the eye, never admit that you're in the wrong and keep a pair of cutters close in case you need to cut an intruders line..

No, seriously, common sense dictates that you treat your fellow fisherfolks as you'd hope to be treated. I'm not aware of any hard and fast rules regarding spacing but I think on a normal day that at least 10 ft is acceptable. Most people are pretty easy to get along with but occasionally you'll run into some jerk who just pushes every ones buttons. As for bait versus lures...during the right time of year jigging a gotcha plug or even soft plastics can be productive. You can also throw a mack tree out during the summer and pick up spanish. Most of this depends on how busy it is as you'll need to be considerate of your peers when casting. Pier fishing at the right time of year can definitely be a worthwhile endeavor so give it a go and let us know how you do!
 

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One of the biggest issues——> problems is in casting. Proper pier etiquette usually means underhand casting, and straight out from your position. This prevents you from hitting somebody in the head while slinging 2 ounces of lead or a pair of treble hooks through the air at 100 mph, and if you cast straight out you have a much less likely chance of getting crossed up with other lines. Most folks will forgive one or two entanglements, but after that you are cutting in to their fishing time. Sometimes its better to just cut your tangles off so the other guy can get back to work.

The only exception I can think of to underhand casting is if there are very few people on the pier…then, you still have to check behind you every cast. Are you going to see other people doing otherwise? Absolutely——and when you see them doing stupid stuff and being careless and not caring about the safety of their fishing neighbor this will make a lot more sense to you.

Be aware that you may encounter groups on the pier…it is pretty routine for a family or 5 or 6 guys to be fishing together, spread out over 40 or 50 feet of the pier. They will be sharing coolers, and bait buckets, and smokes, and drinks. Best not to get in between them. They may have been there 5 or 6 hours ahead of you and they might feel like they ’own’ that stretch.

USE THE FRESHEST BAIT YOU CAN FIND. YESTERDAY’s bait is a day too old! Don’t buy your bait at the pier—go to a tackle store every day you fish and ask them what has been working best.

Finally…fishing from a pier can give you a whole new perspective, especially if you have a school of blues or spanish, or rays or dolphins, come through. Mostly, just go out there and have fun, relax…and if you get confused about why others are catching and you are not, just ask them what they are doing. Most folks will be glad to answer and help you out…if they aren’t then those are the people to steer clear of.

MUCH LUCK!!!
 

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I love fishing on piers; I like having light to fish at night, and I like the real eclectic mix of folks who fish on piers and the camaraderie that exists on a good pier. Many piers have bench‘s, get there early and pick your bench (or spot) - it’s yours. As for being courteous to fellow anglers - it‘s like driving - you will see jerks and you will see polite folks, but in general most folks seem to be at their best when fishing. The most unusual experience I have had lately was with surfers this past June 6th at the Bogue Inlet Pier at Emerald Isle. I was dropping a bottom rig right next to a piling when a surfer was paddling his board out and doing it right next to the pier piling - last place I would ever think of to look for a swimmer/surfer before dropping a rig. There was a large number of surfers and a big group of anglers from Virginia further out on the pier from my spot in the center. they got into a shouting/cussing match with each other - calling each group out, etc. The surfers charged on their boards to pier (like the Final Charge of the Wet Brigade) - damnest thing I have ever seen while fishing. These weren’t kids either - 40’s and 50’s from what I could tell. I did take a few pictures - Pier Management called the E.I.P.D who summoned the surfers out of the water. Their head hauncho was either arrested or told to leave - that ended the melee. OH
 

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I don't fish piers often, just not really my thing but many of my friends do. One exception for me is Jeanette's pier in Nags Head. Very cool pier with the exception of their hours. If you get a chance, check it out.

Don't take your bass pole unless it's pretty stout. Observe others and ask questions. People love to share their knowledge and love to talk fishing. As previously mentioned, fresh bait rules. Alternative bait - Fish Bites can catch some fish/ bait.

My experience is that people tend to generally be friendly and respectful. Lines will occasionally get crossed depending on how many folks are fishing, it happens. If you can avoid braided line, it won't be too big a deal. Crossed lines with braid = big deal.

Note: If you catch a nice fish, be prepared to be the most popular guy on the pier and everyone wanting to sit right beside you!

Go for it and have fun.
 

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I grew up fishing on various piers, mostly on Emerald Isle. Most of those piers (Triple S, Sportsman, Iron Steamer, Indian Beach, Morehead, etc.) no longer exist. I was once fishing with a friend on the "Iron Steamer", and he had brought his father-in-law along. There was an addition to the main pier that pulled off to the left, and his father-in-law would get on that addition, right next to the main pier, and cast right down the side of the main pier, and over the line of a number of folks fishing off of the main pier. The father-in-law would not listen to reason, our pleas, or the grumbling/cussing of all the folks whose line he would reel in after every cast. It wasn't long before we had to leave before there was a fight.
I remember fishing on the "Morehead Pier", which was my parents' favorite. I remember the elderly gentleman that ran/owned the pier had an ongoing feud with the "surfers". I think there was an ordinance that required the surfers to stay at least "500 feet" away from the pier. If one of them strayed any closer, the gentleman that ran the pier had a "big surf casting rod, with a heavy weight/lure" that he would cast at the offending surfers. Eventually, he would hit them, or their board and they would come ashore and issue a challenge to come down and fight. I remember that he had an entourage of younger, more physically fit, men that were more than willing to accept the challenge and go down and fight. Quite a spectacle.
My only real problem with folks on any pier, has been with the "King Mackerel Fisherman" on the end. I have found on several different piers that there would usually be a group of locals that considered anyone that was not a member of "their group" to be a trespasser. I have never really been threatened, but just generally treated rudely, and made to feel unwelcome. I have had my "lines cut" on more than one occasion when someone else would get a fish on. I imagine that if you lived in the area and put in enough hours, that you "might" eventually be accepted. As someone that doesn't live or maintain a home on the coast, I always felt like if I bought the "King Fishing" pass, I had just as much right to my spot as anyone else, but the locals didn't appear to generally agree with that logic.
I will say that I have had exponentially more "positive experiences" on fishing piers than the few negative ones. I remember catching my first "King Mackerel" on the "Sportsman Pier" when I was about 13 years old. I was a "hardcore fisherman" as a teen. When my family came to the coast from Greensboro a few times a year, they would just drop me off with my fishing gear, including a "sleeping bag" at the pier. I would spend the entire vacation "on the pier". My parents would fish some during the day, but I lived there. I remember when some of the other "King Fisherman" would pack up at dusk, they would tell me to pack up also, but I never did. I would tie my rod/reel to the pier and leave the clicker on in case I feel asleep. I remember one morning about 2:30am waking up to the sound of my drag screaming, setting the hook, and fighting my first King Mackerel to the pier. It was then that I realized that "I was the only person on the pier" and had no idea how I was going to haul that fish up onto the deck. I just started yelling and finally someone on the night shift in the pier house stuck their head out and came down with a gaff on a rope to bring my fish up. I remember that I couldn't wait for my parents and brother to show up the next day and see what I had in the cooler. One of many great memories made on a fishing pier.
 

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My first saltwater fishing experiences were off the old Iron Steamer Pier. We owned a trailer down on what we referred too as Indian Isle from the time I could form permanent memories until about age 10. At that point it became just too crowded for us and we moved up to the northern Outer Banks (Nags Head). I have nothing but great memories of that pier and I can still remember being able to see the old stack from the wreck when the tides were right. When I was a teen we used to pack our sleeping bags drive over and camp under the canopy of the trees just behind the primary dunes (about 200 yds south of the pierhouse). Now, at age 65 I still have that surfcasting rod (50+ yrs old now) and so many great memories!
 

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Bring at least a few backup bottom rigs and sinkers for any break offs either due to malfunction, fish, or other anglers tangling your line and cutting you off.
Fresh cut bait is probably the most popular bait, live bait and artificials are also great- live bait especially for Kings or Cobia and artificials for toothy fish like Blues, Spanish etc. (just examples that list isn't all inclusive)
Be nice to other anglers, most piers I've been at don't get closer than the next bench over from your neighbor. Don't cross others lines if possible and be nice whenever it inevitably happens.

Tight lines
 

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@Cam , so glad you asked because all the responses are great. Like you, I'm a newbie, so have only pier fished a few times with small casting and surf rods. Shrimp, cut bait, fish bites and small metals. I've read that braid line is not good on crowed pier.

The occasions I've fished have been on piers from Atlantic Beach down to the one on Sunset. Everyone I've met were one or more of pretty cool, funny, cordial, helpful, talkative, quiet... I can't remember any occasion of feeling unwelcome. But I come onto the pier with a mindset of a newbie, common courtesy, respect spacing, casting straight out, and have patience and sense of humor when lines do cross.
 

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BigMac, I alos grewup fishing from piers. The first fish I ever caught I was NOT tall enough to fish over the rails. I had to fish between the horizonal boards. It was nice whiting off the OLD Windy Hill pier near North Myrtle Beach. I am now 80 yrs old and walking not my favorite passtime.

Yes be respectful ol your fellow fishermen. I hate to think of how may time I had move from where I was fishing because of those that had no idea how to fish from a pier. As I said walking is difficult for me but I am thing of renting one of those battery powered scotters and drive it out on the Jennettes Pier on the Outer Banks. I really like that pier.

I think every kid should be taught to fish. In my life time I have showed many kids (boys and girls) how to fish. Fishing is one gift my father gave to me. He loved to fish.

Have a great time fishing for everyone.
 

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BigMac, I alos grewup fishing from piers. The first fish I ever caught I was NOT tall enough to fish over the rails. I had to fish between the horizonal boards. It was nice whiting off the OLD Windy Hill pier near North Myrtle Beach. I am now 80 yrs old and walking not my favorite passtime.

Yes be respectful ol your fellow fishermen. I hate to think of how may time I had move from where I was fishing because of those that had no idea how to fish from a pier. As I said walking is difficult for me but I am thing of renting one of those battery powered scotters and drive it out on the Jennettes Pier on the Outer Banks. I really like that pier.

I think every kid should be taught to fish. In my life time I have showed many kids (boys and girls) how to fish. Fishing is one gift my father gave to me. He loved to fish.

Have a great time fishing for everyone.
My Dad and Mom liked to pier fish, so we usually made it to the coast three or four times a year at least. I was lucky that a few friends from church liked me well enough to invite me on some of their "Men Only" trips when I was still in my early teens. They were the ones that introduced me to "King Fishing" on the pier. One of them also had a "pack of beagles" and took me on a lot of rabbit hunting and all-night cat fishing and frog gigging adventures. I owe a lot of gratitude to my parents and these "fishing/hunting buddies".
When I got older, I became a Cub Scout/Boy Scout leader and had a lot of adventures with young boys, many of whom had never had an opportunity to camp in the woods or fish at the coast. I hope I continued their legacy.
 

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Several mentions made of the Iron Steamer fishing pier at Atlantic Beach - nowadays that location is in Pine Knoll Shores and is a public beach access point - I surf fish there occasionally. My Dad was a King Mackerel fisherman and took me and my three younger brothers to the Iron Steamer regularly. I was in charge of my brothers while he fished for King on the end - we would set up near the old wreck and bottom fish. Dad bought us pretty short and stiff rods with Penn conventionals and taught us to drop our rigs and bottom fish - he didn't want us snagging each other (or anyone else!!) with our hooks. I have no picture of us on the Iron Steamer pier, we fished it from around 1966 until about 1971 when Dad got a boat. I only have one picture of us fishing - we were about to go surf fishing on the beach while we were camping at Oregon Inlet campgrounds about 1967. Also have a picture of a post card of the Iron Steamer. What great memories! OH
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The tackle and the old Coleman Stove bring back a lot of memories. We used to have a clipping from a newspaper in Carolina Beach that took a picture of me, my Dad, and younger brother coming off of a "head boat", it was either the Carl Winner Queen or the Pirate 2, with our coolers full of fish. It disappeared when we moved my parents to a new home many years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone that responded. A lot of insightful info here and some great stories to boot! Like most things in life it's amazing how far common courtesy/respect and common sense can get you. Will likely be when it warms up a little but can't wait to try my luck on first pier fishing experience this year!

Tight lines everyone.
 
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