Do You Need A Fishing License To Fish Off A Pier?


fishing gear when pier fishing

Fishing is one of the top sports in the United States and around the world. It is relaxing, fun, recreational, and best of all you can source food from the sport. Fishing can be done at the lake, ocean, bay, shore or off man-made structures like the pier, dock or wharf. Fishing from piers is especially popular in beach towns across the country. That being said, there are rules to be followed, which will be covered below.

Are Piers Good for Fishing?

Piers are a great place to fish. What exactly constitutes a pier? A pier is generally a raised structure over water supported by either piles or pillars. The water below flows underneath it making it a suitable spot to fish. The good thing about fishing from a pier is the ability to reach specific depths that one may not reach if you went fishing by the shore. Fish often frequent pier locations due to food being abundant.

One negative effect about fishing in this area is the fact that the water may be extremely polluted and the noise around may scare off the fish in the water making it hard for you to catch a fish. But no worries, there are a few tips to help with that further below.

Types of Fishing at the Pier

You can fish any style you want at the pier. You could try the following methods:

  • Bottom fishing – this is fishing for those species who feed well below the water surface that you may not even be able to see. 
  • Free lining – this is where you allow the bait to naturally drift with the current down and under the pier. This is better for when you are able to see fish breaking the water’s surface to feed.
  • Floating – this is where you float the bait at a certain depth to catch specific types of fish. 

can you fish off a pier

So, Do You Need a License to Fish from the Pier?

Most people have wondered, is it okay to go out fishing on a pier without a license? The answer is, it depends. In many cases, yes you need a state fishing license to be able to fish from the pier. There are many places though where you may not need one. Some piers may only charge a daily fee to fish from it since they know that the individuals using the pier may be tourists who are only there for a short amount of time.

In this article, we will dive into just about everything you need to know about fishing from a pier. The regulations, the tools and equipment you will need to carry, and safety measures you should take while fishing. As an added bonus, you will also find a few tips below on how to catch a fish while fishing at an angled position.

Common Regulations Observed at the Pier

As mentioned above, fishing may be free of charge but it with other rules. Below is a few of the possible rules and regulations that are common when fishing from piers.

  • You may be limited in the number of rods you can use. A common number is two rods.
  • No outside alcohol is permitted is normally permitted, except what is purchased from the pier (if available).
  • No loud music, profanity, or rude behavior.
  • No jumping from pier or standing on pier railings.
  • No inline skates, skateboards, bicycles, or other devices that may cause harm to the pier decking.
  • No open flames, including lanterns, stoves, and grills.
  • Non-open flame grills are allowed.
  • No expressing mannerisms or actions that are offensive or detrimental to the peace and good order of the operation of the pier.

Here is a real example of rules for a pier located in North Carolina.

Safety Precautions While Fishing at the Pier

Everywhere you go there will always be matters and measures of safety. It is best to follow all the rules and regulations handed to residents at the location of the pier. Do not under any circumstance, cross or hand over the fence, wire or structure protecting you from falling off to the water. This rule may not be posted, but you should use common sense. No jumping on the water is a given. Some other rules to consider:

  • Some seasons are not advisable to fish due to weather concerns.
  • Do not leave any young child unattended at the pier as they may fall into the water. 
  • Watch what others are doing around you. If not, you may find yourself getting hooked from an experienced person casting their rod. 

Equipment Used for Fishing off Piers

Before heading off to fish, there are certain items you may want to carry with you.

    1. Fishing rod or pole. It is best to use a conventional spinning rod about 12 to 50 pounds tested to show good resistance strength of the pole. But that is for light fish. For the heavier kind. You can get a fishing rod about 6ft to 9ft from Amazon. The Okuma Tundra Glass Spinning Rods, as seen below, are highly recommended for durability, reliability, and comfortability. It has a one year warranty and its corrosive resistant.

    1. Sinkers or weights. The pyramid weights and egg sinkers come in handy while fishing. You can place baits at the bottom easily. A good choice would be the south bond egg sinker from Amazon also. It has a great drop weight of about 1 oz.
    2. Bait. You will not be catching anything without this. Pass by the bait shop and get some blood worms, shrimp, squid, anchovies or sardines. Live bait can also be ideal although may be unlawful in your county Be sure to check.
    3. Hooks. The bigger the fish you want to land, the bigger the hook. But ideally, j- hooks work best for pliers fishing.
    4. Scissors. For cutting through the fishing line.
    5. Hemostat/ pliers. This is used to remove the hooks of the fish you caught.
    6. Tackle box. To carry your equipment easily.

  1. A bucket. To place your fish after you have caught them.
  2. Picnic chair. For comfort as you wait to catch a fish. It can get really exhausting waiting for the fish, so a seat wouldn’t hurt.
  3. Saltwater spinning reel. A good option is the Daiwa Opus. It comes corrosive resistant, ball and roller bearing and extra heavy action in salt water. You can get it from Amazon as well.
  4. Monofilament fishing line rated at 10lb to 15lb. The Berkeley Trilene Big Game line is strong and extra tough for pier fishing. It is also reliable and abrasion resistant fishing line
  5. Bridge net. This allows you to bring the fish you land up to the pier. The Frabil 36 Inch Bridge Net is heavy duty and pre-rigged with 50 inches of rope.
  6. A first aid kit is also advisable to carry. Make sure it has waterproof plaster, sterile dressing, and a cleaning agent.

fishing from a pier

Other Tips for Fishing Off Piers

  • Because it is an angled type of fishing, you don’t have to learn or cast while fishing, you can just drop the bait in the water and wait to hook a fish. It is actually less strenuous.
  • Carry a specialized hoop net or pier gaff to be able to lift your good sized from the pier. It would be disappointing to not be able to land a big fish you just hooked.
  • Speaking of big fish, you can easily land a big fish at the pier by double hooking your rods, place bait on the longer lighter rod and once the bait is taken by the fish, you can fight with the bigger rod. A multiplier will play a good role in this as they are best for fighting and holding heavy lines.
  • You can also use live baits for trying to catch fish. It is very easy to work with and has good outcome especially with the big fish like the blues, mackerel, and king mackerel.
  • Always check the tide when fishing. The best pier fishing phase tide is early stages of flooding and ebbing tides.

Related Questions

Where can I get a fishing license?

To be on the safe side, you may decide to get a fishing license to cover you when you are unsure about the area you are fishing. You can get yourself a fishing license from the county tax collector’s office, online or a bait and tackle shop. Take a look at our page that has all the fish and game sites, and you can order a license straight online.

If I hook a big fish while fishing from a public pier, can I land it from the beach without a license?

You can only land the fish if you have a valid license to avoid potential citations, and law breaking.

How many rods am I permitted to use from a public pier?

The regulations may be different between different counties but the general law states that only two for the hand lines, rod, net, and lines, is allowed.

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

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