‘Tis the season for pier fishing. From West Point and Gloucester to Ocean View and Lynnhaven, people are driving for miles in hopes of hauling their favorite saltwater species. As with any form of angling, piers can be a crap shoot. I have known days when a visitor caught 30 at Croaker Landing. Wait a few weeks and you can’t even buy a fish from the seafood section. Such fluctuations on a limited platform can drive people to think only of themselves and not their pier mates. But, there are some basic tips to help make the day enjoyable for everyone even if it isn’t productive.
I have never seen anyone cast nor reel in two rods at the same time. Therefore, just take one on the pier. On your own boat or a broad shoreline, you can put out as many lines as you wish. But, everyone needs space on the pier which isn’t but so wide and long. If you don’t own it, don’t take it over. Give the other person some room.
On that same note, avoid the temptation of casting in the spot where someone had just reeled in a catch. Chances are you’d be offended if someone started eating off of your plate, especially a stranger. Well, there is no better way to make an enemy than to cast in his (or her) spot. A better idea is to ask what bait did the fish hit. Also, get to the pier earlier the next day so that you can pick your place before anyone else.
A good pier will have places specifically for cutting bait. Please use them and not the railing that you happen to be standing near. No one wants to see your left over, sun-dried, weather fermented squid stuck on the railing after you leave. A good rule of thumb is to bring your own little board. It need only be a piece of wood that can fit in your tackle box or cooler.
It can be tempting to keep a slightly undersized fish. I have been to Buckroe and heard some of the worst cursing from anglers hauling up 17 inch flounder that were an inch short of being legal. But, playing by the rules protects the species by giving the fish more opportunities to breed. So the sacrifice is well worth it. Besides, game wardens are not the most pleasant people to deal with when you’re on the wrong side of the law.
I also recommend getting a tide chart as most fish bite with a moving tide. It’s a good idea to call ahead to someone who works at or lives near the pier to see what is biting and when. Pier fishing can be very productive or a dismal disappointment. But, a little consideration for the other guy can make it fun either way.