|Date: July 30, 2004
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Mola Joe
Subject: Fishing a pier the boater’s way.
I don't get a chance to drop in as much as I used to, but I still see the pier-boat report issue still going on, oh well. Anyway, pier fisherman can really take some tips from the boater crowd to push the odds in their favor. I see so many people set up shop in one spot on a pier and stick it out without ever moving, even though they haven't been bit the whole day. I know weekends can be rough on some piers as far as spots go, but it does pay to move throughout the day (if possible) if you're not getting fish. Can't count the number of times I've caught legal flatties on the first cast in a new spot after going fishless elsewhere. When it comes to halibut, boaters have it all over pier fisherman because of the amount of water they can cover on a drift. Tilt the odds in your favor by covering water on a pier the same way. One of the best pier halibut fisherman I knew covered water by casting and slowly dragging live baits all day from Hermosa Pier. During the week when crowds were off, he would cast out and walk 50 yards down the side of the pier with his reel in free spool, then slowly work his live bait back to him, just as a slow drift would be on a boat. He covered a lot of water all day and had halibut in the freezer all season. Yes, it's more work than just casting and hanging the rod in the holder, but if you seen the amount of legals he caught, you wouldn't mind. He would even nose hook frozen anchovies and drag them early in the season before live bait showed up and catch quality fish.
Chumming is another method that boaters do that seldom gets used on a pier. Chumming an area with crushed fresh mussel is a great way to get the perch to come to you when you're fishing a pier. For mackerel, you'll out fish everyone by throwing a small handful of cubed mackerel in the water and following it up by flylining a small mackerel strip right on top of it. Let your bait slowly sink with the chum and you're going to catch fish.
The last tip pertains to all kinds of fishing, from albacore to crappie, but isn't followed by enough people. It separates the rookies with empty sacks from the guys who catch fish more times than not. If you've ever fished a party boat for tuna, yellowtail, calicos, etc, there always seems to be a few guys catching way more than everyone else. This happens on piers and lakes as well, but shows more easily on sportboats that fish live or fresh cut bait. The reason these guys are catching more fish is kind of a catch 22 sort of speak. By catching more fish, they change bait more. By changing bait more often, they catch more fish. When I was a kid and first started fishing the sport boats, my dad had to tell me over and over to keep a fresh bait on. Not bit in 5 minutes, get a fresh bait. Of coarse you can't change bait every 5 minutes on a pier(not unless you have an endless supply) but no question you'll catch more fish with a fresh hot live anchovy, fresh piece of mussel, squid, etc. DO NOT bring in a chunk of mackerel that's been soaking all morning and throw it back out to sit for another hour just because it looks pretty good. Some old time halibut fisherman swear big halibut will not hit a live bait that has teeth marks in it from another fish. Not sure if it's true, but I change baits if it's been raked even though it's still alive. If you're going to invest the time and money to get to the pier and fish for the day, invest a few dollars more and buy another pack of bait so you can keep things fresh on the end of your line. Live bait can be hard to catch at times, but well worth the effort to keep hot lively baits rotating on your rods. Back when big bonito were common on local piers, the rods with fresh lively baits out got bit 10 to 1 over baits barely swimming. Which brings us back to the guy catching all the fish is changing bait twice as much as everyone else because he catching twice the amount of fish. Fresh bait = more fish = more fresh bait = more fish, and so on. Even sharks and rays prefer fresh over old. Keeping fresh baits on doesn't guarantee success, but over time will get you closer to that 10% of fisherman that catch 90% of the fish, whether you're on a boat, pier, or shore. Take care everyone.
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