Fishing around pilings

SC McCarty

Well-known member
A lot of fish may be found around the pilings, but the same things that make pilings attractive to fish, make them hazardous to tackle. What are some ways to maximize effectiveness, while minimizing the risks? For example, should I limit rigs to a single hook?

Are there any tricks to encouraging a fish, that has wrapped around a piling to swim back?


Ken Jones

Staff member
One of the main areas I fish is around pilings since perch are one of my favorite fish. I keep the tackle simple, a high/low with two small hooks and a torpedo sinker. Try to see what it looks like down by the pilings before you drop your line and then drop the line down slowly, even by hand if needed, to make sure where it is placed. Most important, keep the rod in your hand. You should be able to feel every nibble or bump by the kelp and act acciordingly. If a fish swims into the kelp be patient and often they will swim out. If you're impatient you may tangle the other hook with the kelp or tangle your sinker. Rarely do I lose a fish to the kelp but it can happen. I also carry a hoop net with me and if you do tangle with the kelp you may be able to net both your fish and the kelp; just be careful.

If I am fishing on the bottom in a rocky area, I will limit the rig to one hook. I have also done so at times if the current around a piling is really gnarly and pushing the kelp around too fast.
Sight fishing mid depth pilings use to be my specialty, when bait fishing for perch. I used a short mostly stiff spinning rod with a soft tip (maneuverability) and a fast (speed and operation) spinning reel. (I'll try not to give up all the secrets.) So, you would watch and learn how your line behaves in the current and the wave action so you dont get stuck all the time. The trick is to try and keep your bait steady enough for the fish to notice and eat your bait. It's almost like playing a game, actually.

Single hook and a splitshot, for a more natural presentation but hi low works too.