Fishing near pilings

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#2
There's no secret, you just have to understand what you are trying to do, be very careful, and have some luck. The main thing to remember is that fishing the pilings takes a lot of attention, you cannot simply sit your rod down and leave it to the current and walk away. I always am holding my rod when I am fishing around pilings and usually, depending upon the pier, am often guiding the line with my hand. If you feel the hook tangling in a piece of kelp or snagging on a mussel you must immediately try to work it free. Sometime it works, sometimes it doesn't.

The direction and strength of the current is of course important. When water is slack and there is no current it's easy to fish straight down and avoid tangles. The opposite is when the current is very heavy and water is crashing against the pilings. It can be almost impossible to fish the piling area in such conditions without some loss of hooks/sinkers. Unfortunately, slack water conditions with no current usually also means fewer fish since most species like some water movement with 2-4 foot of movement ideal for perch.

Most of the time there is a moderate current coming in and going out from the piling. You drop your rig on the side of the piling where water is pushing toward the piling so that it is near the mussels and other attractants. But, as said, you must watch and feel your line at all time. You can set up on the side of the piling where water is pushing it away, and have less danger of it going into the piling, but then for most of the time your line is being pushed away from the very place you are trying to fish.

The actual area I am fishing, the water depth, depends somewhat on where I am fishing and and species I am targeting. When fishing the central and northern piers I will generally start at the bottom to see if I get any bites. Gradually I will move the line up in 1-2 foot increments until I find some fish. The bottom may yield some rockfish or cabezon while various species of perch inhabit different water depths. If targeting the big pileperch you can usually just fish the upper water levels since that is usually where they are found. Down south I will often start at the bottom seeing if there are any bass, sculpin (scorpionfish) or even cabezon but most of the action will probably be mid-depth for various perch species.

Fishing the pilings seems easy but if you want to be successful, and you want to avoid losing a lot of rigs, you must be careful and learn the "feel" of what is going on. But, even then you will lose some tackle.
 

Mahigeer

Well-known member
#3
Adjust your weight according to the water movement. At least 2 oz. in calm and more if there is a surge.

Keep the rod in you hand. Use only one rod if pile fishing.

Be vigilant about the water movement.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#4
I would disagree with my friend Mahigeer on this one. I use torpedo sinkers around the pilings and rarely use more than a one-ounce sinker. I'll sometimes go to two ounces but rarely go above that. I think if the current is really strong, you're likely to lose your rig no matter the weight. Of course I do not like to use a heavy rod/reel around the pilings so most of the rods I use when fishing the piles would lose their "feel" with heavy sinkers.
 

Mahigeer

Well-known member
#5
I think the difference is the plus/minus 57 (1962-2019) years of fishing experience of Skipper, on how much weight to use.

The less weight and lighter rod, the more sensitive is the feel. More the reason not to leave the rod on the railing.
 
#6
Good info. Something to add is that I use a short 5’6” rod for control and a quick reel that I can operate in the fly.

One of my favorite types of fishing. Huge fall slab perch holding on shallow water pilings.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#7
Thanks for reminding me how old I've become. Actually they say you just have to get older, not old, but sometimes...
 

SC McCarty

Well-known member
#8
Thanks to all for your replies, especially to Ken for the in depth answer.

One more question for you Ken: Do you use a high/low rig or a single dropper to limit snags?

Steve
 
#9
I think this all depends on species of fish in the pilings. I have free drifted mussels for perch with no weight ,fished plastics for rockfish on a lght jighead,or used a light sinker for other species. I used to fish under the piers where I grew up. I'm too old now,and unfortunately the riff raff at my local pier mostly keeps me from going there anymore.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#10
SC McCarty, I usually use a high/low rigging unless there is really an over abundance of kelp. I switch to a single dropper when I am fishing the rocks, especially if the angle of the line in not straight up and down.
 
#11
I think this all depends on species of fish in the pilings. I have free drifted mussels for perch with no weight ,fished plastics for rockfish on a lght jighead,or used a light sinker for other species. I used to fish under the piers where I grew up. I'm too old now,and unfortunately the riff raff at my local pier mostly keeps me from going there anymore.
I’ve done the same. I’ve sometimes used a splitshot. I’ve even read how some old timers used bunches of small mussels as weight. I’ve tried it with medium mussels. It works. You get weird looks though.
 

Mahigeer

Well-known member
#12
The first time I fished the Santa Monica Pier was sometime between October 1970 and September of 1971.

I saw someone split a good size mussel without separating the two halves. Then two small treble hooks (one on each shell) was buried in the mussel meat. They were tied a to a unique rig. The rig consisted of two small treble hooks forming an upside down “Y” from the mainline.

The mussel halves were lowered to the bottom with no additional sinkers. Not unlike a plate offering of delicious bait.

I copied the setup and was rewarded with good size perch. Too far back to remember the actual species, but color green keeps coming to my mind’s eye!!!
 
I

ILYA

Guest
#15
I think the difference is the plus/minus 57 (1962-2019) years of fishing experience of Skipper, on how much weight to use.

The less weight and lighter rod, the more sensitive is the feel. More the reason not to leave the rod on the railing.
I am agree with Ken - one ounce weight usually more then enough. Very often half of ounce - the best choice. Over sensitive rod and rig very often are stimulating the premature seting of hook when fish didn't completely mouse the bait.