How to Land a Big Fish on a Pier

How to Land a Big Fish on a Pier
Heavy rod and matched reel
Big game mono filament fishing line (or similar)
Basket net with line


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Pier fishing provides a unique fishing experience and is well suited to a wide range of ages and abilities. Although only basic equipment is needed to successfully hook a fish, landing the fish can potentially be a different proposition. A fish suspended in the surf many feet below a pier can easily be lost if the proper technique is not used. Avoid the potential disappointment of losing a great fish by planning and including the right equipment for the job so that the big one does not get away.
Step 1
Plan ahead for situations requiring the hoisting of a large or very active game fish from the surf. Consider methods such as a gaff or basket net attached to a long length of line. Assemble your equipment before heading to the pier and make sure you have planned for various contingencies.
Step 2
Play a hooked fish before reeling from the water. Allow the fish to play or run so that some of its energy will be expended. A tired fish will be much easier to reel up from the surf. However, be careful and guide the fish away from pilings as this is a potential means for the line being cut and losing the fish.
Step 3
Reel in the line using a smooth and steady motion. Attempt to keep the tip of the rod a level as possible. Excessive movement or bouncing can cause the line to snap during the retrieve. Also try to keep the line and fish from swinging to avoid having the line snap as it contacts the pier pilings.
Step 4
Raise the fish over the side of the pier. When the fish is just below the top of the rail, raise the tip of the rod, move backward and lift the fish over the rail and onto the pier. Use a smooth and steady motion when lifting the fish up and over the rail to avoid snapping the line.
Step 5
Drop a basket net into the water. Scoop the fish with the net or lift the fish with the rod and place it into the basket. The fish can then be retrieved up and over the railing with a greatly reduced possibility of loss.
Step 6
Reel the fish up to a point where a long handle gaff can be used to hook the fish. A gaff is sharp hook on the end of a long pole. If releasing the fish is not a possibility, a gaff can be used to hook the fish and lift it over the pier railing.

Tips & Warnings

Fishing with a partner is not only enjoyable, it also makes landing big fish much easier. A team working together may often times be much more successful than an individual when landing a big fish on a pier.
Be aware of tightly stretched heavy mono filament lines with hooks and lures attached. A thrown lure can slingshot up and potentially cause injury.
Also use caution when gaffing a fish. Make sure partners or bystanders are well out of the way.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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