Monday, April 4, 2011

Using Lures from A Pier.

This is another article that was originally published on a previous incarnation of and I dug it out today because it won't be long until fish start running in the surf. I can't wait! It was also posted on my other blog , Surf Fishing for Beginners this morning. I think it deserves some space here on Something's Fishy too!

Fishing with live bait isn't your thing , eh? Have no fear freshwater angler , there are plenty of lures that will produce fish for you from the surf or from a pier. Just keep in mind that many of the aggressive saltwater species that will readily bite artificials have razor sharp teeth and often feed in large schools , so we'll have to get you set up accordingly.

In this article , I'm going to focus on catching Bluefish and Spanish Mackerels from a pier , because these are two species that are often found together around a lot of the piers here on the East Coast. The best time of year for Bluefish is debatable since larger Blues are often caught during the cooler months , but for your best chance at catching both Bluefish and Spanish Mackerels , I recommend trying sometime in July or August. Both species are hard fighters and fast swimmers that feed most actively when the water is fairly clear with a good number of baitfish present. Bluefish and Spanish Mackerels both have a single row of sharp teeth along their upper and lower jaw and are capable of decimating an entire school of bait fish in minutes. Small bait fish are known to beach themselves rather than face a marauding school of these predators during what saltwater anglers call a " Blitz " , which is basically a feeding frenzy.

To get started catching these toothy critters , you'll need a basic seven foot , medium heavy action bass rod. Something that you have used to fish jigs or soft plastics for bass will work perfectly. Use the heaviest line your reel will handle , or even some of the newer braided line if you're using a smaller reel. Bluefish and Spanish Mackerels are both capable of biting through most fishing line so you will need a leader. Not just any leader will work for what we're trying to do here. The bulky steel leaders that you can buy for certain types of fishing will drastically reduce the number of bites you will receive. Most saltwater anglers use an eighteen to twenty four inch length of 40-50 pound test fluorocarbon or monofilament.

Attaching this leader to the main line is where things get a bit more complicated. You could use a swivel , but it might adversely affect the action of the lure. You could also tie a loop in the leader and the main line and use a handshake connection , but that's just bulky and doesn't cast well if it has to pass through the guides. For years now , I have you used the Albright and the Reverse Albright knots , because they both make a strong , compact knot. These knots are easy to tie with a little practice and will stand up to a lot of abuse. You can find out how to tie the Albright Knot here.

To tie the Reverse Albright , double the main line to about 10-12 inches and begin by wrapping it around the leader like this :

Continue wrapping the doubled line around the leader for a total of 10 to 12 wraps. It should look like this when you are done :

Next fold the short side of the leader over the wraps and through the loop like so :

Now moisten the line and pull it tight. You should have a Reverse Albright knot that looks something like this when you're finished :

When tied correctly this knot shouldn't slip , but if you have trouble you can tie a " lock " on the main line by looping the tag end and wrapping it around the main line 4-5 times and pulling it tight. Trim the tag ends close to the knot. Now we're ready for a lure and some fishing!

These aggressive fish will hit a wide variety of artificial lures. My favorite to use from a pier is the Gotcha Lure. These lures are a staple of saltwater fishing here on the East Coast and are available in a wide variety of colors. The most popular colors are red/white , chartreusse/white and pink. You can attach this lure to your line using your favorite knot for terminal tackle , but I recommend using a Palomar knot.

I fish these lures from the end of the pier , usually on the North side. Cast them out and retrieve them quickly with short jerks of the rod tip to produce a " Walk the dog " presentation that is deadly for Bluefish and Spanish Mackerels. Be prepared for powerful strikes and fast paced action because these aggressive feeders will often go after your lure in groups of 10 or 12 fish and try to take it out of each others mouth once one of them is hooked. Most importantly have fun!

Tight lines!



  1. Back in the day, we used a white bucktail type lure for Mackerel, off the pier. Since it was "back in the day" I can't remember what it was made out of, but we tied our own. Seemed to work pretty good as I recall. Blues were always a chunk of Mullet in the Fall.


  2. Mark,

    There are a ton of different ways to catch both species , but the Got-Cha's will always be my favorite. Did you guys ever use tandem bucktail rigs? They are kind of a regional thing , popular out here like the Got-chas. I always recommend the Got-Chas for people new to saltwater fishing - they are a nearly fool proof bait , where the bucktails take a little bit more finesse.

    Thanks for stopping by!


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