Do You Need A Fishing License To Fish Off A Pier?

pier with clouds

Fishing is one of the top sport in the USA. It is relaxing, fun, recreational and best of all you can source food from the sport. Fishing can be done at the lake, ocean, bay, shore or at angled areas like the pier, dock or wharf.

Most people have wondered, “is it okay to go out fishing on a pier without a license?” Yes, you are definitely allowed to fish from a public pier without a license, but, there are certain regulations you will be required to follow while fishing.

In this article, you will be enlightened about everything you need to know about fishing from a pier. The regulations, the tools, and equipment you will need to carry and safety measures you should take while fishing. As an added bonus, you will also find a few tips below on how to catch a fish while fishing at an angled position.

Fishing off a pier

Most state and counties allow local residents to fish off the pier as a sport and recreational activity. As most people may not have boats and jetties to use to go fishing, this option has aided then to enjoy the sport at budget-friendly costs. Of cos not everything is free, you will be regulated to a certain number of equipment to carry among other things that will be highlighted below. People over the age of sixteen are also allowed to go fishing at the pier without a license, that is mostly seen in California. Some people may be asking themselves, “ what is a pier?”. This is a raised structure over water supported by either piles or pillars. The water below flows underneath it making it a suitable spot to fish. The good thing about fishing from a pier is the ability to reach specific depths that one may not reach if you went fishing by the shore.

One negative effect about it is the fact that the water may be extremely polluted and the noise around may scare off the fish in the water making it hard for you to catch a fish. But no worries, there are a few tips to help with that.

bird and rod at pier

Regulations observed at the pier

As mentioned above, fishing may be free of charge but it comes at a cost. Below is a loss of a few of the rules and regulations to be observed.

  • You are only limited to two rods or lines, 2 hand lines or nets and two other equipment for taking crabs.
  • No outside alcohol is permitted, except what is purchased from the pier restaurant.
  • No loud music, profanity, or rude behavior.
  • No jumping from pier or standing on pier railings.
  • No inline skates, skateboards, bicycles, or other devices that may cause harm to the pier decking.
  • No open flames, including lanterns, stoves, and grills.
  • Non-open flame grills are allowed.
  • No fireworks.
  • No vandalizing or destroying any public/private property located on the pier.
  • No expressing mannerisms or actions that are offensive or detrimental to the peace and good order of the operation of the pier.

pier with clouds

Equipment used for fishing

Before heading off to fish, there are certain items you may want to carry with you.

  1. Fishing rod or pole. It is best to use a conventional spinning rod about 12 to 50 pounds tested to show good resistance strength of the pole. But that is for light fish. For the heavier kind. You can get a fishing rod about 6’ to 9’ from Amazon. The Okuma Tundra glass spinning rods which are highly recommended for durability, reliability, and comfortability. It has a one year warranty and its corrosive resistant.
  2. Sinkers or weights. The pyramid weights and egg sinkers come in handy while fishing. You can place baits at the bottom easily. A good choice would be the south bond egg sinker from Amazon also. It has a great drop weight of about 1 oz.
  3. Bait. You will not be catching anything without this. Pass by the bait shop and get some blood worms, shrimp, squid, anchovies or sardines. Live bait can also be ideal although may be unlawful in your county Be sure to check.
  4. Hooks. The bigger the fish you want to land, the bigger the hook. But ideally, j- hooks work best for pliers fishing.
  5. Scissors. For cutting through the fishing line.
  6. Knife. Used to cut the bait to the right size or to filet the catch you just landed. You can carry your own knife or buy at a fishing supply store.
  7. Hemostat/ pliers . This is used to remove the hooks of the fish you caught.
  8. The tackle box to carrying your equipment easily.
  9. A bucket for placing your fish after you have caught them.
  10. Picnic chair for comfort as you wait to catch a fish. It can get really exhausting waiting for the fish, so a seat wouldn’t hurt.
  11. Saltwater spinning reel. A good option is the Daiwa Opus. It comes corrosive resistant, ball and roller bearing and extra heavy action in salt water. You can get it from Amazon as well.
  12. Ten to 15lbs of monofilament fishing line. The Berkeley Trilene big game is strong and extra tough for pier fishing. It is also reliable and abrasion resistant. Available on Amazon.
  13. Circle hook rig. Used to hook.
  14. Bridge net. The Frabil 36 inch is heavy duty and pre-rigged with 50 inches of rope.
  15. Fishing cart with front wheels. A good choice is the fish and mate junior cart from Amazon. Has quality craftsmanship with pneumatic tires for easy maneuverability and parts for attachment during the outdoor recreation.

A First aid kit is also advisable to carry. Make sure it has waterproof plaster, sterile dressing, and a cleaning agent.

Where to buy fishing equipment

Generally speaking, a fishing shop will do, but you can source online like at Amazon, a bait and tackle shop and supply store.

Types of fishing at the pier

You can fish any style you want at the pier. You could do;

  • Bottom fishing – this is fishing for those species below. You can catch a red drum, black drum, flounder, Whiting or croaker at least twice.
  • Free lining – this is where you allow the bait to naturally drift with the current down and under the pier.
  • Floating – this is where you float at a certain distance to catch specific types of fish that swim at a certain depth. A good example is the sea trout.

Safety rules while fishing at the pier

Everywhere you go there will always be matters and measures of safety. As for the pier. It is best to follow all the rods on a pierrules and regulations handed to residents at the location of the pier. Do not under any circumstance, cross or hand over the fence, wire or structure protecting you from falling off to the water. No jumping on the water is a given, always ensure you check on date and time limits for access to fishing at the pier. Some seasons are not advisable to fish, and finally, do not leave any young child unattended over the pier as they may fall into the water. In case you have not participated in this sport or you would generally like to know and get better at it here is a few information you would be delighted to know.


  • Because it is an angled type of fishing, you don’t have to learn or cast while fishing, you can just drop the bait in the water and wait to hook a fish. It is actually less strenuous.
  • Carry a specialized hoop net or pier gaff to be able to lift your good sized from the pier. It would be disappointing to not be able to land a big fish you just hooked.
  • Speaking of big fish, you can easily land a big fish at the pier by double hooking your rods, place bait on the longer lighter rod and once the bait is taken by the fish, you can fight with the bigger rod. A multiplier will play a good role in this as they are best for fighting and holding heavy lines.
  • You can also use live baits for trying to catch fish. It is very easy to work with and has good outcome especially with the big fish like the blues, mackerel, and king mackerel.
  • Always check the tide when younger fishing. The best pier fishing phase tide is early stages of flooding and ebbing tides.

Related Questions

Where can I get a fishing license?

To be on the safe side, you may decide to get a fishing license to cover you when you are unsure about the area you are fishing. You can get yourself a fishing license from the county tax collector’s office, online or a bait and tackle shop. Take a look at our page that has all the fish and game sites, and you can order a license straight online.

If I hook a big fish while fishing from a public pier, can I land it from the beach without a license?

You can only land the fish if you have a valid license to avoid potential citations, and law breaking.

How many rods am I permitted to use from a public pier?

The regulations may be different between different counties but the general law states that only two for the hand lines, rod, net, and lines, is allowed.

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

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