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How to Catch Redfish from a Pier

how to catch redfish from a pier

Redfish are one of the most popular inshore fish to target from piers. Almost every coastal area has at least a few good fishing piers and you can almost always find redfish nearby.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a boat. Sure, it’s a lot of fun to stand on the deck of a boat and sight fish redfish on the flats, but there are always fish ready to be landed from piers, beaches, or other structure.

I’ll give a short summary of what to do, then I’ll go into details about the basics.

Catching Redfish from a Pier

To catch redfish from a pier, equip yourself with the proper equipment and bait. A simple spinning rod and reel setup is fine. For bait, try to match what the fish are naturally feeding on. In warmer months, go with live whitebait. In cooler months, cut bait or lethargic live bait often works best.

That’s the short, TL;DR answer. Realistically, you need a lot more detail than that to get started.

Let’s move on to the nitty gritty.

Bait for Pier Redfish

Recommending one bait for catching redfish on a pier is difficult. There are a handful of good options that work well under the right conditions. Time of year is a big factor in determining the optimal bait, along with water depth, structure, etc.

In spring and fall, my pier redfish bait of choice is always live whitebait fished on the bottom. Either rig up a weight or simply cut the tail off of a baitfish. Cutting the tail will keep the fish alive just enough to twitch around without making it to the top of the water.

In the summer, I like to fish live whitebait, crabs, or shrimp. This is the easiest time of the year to just mix it up and see what works.

Fall is when the big boy redfish come in from offshore to spawn. This time of the year, I really like to fish big live baits on the bottom, crabs, and big pieces of cut bait. Half of a big mullet or half of a lady fish are often right on the money for catching the bull reds.

Winter is the most restrictive month for choosing the optimal bait. The fish are more lethargic and will often spend less energy chasing around bait. It’s usually hard to beat cut bait during this time of the year. Live bait on the bottom works too.

If you want to use artificial bait on the pier for redfish, my top choices are always soft plastics. You can work them on the bottom, around pylons, or outward from the pier.

Also, don’t discount the power of deadsticking an artifical Gulp shrimp. If you can get past the pinfish and catfish, you can catch a lot of redfish by simply throwing a Gulp out and letting it sit on the bottom. A lot of hardcore fishermen scoff at Gulp, but the results are usually hard to argue with.

Rod & Reel Setup for Pier Redfish

First of all, don’t let anyone convince you that you need something overly fancy to catch redfish from a pier. You really don’t. Obviously, it’s entirely possible to go with a cheap setup that can ultimately hurt your efforts, but you’ll be fine with almost any moderately priced rod and reel combo.


For your rod, you want to have something with a little bit of backbone. Unlike fishing the flats or open water, piers have all sorts of structure that fish will retreat to as soon as they’ve been hooked. It’s fun to fight fish with a light rod on the flats. It’s not fun to fight fish with a light rod on a pier.

Redfish are known for “digging” when you hook them. You’ll know what I mean as soon as you get one on the line. Rather than running for the surface, they will usually swim downward. They’re strong fish and they pull hard.

A flimsy rod will give the fish too much ground and keep you from properly controlling them around the pier’s pylons.

Also, fishing from a pier usually means fishing from high above the water line. This means that when you actually land a fish, you’ve got to pull it out of the water and up to your level. You don’t want a rod that will completely double over and bounce around when you’re trying to bring a fish out of the water.


Choosing a reel for pier redfish is a little more simple than choosing a rod. Basically, you just want to make sure that you’ve got something with a fairly strong, smooth drag.

When you set the hook on your redfish, that fish is likely headed straight for structure. Set your drag too light and you can kiss that fish goodbye. This is why you need to tighten that drag down.

Tightening your drag the right amount will allow you to control the fish instead of the fish controlling you.

When tightening your drag, it’s really a judgment call on your part. Lock your spool and pull the line. Adjust the drag until you feel that a redfish could only start taking more line when it’s pulling its hardest.

The proper amount of drag is going to keep your line from breaking when a fish takes a big run, but remember that your rod is also going to play a role here. Your rod should flex enough to take away some of the initial jolt before your reel kicks in to do its job.

Moral of the story is that when fishing from a pier, especially for a strong redfish, you want a rod and reel combo that is burly enough to pull something big away from structure before you get broken off. Everything happens fast when you’re surrounded by pylons, so give yourself a head start by having the right gear for the job.

Line, Hook & Tackle for Pier Redfish

Don’t overlook the importance of the right line, hook, and tackle. You can sometimes get away with the wrong stuff in open water, but not when you’re fishing on a pier. Tight quarters and too many other variables mean that the small details can affect you a lot.


Before you go any farther, you need to answer one question: Is the pier I’m fishing on surrounded by sharp barnacles, oysters, etc? If so, do yourself a favor and forget about using braided fishing line.

I prefer to use braid in almost every scenario, but not when I’m surrounded by anything sharp. Oysters and barnacles slice through braid like butter. If the pier’s pylons are covered in them, the last thing you want to do is let your braid rub against them.

Good ol‘ monofilament is your best bet if you’ve got sharp objects in the water. Mono does have some stretch to it, but that’s not too big of a factor in these conditions. If you’re not dealing with sharp/rigid edges in the water, go with braid.

For catching redfish around structure, I like to use a line weight around 40lbs to 60lbs, give or take in either direction depending on the conditions and size of fish.

Regardless of whether or not you use braid or monofilament for your main line, you’ll want to use a heavier flourocarbon leader. General rule of thumb is to pick a flouro that is somewhere around 20-30lbs heavier than your main line.


Don’t spend too much time worrying about hooks here. Best thing to do is to just keep it simple.

For live bait, go with something in between a 3/0 to 6/0 circle hook depending on the size of the reds. Circle hooks make it easy and they’re better for the fish. Instead of setting the hook hard, you simply pull it tight and reel.

Other Tackle & Equipment

It’s always a good idea to have some egg weights and split shots with you, but it’s not necessarily a must. If you’re fishing the bottom with cut bait, especially in fairly deep water or fast currents, just bring an assortment of egg weights. This will make sure your bait can actually make it down to the bottom.

I freeline from piers, but corks can work well too if redfish are aggressively feeding and you want to suspend your live bait in the water.

You’re usually fine without a net, but you may want to consider one if the fish are big or you’re elevated particularly high above the water.

A bait bucket is a must if you’re fishing with live bait. Just don’t forget a rope to tie it off to the pier!


Now that you’ve at least got some baseline info to work off of, you should be able to get out on a pier and catch some redfish.

As always, fishing is hardly a perfect science. Don’t take anything here as gospel. Sometimes you need to just start guessing until you find what works best. For example, if the fish aren’t biting cut bait, don’t let it keep you from switching to live bait in winter. Change it up until you hit jackpot.

Have fun with it! And make sure to comment to tell us what you caught! Pictures or it didn’t happen!