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Getting ready for pier fishing - a few questions


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I fished the piers for salmon for the first time last year, without any luck - well I had one hookup for about 5 seconds.  The salmon were definitely there - jumpers everywhere most times I fished. 


Looking back at my notes, from the beginning of the run in mid-Sept to mid Oct, I fished Summerville 6 times, Charlotte 2 times, Webster twice, and Oak Orchard once.  I tried various times including 8pm-2am, 4am-8am, and 10am-2pm.  I throw about 8 different 3/4oz Cleos (glows at night) - fan casted with varying retrieval speeds.   I'm looking to increase my chances this year, so I reviewed the Fishbrain catches from the Genny piers from the last 3 years.  Understanding that the sample size isn't that large (28 data points), here are my observations:


  • Most of the catches occur between midnight and 8am, with a majority of those occurring in the few hours before sunrise, leading up until just after sunrise.  Understood that there may be some self-selection because specific Fisbrain posters may only fish at certain times.
  • Most of the catches occurred on just a handful of days in the main 4 week salmon run.  I wasn't there on any of those days and didn't see anyone catching fish on the days I was out there.
  • Of the pictures where I could see the water in the background, it was very calm


As I am semi-retired I have flexibility in my fishing times.  That said, I would prefer daylight hours.  Here are a few questions:


1) As trolling anglers mostly fish during the day in the spring/summer, are these pre-spawn/staging salmon more easily caught in the dark for some reason?  Should I just stick to night time hours this year?

2) I'm going to add some J-13 fire tiger rapalas and #6 Vibrax spinners to my repertoire this year, will this help?

3) Can anyone think of anything else I can improve on?


Thanks in advance!


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1) Night is usually better for the pier in my experience, but guys catch them in the daytime successfully too. Early in the run, it depends a lot on different factors like cloud cover, wind speed and direction, water temperature, water clarity, etc. Of these factors, I'd argue that water clarity and temperature are the most important. Dirty water with poor visibility never seems to be as productive for me, and too warm of water temperatures also create a tough bite. As the run progresses into October and more fish come in close, you can pretty much go out there whenever and catch them as long as you're patient. 


2) Yes those are good salmon lures and will catch fish off the pier, but they're not the best for distance. Often, the longer the cast, the more water you cover and the more likely your lure is to pass in front of an angry fish. But if you feel fish are in very close to the pier, start chucking those. Also, you noted you use Cleo's in different glow patterns, but if those aren't working, try some other glow spoons. Moonshine brand casting spoons are super popular for pier casting now, and several other spoon types also come in glow patterns (ko wobblers, kastmasters, krocodiles, yecks, just to name a few). 


3) Focus on getting out as much as possible. It varies considerably day to day. One night everyone on the pier will be hooking up left and right and the next night, fish will be jumping everywhere and not biting for anyone. It's a guessing game sometimes, and the best pier guys go all through September into October functioning on little, if any sleep. Everyone gets skunked out there eventually too so don't get discouraged if a guy next to you is hooking up and you're not. Your time will come. Hope this helps. 

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Thanks Corey. 


In general, do the fish concentrate in one area of the water column over another?  Or is it too hard to predict and I just need to vary my depths as much as possible. And yes, it was definitely frustrating to watch fish jump hour after hour (within casting distance) and not get a single hit on some days.  I definitely felt like we were being taunted, lol.



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