Prime Time for Beach or Pier Fishing

By: “Shoeman”

Lake Michigan Pier fishingIt’s that time of year again. The Browns, Coho and Steelhead are staging near shore, creek and river mouths. This is when the boat-less fisherman can cash in on some real dandies fishing from the beach or pier fishing.

As the water temperatures near shore drop into the fish’s preferred range, we can take full advantage of their spawning and feeding urges.

Tackle requirements can be as simple as a bass rod or as complicated as specialized surf rods and high-capacity reels costing several hundred dollars.

Ideally, the longer the rod, the better. It keeps more line off the water and absorbs the initial hit and will allow you to fish with lighter leaders. Leaders and terminal tackle will be covered later.

Lake Michigan Pier fishingWe look for variations in depth, drop offs, sand bars, river channels and color lines from the river water. The fish have a tendency to relate to edges and will seek food and their preferred temperature. At times, the river water will be few degrees warmer than the lake itself, especially in the spring.

Fishing the beach is a game of patience. Low light hours are usually the most productive.

Some wave action is essential. The day after a good blow is ideal. Baitfish get washed on to the beach and browns will take advantage.

Simply wade out and try to cast between the second and third trough. Leave your bail open and walk back to the beach. Try not to allow too much slack in your line. Retrieve any slack line and wait. Check your baits often; sometimes the surf will foul your line with weeds and other flotsam.

Sand spikes are great for rod holders. It’s a tube with a length of rod attached. Simply push it into the sand at an angle facing your bait.

My preferred set up consists of a 9-11ft rod in a medium action with a reel that has a dependable drag and good line capacity is a must. Runs of 100+ yards are not uncommon.

Terminal Tackle

I go as light as the conditions allow. In early spring, I use 6lb. for a main line. In fall, the fish are bigger and full of vigor. 8lb. is my suggestion. Try to use a line with a low memory. Maxima Ultragreen is my line of choice. The stiffer lines will create too much slack and have a tendency to coil too much for my taste.

Lake Michigan Pier fishingI try to use a leader that is one size lighter than the mainline. In other words for an 8lb. main, I’ll go with a 6lb. leader. Leader length should be varied according to the situation. In clear water a longer one is need to fool these wary fish. Shallow water may require a shorter leader as well. 3-4 feet is a good all round length to start with.

Hooks should be of a good quality. Some guys use a small treble in a size 12, but if the weeds are in, a single hook in a size 4-8 works better.

I like using some type of a floating attractor in front of my hooks. Worden Bait Co. makes a neat little floater called a Lil’ Corkie. I won’t fish without it. They come in a variety of colors. Orange, chartreuse, pearl, silver and gold are my favorites. It adds some color to my bait and keeps it above the lake bottom. Small Styrofoam beads may also be tied directly into a spawn bag. I opt for the corkies though. It’s easier to apply the proper color, without tying additional bags.

For sinkers, use a pyramid type. It digs in and allows you to tighten your line better. Rig it free sliding. In other words, attach it to your mainline, either with the eye on the sinker, or with a snap swivel or a dropper above the barrel swivel going to your leader.


Spawn is probably the most consistent producer, although after a good rain, night crawlers will take fish. In the spring, smelt are tops. With spawn, tie different size bags, until you find the size that produces the best. Anywhere from a ½ dollar to dime size bags.

Fish like these are not uncommon.

Lake Michigan Pier fishing
Lake Michigan Pier fishing

See you in the surf.

“The Shoeman”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.