As the sun rises over the Atlantic, dozens of anglers line the Jacksonville Beach Pier. It's Saturday morning, and the king mackerel are running along one of the most popular fishing piers in Florida.

Reels scream as the voracious school tears through the fishermen's bait. The fight is fast and furious as the toothy kings fly over the rail. One gent in faded overalls stuffs several two-footers into a cooler and guzzles the last of his coffee.

"That's it for me," he says, packing his gear into a converted shopping basket. "It's time for some breakfast."

In earlier times, most of the nation's piers were the provenance of industry, but nowadays they largely serve the interests of tourists and anglers — although a number of them no longer exist, savaged by ruthless storms that snapped their sturdy timber supports like toothpicks.

Here is a look at five of the best fishing piers across the country.

1. Jacksonville Beach Pier, Florida

Nearly a quarter-mile long, the Jax Beach pier offers visitors close-up ocean views and anglers access to deep-water species as well as migrating kings and bluefish. Other species commonly hooked here include trout, pompano, cobia, flounder, drum and redfish.

The pier is outfitted with fish-cleaning stations, a concession area and bait shop. Fishermen pay $4 and spectators just a buck, but there's no requirement for a Florida saltwater fishing license.

Contact: 904-241-1515,

2. Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, Florida

When the new Sunshine Skyway Bridge was built over Tampa Bay, connecting St. Petersburg with Sarasota, the old bridge was turned into Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, the world's longest fishing pier.

Anglers love being able to park their cars or campers at their favorite fishing spots. The bridge is lighted at night, so fishermen can see to rig a line and bait the hook. The lights also attract many species of fish after sundown.

Common catches include, tarpon, snook, sea bass, grouper, Spanish and king mackerel, sheepshead, cobia, pompano, red snapper and more. Concessions include snacks, drinks, bait and fishing supplies.

Fees are $4 per vehicle, plus $4 per adult and $2 per child (6-12), while the sightseeing fee is $3 per person. No license is needed as the state maintains a fishing pier license that covers all anglers.

Contact: 727-865-0668,

3. Oceanic Pier, Maryland

Handy to major population centers such as Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, Oceanic Pier offers 24-hour angling for a wide variety of Atlantic Ocean species, including stripers, shad, bluefish, sea trout, tautog, flounder, croaker, sea bass and others.

No license is needed, and a 12-hour pass goes for $8, a three-day pass for $20, and a weekly pass is $35. Concessionaires provide snacks, drinks, bait, tackle and rental rods and reels.

Contact: 410-289-2602,

4. Galveston Fishing Pier, Texas

The Gulf of Mexico offers some of the nation's most outstanding fishing and the Galveston Fishing Pier is a great place to wet your line in quest of a long list of good-fighting (and great-tasting) fish. Notable here are huge bull redfish, measuring up to 50 inches. Other common catches include whiting, trout, black and red drum, sheepshead and Spanish mackerel.

All anglers 17-plus need a license, available at Walmart or online at Fish all day for $12, $8 for seniors/veterans and $6 for kids 5-12 years old. Bait and tackle are available, and there's a full-service restaurant Jimmy's on the Pier serving southern-style seafood, tacos and burgers.

Contact: 409-974-4383,

5. Monterey Municipal Wharf II, California

On any given day, Monterey Municipal Wharf II provides enough action to satisfy the most avid of anglers. Surf perch and pelagic schooling species such as sardines, Pacific and jack (Spanish) mackerel are the most common catch. Other species routinely hooked from the pier are rockfish, flounder, lingcod, turbot and halibut.

No license is required, and there's no charge to fish. Parking, however, costs $1.50 per hour or $10 all day. This is primarily a commercial fishing pier, and facilities are limited to a couple of restaurants and a few restrooms.

Monterey's more famous Old Fisherman's Wharf, situated nearby, is home to numerous restaurants, shops and sport fishing landings. It's great fun to visit but for pier fishermen, Wharf II is the place to go.

Contact: 813-646-3950,