Pier fishing enthusiasts in the Charleston area have two divergent opportunities. For traditionalists, there is the Folly Beach Pier, which juts out more than 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.
For a different type of pier fishing, there is the Mount Pleasant Pier, which reaches 1,250 feet into Charleston Harbor near the confluence of the Cooper and Wando rivers. Both piers are managed by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (ccprc.com) and offer outstanding fishing opportunities.
One of the bonuses from the construction of the Ravenel Bridge was a successful inshore fishing pier. The town of Mount Pleasant made an appeal to the S.C. Department of Transportation to use the land where the old bridges were located on the East Cooper side of the Cooper River as a public park.
A pier, utilizing pilings from the old bridge, was envisioned as a place for visitors to walk, bike and jog while enjoying views of the harbor. That it turned out to be an outstanding place for fishing was a bonus.
Rubble left behind from the demolition of the old bridge serves as an inshore artificial reef and attracts redfish, trout sheepshead and a variety of other species.
“Trout fishing is starting to pick up. You should target the incoming tide, the first two to three hours after dead low tide, and use live shrimp or artificial shrimp like the DOA, Billy Baits and Bass Assassins,” said Mount Pleasant Pier Manager Chris Pounder.
“As the water warms, you will see more and more redfish along the grass lines. You can catch reds on cut mullet, live mud minnows and live shrimp.”
Sheepshead are year-round residents and can be caught fishing fiddler crabs straight down near the pilings. Pounder said flounder can be caught fishing mud minnows or live shrimp along the bottom on the incoming to mid tide.
“If you have little kids and just want to bend a rod, use small hooks and small pieces of shrimp,” Pounder suggested. “Pinfish, croaker, whiting and spots practically jump over the rail.”
At the Folly Beach Pier, general manager Mark Patrick said there will be lots of whiting, bluefish, pompano, spadefish, black drum and trout caught. He said at the end of the pier, king mackerel will begin showing up as the water temperature rises.
“For bait, most people use fresh or frozen shrimp,” Patrick said. “The best tide is generally two hours either side of high tide, but there’s really not a bad time. Most fishermen use the two-drop bottom rig with the weight on the bottom or a Carolina rig (a sliding sinker and single hook). You want to fish just beyond the breakers, not all the way at the end of the pier.”