Inshore fishermen along South Carolina's coastline target flounder, redfish, seatrout and sheepshead more than any other species, and they're catching all of these from the Mt. Pleasant fishing pier.

The pier is unique among South Carolina piers in that it doesn't stretch into the surf of the Atlantic Ocean but puts anglers in the calmer waters of the Cooper River just off Charleston Harbor. Built in the shade of the US 17 Ravenel Bridge, this pier is a big hit for many Lowcountry anglers.

Steve Gaddy of Mt. Pleasant fishes the pier on most weekends with his kids, all of whom are having luck with these four species. Gaddy said anglers pursuing redfish are having success at high tide around the grass at the shallow end of the pier, while fishermen targeting flounder and trout are having the most success in the mid-depth ranges. One of his sons, Logan Gaddy, recently took the lead in the 12-&-under division of the pier's annual Summer Fishing Challenge, with a 1-pound, 11-ounce speckled trout that fell for a live mullet.

Gaddy's neighbor, Rich Aulner is known locally as a sheepshead specialist. He's been catching a lot of good sheepshead lately on the pier, including an 8-pounder a week ago. While fiddler crabs are the preferred sheepshead bait of many anglers, Aulner said fiddlers catch more puffer fish and small sheepshead than anything else. He pursues the crafty bait thieves with mussels and barnacle clusters.

With barnacles, Aulner threads a hook through a cluster and barely exposes the hook point. With mussels, he uses needle-nose pliers to break a small hole, then inserts the entire hook until just the eye shows. With the point buried inside, sheepshead must inhale the bait and crush the shell.

"When people use only the meat, sheepshead can suck it off the hook undetected, but when they have to crush the shell first, it is much easier to hook them," Aulner said.

Using No. 3 Owner hooks, 20-pound Berkley Big Game mono, heavy rods and beefy baitcast reels with 6-to-1 gear ratios, Aulner favors fishing the incoming tide.

"The mussels and barnacles around this pier aren't available to the fish at low tide, so they rush to them as the tide starts coming in. They're hungry, and if you're using the right bait and technique, you can catch some big ones here," Aulner said.

The 1,250-foot long pier has a store with a full grill, and it sells several types of frozen bait. The pier has ample parking, bathroom facilities, and plenty of seating. It does not, however, have its own rod holders, so Aulner and Gaddy bring homemade rod holders and mount them with industrial-strength velcro straps.