Winter is slowly losing its grip on the Lowcounty, and the fishing is starting to warm up at piers around Charleston, with bluefish and whiting showing up around the ocean pier at Folly Beach and plenty of different species hanging around the Mount Pleasant Pier.
Reports from Folly Beach Pier indicated that bluefish have been feeding around the end of the pier, and whiting have been closer to shore, in two to five feet of water, feeding mostly on a moving tide. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, jack crevalle, redfish, pompano, speckled trout and sheepshead should be along as soon as the water warms up a few more degrees.
Chris Pounder, the manager of the Mount Pleasant Pier, said, “With the water temperatures in the mid-60s, all species are starting to show up. Fishermen are catching bluefish, flounder, spotted sea trout, sheepshead and redfish.”
Pounder said that several reds over the slot, 30 to 35 inches, have been caught and released.
Gerald Grenier, aka “Jiggin’ Jerry,” has caught some big sheepshead in the last few weeks on the Mount Pleasant Pier, the biggest weighing eight pounds. Sheepshead are notorious for a light bite, but Grenier said you’ll know when you have hooked one.
Grenier uses live fiddler crabs, hooking them through the side and out the belly on a No. 4 octopus or mosquito hook. Grenier casts under the pier on a Carolina rig with 15- to 20-pound mono, a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader, and a ¾- to 1½-ounce sinker.
For redfish, Grenier said they are biting on the incoming tide as waters flood the grass. A variety of baits are working, including frozen shrimp and mullet, with the preferred baits being fresh cut mullet, pinfish and shrimp, or live shrimp and large mud minnows.
On the outgoing tide, Grenier starts working along the grass and follows the tide out. There is usually a 2- to 3-hour window for catching reds.
Grenier’s standard outfit is a medium-action rod with a reel that will hold at least 150 yards of 20-pound braid or monofilament and a Carolina rig. He uses a 2-foot leader of 20- to 30-pound fluorocarbon, a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook, and a 2-ounce egg sinker.
Grenier said speckled trout have finally started to show up, hitting cut pinfish or mullet fished on Carolina rigs.
As far as artificials, Grenier is throwing a 4-inch chartreuse or silver-flake jerk minnow on a ¼-ounce white or red jighead. Grenier casts the lure out and counts down three seconds before he gives the line three quick jerks and lets the lure fall before he jerks again. If that doesn’t work, then he lets the lure fall to the bottom and slowly drags the lure along the bottom.
Tournament season gets started with the Folly Beach Summer Kick-Off on May 17 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Mount Pleasant Pier’s first event will be the Kahuna on the Cooper tournament on May 3 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.