Sponsored by: Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission
On any given day, you'll see people lined up on Mount Pleasant Pier, their fishing lines dangling from the sides, waiting for a tug from "the big one."
Fishing requires a minimal investment, explains Chris Pounder, manager at Mount Pleasant Pier, which is run by the Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission. Anybody can fish, he says, so you don’t have to be an expert to get started.
Pounder answers some common questions about how to get started fishing and why both Mount Pleasant Pier and Folly Beach Pier are great places for the novice fisherman.
What kind of equipment do I need?
An inexpensive fishing rod ($25 to $40) is best for new fishermen and can be purchased at any local tackle shop. Both fishing piers rent rods for $10 a day, which is a great option to giving fishing a try without buying a rod.
When it comes to equipment, Pounder says the biggest mistakes people make is using a hook that’s too big. Smaller hooks actually increase your chances of catching a fish. That’s a good tip for those fishing with children, who are less concerned about the size of the fish and just want to reel in a catch.
"Kids just light up at the sight of anything coming out of the water," Pounder says.
What kind of bait do I need?
Pounder recommends frozen shrimp because it’s easy to cut or break into pieces. Purchase some at a tackle shop or the fishing piers for about $5.
What’s the best time of day for fishing?
You can catch a fish just about any time of the day, but live through one Lowcountry summer and you know the middle of the day in July or August isn’t all that pleasant. Pounder suggests fishing in the early morning or later in the evening. The piers are open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dawn or dusk combined with an incoming tide can be very productive fishing times.
What’s the benefit of pier fishing versus in a boat?
Pier fishing is inexpensive and it doesn’t require the full-day commitment of going out on a boat. At both Mount Pleasant and Folly Beach piers, a fishing pass is good for the entire day so you can fish in the morning, leave for lunch or enjoy the rest of the park and then return in the evening for more fishing.
How do I get a fishing license?
Both Mount Pleasant and Folly Beach piers have commercial fishing licenses, so when people fish with a pier fishing pass, they are covered under that license. If you’re fishing elsewhere, you need to purchase a state fishing license through the S.C. Department of Natural Resources online at www.dnr.sc.gov/purchase.html or at local tackle shops. Resident freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses are $10 each and valid for one year.
Can I keep any fish I catch?
The piers follow S.C. DNR regulations so certain fish have to be released and some rules are based on the size of the fish. For example, the red drum (also known as the spot tail bass) was overfished, so DNR has protected that species. Fishermen can keep any red drum 15 to 23 inches, Pounder explains, but outside of those sizes, the fish must be returned to the water.
Both piers have fish identification charts and rulers to guide fishermen in what they can keep and what they have to release. Staff members are always available to answer questions.
Are there any important safety tips?
Saltwater fish all have teeth, Pounder says. So don’t grab them by the mouth like you might a bass from your backyard pond.
Whether you've fished one time or a hundred times, everyone is invited to enter the County Parks' fishing tournaments. Now through October, there are monthly tournaments for all ages. Entrants simply purchase the daily fishing pass and pay a $5 entry fee. Prizes are awarded for adults, ages 12 and under, female anglers and those age 60 and up. Prizes include gift cards from Haddrell's Point Tackle, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Domino's Pizza plus T-shirts donated by Charleston Cotton Exchange.
Fishing offers a chance to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful views from the Mount Pleasant and Folly Beach Piers. And, Pounder points out, it's a great family activity. He grew up fishing with his grandfather and his mom. One of his fondest fishing memories was the time he and his brother headed out fishing the day after his grandfather passed away. They needed to clear their heads and fishing seemed the perfect escape.
That day they caught red drum, trout and flounder. "It was one of my most productive days fishing," he says. "It’s something my brother and I will never forget."