8 Tips To Catch Saltwater Fish From South Carolina Fishing Piers

By Ken Schultz

Feb 18, 2020

These tips about using bait and lures, and how to fish around structures, will help you capitalize on the good angling at South Carolina fishing piers

Benefits to angling on South Carolina fishing piers include the following:

  • They offer some of the best publicly accessible non-boat angling in the state;
  • They can be enjoyed at nominal cost compared to other types of saltwater fishing, as a moderate fee is charged to access piers built expressly for fishing;
  • A South Carolina saltwater recreational fishing license is not required if fishing on a licensed public fishing pier;
  • The atmosphere on piers is relaxed, with general camaraderie;
  • They provide an excellent family fishing opportunity for bottom-feeding species, and a good way to introduce children to angling.

Follow this link to piers by county in South Carolina. Here are eight tips to help you catch saltwater species from South Carolina fishing piers:

  1. The South Carolina fish found around piers are mostly attracted to them because they provide foraging opportunity. Prey species take up residence in and around these structures, and predators move in and out of them when tides and current make that forage more abundant or more vulnerable. As a result, the predominant activity is fishing with bait rigs; casting lures, though frequently practiced, is often less of a consideration at piers than it is when fishing from jetties or the surf.
  2. Although the upper structure of a pier may offer shade, it is the support pilings, which break current and are encrusted with organisms that attract small fish, that are especially important, so focus your efforts on these at least at first.
  3. The stage of the tide may have a bearing on whether it is appropriate to fish away from a structure or close to it. When the current is strong, some fish, flounder in particular, are more likely to be away from the structure, and when it is very slow or nonexistent, they may be under it or within a few feet.
  4. Some species, such as tautog and sheepshead, often feed extremely close to the pilings that support piers, bridges, and bulkheads. You've got to present your bait just inches from the pilings or concrete, and strike fast when you get a bite.
  5. At fishing piers in South Carolina, many gamefish take up a feeding station in the quiet water facing the current. If possible, situate yourself so you can make a cast to position the lure 20 or 30 feet up from where you expect the fish to be feeding. This enables you to work the lure and to swim it with the current to within range of the fish.
  6. If you don't receive strikes casting directly up-current, move to the left or right of where you think the fish are holding. Cast up and across at a 45-degree angle, with the lure dropping in past where the fish may be feeding. Work it across and down-current, within view of the fish.
  7. Lead-headed jigs are especially effective at South Carolina fishing piers. Lighter jigs often work well near the surface and the current will do tricks with them, permitting them to settle, be shifted to the side, and then swept toward the surface as they ease into the fast current. The addition of a soft tail enhances the action. Twitch your rod tip, and move it back and forth, ensuring that the lure resembles a struggling baitfish.
  8. Use a heavier jig to probe the bottom in swift water, whether fishing up- or down-current. Use the current to your advantage and always maintain control of the jigs’ movement.
Ken Schultz
Ken Schultz
Ken Schultz was a longtime staff writer for Field & Stream magazine and is the former Fishing Editor of ESPNoutdoors.com. He’s written and photographed nineteen books on sportfishing topics, plus an annual fishing tips calendar, and his writing has appeared on various websites for more than two decades. His author website is kenschultz.com