September is a great month to catch quality fish off the Mt. Pleasant Pier in Charleston Harbor, and the hot bite lately has been redfish and sheepshead.
Mt. Pleasant's Gerry Grenier is an avid pier fisherman; he said the trick to staying on the fish is to be flexible.
"Most pier anglers set up shop in one spot and stay there the whole time," Grenier said.
At full high tide, Grenier said the section of the pier closest to the shore is a good bet as the redfish move into the spartina grass. Grenier has been catching reds on Billy Bay shrimp and has also had luck with fiddler crabs.
At dead low tide, Grenier tries his hand at the deep end of the pier where he catches redfish and sheepshead. He uses fiddler crabs for both species, but said you have to weed through a lot of toadfish to get to the gamefish.
Grenier's favorite time to fish is either on the incoming tide or outgoing tide.
"I like the incoming slightly better, but the outgoing is good as well," said Grenier, who spends these sections of the tide cycle fishing more in the middle section of the pier. "I watch the footings of the pier closely. On a moving tide, I know the sheepshead and redfish will move from footing to footing."
Grenier isn't talking about every piling, but the rectangular sections under a few pilings that form ledges. These footings are encrusted with barnacles, which attract sheepshead, and they also hold small baitfish which attract redfish.
Grenier will sight-cast as the water approaches, then covers, these footings. He uses an Abu Garcia baitcaster with 15-pound mono tied to a ball-bearing swivel, with a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. He uses a half-ounce sliding egg sinker above the swivel and finishes the rig off with a No. 6 or No.8 heavy-shafted hook.
"This hook is much smaller than a lot of folks use, but it hides inside the fiddler crab well, and it penetrates the mouths of sheepshead and redfish easily," said Grenier, who has caught double-digit sheepshead on this rig as well as redfish over 30 inches long.
When sight-fishing, Grenier looks for sheepshead working the barnacles, and when he spots one, he casts his fiddler crab upcurrent of the fish, then uses the medium-powered rod to surf the bait into place, positioning it at just the right spot to entice the fish. He will also blind-cast deep under the pier, between the pilings. Again, he uses the light rig to surf the bait until he feels the weight touch bottom, then waits for a bite, repositioning the rig if no action occurs. He uses these same techniques on the outgoing tide.