Kayak Fishing the Charleston Jetties
Kayak fishing the Charleston Jetties in particular the north wall I would rate it as an intermediate skill level for a kayaker here in South Carolina. The easiest launch is from Station 22 on Sullivans Island. Launching from the beach is not that difficult as the waves at this area are not the size that surfers are looking for. When returning to the beach after a day of fishing at the north jetty wall you will need to still be aware of your surroundings as the waves help push you to the beach in particular the large amount of swimmers and waders. This distraction will provide you the opportunity to flip in the surf as the waves push onto the beach. My Bending Branches Angler Pro is my key to launching but of more important in returning to the beach.
Going through the surf out to calmer waters with my Jackson Kraken and the Bending Branches Angler Pro makes the process very easy. This lightweight paddle by Bending Branches makes my trip to the jetty way which is about a mile and half to the jetty; for some great bull redfish, sheepshead, black sea bass, shark fishing and maybe if you are lucky a tarpon; the Angler Pro does not put a strain on my body as a heavier paddle would.
I prefer to fish for sheepshead out at the Charleston north jetty wall. Besides my fishing gear, Orion 25 qt Cooler and a pint of fiddler crabs. The fishing gear for sheepshead is a Okumia Convector CV20-L mounted on a Shimano Tescata Medium Power with Extra Fast action to be able to detect that bait stealing bite that the sheepshead has. A sheepshead bite really isn’t a bite but a sucking in action that crushes the fidder crab’s dedicate body, then the convict will blow out the external skeleton and then another sucking in action. The general rule is if you feel anything funny or you slightly lift the rod tip and suspect a snag the odds are that you have a potential sheepshead on the end of your line; so set the hook. Here is Charleston a sheepshead rig is normally a Carolina rig with a 1.5 – 2 oz egg sinker on top of a plastic bead on the main line with a barrel swivel. The leader material is a fluorocarbon leader between 20 – 30 lb class with a snelled 1 or 1/0 hook at the end of the leader about 8” long that is attached to the barrel swivel.
Once at the jetties you will need to paddle close to the rocky wall as this is the home of the sheepshead as they eat the barnacles, fiddler crabs, shrimp and other crustaceans that hide among the rocks. A word of caution at this point is to pay attention to the current and wind. When concentrating on the very dedicate bite of the sheepshead you might not notice till you are almost on top of the rocks. I would suggest not getting any closer than 8 feet to the rocks once you start feeling uncomfortable paddle backwards away from the rocks and start fishing again. Using fiddlers you will have the opportunity to also catch black drum, redfish, and black sea bass. I will keep a few fish especially the sheepshead and black sea bass. This is where my Orion 25 qt Cooler comes handy being out at the jetties; I would not recommend using a stringer for the opportunity for a shark to decide to have your catch for their meal.
When fishing is done you have the long paddle back to where you launched. Keep in mind as you get closer to the starting point you will need to secure any loose gear that you don’t what to donate to Davy Jones’ Locker when surfing into the beach. A tip when coming in is to use your paddle to brace into the wave as this will not cause the wave to get under your kayak. This will result in rolling the kayak and a high risk if your equipment is not secured to be lost in the surf.
If you follow these tips your kayaking and fishing adventure to the Charleston Jetties will be successful for adding some delicious fish on the table and your reentry to the beach will be eventful.