by John Kirkland
The morning started out with hard rain, but the forecast showed clearing in the afternoon. We decided to try to get out to Palmetto Islands County Park, located north of Long Point Road between 526 and 17 in Mount Pleasant. The park lies in tidal marshes and creeks, and features fishing docks, kayak launches, and winding trails through the marshes and pine forest.
The rain cleared after lunch, and we headed to the park. $1 entry fee was collected at the entrance, and we wove through the gravel roads to park at the trail head you take to get to the fishing spots.
The walk takes about ten minutes, on level-ish ground and boardwalks, with thousands of tiny fiddler crabs scampering underfoot. I didn’t notice anything that would stop a wheelchair, necessarily, but getting there does require a bit of a hike.
Being midweek, there were very few others in the area. I saw one fisherman, with a very nice fishing cart, floating bait under a cork rig on one creek. He was the only other person fishing that day.
We were there so my wife could try crabbing with a hand line and dip net, using chicken necks for bait. My plan was to fish while she caught the crabs. Of course, neither of us had ever done any crabbing, so this was all new. I rigged the hand line and dropped it next the floating dock we were on, and handed it to my wife. Instantly, pecking and picking could be felt. Then tugging. She slowly raised the line up, and I tried to use the dip net to capture–a blue crab quickly swam away before I could get the net on him. This coordination would prove trickier than we had imagined. Several more attempts: nothing in the net. Then I took the line, and she took the net. Pecking, then hard, heavy tugging–raise the line–“Dip fast!”– and she got one in the net. Not a blue crab, unfortunately, but an ugly toadfish! We laughed, and threw him back.
She continued to try crabbing, and I rigged a shrimp on a single drop rig, and tossed the line toward the edge of the channel (we were on, I believe, Harris Creek). On the first cast, a hard, bait cleaning hit. Second cast, I hooked a fish, landed it, and it turned out to be another toadfish (pictured). These are voracious little bottom feeders, with a serious chomp and sharp little teeth made for slicing and ripping (they look eerily like small human teeth). I unhooked and tossed him back, and managed to catch only a pinfish (small bait thief) after that.
We didn’t manage to leave with anything for dinner, but it was a good time. My wife is not much for fishing, but she enjoyed crabbing for a while.