- Sports and Recreation
Saltwater Pier Fishing On Jekyll Island Pier
The Jekyll Island Pier
Although Jekyll Island--one of Georgia’s beautiful Golden Isles--is primarily known as being the setting for the Jekyll Island Club, once the most exclusive club in the world, it also is a prime fishing spot for those of us who wish to enjoy a leisurely and economical day of fishing. Besides, the Georgia State Record flounder was caught from this very pier.
Pier fishing is great for all members of the family because of easy accessibility, safety, restroom facilities, refreshments and fishing tackle, all close to hand. Don’t let anyone fool you, there are plenty of fish to be taken around the pier and on the adjacent beaches if you like to try pulling a seine.
We caught several species of fish during the two afternoons we visited the Jekyll Island pier, not to mention, plenty of blue crab and several nice stone crab too. We unloaded out gear at the entrance to the pier and only walked 30 or 40 feet to a spot we--my wife and I--both agreed looked promising for both of our preferred fishing methods.
Not Just A Fishing Pier!
Getting To the Pier
Since we were staying at the Jekyll Island Campground, we merely had to drive across the road to enter the quarter mile entrance road along beautiful marshes to reach the pier.
There are wonderful spots to picnic and nature trails to follow for those who don’t want to fish. There is all manner of wildlife to see along with the natural beauty of the site.
The first thing I noticed when I approached the parking area was the multitudes of mullet going around the point and directly under the pier close to shore.
I couldn’t wait to cast my net for both large mullet to smoke or small mullet to use for live bait. I would tire of throwing the net and catching mullet before my two days were over.
In the meantime, Beth had hit the jackpot with her crab basket catching both blue and stone crab. She was joined by several other ladies and they all seemed to enjoy their impromptu “crab and gab” party.
No kidding, you meet some great people while pier fishing which often leads to seeing them again on later visits to the Jekyll Island Pier as well as to the campground.
Since we love both camping, fishing, and history this is an ideal spot for us to visit as often as we get the chance.
Fishing, Friends, Flounder, and Fun!
I met a couple of guys on the pier who I quickly fell into conversation with while we fished and shared a few beers. I had cast my net numerous times already and had a cooler full of big mullet (Beth neglected to tell me this was our beverage ice DOH!) but none small enough to use for live bait.
My new friend Steve offered to let me use some mud minnows he had caught in a trap earlier, so I was happy. I am almost embarrassed to buy live bait since I love to throw a net, it’s a manthing-o my wife tells me. I just tell her I like to live off of nature’s bounty. “Yeah right” she says. But the word “cheap” was never mentioned.
The flounder, trout, sheephead and whiting were biting well and an occasional shark was hooked as well. One lady even caught a flounder in her open basket crab trap. Because the mullet were teeming in the area, there were a few folks pulling a 50 ft. seine on Driftwood Beach, which is adjacent to the pier, and having great success at their venture.
Pier Fishing Essentials
Required Bait and Tackle
The type of fishing gear required for pier fishing depends on what type of fishing you plan to do. I would suggest always using a steel leader when pier fishing because of the barnacles on the pilings and because most saltwater fish have very sharp teeth. It is very frustrating to lose a nice fish when the leader is cut or abraded and the line separates.
At least 20 lb. line is recommended as well as plenty of weight as the tides here can be very strong when going in or out. If you are capable of throwing a cast net it is possible to catch not only live bait of mullet or shrimp, but eating size fish too. A 5’ or 6’ ft.--10’ to 12’ diameter when open--cast net is plenty big.
A floating minnow bucket or battery powered aerator will come in handy for keeping your minnows or shrimp alive until you hook that monster flounder while casting around the pilings. Sheephead and red drum are often caught using fiddler crabs dropped right by the barnacle covered pier pilings.
Another handy item to have is a landing net for hoisting the fish from the water after successfully getting the fish to the pier. Both flounder and spotted sea trout have soft mouths and are often lost when trying to lift them to the pier using only the fishing line. I should know, I learned this lesson the hard way!
Crabs are easily caught in the shallows using a round open crab trap or a box type basket with escape holes for the smaller crabs. Both blue and stone crabs are caught in these waters with the stone crab having one claw removed and returned to the water to grow another until caught again. This same crab may furnish many such delicious claws during its lifetime.
But the Jekyll Island Pier isn’t just for fisherman and crabbers, there were a few folks simply enjoying the day in the shade as they played dominoes and downed a few adult beverages. Other sightseers meandered along the pier or watched excitedly as I pulled in net after net filled with huge mullet after a particularly large school swam under the pier.
The Jekyll Fishing Center--located near the foot of the pier--not only furnishes bait and tackle, but books several different types of fishing trips in the area. It’s great to be able to buy more ice as well as, bait and snacks without having to walk very far, as is the case in many salt water pier situations.
After we had fished a while, Beth went back to the campsite and returned with Ally, our beloved Jack Russell, who proceeded to charm the other anglers as is her forte. Being a particularly smart dog, she didn’t seem very interested in examining the big crabs up close.
Just before sundown more cars and trucks began to arrive in the parking area. The sunset watchers were coming to stand their vigil as the sky turned from blue to gold and on to a vivid orange as it glowed through the massive Sydney Lanier cable bridge in the distance.
It seemed to be a ritual which we heartily agreed with. What better way to end a perfect day of fishing, crabbing, and talking with fishing friends as the sun slowly painted the skies as no artist could.
Although no one can always guarantee fish on any fishing trip, I believe if one picked his time and tides right he would have a good chance at catching a few fish of some kind on this pier. And if you don’t catch anything?
So what, the beauty of the ocean and unsullied wilderness surrounding the Jekyll Island Pier, and the friends you may make, is well worth the trip. A win-win situation, in my opinion.