From the Coast to the Mountains, South Carolina Is a Fishing Fanatic’s Paradise

By:Bob Gillespie

Date:12/9/2016

Whether your favorite fishing involves crashing through the waves of the Atlantic, casting a line from the beach, cruising across a huge inland lake, wetting hooks in a pond or fly-casting in a roaring river, South Carolina has a spot (or several) where you can fulfill your favorite angling fantasy.


The Palmetto state is blessed with rivers, lakes, mountain streams, salt marshes and the Atlantic Ocean, all of which offer terrific fishing. It can be as simple as a fishing pole and worm, or as high-tech as you see on championship fishing shows.


Whether you're new to the sport or could cast a line before learning to read, a great place to start is the SC Department of Natural Resources website, which includes a detailed fishing guide and all the regulations you need to know about.


Here's what you need to know to catch all the fun on your next fishing adventure:


Where to fish

Coastal

The SC coastline has an endless list of communities where deep-sea fishermen can depart to plumb the Atlantic Ocean, from the Grand Strand in the northeast to Beaufort in the southwest, with such gems as Georgetown, Charleston, Edisto Island and Hilton Head Island in-between. Many marinas offer day and half-day deep sea treks out to the Gulf Stream. A vast array of species include dolphin fish, flounder, Red Drum, sharks and many more.


For beachcombers, lines cast into the surf can yield crab, shrimp, oysters, lobster and other shellfish, as well as shad, herring and other deepwater fish. Fishing from one of the state's many piers also has its advantages, with anglers scoring spots, sea trout, flounder and more.


Find more information on your favorite saltwater catch here.


Midlands Lakes

With 14 major reservoirs covering nearly 370,000 acres, South Carolina’s network of man-made lakes is a product of work by utility companies to generate power. The Santee Cooper Country map includes Lakes Marion, Moultrie and Murray; Lake Wateree and Lake Monticello north of Columbia; and other, smaller state lakes including Lake Edgar Brown (Barnwell), Lake George Warren and Webb Center Lakes (Hampton), Bonneau Ferry WMA Lake (Berkeley) and more. Bass and other freshwater fish are plentiful. Expect to find striped bass, small and largemouth bass, pumpkinseed, catfish and various panfish such as crappie and bream.


Upstate Lakes

Several large lakes dot the Upstate area, including several along the state border with Georgia, including Lake Hartwell, Lake Monticello and Lake Thurmond. To the east near Rock Hill is Lake Wylie, while Lake Secession in Abbeville, Lake Greenwood,Lake Keowee (Oconee) and Lake Jocassee (Pickens) are also favorites. Smaller lakes include Jonesville Lake, Lancaster Reservoir and Lake Cherokee in Gaffney. Expect to find small and largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish and pumkinseed, among others.


Find more information about fishing in SC lakes here.


Rivers and Ponds

South Carolina is crisscrossed with large and small rivers, from the Ashley and Cooper Rivers in Charleston, May River near Bluffton and the Edisto River (Orangeburg) to the Chattooga River flowing from the Blue Ridge Mountains near Oconee. And there are countless ponds across the state, both private and public, for a more relaxed fishing experience. In Upstate streams and rivers, fish for brook, brown or rainbow trout. The lakes and ponds offer excellent fishing for catfish, bass, crappie, sunfish, bream and others.


Find more information about fishing in SC rivers here and ponds here.


Fishing Licenses

If you're age 16 or older and fishing in public waters, you'll need to get a fishing license from the state Department of Natural Resources. You don't need a license if you're fishing in a private pond, on a licensed charter boat or from a licensed pier. Licenses can be bought for a two-week period or yearly, and SC residents can buy ones good for three years.


Getting a license is easy and can be done in several different ways:

Online

By phone at 866.714.3611

From one of more than 500 license vendors, which generally include hunting and fishing stores, tackle shops and other similar businesses.


Catch and Release

Certain species of fish, and others at certain times of year, are subject to catch-and-release regulations. The rules vary widely; to determine specific rules here.


Dos and Don'ts

Like most outdoor sports, fishing in South Carolina also has unwritten rules of behavior that true sportsmen and women know and obey. For newcomers to the sport, here are some general etiquette and safety guidelines:


1. Always respect private property. Get permission if you are planning to fish from it.

2. Be respectful of other people fishing. Give them adequate room to fish; there is space for everyone.

3. Never litter, especially with mono-filament lines. Birds and other animals can get tangled in it.

4. Report people violating fishing regulations.

5. Catch and release whenever possible. Don't keep fish you are not going to eat.

6. Use only barbless hooks on Delayed Harvest streams or if you are planning to catch and release.

7. Use steel split shot instead of lead. It is better for the environment.

8. Never keep a trout over 15 inches. Smaller ones taste better and returning larger fish to the stream ensures larger fish in the future, since they have good reproductive genes. Bring a camera and a way to measure your fish.

9. Flash flooding is common in sections of steep backcountry terrain. Be aware of the weather forecast before going. Never fish these sections alone.

10. When fishing tailwater sections, be aware of release schedules.

11. Wear belted waders to prevent the water from entering your waders should you end up going for a ride.

12. Because mountain stream and river beds are quite slippery; good felted sole wading boots with ankle support are a must.

13. Clean and dry your boots and gear between trips to stop the transmission of invasive species.

14. Always carry a first aid kit.

15. As you cast, keep an eye out for hornets’ nests in the trees over the water.

16. Always tell someone where you are going.

Related Content

Fishing Trips at Santee State Park
Sitting along Lake Marion, South Carolina’s largest lake, Santee State Park is one of South Carolina’s premier freshwater fishing destinations.
Learning to Fish in South Carolina
South Carolina is not only full of beautiful places for a family to go fishing, but all the instruction and programs you and your kids could need to learn to catch some marine treasures.
10 Great Fishing Piers in South Carolina
Whether you’re looking to haul in a catfish or king mackerel, you’ll find a fantastic array of fishing piers across the state to wet your hook.
11 Great Fishing Spots in South Carolina
Whether you enjoy trolling in a secluded pond, wading in the surf or fly casting in a mountain stream, you’re never far from great fishing in South Carolina.

Featured Products

City of Myrtle Beach
Coast

Myrtle Beach

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Myrtle Beach, the busy hub of fun-in-the-sun in the middle of the Grand Strand's 60 miles of gorgeous wide beaches, offers a dazzling varierty of entertainment, nature, h ...
City of Beaufort
Coast

Beaufort

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Coastal Living magazine has named Beaufort “America’s Happiest Seaside Town.” The publication notes that “Lowcountry friendliness and urban refinement strike just the rig ...
City of Georgetown
Coast

Georgetown

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
First settled in 1526 by the Spaniards, Georgetown was the first settlement in North America. The settlement failed because of a hurricane and Indian attacks and was late ...
City of Charleston
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Known as the "Holy City", for its long tolerance for religions of all types, Charleston is the state's most beautiful and historic treasure. Charleston has had a starring ...
Town of Hilton Head Island
Coast

Hilton Head Island

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Hilton Head Island is famous for its 12-mile stretch of glistening sands. But a visit to Hilton Head is more than just a day at the beach. The island has some of the best ...
Lake Marion
Midlands

Eutawville

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Lake Marion is the largest lake in South Carolina, covering 110,000 acres. It is known for its big fish and abundant wildlife. Public access is provided through several ...
Lake Murray
Midlands

Irmo

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Lake Murray is a 50,000-acre man-made lake in the Midlands of South Carolina. It is operated by South Carolina Electric and Gas Company and is known for striped bass fish ...
Lake Moultrie
Coast

Moncks Corner

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Lake Moultrie is a 60,000 acre man made lake operated by Santee Cooper. It is known for large fish and abundant wildlife. Public access is through public boat ramps, a ...
Lake Wateree
Midlands

Lugoff

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Lake Wateree is a 13,250 acre man-made lake operated by Duke Power Company. It is known for crappie, bass, catfish and bream in one of South Carolina's oldest man-made l ...
Lake Monticello Reservoir
Midlands

Jenkinsville

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Offers picnic shelters, fishing, boat ramp and other water recreational activities. The Fairfield Recreation Commission operates a park at the lake. For information on th ...
City of Gaffney
Mountains

Gaffney

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
In 1803 Michael Gaffney established a store where two Indian trails crossed. The store flourished and soon a resort hotel was built near Limestone Springs. As the settlem ...
Lake Secession
Midlands

Abbeville

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Lake Secession is a 1,460 acre man-made lake operated by the City of Abbeville. It is formed from the Rocky River and several creeks. Public access is through a public ...
Lake Greenwood
Midlands

Ninety Six

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Lake Greenwood is a 11,400 acre man-made lake operated by Duke Power Company through a lease from Greenwood County. Public access is available through public boat ramps, ...
Lake Keowee
Mountains

Six Mile

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
Lake Keowee is a 18,372 acre man-made lake operated by Duke Energy. It is known for its mountainous surroundings. Public access is available through a variety of public b ...
Lake Jocassee
Mountains

Salem

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
Lake Jocassee is a 7,565 acre man-made lake in the South Carolina mountains. Formed by the Whitewater, Thompson, and Toxaway Rivers, it is known for its mostly undevelop ...

Featured products and attractions in "From the Coast to the Mountains, South Carolina Is a Fishing Fanatic’s Paradise"

Nearby Attractions

  • {{item.name}}