The South Carolina State Parks System features world-class fishing opportunities from the mountains to the coast. In fact, more than 40 of the state’s 47 state parks offer fishing opportunities, making the Palmetto State a premier place to catch fish.
From the Atlantic Ocean westward to reservoir lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and more, South Carolina’s state parks offer easy access to fishing spots, including shore and boat options. “All of the state’s regions have great places to fish,” says Barnwell State Park Manager Eddie Richburg, who runs the parks system’s “Ask Ranger Richburg” program to answer fishing questions online. “You can catch everything from trout, stripers, large and smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie, a variety of catfish and too many saltwater fish to name.”
In addition to answers to questions through “Ask Ranger Richburg,” the opportunities for fishing enjoyment and success in South Carolina’s state parks are enhanced by a variety of unique offerings and programs for fishermen. These include extensive website resources and guidance through SouthCarolinaParks.com and DNR.SC.Gov the state’s free Fishing Tackle Loaner Program at 30-plus locations (mostly state parks), fishing licenses (generally required, except at Myrtle Beach State Park pier), tagged fish reporting, state records, camping and cabins, the “Ultimate Outsider” program (given to those who visit all 47 state parks) and varied fishing tournaments held in and near state parks.
Here are 10 top fishing spots in South Carolina’s state parks from the coast to the mountains:
Myrtle Beach State Park: One of four oceanfront state parks in South Carolina, this popular park is great for surf and pier fishing for flounder, Spanish and king mackerel, whiting, trout, spots, drum, blues and more. As with anywhere in South Carolina, a South Carolina fishing license is required for surfcasting. At the pier (daily fishing admission for those 6 and older, with rental tackle and bait for sale), a fishing license is not required. Just down the coast, Huntington Beach State Park features excellent surfcasting options.
Edisto Beach State Park: Surf fishing in Edisto State Park can be rewarding, as can fishing in the salt marsh for flounder, whiting, spot and more. There’s also a boat ramp on the western boundary of the park that provides access to Big Bay Creek. The park’s bustling Environmental Learning Center is a great place to learn about fish and more around Edisto Island and the surrounding ACE Basin.
Santee State Park: Sprawling Lake Marion features superb freshwater fishing for largemouth bass, striped bass, bream, crappie, catfish and more. August’s Big Daddy Fishing Event has been held for more than 40 years and features varied fishing events for children ages 12 and under.
Lake Warren State Park: Largemouth bass, bream, redbreast, catfish, crappie, and more can be found in 200-acre Lake George Warren, as well as the park’s two-acre lake. Two boat ramps provide access to the larger lake (boats are limited to 10 horsepower), and there’s also a floating dock and fishing boat rentals. May’s Little Buddies Fishing Program is also for kids and is much like Santee State Park’s Big Daddy Fishing Event.
Barnwell State Park: Crappie, bluegill, catfish, largemouth bass and more can be caught in Barnwell State Park’s three small lakes, where there’s also a small fishing pier and nonmotorized fishing boat rentals. Plus, Ranger Eddie Richburg is also currently based there for expert advice in the flesh. Barnwell State Park is one of 16 South Carolina state parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Dreher Island State Park: Located on 12 miles of Lake Murray shoreline and featuring three boat ramps for private boat access, Dreher Island State Park hosts several species of bass (including largemouth and stripers), catfish, bream, crappie, yellow perch and more. Fishing tournaments are big-time at Dreher Island, including 2017’s Forrest Wood Cup, which will take off from the park in August and is considered one of professional fishing’s biggest events.
Lake Greenwood State Park: With direct access to 11,400-acre Lake Greenwood, two boat ramps and a fishing pier, this CCC-built park is yet another great freshwater fishing destination.
Chester State Park: The park’s 160-acre lake features bass, bream, catfish and crappie fishing, as well as a fishing pier that spans across the lake and provides access on both sides. Brush piles have been sunk under the pier to provide habitat for the fish—and excellent fishing. There are also fish food dispensers to attract the fish. Those with their own boat can launch on the lake to fish, as long as fishermen use an electric trolling motor.
Devils Fork State Park: Along with 7,500-acre mountain spring-fed Lake Jocassee, Devils Fork also features four mountain streams featuring world-class trout fishing opportunities. The crystal-clear water is also home to white bass, small and largemouth bass, bluegill and black crappie. Other state parks in the Upcountry also feature great freshwater stream fishing, including Caesars Head State Park and Jones Gap State Park.
Lake Hartwell State Park: Located on the South Carolina-Georgia border, 56,000-acre Lake Hartwell features striped, largemouth and hybrid bass, crappie, bream, catfish and more. There are two boat ramps, and Lake Hartwell is one of a few parks in the state that offers unique single-room camper cabins.