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

Bob Gillespie Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.
More from "Bob Gillespie"
Man holding fresh catch fish.
No need to make up fish tales when you cast in South Carolina waterways.

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 where you'll find fishing trends, maps, programs, catch-and-release regulations and more. You can also get info on ways to purchase a fishing license. For immediate fishing fun, purchase and print a license here.  

Ready to cast your line? Here's where to snag fresh catch on your next South Carolina fishing adventure:

Coastal

Three men with rod and reel shore fishing on the ocean.
Casting lines into the surf is a favorite pastime on SC beaches.

The SC coast has an endless list of communities where deep-sea fishermen can depart to plumb the Atlantic Ocean, from Myrtle Beach and 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

Fisherman on lake holding catfish.
Lake Marion offers anglers the chance to catch trophy-size fish like this 40-pound blue catfish.

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

Men in boat fishing on lake with sun setting.
Fisherman cast as the sun sets on Strom Thurmond Reservoir.

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

Trout fisherman wading in rocky stream with poles.
SC rivers and streams make for great trout fishing.

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 SC ponds here and SC trout fishing here.

Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.