Fishing and shrimping can be great fun in Charleston’s waterways! But before rigging up your rod or baiting for shrimp, you’ll want to make sure you follow proper South Carolina fishing laws.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
* Purchase a fishing license: In order to legally fish in South Carolina, the state requires all individuals fishing to have an up-to-date fishing license. This can easily be obtained online on the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) website. If you are a RESIDENT of South Carolina you can purchase an annual Saltwater Fishing License and / or an annual Freshwater Fishing License for $10.00 each. A Shrimp Baiting License for residents of South Carolina is $25.00.
If you are NOT a resident of South Carolina, you can purchase an annual Saltwater Fishing License and / or an annual Freshwater Fishing License for $35.00 each (or if you are visiting Charleston for a brief period of time, you can purchase a 7-day Freshwater Fishing License for $11.00 or a 14-day Saltwater Fishing License for $11.00). A Shrimp Baiting License for a non-resident of South Carolina is $500.00.
* Review the SCDNR fishing rules & regulations: For all fishing and hunting regulations, visit the SCDNR regulations page at: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regulations.html
A guide to the aquatic wildlife found in Charleston, South Carolina:
Image to the left of a black drum taken from the SCDNR website.
Black Drum: A silvery-gray fish, the black drum averages 14 inches in length and usually weighs between 2 and 3 lbs. These fish can actually live to become senior citizens, reaching 60-years old!
The black drum is most abundant during the months between February and July, and can be found in saltwater, estuaries, and coastal rivers, and can also be found swimming through and around reefs, pier pilings, and docks.
The black drum is a bottom feeder, using their pharyngeal teeth to eat hard-shell prey, including mussels, crabs, and oysters (not a bad diet if you ask me!).
To fish for black drum you will need a saltwater fishing license. The regulations for catching black drum are as follows: 5 per person, per day at a minimum of 14 inches and a maximum of 27 inches.
Image to the right of a spotted seatrout taken from the SCDNR website.
Spotted Seatrout: Found in estuaries, rivers, and shallow bays, as well as along the shores of barrier islands, the spotted seatrout is a dark gray fish with several round black spots speckled along their backs and sides. They’re recognized for their two large teeth that line the upper jaw, and have two dorsal fins. These fish average 14 inches in length and usually weight between 1 and 2 lbs. Sadly for the spotted seatrout, they don’t live nearly as long as the black drum; in fact, they usually only reach between 8 – 10-years old.
In terms of the spotted seatrouts’ diet, they consume menhaden, mullet, mud minnows, and other small fish.
You will need a saltwater fishing license if you wish to fish for spotted seatrout. The regulations for catching a spotted seatrout are as follows: 10 per person, per day at a minimum of 14-inches. It’s also important to note that these fish can only be caught by rod and reel year-round, and in between the months of March and November they can be caught by gigging.
Image to the left of a blue crab taken from the SCDNR website.
Blue Crab: As its name would indicate, the blue crab does have variations of blue coloring along its legs and claws, but it’s body is usually a brownish green color. And, like many other animal species, the female is larger than the male, with male blue crabs averaging lengths of 5.5 inches and females averaging lengths of 6 inches.
With an average life expectancy of three years, the blue crab can be found throughout estuaries, shallow waters, oyster reefs, and bays.
If you’re interested in crabbing for blue crabs (which I highly suggest, as they are delicious!), you’ll need a saltwater fishing license. Regulations for crabbing for blue crab are as follows: minimum carapace width is 5 inches with no bag limit. There is a limit, however, of two traps / pots per person. **If a female is holding eggs, she must be immediately released with all eggs intact.
Subscribe to our blog to receive weekly updates on Charleston’s waterways, events / happenings, culture, history, and local personalities.
And for bi-weekly updates, subscribe to the Charleston Harbor Tours newsletter, The Charleston Harbor Chronicles.