South Carolina is a state that benefits from its lower elevation because rivers from the North Carolina flow through it like so many tourists on the way to the coast. Man-made lakes and salt marshes dominate the landscape and provide the angler with hundreds of miles of playground.
Then there is the South Carolina coast’s many outstanding piers and harbors that assist fishermen in their quest to land giant trophies like bull redfish and blacktip sharks. The jetties that protect Charleston Harbor are thought to be the most fruitful artificial reef on the east coast because of the abundance and diversity of marine life therein.
From end to end, South Carolina is one of the top fishing destinations in the country for anglers young and old.
South Carolina Freshwater Fishing
In the heart of South Carolina is a 41-mile long, 14-mile wide striped bass paradise called Lake Murray. Its 50,000 acres are stocked every spring. The lake also has largemouth bass, white catfish, perch, and crappie. The state record for white bass was caught here. Launch your boat at Dreher Island State Recreation Area public boat ramp and treat your family to a great day.
Fishing at night for stripers is popular in the very hot months of July and August when the fish are down deep during the day looking for cooler waters. Get a headlamp and some jigs and prepare for a productive night under the stars. In the other months, trolling with plainer boards and top-water lures keeps the almost 30 full-time striper fishing guides on Lake Murray busy.
Sister lake to Murray is Lake Marion nearer to the coast of South Carolina. Maybe it should be called its father lake because it is the largest lake in the state, more than double the size of Murray at 110,000 acres.
Also man-made, Lake Marion is home to the Santee National Wildlife Refuge and is fished mainly for crappie and largemouth bass. It is also home to many other species such as bream, catfish, and perch.
March and April are prime months for crappie fishing because they are spawning. Versatility is key as crappie constantly move between shallow and deep water. Fish jigs and jigs tipped with minnows in 10 to 25 feet of water for the best chance of success. And keep moving to keep up with the crappie migration.
None of the fishing in South Carolina could be possible without its rivers and the Pee Dee is one of the most productive. A literal catfish heaven, the Pee Dee slowly crawls towards Winyah Bay for 230 miles. Flathead and giant blue catfish grow to record sizes in the lazy water by hiding under rocks and fallen cypress trees.
The Pee Dee borders the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge and empties into the abundant salt marshes around Georgetown, South Carolina.
South Carolina Saltwater Fishing
Just outside of Georgetown, the congruence of the Pee Dee, Waccamaw, Black, and Sampit rivers creates the fertile Winyah Bay. Home to miles of salt marsh and the distinct funky smell of the paper mills, Winyah is home to redfish, speckled trout, tarpon, black drum, and flounder.
Perhaps the only place in the world where it is possible, locals in Winyah Bay have figured out a way to troll for flounder out of a kayak. “Flounder Alley” in North Litchfield is famous because anglers can troll plastic shrimp behind a kayak to entice flounder off the bottom to take bait almost off the surface. This technique works with a fly rod too, which makes for a truly unique experience.
Cherry Grove Pier is a historical landmark that you can fish off of. Built in the 1950s, it has weathered many hurricanes to stand firm off the coast near Myrtle Beach. Bluefish, king and Spanish mackerel, pompano, drum, sheepshead, and flounder patrol the area around its famous pilings.
Kids also enjoy crabbing off of the Cherry Grove Pier as well as the other activities and tasty treats that line its weathered wood; a true family destination.
The world record tiger shark was caught off of Cherry Grove Pier in 1964. Weighing in at 1780 pounds, it remains the only all-tackle record catch in the state of South Carolina. The record still stands today.
In the shadow of the steeples of the Holy City sits the Charleston Harbor. Fishermen from all over the world come here to tempt fate and do battle with the many monsters that lurk below the Ravenel bridge.
Giant bull redfish, jack crevalle, cobia and summer tarpon are just a few of the species that could define your lifetime of angling or ruin your day. Don’t scrimp on equipment when preparing to do battle with any of these beasts as they are adept at exploiting any weakness.
During the summer months in the salt marsh surrounding Charleston Harbor, flood tide fishing for tailing slot redfish is popular among the locals. It takes a full moon or an approaching storm to push water onto the grass flats where fish can gorge themselves on fiddler crabs without the fear of predators.
Skinny water boats or kayaks are needed to get anglers into the shallow water where they can either push-pole or wade in search of that iconic spot tail poking up in the grass.
Protecting the Charleston Harbor are jetties which are believed to be the greatest artificial reef on the east coast for fishermen. In addition to the typical fare of red drum, flounder, trout, and sheepshead; spinner sharks and black tips top the ecosystem and will put on a show for any fisherman that dares to tempt them with bait.
An Angler’s Playground
All of the exquisite fishing in South Carolina is connected by rivers. Nowhere is the dependent ecosystem more evident than in the Palmetto State. First-timers and trophy-hunters alike will not be disappointed by a fishing adventure in South Carolina. The hardest part about fishing in this state is choosing where to go.