The following article appeared in the South Carolina State Sports Guide. Download the full guide below.
If you watched any of the College Baseball World Series or the Little League World Series, you probably noticed the number of participants saying they enjoyed fishing.
A 2016 Special Report on Fishing shared that 46 million Americans ages 6 and up are “united by a love of fishing.” An encouraging note was that female and youth participants were the majority of newcomers to the general fishing population. The report also shared that freshwater remains the most popular form of fishing, attracting more than 37.7 million participants. Saltwater fishing is second with 12 million participants, or 4.1 percent of the population.
Against this backdrop, there are reasons teams and families visiting South Carolina should experience the state’s waters. First, through sports tourism, more boys and girls along with friends and families are visiting the state. Second, South Carolina is unique that no matter where you play, there will be good fishing nearby.
In the upstate, there’s great stream and lake fishing. Through the midlands, the lake and river fishing is abundant. On the coast, there’s a mix of river, inlet and ocean fishing. If you were to get up early, you could fish a cool mountain stream for trout, lake fish for bass, river fish for catfish, fish for flounder in the inlet and catch a charter for grouper all in a day.
Before going much further, here’s some basic information on fishing licenses in South Carolina. First, no child under 16 years of age is required to obtain a fishing license. A freshwater fishing license is required for adult (16+) non-residents. A saltwater recreational fishing license is required unless fishing on a licensed public pier or, fishing from a hired license charter vessel. Nonresident Freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses are $11 each, good for 14 consecutive days. To purchase a license online, or to get further information, go to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources website at dnr.sc.gov.
Coastal South Carolina is a honey hole of fishing opportunities. Ocean surf fishing may be right out your accommodation’s front door. Adults now need a saltwater license to surf fish. If you find the right spot, there’s some good eating fish to be had. In saltwater, you may not want to use your own equipment.
There are plenty of stores where you can get the equipment you’ll need.
From North Myrtle Beach to Hunting Island State Park, there are piers stretching further into the ocean than you can cast from the beach. Often, there’s equipment to rent and some grizzled locals available to share a few secrets of pier fishing with a visitor. Remember, no license is required for pier fishing. In the Myrtle Beach area alone, there are seven piers ranging from the Cherry Grove Pier in North Myrtle Beach to the Pier at Garden City on the south end of the Grand Strand. Other notable saltwater piers are the Old Pitt Street Bridge that connected Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island. Memorial Waterfront Park in Mount Pleasant stretches into Charleston Harbor. Folly Beach Fishing Pier is the second longest on the East Coast. Hunting Island Pier is the furthest south of South Carolina’s piers. Apache Pier in the Myrtle Beach area lays claim to the longest wooden pier on the East Coast.
If you’re looking to get on some ocean water, there are options. For larger families, groups or just a parent and the kids, consider a Head Boat. Depending on whether you book a half day, or a three-quarter day trip, a Head Boat will often take up to 70 passengers from three to 20 miles into the ocean. Head Boats usually include in their per person price all fishing equipment, bait and a crew to ensure a good fishing experience. Individual charters running from almost every South Carolina marina with ocean access provide an even more personal saltwater fishing experience for smaller groups and families.
There’s great bass fishing in South Carolina lakes and rivers. Lake Hartwell in the upstate is bass happy. The Darwin H. Wright Park in Anderson has a fishing pier to access the waters. Like every strong fishing lake in South Carolina, there are guides available to identify the best spots. Lake Marion, South Carolina’s largest lake, is a premier freshwater fishing destination. Lake Murray, like Lake Hartwell, does more than just host big-time professional fishing tournaments. Locals and visitors are pulling bass, crappies, bream and catfish from its waters.
Lake Moultrie in Berkley County, has become a star destination for bass fishermen. Lake Greenwood in the county with the same name has a reputation for good catches in spring, summer and fall. Lake Monticello in Fairfield County, gives anglers a chance at both smallmouth and largemouth bass. The Santee River has prospered and become noted as a great bass destination with strong catches in 2015, 16 and 17. Lake Thurmond in McCormick County, is an excellent black bass fishery with good numbers of largemouth bass being caught. The lake borders two Georgia counties, also.
Some of the best trout fishing can be found in South Carolina’s upstate. The Middle Saluda River flows through Jones Gap State Park in Marietta. Look for some wild and native brook trout. The Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River offers the best trout angling at the Elliott Rock Wilderness Area accessible through the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery in Mountain Rest. The East Fork of the Chattooga River is just as promising. In Salem you’ll find Lake Jocassee. Be careful, you just might catch a record-breaking brown, or rainbow trout. Chauga River in Walhalla requires a hike into the backcountry. The reward is good fishing and a fabulous landscape. The Lower Saluda River below the Dreher Shoals Dam on Lake Murray is popular for rainbow and brown trout.
You can be assured that no matter where your event takes you in South Carolina, or the season you visit, there are fishing opportunities nearby. Pack your tackle or get some gear when you arrive. Either way, check with your South Carolina event host for the best fishing spots, or visit online at DiscoverSouthCarolina.com.