The East Coast of the United States is blessed with some fantastic year-round fishing opportunities and South Carolina is no exception to this. With over a dozen lakes, beautiful rivers, and hundreds of thousands of saltwater marshes, not to forget the Atlantic Ocean, South Carolina is a state of endless fishing opportunities.

While it may feel like you can go fishing year-round in South Carolina, and let’s be honest, you can, your chances of catching your target species in peak seasons will be much higher. Catching fish in South Carolina is one thing, but catching your target species is the whole point. To avoid going home empty-handed after a long day of fishing in South Carolina, we prepared this comprehensive guide to South Carolina fishing.

In the following South Carolina Fishing Seasons guide, we’ll cover:

If you love fishing and you’re planning a destination fishing trip, be sure to check out New Jersey Fishing Seasons: Your Comprehensive Guide! It covers everything you need to know in order to plan the perfect fishing trip in New Jersey.

Discovering a fishing spot in South Carolina is easy because there are so many, but finding the best fishing spots, with the best chances of catching a fish, is a little bit harder, especially if you’re new to the South Carolina fishing scene. Without local knowledge, you’re up against the odds. Even the most experienced angler needs a little help if they want to catch some monster fish on their next South Carolina fishing trip. 

That’s why you’ll need the premium Fishing Forecasting App and Fishbox App. Thanks to the Fishbox App, you’ll know the perfect season to plan your destination fishing trip to South Carolina, including when your target species is most active.

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Expert Opinion on South Carolina Fishing Seasons

Pierce Latta

16 years fishing experience

“While I do spend most of my time fishing in the slightly better state of North Carolina (no bias there at all), I am quite familiar with the fishery of South Carolina and its fishing seasons as it pretty closely resembles what we have here in North Carolina. The article starts off by hinting at the loads of fishing possibilities that South Carolina offers from freshwater fishing all the way to deep sea offshore fishing and everything in between. Right before we get fully into the meat of the article, the author makes an important note that I think is worth touching on. He basically writes on the importance of picking your target species based on your knowledge of what is biting at different points in the year. Sure, you can pick other species that aren’t biting as well and still target them, but the point is that for chances of the highest success, you want to be targeting something you know is around and biting well. Now obviously, like I just mentioned, there are certainly exceptions, and you won’t always have the luxury of fishing for a species that is red hot, but for the most part, it is far more productive to fish for something that is running through the area at that point in time. Now this is the first article that we’ve seen with charts like this in a while, but finally, we got another fish bite chart. As someone who learns visually, this chart is amazing. The data is clear and concise and it gets the point across well. Now, whether it is freshwater or saltwater, you can just look at the month or species you want to analyze and follow the respective column or row. Just one quick observation before I move on. I know I could talk about these charts all day long. Take a peek at some of the later summer months of South Carolina and just look at how phenomenal fishing is through and through. You could literally target almost whatever you wanted during one of these months and have a pretty good shot at catching one if you knew what you were doing. This being said, if I’m planning a fishing trip to South Carolina for an all-around fishing frenzy, I’m 100% going during the summer—probably July or August. If you don’t want that crazy all-around action and just want to focus on a couple of species, look through the chart and make an educated decision based on the information that has been provided to you. Following the charts, we get a deeper discussion that goes through the year month by month and highlights some key points and hot species at that point in the year. As we near the end of the article, we get a section about the best time of year to fish in South Carolina. Once again, information like this is huge as it allows anglers not as familiar with the area to get familiar with it relatively quickly. Now yes, we still need that experience on the water, but extra research and knowledge certainly don’t hurt. The last thing mentioned before the conclusion was another discussion of rules and regulations. Pay close attention to these and the rules in place so we can better protect our waters. I hope you enjoyed reading this article and my commentary and as always, good luck and tight lines!”

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Understanding Fishing Seasons in South Carolina

One of the best things about fishing in South Carolina is that there’s always some exciting fishing action to be had somewhere, regardless of whether it’s winter or summer. It all depends on what your target species is. With both freshwater and saltwater fishing action, this beautiful state is 100% worth adding to your list of ‘must fish’ fishing states in the USA.

A lot will depend on your target species. While a lot of fish are present year-round in South Carolina, they all have their peak and weak seasons. If you’re dreaming of catching a specific species, then utilize the calendar in the next section to plan your South Carolina fishing trip accordingly.

Chasing panfish inshore is a year-round activity with plenty of delicious tablefish on offer. Best of all, inshore fishing for panfish is fun and not too technically challenging, so it’s perfect for beginners and families with younger children.

If you prefer deep-sea action with larger fish, then a charter over the hot summer months will be your best option. However, charters fill up early, so be sure to book your charter and accommodation ahead of time to ensure you don’t miss out.

South Carolina is home to coastal waters, deep sea action, large freshwater lakes, and beautiful scenic rivers, so there’s a lot of diverse fresh and saltwater fishing action to be had statewide.

Fishing Calendar for South Carolina

Below is our South Carolina fishing season calendar, which highlights the best and worst times to fish for your target species. While many fish have a peak season, where catching them is more likely, if you’re patient, you can still catch many fish species regardless of whether it’s their peak season or not. To make it a little easier to navigate, we broke the calendar up into both a saltwater fish species and a freshwater fish species calendar.

South Carolina Saltwater Fish Calendar 

Saltwater SpeciesJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Black DrumGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
Mahi MahiFairFairFairGoodGreatGreatGreatGreatGoodGoodFairFair
Speckled TroutGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat

South Carolina Freshwater Fish Calendar

Freshwater SpeciesJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Striped BassGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGreatGood
Largemouth BassGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGreatGoodGoodGreatGreatGreatGood

January Fishing in South Carolina

While summer angling in South Carolina may be the peak of the fishing season, winter fishing isn’t without its own unique opportunities. It might be the coldest month of the year, but January offers some fantastic inshore fishing action. Try fishing around the full moon for the best chance of landing a big fish, especially if you’re chasing Black Drum, Redfish, and Gator Trout.

Unlike the saltwater cold-water action, freshwater fishing is pretty slow in winter. However, Bass action with jigs or spoons in the deeper lakes, along with some patience, can still reward you with a decent day on the water.

February Fishing in South Carolina

This is the last of the truly cold winter months, but the Redfish, Black Drum, and Speckled Trout are still biting. Shrimp are a great bait to target these fussy fish. If you have the equipment, offshore fishing for big Tuna may be on the cards.

The freshwater action is still pretty slow in February, but big female Bass are getting ready to migrate and will be very interested in mop jigs and crankbaits. If you’re after a catfish, try Lake Marion or Lake Moultrie

March Fishing in South Carolina

The Black Drum, Speckled Trout, and Redfish are still active in March, along with larger offshore species such as Bluefish, Sheepshead, and Tuna. Try fishing Murrells Inlet for smaller table fish. March freshwater fishing in South Carolina is similar to February, with big Bass and Catfish on offer. Late afternoon is the best time to hit the lakes and rivers.

April Fishing in South Carolina

Winter is slowly fading away, and the action of South Carolina fighting is starting to heat up just like the weather. Mahi Mahi has arrived in the deep water, along with Kingfish and Cobia.

The freshwater action is dominated by Bass during April, with these ferocious fish moving into the shallow water. Along with Bass, you also have Perch, Crappie, and Catfish.

May Fishing in South Carolina

South Carolina’s fishing action is almost at its peak in May. Snapper and Grouper season is open, and Amberjack is starting to get a lot more active. Mahi Mahi and Cobia are prowling the reefs and shipwrecks. Fishing for table fish off the many piers and jetties can be extremely productive.

Lake Russel and Lake Wylie are good spots for anyone chasing Black Bass, with Largemouth Bass being the most abundant. Weedy and grassy areas are good if you’re chasing Perch.

June Fishing in South Carolina

Sharks start frequenting the shallow waters around the flats and include Bull Sharks, Bonnethead Sharks, Spinner Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Tiger Sharks, and Blacktip Sharks just to name a few. If you want to chase a large Cobia, try Port Royal Sound. However, if it’s big game you’re looking for, head offshore for Marlin and Wahoo. 

If you fancy a little freshwater action, head to the deep water of the lakes. Hybrid, Striped, and Largemouth Bass are on offer, but they’re going to require a little hard work!

July Fishing in South Carolina

July is arguably one of the best months for saltwater fishing in South Carolina. Calm seas and warm water bring with them some excellent Bluewater action for fish such as Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Yellowfin Tuna, and Wahoo.

While the warm weather is excellent for saltwater action, it’s not so good for the freshwater scene. If you really want to try your luck, try fishing in the early morning or late evening.

August Fishing in South Carolina

August is another good month to be out on the ocean. Sailfish are keeping lines tight, and big specimens can be found out in the Gulf Stream at around 50 miles. If you prefer staying closer to shore, Flounder, Sheepshead, and Whiting, along with Tarpon, are all on the menu.

Freshwater action is still pretty slow in August, but Bass is still on the cards if you try the deeper water along with Catfish.

September Fishing in South Carolina

If you haven’t made it out after Sailfish, September is a good month to do it. If you don’t have a boat, organizing a charter is the perfect way to get onto some monster fish. Inshore and offshore saltwater fishing action is still in full swing.

Freshwater is undergoing a transition in September as Largemouth Bass move from deep water to smaller creeks, and the Crappie season is about to kick off!

October Fishing in South Carolina

October features warm weather, calm seas, and plenty of fishing action. Inshore, you’ll find Reds, along with Tarpon, Snapper, and Grouper.

Freshwater action is excellent in the Fall, with Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass, Catfish, Trout, and Crappie all abundant across South Carolina. 

November Fishing in South Carolina

Inshore fishing action is still going strong in November, with Specks and Reds on offer along with Flounder. It’s almost the last opportunity to target offshore species such as Tuna, Billfish, Mahi Mahi, and big Mackerel.

Striped Bass dominate the freshwater scene, along with Bream, Crappie, and large Catfish.

December Fishing in South Carolina

Just because winter has arrived, it doesn’t mean that you need to put your fishing rods and reels away. Getting offshore will be a lot more challenging due to the weather, so inshore action is more reliable. 

The freshwater action is a lot slower as well, but it is not gone. Striped Bass is still biting along with Catfish and Crappie.

Best Time to Fish in South Carolina

Undeniably, the best season to fish in South Carolina is over the warmer summer months from April to September. It’s important to note that while the warmer summer months are perfect for saltwater action, the heat can drive freshwater fish deeper into the lakes and rivers in the middle of the day.

If you’re planning any summer freshwater trips, you’ll want to time your activity for early morning or late evening when the heat of the day isn’t as disruptive to the fish feeding behavior, and fish are more likely to be moving out of the deep-water hunting for food.

South Carolina offers a lot of diverse activities. With both freshwater and saltwater action, you’ll never be short of an opportunity to drop a line. As you can see from the detailed monthly breakdown above, the warmer summer months are the most productive times to hit the water in South Carolina. However, they’re also the busiest, which means more competition for the best fishing spots, so if you’re heading to a popular fishing spot, be sure to get there nice and early to ensure that you don’t miss out.

Regulations and Licensing

Supporting the South Carolina ecosystem by purchasing the appropriate license is one way to ensure that this excellent fishery remains healthy. As responsible anglers, it’s vital that we all do our part. This includes following size, bag, and season limits, along with leaving the areas we fish in as clean, if not cleaner than when we arrived.

South Carolina Saltwater Fishing License Requirements

When saltwater fishing in South Carolina, a Saltwater License is required to harvest all marine resources, including shellfish and finfish. According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, ‘a saltwater recreational fishing license is required unless fishing on a licensed public fishing pier; fishing on a licensed charter vessel while under hire; using 3 or fewer drop nets, 3 or fewer fold-up traps, or 3 or fewer handlines with no hooks and single bait per line (chicken necking); or shrimp baiting (which requires a shrimp baiting license).

South Carolina Freshwater Fishing License Requirements

Unless you’re fishing in a privately owned pond, a Freshwater Fishing License is required in the state of South Carolina. 

Read also: North Carolina Fishing Seasons: Your Comprehensive Guide

South Carolina Fishing Seasons: Your Comprehensive Guide – Conclusion

Thanks to the comprehensive and in-depth information included in this South Carolina seasons fishing guide, including understanding the fishing seasons in South Carolina, our full South Carolina fish species calendar, the best time to fish, and regulations and licensing, you’ll now know everything there is to know about the best time to hit the water in the beautiful state of South Carolina.

As anglers, it’s essential to do our best to ensure that future generations of anglers have the same fantastic opportunities to catch a fish in South Carolina as we do. The way we can do this is by ensuring that we follow all fishing regulations, bag limits, size limits and releasing fish that we don’t need. It’s also important to look after the fishing habitat by cleaning up any areas after we’re done fishing and removing any tangled lines.

By using the advanced technology found in the Fishbox App, you will be able to track weather conditions accurately and predict the best times to hit the water when planning your trip in South Carolina. The Fishbox App combines predictive fish behavior with weather, lunar, and tidal conditions to deliver optimal angling opportunities in South Carolina, regardless of whether you’re going fresh or saltwater angling.

Get your personalized fishing map

Answer a quick quiz and get your own personalized fishing map

The Fishbox App was developed in collaboration with accurate weather data and expert fish behavioral analysis. These advanced forecasts will significantly increase your catch rate while reducing your time on the water. Take your next trip in South Carolina up a notch, thanks to the expert advice from the Fishbox App team.

If you’ve fished in South Carolina, or you’re a South Carolina angler with a lot of local experience and you would like to share your knowledge, tips, and advice with other anglers planning their destination fishing trips, then drop a comment below. We’d love to hear from you, and we’re sure other anglers would appreciate it too!

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