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charles mahi mahi

Deep Sea Fishing Charleston: Fishing “The Edge of America”

With easy access to the Gulf Stream and other prime fishing spots, Charleston has some of the best sportfishing in the country. Deep sea fishing in Charleston gives you the unique opportunity to catch the fastest and most delicious fish. The incredible fishing and laidback lifestyle have attracted visitors from across the country to spend time in the palmetto state.

Back when Charleston was a much smaller town, the owners of a surf shop nicknamed the area “the Edge of America”, which perfectly describes the community and has stuck ever since. Charleston has always been closely tied to the ocean with fishing and seafood being a prominent part of the city from the very beginning. In the 1850s, fish markets, docks, and fishing fleets were in full swing, providing Charleston and the surrounding area with over 20 species of fish, along with a variety of shrimp, crab, and oysters.

Charleston Landscape

The incredible deep sea action off the coast of South Carolina is largely due to how close the Gulf Stream is to shore along with an abundance of artificial reefs and other offshore structures. With plenty of ideal fish habitat, It’s no wonder that there are hundreds of fish species in these waters.

The Gulf Stream carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico up the east coast eventually ending in Europe. This warm water attracts and supports a variety of fish which means the fishing is incredible.

Within the Gulf Stream, blue water holes, reefs, and banks are the best spots to find big fish. With hundreds or maybe thousands of reefs and wrecks, the bottom fishing is hard to beat. Every captain has their favorite spots but when it comes to fishing the Gulf Stream, It’s hard to go wrong when the fish are everywhere.

Deep Sea Target Species in Charleston

Most of the deep sea fishing in South Carolina can be broken down into bottom fishing for reef fish or trolling for the pelagic species. The exception to this rule is cobia, which can be found anywhere from inshore estuaries to offshore bluewater. Cobia will cruise the ocean on their own or in schools and largely don’t have any consistent behavior.

deep sea fishing charleston

Reef Fish you can Catch in Charleston

The offshore wrecks eventually become artificial reefs that support several sought-after fish species including amberjack, barracuda, sharks, grouper, and snapper. Bottom fishing the reefs with bait or jigs is a more family-friendly trip but still gives you a shot at some big fish and hard fights.

Pelagic Species you can Catch in Charleston

Trolling the edge of deep reefs and ledges will bring on bites from sailfish, wahoo, mahi mahi, kingfish, tuna, and marlin. Yellowfin tuna used to dominate Charleston offshore fishing but they have become uncommon in recent years with blackfin being the most common tuna caught. Wahoo have filled the void and are regularly caught in the area giving anglers the chance to catch the fastest fish in the sea. With the smaller white marlin biting throughout the year and the bigger blue marlin hitting its peak in the warmer months, Charleston is a great place to hook up with one of these formidable predators.

Best Offshore Fishing Spots in Charleston

Most of these famous fishing holes are on the edge of the gulf stream where water temperature and terrain are important. Despite these spots being well-known and popular places to wet a line, they continue to hold tons of fish year after year.

charleston offshore fishing

The Georgetown Hole

This time tested honey hole sits about 60 miles offshore from Charleston Harbor. This offshore spot is full of sport fish hunting over the endless deep sea ledges. Anglers have been catching legendary fish here for generations and it continues to produce great fishing today.

The 226 Hole

The 226 hole is one of the furthest south fishing hotspots for boats coming out of Charleston but is worth the trip. This area is highly productive and can put you on mahi mahi, sailfish, blackfin tuna, and wahoo sometimes all in one trip.

The Southwest Banks

Like the other spots, the Southwest Banks are in deep water. When the warm current hits this spot, it creates a rising column of water which attracts many of the popular fish like wahoo and mahi mahi.

When to Go Fishing in Charleston

The best time to go deep sea fishing in Charleston is whenever you have time because species like amberjack, snapper, grouper, and black seabass bite year-round. For almost every other offshore species including cobia, barracuda, kingfish, mahi mahi, tuna, wahoo, sailfish, and marlin, the best time to take a trip is from the spring through the fall.

Other Types of Fishing in Charleston

The inshore and nearshore fishing opportunities in Charleston have just as much to offer as the offshore trips. With a maze of backcountry waters and plenty of nearshore reefs, there are plenty of places to find a truly giant fish.

charleston redfish

Inshore Fishing in Charleston

Whether you prefer fly fishing or traditional tackle, the fishing for redfish near Charleston is top-notch. The inlets, creeks, marshes, and bays are full of redfish as well as speckled trout, flounder, sheepshead, jack crevalle, and black drum. With such a variety of fish to choose from, Charleston has the perfect inshore trip for any group.

Nearshore Fishing in Charleston

The nearshore trips are easy to fit into any schedule because you don’t need to spend as much time traveling to the fishing spots. The fish that can be caught here offer rod bending action, hard fights, and some of the delicious meat. The nearshore artificial reefs are a great place to target Spanish mackerel, black seabass, cobia, snapper, and grouper. Whether you want to troll or casually fish the bottom there are big fish ready to bring the fight.

Things to Do in Charleston

Charleston is always a popular place for tourism with rich history, great nightlife, and plenty of activities both on and off the water. Every coastal vacation has a beach day and Folly Beach and Edisto Beach are some of the best. With beautiful ocean views and plenty of soft sand, either of these spots is perfect for a day or relaxation.

If you are 21+ then Charleston has several cool bars that are perfect for an evening out on the town. One of the most popular spots is the Vintage Lounge that has a timeless feel and drinks perfect for unwinding on vacation. The food options are also world-class with fresh fish caught every day. At Hank’s Seafood Restaurant the meals are fresh and will leave you wishing you could try it all.

With just the basics covered, there is so much more to this city but you will have to see it for yourself. Charleston is a special city that is perfect for a trip any season and any time.

If you're interested in exploring other prime offshore fishing destinations, you can browse the best deep sea fishing charters here at Captain Experiences.