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Charleston, South Carolina, is renowned for its abundant fishing opportunities, offering anglers a chance to experience diverse marine life in picturesque settings. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a novice, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations governing recreational fishing to ensure sustainable practices and protect the marine ecosystem. In this blog, we'll guide you through the key fishing rules and regulations in Charleston.

Big Fish In South Carolina

Licensing Requirements in Charleston, SC

Before casting your line in Charleston's waters, obtaining the necessary fishing license is crucial. South Carolina requires anglers aged 16 and older to possess a valid fishing license, which can be obtained online through the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) website or at authorized retailers. Various types of licenses are available, including annual, 14-day, and 3-day options for both residents and non-residents. Additionally, special licenses are available for seniors and military personnel. Keep your fishing license with you at all times while fishing to avoid any legal issues.

Bag and Size Limits in Charleston, SC

To protect fish populations and ensure sustainable fishing, bag and size limits are enforced in Charleston. Bag limits refer to the number of fish an angler can harvest within a single day, while size limits specify the minimum size at which a fish can be legally kept. Here are some specific bag and size limits for common fish species in Charleston:

Red Drum (Redfish)

The bag limit is 3 per day, with a slot size of 15-23 inches. One fish over 23 inches may be kept per person per day.

Spotted Seatrout (Speckled Trout)

The bag limit is 10 per day, with a size limit of 14-23 inches. One fish over 23 inches may be kept per person per day.


The bag limit is 5 per day, with a minimum size limit of 15 inches.

Black Drum

The bag limit is 5 per day, with a size limit of 14-27 inches. One fish over 27 inches may be kept per person per day.


The bag limit is 10 per day, with a minimum size limit of 14 inches.

Protected Species and Closures

Certain fish species in Charleston's waters are protected due to conservation concerns or legal restrictions. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the protected species list to avoid unintentional harm. Protected species and those with specific regulations include:


Special regulations apply, including mandatory reporting of any tarpon caught.


All sawfish are protected, and any catch must be released immediately.

Goliath Grouper

Harvesting this species is prohibited; any incidental catch must be released immediately.

Gear Restrictions

Charleston has regulations governing fishing gear to prevent excessive damage to the environment and maintain a level playing field for anglers. Some common gear restrictions include:

Fishing Lines

Anglers are limited to the use of two fishing lines.


Certain types of bait, such as live baitfish, may have restrictions to prevent the introduction of invasive species.


Some areas may prohibit the use of gill nets, trammel nets, and other specific types of nets to protect fish populations.

Catch-and-Release Best Practices

Engaging in catch-and-release fishing is an excellent way to contribute to conservation efforts in Charleston. However, it's essential to follow best practices to minimize stress on the fish and increase their chances of survival. Use proper handling techniques, such as wetting your hands before handling the fish, avoiding excessive contact with their delicate scales, and using barbless hooks. Release fish gently and promptly back into the water, ensuring they have fully recovered before swimming away.

Reporting and Recording

Fishing In Charleston

Charleston encourages anglers to report their catches and contribute to scientific research and conservation efforts. Some fish species may require anglers to report their catch, either through specific programs or by contacting local authorities. By sharing your fishing data, you can contribute to the understanding of fish populations, habitat health, and the overall management of the area's resources.

For more information, check out everything to know about fishing in charleston.