For those engaging in fishing activities within South Carolina, understanding how to properly measure fish and navigate the distinctions between various water jurisdictions is crucial. Here's a concise guide based on the provided information:

  • Fish Measurement: There are two primary methods for measuring fish:
    • Total Length (TL): The straight-line distance from the most forward point of the fish's head to the farthest tip of the tail.
    • Fork Length (FL): The distance from the tip of the fish's snout to the fork in the tail.

This precise measurement ensures compliance with size regulations for different species, a critical factor in sustainable fishing practices.

  • Water Jurisdiction Definitions:
    • Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIW): A key navigational route, playing a significant role in defining fishing territories.
    • State Waters: Extend from the saltwater-freshwater dividing line out to the 3-mile limit off the coast. Fishing within this zone adheres to state regulations.
    • Federal Waters: Range from the 3-mile limit to 200 miles offshore, entering international waters. Fishing here follows federal regulations.

South Carolina Saltwater Fishing Regulations: Inshore & Offshore Finfish

Inshore Finfish Regulations

  • American Shad

    • Closed Season: No closed season for recreational hook & line; commercial seasons apply for other gears.
    • Bag Limit: 10 per person/day, 20 in Santee River/Rediversion Canal.
    • Size Limit: Refer to Shad & Herring Regulations.
    • Restrictions: Licensing, permitting, gear requirements per Shad & Herring Regulations.
  • Herring

    • Closed Season: See Freshwater Nongame Fishing Regulations.
    • Bag Limit: 1 US bushel per person/day.
    • Restrictions: Licensing, permitting, gear requirements per Shad & Herring Regulations.
  • Black Drum

    • Bag Limit: 5 per person/day.
    • Size Limit: 14-inch to 27-inch TL.
  • Bluefish

    • Bag Limit: 3 per person/day; 5 for-hire fishery.
  • Flounders (Southern, Summer, & Gulf)

    • Bag Limit: 5 per person/day, max 10 per boat/day.
    • Size Limit: 16-inch TL.
    • Restrictions: Applies to hook and line or gig.
  • Red Drum

    • Closed Season for Gigging: Dec 1 - Feb 28.
    • Bag Limit: 2 per person/day in state waters; max 6 per boat/day.
    • Size Limit: 15-inch to 23-inch TL.
    • Restrictions: Rod & reel and gig only; not harvestable from federal waters.
  • Saltwater Catfishes

    • Restrictions: Mandatory release if caught.
  • Sheepshead

    • Bag Limit: 10 per person/day; max 30 per boat/day.
    • Size Limit: 14-inch TL.
  • Spotted Seatrout

    • Closed Season for Gigging: Dec 1 - Feb 28.
    • Bag Limit: 10 per person/day.
    • Size Limit: 14-inch TL.
    • Restrictions: Rod & reel and gig only.

Offshore Finfish Regulations

  • Cobia

    • Closed Season: May 1-31 in state waters south of Jeremy Inlet, Edisto Island.
    • Bag Limit: Varied by location; 1 per person/day, 3-6 per boat.
    • Size Limit: 36-inch FL.
    • Restrictions: Rod & reel and gig in state waters.
  • Dolphin

    • Bag Limit: 10 per person/day; no boat limit for headboats.
    • Size Limit: 20-inch FL.
    • Restrictions: Sale prohibited; Dolphin Wahoo permit required for for-hire vessels in federal waters.
  • King Mackerel

    • Bag Limit: 3 per person/day.
    • Size Limit: 24-inch FL.
  • Spanish Mackerel

    • Bag Limit: 15 per person/day.
    • Size Limit: 12-inch FL.
  • Wahoo

    • Bag Limit: 2 per person/day.
    • Restrictions: Sale prohibited; permit required for for-hire vessels in federal waters.

Additional Information

  • Special Management Zones (SMZs): The harvest and possession limits of coastal migratory pelagic species within SMZs are restricted to the recreational bag limits.
  • Regulation Updates: For the latest federal water regulations, contact the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC).
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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.