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Size & Catch Limits

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TL=Total Length, FL=Fork Length; See Seasons & Limits for information on how to measure a fish.

AIW=Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway; State Waters extend from the saltwater-freshwater dividing line to the 3-mile limit. Federal Waters extend from the 3-mile limit to 200 miles offshore (international waters).

Up to date fishing regulations can be found on the SCDNR website at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/saltwaterfish.html.

All species in this section must be landed with head and tail intact.

South Carolina

Finfish: Inshore and Offshore

Species

Closed Season

Bag Limit

Size Limit

Restrictions

Inshore Finfish

American Shad

No closed season for recreational hook & line harvest; For all other gears, seasons as for commercial harvest.

10 shad per person per day except in Santee River and Rediversion Canal (20 per person per day)

Herring

See Nongame Fishing Regulations for closed areas.

1 US bushel of herring per person per day

Black Drum

5 per person per day

14-inch to 27-inch TL

Bluefish

15 per person per day

Flounders (Southern, Summer & Gulf)

15 per person per day not to exceed 30 per boat per day

14-inch TL

  • Bag limits apply to hook and line or gig.

Red Drum

May not be harvested by gig Dec. – Feb.

3 per person per day (state waters)

0 per person per day (federal waters)

15-inch to

23-inch TL

  • May only be taken by rod & reel and gig.
  • May not be harvested from federal waters.

Saltwater Catfishes (Hardhead & gafftopsail catfishes)

Possession prohibited

Possession prohibited

  • If caught must be released immediately.

Sheepshead

10 per person per day not to exceed 30 per boat per day

14-inch TL

Spotted Seatrout

May not be harvested by gig Dec. – Feb.

10 per person per day

14-inch TL

  • May only be taken by rod & reel and gig.

Striped Bass

Possession prohibited:
June 1 – Sept. 30 except in lower reach of the Savannah River (2 per person per day year round; see Fish Size & Possession Limits for details.)

Possession prohibited: June 1 – Sept. 30;

3 fish per person per day: Oct. 1 – May 31 except in lower reach of the Savannah River (2 per person per day year round; see Fish Size & Possession Limits for details.)

26 inch TL except in lower reach of the Savannah River (27 inch TL; see Fish Size & Possession Limits for details.)

  • May only be taken by rod & reel.

Hybrid Bass, White Bass, & Combinations

In lower reach of the Savannah River: 2 per person per day

All other saltwaters: no bag limit

In the lower reach of the Savannah River: 27 inch TL

All other saltwaters: no size limit

Tarpon

1 per person per day

77-inch FL

  • May only be taken by rod & reel.

Tripletail

No associated regulations

Weakfish

1 per person per day

12-inch TL

Atlantic Croaker, Spot, Whiting

50 per person per day aggregate bag limit

  • Bag limit applies to hook and line only.

Offshore Finfish

An operator or crew member onboard a for-hire or commercial vessel must have a valid Operator Card when underway fishing for Dolphin/Wahoo.

These species are also managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) in federal waters. Regulations may change. Please contact the SAFMC at 843-571-4366 or www.safmc.net to get the most up to date regulations on these species.

The harvest and possession of coastal migratory pelagic species by commercial and recreational fishermen will be limited to the recreational bag limit within the Special Management Zones. See “Special Information” (General Information) for information on SMZs.

Cobia

2 per person per day

33-inch FL

  • For-hire vessels must have a Coastal Migratory Pelagics permit to fish for this species in federal waters.
  • In state waters may only be taken by rod & reel and gig.

Dolphin

10 per person per day not to exceed 60 per boat per day.

Headboats have no boat limit

20-inch FL

  • For-hire vessels must have a Dolphin Wahoo permit to fish for this species in federal waters.
  • Sale of recreational catch is prohibited.

King Mackerel

3 per person per day

24-inch FL

  • For-hire vessels must have a Coastal Migratory Pelagics permit to fish for this species in federal waters.

Spanish Mackerel

15 per person per day

12-inch FL

  • For-hire vessels must have a Coastal Migratory Pelagics permit to fish for this species in federal waters.

Wahoo

2 per person per day

  • For-hire vessels must have a Dolphin Wahoo permit to fish for this species in federal waters.
  • Sale of recreational catch is prohibited.

South Carolina

Snapper Grouper Complex

Species

Closed Season

Bag Limit

Size Limit

Restrictions

Many of these species are managed under annual catch limits. Seasons may be closed when catch limits are met. Visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov for the latest information on the status of annual catch limits.

These species are also managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) in federal waters. Regulations may change. Please contact the SAFMC at 843-571-4366 or www.safmc.net to get the most up to date regulations on these species.

Possession of a dehooking device is required when fishing for snapper grouper species. Non-stainless circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits for snapper grouper species.

Sale of snapper grouper under the recreational bag limit is prohibited. For-hire vessels must have a Snapper Grouper permit to fish for these species in federal waters.

The harvest and possession of snapper grouper species by commercial and recreational fishermen will be limited to the recreational bag limit within the Special Management Zones. See “Special Information” (General Information) for information on SMZs.

Greater Amberjack

1 per person per day

28-inch FL

  • In April, for-hire vessels are limited to
    1 per person/day or
    1 per person/trip.

Hogfish

12-inch FL

Spadefish

No more than 20 per person per day in aggregate with snapper grouper complex species

Wreckfish

Closed:
Jan. 1 – June 30 and Sept. 1 – Dec. 31

1 per vessel per day

Seabass

Black Seabass

In federal waters, closed when Annual Catch Limit (ACL) is met

5 per person per day

13-inch TL

Porgies and Snappers

Red Porgy

3 per person per day

14-inch TL

Vermilion Snapper

Open year round

5 per person per day; excluded from 10 snapper per person per day limit

12-inch TL

Red Snapper

Possession prohibited

Possession prohibited

Lane Snapper

10 per person per day from this group

8-inch TL

Black, Blackfin, Cubera, Dog, Yellowtail, Gray, Mahogany, Schoolmaster

12-inch TL

Silk and Queen Snapper

12-inch TL

Mutton Snapper

16-inch TL

Grouper and Tilefish

Gag & Black Grouper

Closed:
Jan. 1 – Apr. 30

3 per person per day from this group; no more than 1 Gag or Black grouper or more than 1 Golden Tilefish may be included in this total

24-inch TL

Scamp, Red, Yellowfin, & Yellowmouth Groupers

Closed:
Jan. 1 – Apr. 30

20-inch TL

Golden Tilefish

Closed: June 7, 2014

Will re-open: Jan. 1, 2015

Blueline Tilefish, Misty Grouper, Yellowedge Grouper and Sand Tilefish

Coney, Grasby, Red Hind & Rock Hind

Closed:
Jan. 1 – Apr. 30

Snowy Grouper

1 per vessel per day; included in the 3 grouper per person per day bag limit

Warsaw and
Speckled Hind

Possession prohibited

Possession prohibited

Nassau & Goliath Grouper

Possession prohibited

Possession prohibited

  • If caught must be released by cutting the line and not removing the fish from the water.

All Other Snapper Grouper Complex Species

Including but not limited to: Lesser Amberjack; Cottonwick; White Grunt; Scup; Almaco & Bar Jacks; Margate; Whitebone, Knobbed, Jolthead, Saucereye & Longspine Porgies; Banded Rudderfish; Sailors Choice; Bank Seabass; Rock Seabass; Gray & Ocean Triggerfish

20 per person per day aggregate bag limit

  • Bluerunners and Tomtates are excluded from the bag limit.

South Carolina

Billfish and Atlantic Tunas

Species

Closed Season

Bag Limit

Size Limit

Restrictions

Billfish

Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit required to fish for these species. All billfish to be released may not be removed from the water. All recreationally caught Atlantic billfish landed must be reported to NMFS within 24 hours of landing at the dock. Anglers can report by calling 1-800-894-5528 or by visiting https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/. Recreationally caught billfish may not be sold.

Blue Marlin

99-inch FL from lower jaw

  • May only be taken by rod & reel.

White Marlin

66-inch FL from lower jaw

  • May only be taken by rod & reel.

Sailfish

63-inch FL from lower jaw

  • May only be taken by rod & reel.

Swordfish

1 per person per day not to exceed
4 per vessel per trip

47-inch FL from lower jaw

  • May only be taken by rod & reel and handlines. Handlines must be attached to, or remain in contact with, the vessel at all times.
  • See https://hmspermits.noaa.gov for for-hire vessel bag limits.

Spearfish
(longbill and roundscale)

Possession prohibited

Possession prohibited

  • If caught fish must be released immediately.

Atlantic Tunas

Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit required to fish for these species except for the Other Tunas. Check current federal regulations by calling 1-888-USA-TUNA (1-888-872-8862) or checking https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/.

Albacore, Skipjack

No associated regulations.

Bigeye Tuna

27-inch curved FL

Bluefin Tuna

1 per vessel per day per trip

27-inch to 73-inch curved FL

  • See https://hmspermits.noaa.gov for for-hire vessel bag and size limits.
  • All recreationally caught Atlantic billfish and Bluefin tuna landed must be reported to NMFS within 24 hours of landing at the dock.

Yellowfin Tuna

3 per person per day per trip

27-inch curved FL

Other tunas: Blackfin, Bonita, and Little tunny

No associated regulations.

South Carolina

Sharks

Species

Closed Season

Bag Limit

Size Limit

Restrictions

Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit required in federal waters. All sharks must be landed with fins, head and tail naturally attached. Recreational anglers may only catch sharks using a rod & reel or handline. All other gears prohibited. Check current federal regulations and find a shark identification guide by visiting http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/compliance/regulations/index.html.

Dogfish (spiny & smooth)

No associated regulations.

Atlantic Sharpnose

1 per person per day

Bonnethead

1 per person per day

Blacknose, Blacktip, Blue, Bull, Finetooth, Lemon, Shortfin Mako, Nurse, Porbeagle, Spinner, Thresher, Tiger and Oceanic Whitetip Sharks

1 shark per vessel per day from this group

54-inch FL

Great Hammerhead, Scalloped Hammerhead and Smooth Hammerhead Sharks

1 shark per vessel per day from this group

78-inch FL

Atlantic Angel, Basking, Bignose, Dusky, Galapagos, Longfin Mako, Narrowtooth, Night, Caribbean Reef, Sandbar, Sevengill, Caribbean Sharpnose, Silky, Bigeye Sixgill, Sixgill, Smalltail, Bigeye Thresher, Bigeye Sand Tiger, Sand Tiger, Whale and White Sharks

Possession prohibited

Possession prohibited

  • If caught, sharks from this group must be released immediately.

South Carolina

Crustaceans & Shellfish Regulations

Species

Closed Season

Possession & Size Limit

Restrictions

Crab, Lobster and Shellfish

Blue Crabs

Size Limit: 5-inch minimum carapace width (point to point)

  • Females with egg mass (sponge) must be returned to water unharmed immediately.

Stone Crabs

Size Limit: Claws must be 2 3/4-inch minimum forearm (propodus)

  • Only crabs with 2 claws can have one removed.
  • Only the larger of the 2 claws may be kept.
  • No claw may be removed from a female with egg mass.
  • It is unlawful to possess any stone crab body live or dead.

Spiny Lobster

Possession Limit: 2 per person per day

Size Limit: 3-inch minimum carapace

  • Removal of tail at sea prohibited.
  • No harvest of berried females.
  • No explosives, poisons, spears, or piercing devices other than fishing hooks are allowed.

Oysters

Typically closed May 16 – Sept. 30; may be shortened or extended by the SCDNR. Call 843-953-9300 for season dates.

Possession Limit: 2 US bushels per person per day from public or state shellfish grounds; No boat, vehicle, or boat/vehicle combination may contain more then 3 personal limits regardless of the number of people on the boat or in the vehicle

  • A person may recreationally harvest shellfish (oysters and/or clams) no more than 2 days per 7 day period.

Clams

Typically closed May 16 – Sept. 30; may be shortened or extended by the SCDNR. Call 843-953-9300 for season dates.

Possession Limit: 1/2 US bushel per person per day from public or state shellfish grounds; No boat, vehicle, or boat/vehicle combination may contain more then 3 personal limits regardless of the number of people on the boat or in the vehicle.
Size Limit: 1-inch minimum thickness

  • A person may recreationally harvest shellfish (oysters and/or clams) no more than 2 days per 7 day period.

Shrimp

Taking Shrimp Without Bait

Closed: Dec. 16 – Apr. 30

48 quarts whole or 29 quarts headed per day (sunrise to sunrise) per boat, per person if no boat is used, or per seining party

  • 12 dozen dead or live shrimp allowed per boat during closed season.
  • See Crustacean and Shellfish Methods and Devices for Shrimp Seine Gear Restrictions (see above).

Shrimp Baiting

60-day season set by the SCDNR beginning at noon on the last Friday on or before September 15.

2015 Shrimp baiting season Sept. 11 (Noon) – Nov. 10 (Noon)

48 quarts whole or 29 quarts headed per day (sunrise to sunrise) per set of poles

  • Participants must have a shrimp baiting license.
  • License holders, while shrimping from a boat, may be assisted by a resident who is not required to have a shrimp baiting license.
  • Shrimp caught over bait cannot be sold.
  • No more than 10 poles can be used per license per day. Poles must be marked with reflective tape and may not exceed 1-inch in diameter and each pole must have a numbered tag attached which corresponds with the shrimp baiting license.
  • No more than 10 poles can be used per boat.
  • All poles of a licensed set must be within 100 linear yards of each other and sets of poles must be at least 25 yards apart. Poles may not be set within 50 yards of any dock, public landing or boat ramp. Unattended poles will be confiscated.
  • Owners of private docks or persons with written permission may bait from those docks once properly licensed and with numbered tag displayed.
  • Shrimp pots or traps are prohibited.
  • Cast nets used for taking shrimp over bait must have a minimum mesh size of 1/2-inch square (1-inch stretch).
  • Individuals who may NOT obtain a shrimp baiting license are: 1) owners or officers of a corporation which owns a vessel specified on a trawl license; 2) masters of a vessel specified on a trawl license; 3) licensed to use a channel net; 4) licensed to use a cast net for a commercial purpose; 5) licensed as a wholesale seafood dealer.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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