Fishing is a year-round activity in the Lowcountry. For those that want to keep their feet on the land, lagoon and surf fishing are popular choices. For those looking for a bit more adventure, inshore and offshore fishing may be the ticket.


Most of the lagoons on Hilton Head, and many in Bluffton are brackish, meaning they are both fresh and salt water. Don’t let the calm waters fool you; fish can grow to enormous sizes (red drum can weigh more than 50 pounds). Other fish caught in the lagoons include tarpon, striped bass, black drum and the occasional blue fish. Live bait such as shrimp and finger mullet are your best bets, but they are usually hard to come by unless you catch your own or are fishing off of a private charter boat. Spinning and top water lures fished with a lightweight spin rod are another popular option.


There are a lot of junk fish (skates, rays, small sharks) in the Carolina surf, which can be thrilling to catch, but frustrating for those in pursuit of game fish. Red drum, kingfish, and flounder are some of the more prized fish that can be caught. Squid strips, minnows and bunker chunks are the most common types of bait used in the surf. They can be purchased at any tackle shop along with 2- to 3-ounce sinkers to combat the rough water. Don’t feel like you have to cast halfway to the horizon to catch fish, some of the biggest can be taken right out of the breaking waves. The best times to surf fish are early mornings and evenings, when the beach crowds have subsided and the fish are most active.


If you are feeling particularly adventurous, and willing to spend a majority of the day surrounded by water, inshore and offshore fishing can provide some real thrills. Party boats accommodate large numbers of passengers, but private charters are also available (usually for groups less than 6). Half and full day trips are typical. These trips generally target fish that are specific to the season, and can include marlin, tuna and cobia. Most offer specialized shark fishing trips all year. Your vessel may travel many miles out to sea, or stick to the inshore waterways.


Fishing in South Carolina law requires that all anglers over the age of 16 have a state fishing license to fish from the surf or water banks. A 14 day license is $5 for residents and $11 for nonresidents. Commercial fishing boats provide all their passengers with licenses. Private plantations and resorts usually restrict fishing to owners and guests, and each is subject to its own set of rules. For more information, go to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources homepage,