Charleston South Carolina Fishing Tips – an Anglers Guide!

Charleston South Carolina Fishing Tips – an Anglers Guide!

This post will thoroughly cover fishing in Charleston South Carolina. Charleston is a charming southern coastal city that offers good inshore and offshore saltwater fishing. Anglers can fish for a variety of species using multiple tactics and techniques.

charleston south carolina fishing

Inshore fishing in Charleston South Carolina

Inshore fishing is very popular in Charleston, South Carolina. Anglers have many options whether fishing from a boat or from shore. Fortunately, the city offers public access as well as fishing piers that allow anglers without a boat to experience success as well.

Check out the top South Carolina game fish species

Anglers will need a little bit of equipment in order to go fishing in Charleston. Since most of the fish are moderate in size, a medium light spinning outfit is a great all-round choice. Most anglers already own a rod and reel combination that will work fine for most inshore situations. Lauren likes a 7′ rod with a fast action (stout butt, limber tip) and a 2500 series reel.

daiwa reel

Anglers can shop at Amazon for a Daiwa Black Gold reel and St Croix Triumph 7′ MF rod spinning combo in this link.

fishing for speckled trout

Anglers can do well using both live bait and artificial lures. Live bait works best for novice anglers as the bait will attract fish in with minimal effort. Live shrimp are the top bait and will also work dead or even frozen. Shrimp are readily available at bait shops and are fairly easy to keep alive. More serious anglers can use a cast net to catch their own live shrimp or bait fish.

Read this detailed article by Capt Jim on fishing with live shrimp

Fishing with artificial lures in Charleston South Carolina

flounder fishing baits

Artificial lures have an advantage over live bait in that lures allow anglers to cover a lot more water in search of fish. This is particularly true on the higher tide stages when fish scatter out over a large area. Artificial lures will also trigger strikes that live bait will not. Finally, lures are a bit more convenient as there is no need to purchase or catch bait.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

guide to inshore fishing

The top artificial lure for anglers fishing inshore saltwater is the jig and grub. It is a very versatile lure that will catch just about every inshore species. A ¼ ounce jig with a 3′ to 4′ tail works well in fairly shallow water. Larger baits can be used to match larger forage or in deeper water can be used as needed.

Read more about saltwater fishing with jigs

Spoons are another very effective lure used by saltwater anglers. Silver spoons realistically mimic bait fish and work well in clear water. Gold is an excellent finish in stained water. Spoons can be cast and retrieved as well as trolled. Weedless spoons are still the top lure for redfish in shallow water.

Top Charleston inshore species

Venice Louisiana fishing

The main inshore species targeted by inshore anglers in South Carolina are red drum (redfish), spotted sea trout (speckled trout), flounder, sheepshead, and black drum. Fortunately, most of these fish are found in the same areas and take the same lures and baits. Therefore, an anglers is likely to catch any of these species in a good spot. Black drum and sheepshead are less likely to hit an artificial lure, most will be caught on live or frozen bait.

Red drum aka redfish

flats fishing


Redfish are perhaps the most popular inshore saltwater species from Texas to the mid Atlantic. They are found on the shallow flats foraging for crustaceans, sight fishing is very exciting! They are also caught near structure such as docks, bridges, and jetties. Anglers surf fishing catch them as well.


flounder fishing


Flounder are an extremely popular inshore species as well. While they put up a nice little fight, they are valued for their incredible fillets. Flounder hide in the sand, so anglers catch them fishing structure on the bottom. Live and cut bait produce the most flounder, but jigs bounced on the bottom will catch them as well. Inlets and creek mouths are top spots.

Spotted sea trout aka speckled trout

Georgia game fish


Spotted sea trout are a beautiful and plentiful fish found in Charleston South Carolina waters as well. They readily hit lures and are caught by anglers casting jigs on the flats and from the surf. A live shrimp fished under a popping cork is deadly on trout and other species. They are fantastic eating as well!




Sheepshead are an unusual looking fish that are almost always found near structure. Bridges, oyster bars, docks, rocks, jetties, and reefs all hold sheepshead. They are very light biters and are almost always caught on shrimp and crabs. Sheepshead fight hard and are found in schools, so once located a bunch can be caught. They are difficult to clean but are fantastic to eat.

Fishing tips and techniques for Charleston South Carolina anglers

As in most saltwater fishing situations, tides are a crucial factor when it comes to finding fish. Understanding how tides will move and position fish is very important. Charleston experiences some pretty strong tides, averaging 4-5 feet in six hours, but can be more extreme.

Low tides will concentrate fish in deeper water, there simply is not enough water on the flats. As the tide rises, fish will move up on the flats to forage. On high tide, fish may be scattered out over a large area. As the tide begins to go out, fish will drop off the flats and back to deeper water. Tide strength is a factor as well, particularly when fishing inlets.


Most fish prefer structure of some sort. On the flats, this is primarily oyster bars, though docks will hold fish as well. Submerges grass beds are good spots for trout and redfish. In deeper water, docks, bridges, rock piles, jetties, wrecks, and reefs are all top spots.

Bottom fishing is very effective!

Bottom fishing in one of the easiest and more productive fishing techniques. It is used by anglers fishing Charleston South Carolina extensively for a variety of species. Bottom fishing is simply presenting a live or cut bait on or near the bottom. A sinker (or weight) is used to provide casting weight as well as keeping the bait on the bottom.


Read this comprehensive article on bottom fishing by Capt Jim!

This technique can be used in just about every situation, other than fishing shallow water with a grassy bottom. The bait will get snagged on the grass. Anglers can use a couple of simple rigs to present their baits. In most cases, the least amount of weight that will reach the bottom should be used. Anglers surf fishing will use heavier weights as long casts are often required.

Charleston South Carolina fishing piers and boat ramps

As mentioned earlier, anglers have a lot of public access to beaches, inshore waters, piers, bridges, and boat ramps. Here is an excellent resource for listings of fishing piers and boat ramps in Charleston County.

Surf fishing in Charleston South Carolina

surf fishing

Surf fishing is popular and productive off of South Carolina beaches. The seas are often not as high in this area, due to the geography. This makes surf fishing a bit easier. Still, anglers use long rods, 10′ to 14′ in length, and heavy sinkers to get baits out from shore. Cut bait is often used as it stays on the hook well. Live shrimp and bait fish are productive.

Read Capt Jim’s article on saltwater fishing tackle

Anglers can use lures as well. Fish will often move close to shore in the first trough. Anglers can use the same inshore rod to cast jigs and spoons. It is surprising to some how close to shore fish can be caught. Wave action disorients bait, making them easy prey for game fish.

Offshore fishing Charleston South Carolina

Florida king mackerel fishing

Anglers seeking larger game fish may decide to do some offshore fishing in Charleston South Carolina. This is obviously best dome in a larger boat. Many anglers opt to go out on a fishing charter as the cost of running a boat can get high. Local captains also stay on top of the bite.

There are two types of offshore fish species, pelagic or migratory species and bottom species. Pelagic species include king and Spanish mackerel, false albacore, dolphin (mahi mahi) cobia, wahoo, sharks, and sailfish. These fish are often caught trolling but can also be landed by anglers using large live bait fish.

Bottom fishing is done on structure such as reefs and wrecks. Top species include grouper, snapper, sheepshead, sea bass, and other bottom fish. Generally speaking, the deeper the anglers fish, the larger the catch will be. Most of these bottom fish are very good to eat, however regulations are quite strict, so anglers should check on those details when booking a charter.

In conclusion, this article on fishing Charleston South Carolina will help anglers be more successful when visiting this terrific city!

Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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