Fishing is a popular pastime in South Carolina, with trout being one of the most sought-after species. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to make your trout fishing experience in South Carolina a success.
Understanding Trout Species and Limits in South Carolina
South Carolina is home to a variety of trout species, including brown, brook, and rainbow trout in freshwater and spotted sea trout in saltwater. Each species has specific catch limits and size restrictions to ensure sustainable fishing practices.
For most freshwater bodies in South Carolina, the daily catch limit for brown, brook, and rainbow trout is five fish, with no length limit. However, on Lake Jocassee, the catch limit is three fish per day from October 1 through May 31, with one fish allowed to measure more than 20 inches and the other two no more than 15 inches. From June 1 through September 30, there is no length limit on Lake Jocassee.
Certain areas, such as parts of the Lower and Middle Saluda Rivers, are designated as catch-and-release only all year long. Other places, including the Chauga River, Chattooga River, Corbin Creek, Devils Fork Creek, Howard Creek, and parts of the Cheohee Creek and Eastatoe Creek, are catch-and-release from November 1 to May 14.
Spotted Sea Trout
For spotted sea trout, the daily limit is ten fish, each measuring no more than 14 inches in total length. This species may only be captured by rod and reel all year or by gig from March 1 through November 30.
Best Trout Fishing Spots in South Carolina
South Carolina boasts many lakes, rivers, and creeks that provide habitat for freshwater trout species. Some of the best fishing spots can be found in the northwestern part of the state, including the Chattooga, Whitewater, Middle Saluda, Eastatoe, Thompson, and Chauga Rivers, as well as Lake Jocassee and Matthews Creek.
Lake Jocassee, in particular, has been the host to record-breaking rainbow and brown trout. All these sites offer picturesque scenery with shoals, mountain forests, and convenient hiking trails. These major South Carolina fishing spots provide a wonderful mix of hatchery-introduced and wild fish.
For speckled sea trout, the most popular fishing spots surround Myrtle Beach, including Pawleys Island, Cape Romain, Murrells Inlet, and Winyah Bay.
Ideal Trout Fishing Spots for Beginners in South Carolina
For beginners, it’s always recommended to check South Carolina’s fishing regulations. Some of the best-recommended areas for beginners include:
- Chattooga River: Offers a great variety of trout and plenty of easy access points via vast trails. The catch limit here is eight trout per day.
- Lake Jocassee: Known for its big trout variety that’s easy to catch. The limit is up to 5 fish per day, with a 15-inch minimum length.
- Lake Tugalo: Excellent trout availability with easy access. The upper end is better for beginners, with an eight trout limit per day.
- Whitewater River: The mid-section between the Upper and Lower sections is best, with an eight trout per day limit.
- Eastatoe River: The lower portion has plenty of good trout. The Upper river limit is seven fish, while the lower part is 10.
By adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure a successful and enjoyable trout fishing experience in South Carolina. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, South Carolina offers a variety of opportunities to enjoy this popular pastime.