Discover If You Need a Fishing License in SC Today!

Fishing is a popular recreational activity in South Carolina, with abundant freshwater lakes, rivers, and coastal waters offering excellent fishing opportunities. However, before casting your line, it is essential to understand the state’s fishing license requirements to avoid penalties. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the licenses needed, costs, exemptions, and regulations for fishing in South Carolina in 2024.

Fishing License Types in South Carolina

South Carolina offers both freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses to both residents and non-residents. They are required for most forms of fishing, with a few exemptions outlined later.

Freshwater Fishing License

freshwater fishing license is needed when fishing in any freshwater within South Carolina, including lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds, unless fishing in a privately owned pond. This applies to both residents and non-residents aged 16 and above.

License durations available:

  • Annual: valid for 1 year from date of purchase
  • 14-day: valid for 14 consecutive days
  • 3-year: valid for 3 years from date of purchase

Saltwater Recreational Fishing License

saltwater recreational fishing license is required for fishing in coastal waters and saltwater tributaries. This includes fishing from shore (beach, bank, dock, etc.), wading, or by boat. The official dividing line between freshwater and saltwater is U.S. Highway 17.

License durations available:


  • Annual: valid for 1 year
  • 14-day: valid for 14 consecutive days
  • 3-year: valid for 3 years from date of purchase


  • 1-day
  • 7-day
  • Annual

How to Obtain a Fishing License in South Carolina

Fishing licenses can be easily obtained through the following methods:

  • Online: Available 24/7 via the SCDNR website or mobile app
  • Phone: Call 803-734-3833 to purchase
  • In-person: Over 500 license vendors located statewide
  • Mail: Download and submit application to SCDNR

When applying, you will need:

  • Proof of identification (Driver’s License, State ID, passport, etc.)
  • Proof of residency if purchasing resident license
  • Social Security Number

Those under 16 and over 64 may be exempt from license requirements as outlined in the exemptions section.

Fishing License Costs and Exemptions in South Carolina

Fishing license costs vary based on residency status, age, disability status, and license duration. They are summarized below, but refer to the SCDNR website for updated pricing.


Duration License Type Cost
3 Year Freshwater $30
Annual Freshwater $10
14-day Freshwater $5
3 Year Saltwater $45
Annual Saltwater $15
14-day Saltwater $10


Duration License Type Cost
3 Year Freshwater $105
Annual Freshwater $35
14-day Freshwater $11
Annual Saltwater $75
7-day Saltwater $35
1-day Saltwater $10

The following groups are exempt from purchasing a fishing license in South Carolina:

  • Children under 16 years old
  • Residents over 64 with a Senior Lifetime License
  • Disabled residents with Disability Fishing License
  • Fishing on licensed public fishing piers
  • Fishing on licensed charter vessels
  • When using 3 or fewer drop nets, fold-up traps or chicken-necking rigs
  • When shrimp baiting with a Baiting License

Refer to the SCDNR website for specific exemptions and regulations.

Fishing Regulations and Restrictions in South Carolina

In addition to possessing a valid fishing license, anglers in South Carolina need to follow rules and restrictions around:

  • Catch limits – Limits are set on size and quantity per day of popular game fish like trout, bass, shark and shellfish. Refer to the SCDNR regulations site.
  • Equipment – Specific gear restrictions apply for nets, traps, lines and lures depending on location. Purchase of additional tags or permits may be required.
  • Boating safety – Boating safety courses may be required for certain ages. All boats must be registered and contain required safety equipment.
  • Area closures – Temporary restrictions may apply in some areas, check signage before accessing boat ramps, piers or beaches.

Fines and penalties apply for anglers found in breach of regulations.

Additional Resources on South Carolina Fishing

For more detailed information on licenses, costs, exemptions, regulations and fishing opportunities in South Carolina, refer to the following resources:

So in summary, most anglers over the age of 16 require a license to fish in South Carolina waters, with specific regulations in place around allowed catch, equipment and locations. Understanding the latest rules is crucial to comply with conservation efforts and avoid penalties. With abundant coastline, lakes and rivers, South Carolina offers world-class fishing if done legally and sustainably.

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