Get Hooked: How to Obtain a SC Fishing License

Fishing is a popular recreational activity in South Carolina, with abundant freshwater lakes, rivers, and coastal saltwater fishing opportunities. Before casting your line, it’s essential to understand South Carolina’s fishing license requirements to avoid penalties. This guide provides everything you need to legally fish in SC in 2024.

Who Needs a Fishing License in South Carolina?

Nearly all anglers over 15 years old need a fishing license to fish in South Carolina, whether fishing from a pier, boat, or shoreline. The only exceptions are when fishing in a private pond or when a minor under 16 fishes with a licensed adult.

You need a license before your line hits the water. Fishing without a license brings fines up to $200 in magistrates court.

Eligibility Criteria for SC Fishing Licenses

To purchase a South Carolina fishing license, you must prove residency or citizenship:

  • SC residents need a valid SC ID or driver’s license showing residency for 30 days.
  • Non-residents can provide a passport or out-of-state ID.
  • Military personnel stationed in SC for 60+ days also qualify for resident licenses.

Minors under 16 can fish license-free with a licensed adult guardian. Students enrolled in a SC education institution also qualify for resident license rates.

Purchase Options for SC Fishing Licenses

You can obtain a SC fishing license through several convenient channels:

  • Online: Create an account on the SCDNR website to purchase 24/7.
  • In-person: Visit local bait & tackle shops or retailers.
  • Phone: Call SCDNR at 1-866-714-3611.

When applying online or in-person, have the following documents ready:

  • Valid photo ID
  • Social Security Number
  • Payment method

Types of SC Recreational Fishing Licenses

South Carolina offers several license durations and types depending on your needs:


  • Annual – valid one year from purchase date
  • 14-day – valid 14 consecutive days
  • 3-year – valid 3 years from purchase date


  • Freshwater – covers lakes, rivers, streams
  • Saltwater – covers ocean fishing

See license pricing for exact fees based on residency status, age, and duration.

Steps to Obtain Your SC Fishing License

Follow these steps to securely obtain your SC fishing license online:

  1. Visit the SCDNR website
  2. Create a customer account
  3. Enter your personal information
  4. Select license type
  5. Pay license fee
  6. Print or save digital license

Be sure to carry your license at all times when fishing as conservation officers do conduct checks for compliance.

Fishing License-Free Fishing Locations

You can fish without a license at the following locations:

  • Privately owned ponds
  • Licensed commercial pay ponds

All other fresh and saltwater locations require appropriate licenses.

Penalties for Fishing Without a License

Fishing without a license brings fines around $200 in court. SCDNR also can seize fishing gear and catches from unlicensed anglers. Carrying an expired license or someone else’s license also represents license violations.

Key Things to Remember

  • Nearly all anglers over 15 need SC fishing licenses
  • Residents need SC ID, while non-residents can use passport
  • Purchase online, phone, in-person or on mobile app
  • Carry license at all times when fishing

Stay up to date on 2024 fishing regulations and enjoy the amazing variety of fishing South Carolina offers with the peace of mind a license brings!

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