South Carolina Fishing License: Everything You Need to Know

South Carolina Fishing Licenses: Your Complete Guide for 2024

Navigating the rules and regulations surrounding fishing licenses in South Carolina can be overwhelming, leaving many anglers unsure of where to start.

This ultimate guide provides a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about obtaining a South Carolina fishing license in 2024, ensuring a hassle-free and enjoyable angling experience.

With years of experience fishing in South Carolina’s diverse waters and staying up-to-date on the latest regulations, we’ve compiled all the essential information you need to fish legally in the Palmetto State.

Who Needs a South Carolina Fishing License?

In South Carolina, all anglers aged 16 and older are required to have a valid fishing license when fishing in public waters, regardless of whether they are residents or non-residents. This requirement applies to both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule:

  • Fishing from a licensed public fishing pier or a licensed charter vessel (the license is included in the fee)
  • Fishing on a licensed pay pond
  • Certain disabled individuals may be eligible for a free fishing license
  • Children under 16 years of age are not required to have a fishing license
  • On free fishing days designated by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), licenses are not required

Types of South Carolina Fishing Licenses

South Carolina offers a variety of fishing licenses to cater to different needs and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of the available options:

Freshwater Fishing Licenses

  • Resident Annual Freshwater Fishing License: $10, valid for one year from the date of purchase
  • Resident 3-Year Freshwater Fishing License: $30, valid for three years from the date of purchase
  • Non-Resident Annual Freshwater Fishing License: $35, valid for one year from the date of purchase
  • Non-Resident 3-Year Freshwater Fishing License: $105, valid for three years from the date of purchase
  • Non-Resident 14-Day Freshwater Fishing License: $11, valid for 14 consecutive days

Saltwater Fishing Licenses

  • Resident Annual Saltwater Fishing License: $15, valid for one year from the date of purchase
  • Resident 3-Year Saltwater Fishing License: $45, valid for three years from the date of purchase
  • Non-Resident Annual Saltwater Fishing License: $75, valid for one year from the date of purchase
  • Non-Resident 7-Day Saltwater Fishing License: $35, valid for seven consecutive days
  • Non-Resident 1-Day Saltwater Fishing License: $10, valid for one day

Combination Licenses

For those who enjoy both freshwater and saltwater fishing, South Carolina offers combination licenses:

  • Resident Combination License: $25 annually or $75 for three years
  • Non-Resident Combination License: Not available

Special Licenses and Permits

South Carolina also offers several special licenses and permits for specific fishing activities:

  • Commercial Freshwater Fishing License: $50 annually for residents, $1,000 for non-residents
  • Shrimp Baiting License: $25 for residents, $500 for non-residents
  • Saltwater Public Fishing Pier License: $150-$350 annually based on pier length
  • Saltwater Charter Fishing Vessel License: $275-$1,300 annually based on passenger capacity

Additionally, various tags and permits are required for using certain fishing gear, such as jugs, set hooks, eel pots, gill nets, hoop nets, traps, and trotlines. Fees range from $2.50 to $50 annually.

How to Get a South Carolina Fishing License

Obtaining a South Carolina fishing license is a straightforward process with multiple options available:

  1. Online: Visit the SCDNR website ( and follow the prompts to purchase your license online. You’ll need to provide personal information and proof of residency for resident licenses.
  2. Authorized License Vendors: SCDNR has authorized numerous vendors across the state, including sporting goods stores, bait and tackle shops, and some retail outlets, to sell fishing licenses in person.
  3. SCDNR Regional Offices: You can obtain your fishing license directly from any SCDNR regional office.
  4. By Phone: Call the SCDNR licensing hotline at 1-866-714-3611 to purchase your license over the phone.

When purchasing your license, be prepared to provide:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number (required for all licenses)
  • Proof of residency (for resident licenses)
  • Method of payment (credit/debit card or electronic check)

Once your purchase is complete, you’ll receive a temporary authorization number that allows you to fish immediately. Your physical license will be mailed to you within a few days.

South Carolina Fishing License Costs

The cost of your South Carolina fishing license depends on several factors, including your residency status, license type, and duration. Here’s a breakdown of the current pricing for 2024:

Resident Licenses:

  • Annual Freshwater: $10
  • 3-Year Freshwater: $30
  • Annual Saltwater: $15
  • 3-Year Saltwater: $45
  • Annual Combination: $25
  • 3-Year Combination: $75

Non-Resident Licenses:

  • Annual Freshwater: $35
  • 3-Year Freshwater: $105
  • 14-Day Freshwater: $11
  • Annual Saltwater: $75
  • 7-Day Saltwater: $35
  • 1-Day Saltwater: $10

Please note that these prices are subject to change, so always check the SCDNR website or contact their offices for the most up-to-date information.

Reciprocal Agreements with Georgia

South Carolina has a reciprocal fishing license agreement with Georgia, allowing anglers with a valid license from either state to fish in certain shared waters without needing an additional license.

The agreement covers the following waters:

  • All channels of the Savannah River, from its mouth to the confluence of the Tugaloo and Seneca rivers
  • The Chattooga River, up to the boundary line between Georgia and North Carolina
  • Impoundments such as Thurmond Lake, Russell Lake, Hartwell Lake, and others

However, this agreement does not apply to tributary streams or other bodies of water not explicitly mentioned. Always check the specific regulations for the area you plan to fish.

Fishing Regulations to Know

In addition to obtaining the proper fishing license, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with South Carolina’s fishing regulations to ensure a legal and responsible angling experience. Here are some key regulations to keep in mind:

Size and Catch Limits

South Carolina has established size and catch limits for various fish species to promote sustainable fishing practices and maintain healthy populations. These limits can vary depending on the body of water and species.

For example, the statewide size limit for largemouth bass is generally 12 inches, with a daily catch limit of 10 fish. However, certain lakes and rivers may have different regulations.

Seasons and Closed Areas

Certain areas may be closed to fishing during specific seasons or times of the year to protect spawning fish or sensitive habitats. Additionally, some species may have designated open seasons when they can be legally harvested.

For instance, the recreational harvest season for red drum in South Carolina typically runs from April 1 to December 31, with specific size and catch limits in place.

Special Regulations for Certain Species or Methods

South Carolina has implemented special regulations for certain fish species or fishing methods to ensure their sustainability and responsible management.

For example, there are specific regulations governing the use of gill nets, hoop nets, and trotlines in freshwater bodies, including permit requirements and gear restrictions. Some species, such as striped bass, may also have unique size and catch limits.

To stay up-to-date on all fishing regulations in South Carolina, consult the official SCDNR Rules and Regulations guide or visit their website at


Obtaining a South Carolina fishing license is a straightforward process that ensures you can legally and responsibly enjoy the state’s diverse fishing opportunities. By following the guidelines outlined in this ultimate guide, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the licensing process and comply with all relevant regulations in 2024.

Remember, fishing licenses not only grant you access to South Carolina’s waters but also contribute to the conservation and management efforts that sustain healthy fish populations for generations to come. By staying informed and adhering to the rules, you play a vital role in preserving the state’s rich angling heritage.

So, whether you’re a resident or visitor, freshwater or saltwater angler, take the necessary steps to secure your South Carolina fishing license and embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure in the Palmetto State. Tight lines and happy fishing!

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