Unlawful Actions & Penalties Associated
with Title 50 Chapter 13 Protection of Fish

General Restrictions on Freshwater Fishing

Section 50-13-30

Unless otherwise provided, a person convicted of a violation of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for up to thirty days, or both. The magistrates court retains jurisdiction of offenses in this chapter.

Section 50-13-50 Taking of Game Fish

The possession or use on the freshwaters of this State of any device or gear designed or used to take fish not authorized by this chapter is unlawful.

Taking species not authorized by this chapter is unlawful.

Taking by any method not authorized by this chapter is unlawful.

It is unlawful to leave a game fishing device unattended. A game fishing device left unattended is contraband.

It is unlawful to use, place, set, or fish a device so as to constitute a hazard to boating or public safety.

It is unlawful to anchor a seine and leave it unattended.

Section 50-13-60 Legal Fish Limits

It is unlawful for a person to possess more than the legal limit of fish in any one day on or about the freshwaters of this State.

It is unlawful to possess any fish not of legal size.

It is unlawful to land any game fish without head and tail fin intact and where a length limit is imposed on any species it is unlawful to land that species without head and tail fin intact.

A person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than fifty dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for up to thirty days, or both. Each fish illegally possessed is a separate offense.

Section 50-13-70 Closed Fish Seasons

Except as otherwise provided, there is no closed season for taking fish, however, when because of natural or other conditions fish are vulnerable to predation or are in distress and in the professional judgment of the department need temporary protection or in order to protect the public safety, the department may declare a closed season for taking any species until the condition has abated, but the closed season may not be longer than 90 days. The department shall give notice of the closure by the most expeditious means. It is unlawful to take or possess the affected species during the closed season.

Section 50-13-80 Fish Snagging

It is unlawful to take fish by snagging within one thousand feet downstream of a hydroelectric facility. Nothing in this section prohibits the use of lures or baited hooks.

It is unlawful to take trout by snagging.

Section 50-1-160 Seized Property

Notwithstanding another provision of law, the department may release a vehicle, boat, motor, or fishing device seized from a person charged with a violation of this chapter to an innocent owner or lien holder of the property.

Notwithstanding another provision of law, if an innocent owner or lienholder fails to recover property within thirty days from the date of the notice of release then the department may maintain or dispose of the property.

Before seized property is released to an innocent owner or lienholder, he shall provide the department with proof of ownership or a lienholder interest in the property."

Use of Nets, Seines, Traps and Like Devices

Section 50-13-310

A game fish taken by net or other nongame fishing device, must be returned immediately to the water from whence it came. A person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than fifty dollars nor more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days. Any equipment used in committing the offense must be seized and disposed of as provided by law.

Unlawful Freshwater Actions

Section 50-13-510 Freshwater Mussels

It is unlawful to take freshwater mussels (Bivalvia) without a permit from the department. A person violating this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one hundred nor more than five hundred dollars. Provided, Asian clams (Corbicula spp.) may be taken without permit.

Protection of Freshwater Game Fish

Section 50-13-200 Game Fish Devices

It is unlawful to take freshwater game fish except by game fish devices. A fisherman only may use four game fishing devices. A fisherman fishing from a boat may use an unlimited number of game fishing devices if all persons in the boat sixteen years and older have valid fishing licenses.

Section 50-13-210 Game Fish Daily Possession Limit

Except as otherwise provided, the daily possession limit for game fish is an aggregate of forty of which:

On Lakes Hartwell, Keowee, Russell, (including the Lake Hartwell tail water), Thurmond, Tugaloo, Yonah, the Chattooga and Savannah Rivers and Stevens Creek Reservoir the daily possession limit for black bass is an aggregate of ten.

Section 50-13-270 Artificial Lures & Bait Restrictions

From November first through May fourteenth inclusive, it is unlawful to use or possess any lure or bait except single hook artificial lures in the following waters;

It is unlawful to use or possess any lure or bait except artificial lures in the following waters:

It is unlawful to use or possess corn, cheese, fish eggs, or imitations of them on Lake Jocassee.

Protection of Nongame Fish

Section 50-13-620 Marking of Nongame Devices
(trotlines, traps, eel pots, gill nets and hoop nets)

A trotline, trap, eel pot, gill net, and hoop net must be marked with a white floating marker not less than a capacity of one quart and not more than a capacity of one gallon and must be made of solid, buoyant material that does not sink if punctured or cracked. A floating marker must be constructed of plastic, PVC spongex, plastic foam, or cork. A hollow buoy or float, including plastic, metal, or glass bottles or jugs, must not be used, except that a manufactured buoy or float specifically designed for use with nongame fishing devices may be hollow if constructed of heavy duty plastic material and approved by the department. The owner's name and department customer identification number must be legible on each of the white floating marker. Both commercial and recreational fishermen shall comply with provisions of this title pertaining to the marking and use of a nongame fishing device. A trotline must be marked on both ends. A commercial trotline must be marked at intervals of every fifty hooks. A commercial trotline which uses fifty or fewer hooks must be marked at intervals of twenty-five hooks. A recreational trotline must be marked at intervals of every twenty-five hooks. Each interval float must be 'International Orange' in color.

A tag issued for a nongame device must be attached to the device at all times. A permit and tag receipt must be kept on the person to whom issued while possessing or using a nongame fishing device.

Each set hook must have an identification tag attached to it bearing the owner's name and department customer identification number.

A device or part of it improperly marked, tagged, or identified is in violation and is contraband.

A violation of this section is a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, is punishable as prescribed in this chapter.

Section 50-13-640 Blue Catfish

It is unlawful to possess more than one blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) greater than thirty-six inches in length in any one day in Lake Marion, Lake Moultrie, or the upper reach of the Santee, and the Congaree and Wateree Rivers.

A person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than three hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

Section 50-13-665 Trotline, Set Hooks & Jug Baits

Except for the following bait listed, no other bait may be used with trotlines, set hooks, and jugs: soap; dough balls; nongame fish or bream (excluding redbreast) cut into two or more equal parts; shrimp; meat scraps which may not include insects, worms, or other invertebrates; grapes.

A person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days.

Section 50-13-680 Commercial Nongame Fishing Devices

An enforcement officer or department employee acting in their official capacity may inspect, at any reasonable hour, the vehicle, boat, processing house, and wholesale business which is connected with nongame commercial fishing activities and the records of a person required to be licensed by this title to ensure compliance. Upon request of the department, the buyers (fish houses) of nongame fish shall report quarterly the volume of sales and other information as required by the department. An enforcement officer or department employee acting in their official capacity may check any game or nongame fishing device and, if unlawful, may seize the device as contraband and dispose of it and any catch provided by law.

Section 50-13-685 Nongame Fishing Devices

Except as otherwise provided, a person violating this article is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than fifty nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both. In addition to that penalty, the court may order the department to suspend the fishing license and any tags or permits for up to one year.

Section 50-13-690 Seizure of Fish or Fishing Devices from Previous Violators

In addition to any specific penalty provided in this article, any fish or fishing device taken or found to be in possession of a person charged with a violation of this article must be seized. The fish must be sold in the same manner as provided by law for the sale of perishable items. If the person charged is convicted, the money received from the sale must be forwarded to the department and placed to the account of the 'Fish and Wildlife Protection Fund' of the State Treasury. After conviction, the fishing devices must be sold at public auction. The sale of the fish and fishing devices must be conducted using the procedures as provided by law. If the person is acquitted, the devices must be returned to him along with any money that may have come from the sale of the fish.

In addition to the specific penalties provided in this article and the penalties provided in above, the boat, motor, and fishing gear of a person who is charged with unlawfully using or having in possession a gill net or hoop net on any freshwater lake or reservoir of this State must be confiscated and sold at auction within this State after conviction using the procedure as provided by law. The money received from the sale must be forwarded to the department and placed in the account of the 'Fish and Wildlife Protection Fund' of the State Treasury. If the person is acquitted the boat, motor, and fishing gear must be returned to him. Upon conviction, the department shall suspend the person's license or privilege to fish in this State for a period of one year from the date of conviction.

In addition to the specific penalties provided in this article, upon the conviction of a commercial freshwater fisherman of illegal possession of game fish or the sale or traffic in game fish, the department shall suspend the person's license or privilege to fish in this State for a period of one year from the date of conviction.

Section 50-13-695 Stealing or Tampering with Nongame Fishing Devices

Except for department personnel in their official capacity, it is unlawful for a person to fish, inspect, or use in any manner nongame fishing devices owned and tagged by another person or to remove any fish from a device unless under the immediate supervision of the owner. A person found guilty of a violation of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for up to thirty days, or both.

A person who steals any nongame fishing device or any fish in a device or who tampers with or damages a nongame fishing device or makes it ineffective for the purpose of taking fish is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction: