2011 - 2012 Nongame Freshwater Fishing

Eating Fish Caught in SC

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) believe that fish are a healthy, low-fat source of protein. To make sure that the fish you catch are safe to eat, DHEC tests fish from lakes, rivers and streams throughout South Carolina.

To protect your health, DHEC issues fish consumption advisories in areas where contaminated fish have been found. For more information on the advisories, call DHEC, toll free, at 1-888-849-7241 or go to DHEC's web page

General Information

Nongame fishing permits and tags may be purchased from SCDNR only. Applications (Adobe PDF file) may be obtained by calling 803-734-3833.

Nongame fishing permits and tags are required, in addition to a valid South Carolina state fishing license (also applies to youth under 16), to use the following devices for recreational purposes: up to 3 trotlines with not more than 150 hooks, 3 to 50 set hooks, 3 to 50 jugs, up to 2 traps, 1 hoop net, 1 gill net no more than 200 yards in length or 5 gill nets, none of which exceed 30 yards in length, 1 skimbow net, 1 seine, 1 minnow seine, or up to 2 eel pots.

This requirement applies to all freshwaters of the state inland of the saltwater-freshwater dividing lines, except privately-owned ponds.

Nongame fishing devices are not allowed in certain waters. The maximum number of devices allowed per area is shown in the Areas & Limits Section.

A tag must be attached to the device for which it was issued, and each permit and tag identification receipt must be in the licensee’s possession while engaging in the activity.

Game fish must be immediately released if caught by net or trap or any other device used for catching nongame fish.

Commercial Fishing

A commercial freshwater fishing license must be in possession to take nongame fish by any method from public waters and sell or offer for sale such nongame fish, and/or fish with the following nongame fishing devices: 4 or more gill nets (or a total of more than 100 yards of net), 2 or more hoop nets, 3 or more traps, 4 or more trotlines or fish trotlines with a combined total of 151 hooks, 3 or more eel pots, 6 or more crayfish traps or an elver fyke net.

All persons involved in commercial nongame fishing must have a commercial freshwater fishing license if they participate in any way in the actual fishing operation. This includes, but is not limited to, operating a boat, baiting hooks, removing fish from lines, traps or nets.

No more than one blue catfish over 36 inches can be taken from Lakes Marion and Moultrie in one day.

To qualify for a resident commercial freshwater fishing license, one must have been a resident of this state for the past 365 consecutive days and furnish proof to the SCDNR.

Shad/Herring

To take shad or herring for recreational purposes by hook and line, cast net, or skim bow net in freshwaters a person must have a freshwater fishing license. To take shad or herring for recreational purposes using a gill net, a person MUST have a fishing license, gear license and related permits. To take shad or herring for commercial purposes, A person MUST have a commercial fishing license, gear license and related permits. To use a cast net to take herring for commercial purposes, a person MUST have a commercial license and related permits. If fishing in the freshwaters of the state, a person needs a freshwater commercial license. If fishing in the saltwaters of the state, a person needs a saltwater commercial license. Net requirements and recreational bag limits. Commercial fishing for shad and herring in freshwaters, including for sale as bait and by use of gill nets, is regulated under saltwater fisheries laws regardless of location within the state (Sec. 50-5-1500 and 50-5-1550). Contact the Charleston License office at 843-953-9301 for commercial and gill net information.

Herring fishery area closures:

No recreational or commercial HERRING fishing allowed

  1. in the Savannah River seaward of the Augusta Diversion Dam;
  2. in all rivers in the Winyah Bay River System EXCEPT for the Great Pee Dee River.

Markers and Identification

Trotlines, traps, eel pots and gill nets must be marked with a floating marker with a minimum capacity of one pint and a maximum capacity of one gallon or equivalent size and must be made of solid, buoyant material which does not sink if punctured or cracked. The floating markers must be constructed of plastic, PVC Spongex, plastic foam or cork. No hollow buoys or floats including plastic, metal or glass bottles or jugs may be used except manufactured buoys or floats specifically designed for use with nongame fishing devices; these may be hollow if constructed of heavy duty plastic material and approved by the SCDNR. The floating markers must be colored white when used the 1st through the 15th of the month and yellow when used the remainder of the month. The owner’s name and address must be marked clearly on each floating marker.

Hoop nets set on the Congaree River from the I-77 Bridge to the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree rivers must also be marked with the same floating markers as listed above.

Bait

No game fish, live bait or any bait other than bait listed below shall be used with trotlines, set hooks and jugs: soap, doughballs, cut fish (nongame fish cut into at least three equal parts), shrimp, grapes or meat scraps (shall not include insects, worms and other invertebrates).

On the Edisto, Black, Sampit, Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, Lumber and Waccamaw rivers, live nongame fish and bream may be used with single-barbed set hooks that have a shank-to-point gap of one and three-sixteenths inches or greater.

On the Black, Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, Lumber and Waccamaw rivers, live nongame fish and bream may be used on trotlines having not more than 20 hooks with a shank-to-point gap of one and three-sixteenths inches. Game fish used as bait must be included in daily creel limit, 30 bream per day.

There are no restrictions on the type of bait permissible in traps or eel pots except that no game fish or parts thereof shall be used as bait.

Prohibited Areas

No nongame fishing devices of any kind may be used in SCDNR-managed lakes, or waters within Game Zone 1, except in Lakes Hartwell and Keowee and Twelve-Mile Creek.

Prohibited Practices

Possession or use on the freshwaters of this state of any device or gear designed or used to catch nongame fish not authorized by law is prohibited. Possession of game fish or tackle designed to catch game fish is prohibited while fishing traps, trotlines, or other nongame fish devices except cast nets and bows and arrows.

It is unlawful for any person to tamper with, fish, or use in any manner the nongame fishing device or gear owned and tagged by another person, or to take from any such device or gear, any fish caught thereon. No fishing device shall be used, placed, set or fished so as to create a hazard to boating.

No trotlines, traps or eel pots shall be placed within 200 yards of any permanent man-made structure on Lakes Marion and Moultrie nor placed anywhere in the Diversion Canal connecting Lakes Marion and Moultrie, the Tailrace Canal nor the area known as the Borrow Pit (also known as “Bar Pit”) in Clarendon County.

Nongame devices, such as set hooks, may not be attached or secured to any vegetation or structure on the Congaree National Park property bordering the Wateree or Congaree Rivers. Rules and regulations concerning the Congaree National Park may be obtained from the National Park Service at (803) 776-4396 or at www.nps.gov/cong.

Penalties

Updated regulations and information are provided when nongame fish tags or permits are issued. Tags, permits and commercial freshwater fishing licenses are available by visiting any Regional DNR Office, through the internet, by writing to: SCDNR-License Section, PO Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202-0167 or calling 803-734- 3833. Nongame fish tags are issued at each Regional SCDNR office. Tags purchased through the internet or by mail are mailed from the Columbia office and the privilege is not valid until the tag is received by the licensee.

The boat, motor, fishing gear and fish of any person who is charged with unlawfully fishing, using or having in possession a gill net or hoop net on any freshwater lake or reservoir shall be confiscated.

Any person who tampers with any non-game fishing device with intent to damage or to make it ineffective for the purpose of taking fish shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $200 or imprisoned for not more than 30 days, and for stealing a device or fish caught in the device shall be fined not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than 6 months or both.

Upon the conviction of any commercial freshwater fisherman of illegal possession of game fish or the sale or traffic in game fish, SCDNR shall suspend such person’s license or privilege to fish in this state for a period of one year.

Nongame Freshwater Fishing Methods and Devices

Some devices are not permitted on certain waters. See Areas & Limits for devices and limits allowed in each area.

Set Hooks
Description A single hook and line attached to bushes, limbs, poles, sticks or similar structures.
Permits/ Regulations A permit is required to fish up to 50 hooks (50 hook limit). Persons 65 years or older or under age 16 are not required to purchase a Set Hook Permit, but a label with their name, address and age must be attached to each set hook. A fishing license is required. A permit is not required for 2 set hooks with a valid state fishing license.
Hours/ Seasons Must be removed prior to one hour after official sunrise each day and cannot be reattached prior to one hour before official sunset.
Jugs
Description Jug - Fishing MethodA single hook and line attached to a free-floating device with a minimum capacity of one pint and a maximum of one gallon. May not have more than one line.
Permits/ Regulations A permit is required to fish up to 50 jugs (50 jug limit). Licensee’s name and address must be clearly marked on each jug. Jug fishing is legal only in Lakes Greenwood, Secession, Richard B. Russell, Thurmond, and Stevens Creek. A permit is not required for 2 jugs with a valid state fishing license. A jug permit is not required for residents assisting jug permit holders.
Hours/ Seasons Must be removed from the water before one hour after official sunrise each day and not replaced prior to one hour before official sunset.
Trotlines
Description Trotlines - Fish Method2 or more hooks attached to a line which is rigged horizontally and marked with a white or yellow floating marker (See Markers and Identification). Stainless steel hooks are prohibited statewide. Hooks used in Lakes Marion and Moultrie ONLY must measure 7/16 inch or less between point and shank.
Permits/ Regulations A tag is required for each trotline with up to 50 hooks. Trotlines with more than 50 hooks require a tag for every 50 hooks or less. No trotline shall be attached in any manner to another trotline or to the support or float of another trotline. No trotlines allowed within 100 feet of the mouth of any tributary stream.
Hours/ Seasons Trotlines must be inspected and fish removed at least every 24 hours. From Apr. 1 to Oct. 1, no trotline is permitted in any waters from one hour after official sunrise to one hour before official sunset, unless the trotline is sunk to the bottom or a minimum depth of four feet below the surface. From Oct. 2 to Mar. 31, trotlines may be left in the water 24 hours per day at any depth.
Traps & Eel Pots
Description A device described below marked with a white or yellow floating marker (See Markers and Identification)
Trap Type 1 The trap may be made of wire or textile material and be cylindrical in shape of a length not more than 6 feet and a width of not more than 3 feet. The mesh shall not be smaller than 1 inch by 1 inch, and there shall be only one application of exterior wire to the trap. The muzzle shall have one of the following designs: A trap door on the second muzzle or catch muzzle which remains in a closed position and which only opens for the entry of fish into the trap; or constructed of netting so that the opening of the small end of the second muzzle or catch muzzle is held in the shape of a slit and the trap configuration constructed such that as the trap rests on the bottom, the slit shall be oriented horizontally with the greatest vertical opening being no greater than 1 inch.
Trap Type 2 The trap may be made of wood strips or slats and be cylindrical or rectangular in shape. The length shall not exceed 6 feet, and the width or diameter shall not exceed 2 feet. The throat opening of the catch muzzle in a resting position shall not exceed 3 inches measured in any direction. The sides, top and rear of the trap shall have a minimum of one inch opening between the slats to allow for the escape of small catfish. This shall apply only to the last 12 inches of the trap.
Eel pot Eel PotPots no larger than 24 inches by 48 inches and constructed of wire with a mesh size no smaller than 1/2 by 1/2 inch, except for the throat or muzzle and the end opposite the throat or muzzle. The throat opening shall not exceed 2 inches measured in any direction.
Permits/ Regulations A tag is required for each trap or eel pot. A permit is required for the harvest of eels in both freshwater and saltwater. Traps and eel pots may be suspended in water at a depth which does not create a hazard to watercraft. No trap or eel pot shall be placed within 100 feet of the mouth of any tributary stream. No crab pot or trap of like design may be used in the fresh waters of this state.
Hours/ Seasons No closed season.
Hoop Nets
Description Hoop NetsNets made of textile netting (no wire) of a mesh size between 1 and 2 inches square enclosing a series of round hoops with two or more muzzle openings made of a netting material. The maximum size net allowed is 16 feet by 5 1/2 feet.
Permits/ Regulations Hoop nets must rest on the bottom and cannot be placed within 100 feet of the mouth of any tributary stream.
Hours/ Seasons No closed season.
Gill Nets
Description Gill NetNets with a mesh size greater than 4 1/2 inches stretch mesh. The maximum length is 200 yards and no net, cable, line or other device used for support of the gill net can extend more than halfway across the stream or body of water. Nets must be marked with a white or yellow floating marker (See Markers and Identification).
Permits/ Regulations Gill nets shall be placed on a first-come basis, and no net can be placed within 200 yards of another gill net.
Hours/ Seasons The season for taking nongame fish other than shad and herring is Nov. 1 to Mar. 1 (where authorized) on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only. Fishing time begins at 12:01 AM on Wednesday, and ends at midnight on Saturday.
Other Devices (shad and herring)
Description Devices described in this section may be used in any body of fresh water including tributaries of rivers or creeks except in prohibited areas. A state fishing license is required (Lakes & Reservoir Permits are not valid). Tags are not required.
Bows and Arrows, Spears, Gigs & Cast Nets:
Skimbow Net A hand-operated dip net with the bow constructed of wood or metal with wire or textile netting with a mesh size not greater than 1 1/2 inches square. The bow shall not exceed 6 feet in any direction and may be used only from Feb. 1 through Apr. 30 for shad or herring.
Minnow Seine Must not be greater than 4 feet in width by 20 feet in length with a mesh size of not more than 1/4 inch square mesh. It is unlawful to have in possession a minnow seine from 10 PM to official sunrise.
Tires Must not exceed 20-inch rim. Rules and regulations of power companies may not allow for the placing of tires.
Seine A net having a stretch mesh of not less than 1 inch and not more than 1 1/2 inches which does not exceed 75 feet in length or 6 feet in depth. It shall be unlawful to anchor a seine and leave it unattended.
Shad Gill Net A gill net used for taking or attempting to take shad in the inshore salt waters must have a stretched mesh size of no smaller than five and one-half inches and a length not exceeding nine hundred feet. A gill net used for shad in the freshwaters must have a stretched mesh size of no smaller than five and one-half inches and be no longer than six hundred feet. Gill nets for taking shad may be freely drift fished or set. Only one shad gill net may be drift fished by occupants of a boat, and it must be attended at all times when deployed. Additional boats in tow may not be used to increase the number of authorized nets. The recreational limit for shad is 10 shad, with the exception of 20 shad in the Santee River.
Herring Gill Net A gill net used for taking or attempting to take herring in the salt waters of this State must have a mesh size of two and one-half inches stretched and a length no greater than nine hundred feet. A gill net used for taking or attempting to take herring in freshwaters must have a stretched mesh of two and one-half inches stretched and a length no greater than six hundred feet. Only one herring gill net may be used by occupants of a boat, and the drift net must be attended at all times when deployed. Additional boats in tow may not be used to increase the number of authorized nets. The recreational limit is one bushel per day.

Information on Public Fishing Lakes


The 2011-2012 Freshwater Fishing Regulations are provided in the Adobe® Acrobat® (PDF) format. Adobe® Reader® is required to open this file and is available as a free download from the Adobe® Web site.

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