2014 - 2015 Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Size & Catch Limits for Saltwater Fish

State Waters extend from the saltwater-freshwater dividing line to the 3-mile limit.
Federal Waters extend from the 3-mile limit to 200 miles offshore (international waters).

All species in this section must be landed with head and tail intact.

Inshore Finfish

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Size Limit Restrictions
American Shad No closed season for recreational hook & line harvest; For all other gears, seasons as for commercial harvest 10 shad per person per day except in Santee River and Rediversion Canal (20 per person per day)   Licensing, permitting, and gear requirements.
Herring Herring Closures 1 U.S. bushel of herring per person per day   Licensing, permitting, and gear requirements.
Black Drum   5 per person per day 14-inch to 27-inch TL  
Bluefish   15 per person per day    
Flounders (Southern, Summer & Gulf)   15 per person per day not to exceed 30 per boat per day 14-inch TL
  • Bag limits apply to rod & reel or gig.
Red Drum Cannot be harvested by gig Dec. - Feb. 3 per person per day (state waters)

0 per person per day (federal waters)
15-inch to 23-inch TL
  • May only be taken by rod & reel and gig.
  • May not be harvested from federal waters.
Saltwater catfishes (Hardhead & gafftopsail catfishes) Possession prohibited Possession prohibited  
  • If caught must be released immediately.
Sheepshead   10 per person per day not to exceed 30 per boat per day 14-inch TL  
Spotted Seatrout Cannot be harvested by gig Dec. - Feb. 10 per person per day 14-inch TL
  • May only be taken by rod & reel and gig.
Striped Bass Possession prohibited: June 1 – Sept. 30 except in lower reach of the Savannah River (2 per person per day year round;) Possession prohibited: June 1 – Sept. 30;
3 fish per person per day: Oct. 1 – May 31 except in lower reach of the Savannah River (2 per person per day year round)
26 inch TL except in lower reach of the Savannah River (27 inch TL)
  • May only be taken by rod & reel.
Hybrid Bass, White Bass & Combinations   In lower reach of the Savannah River: 2 per person per day

All other saltwaters: no bag limit
In the lower reach of the Savannah River: 27 inch TL

All other saltwaters: no size limit
 
Tarpon   1 per person per day 77-inch FL
  • May only be taken by rod & reel.
Weakfish   1 per person per day 12-inch TL  
Atlantic Croaker, Spot, Whiting   50 per person per day aggregate bag limit  
  • Bag limit applies to hook and line only.

Offshore Finfish

These species are also managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) in federal waters. Regulations may change. Please contact the SAFMC at 843-571-4366 or www.safmc.net to get the most up to date regulations on these species.

The harvest and possession of coastal migratory pelagic species by commercial and recreational fishermen will be limited to the recreational bag limit within the Special Management Zones.

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Size Limit Restrictions
Cobia   2 per person per day 33-inch FL
  • For-hire vessels must have a Coastal Migratory Pelagics permit to fish for this species in federal waters.
  • In state waters may only be taken by rod & reel and gig.
Dolphin   10 per person per day not to exceed 60 per boat per day.
Headboats have no boat limit
20-inch FL
  • For hire vessels must have a Dolphin Wahoo permit to fish for this species in federal waters.
  • Sale of recreational catch is prohibited.
King Mackerel   3 per person per day 24-inch FL
  • For-hire vessels must have a Coastal Migratory Pelagics permit to fish for this species in federal waters.
Spanish Mackerel   15 per person per day 12-inch FL
  • For-hire vessels must have a Coastal Migratory Pelagics permit to fish for this species in federal waters.
Wahoo   2 per person per day  
  • For hire vessels must have a Dolphin Wahoo permit to fish for this species in federal waters.
  • Sale of recreational catch is prohibited.

Atlantic Tunas

A Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit is required to fish for these species except for the Other Tunas. Check current federal regulations by phone at 1-888-USA-TUNA (1-888-872-8862) or https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/.

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Size Limit Restrictions
Albacore, Skipjack        
Bigeye Tuna     27-inch curved FL  
Bluefin Tuna   1 per vessel per day per trip 27-inch to 73-inch curved FL
Yellowfin Tuna   3 per person per day per trip 27-inch curved FL  
Other tunas: Blackfin tuna, Bonita, and Little tunny        

Billfish

A Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit is required to fish for these species. All billfish to be released may not be removed from the water. All recreationally caught Atlantic billfish landed must be reported to NMFS within 24 hours of landing at the dock. Anglers can report by calling 1-800-894-5528 or by visiting https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/. Recreationally caught billfish may not be sold.

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Size Limit Restrictions
Blue Marlin     99-inch FL from lower jaw
  • May only be taken by rod & reel.
White Marlin     66-inch FL from lower jaw
  • May only be taken by rod & reel.
Sailfish     63-inch FL from lower jaw
  • May only be taken by rod & reel.
Swordfish   1 per person per day not to exceed 4 per vessel per trip 47-inch FL from lower jaw
  • May only be taken by rod & reel and handlines. Handlines must be attached to, or remain in contact with, the vessel at all times.
  • See https://hmspermits.noaa.gov for for-hire vessel bag limits.
Spearfish (longbill and roundscale) Possession prohibited Possession prohibited  
  • If caught fish must be released immediately.

Snapper Grouper Complex

These species are also managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) in federal waters. Regulations may change. Please contact the SAFMC at 843-571-4366 or www.safmc.net to get the most up to date regulations on these species.

Possession of a dehooking device is required when fishing for snapper grouper species. Nonstainless circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits for snapper grouper species.

Sale of snapper grouper under the recreational bag limit is prohibited UNLESS vessel owner has Federal Commercial Snapper Grouper Permit & applicable SC commercial licenses. For-hire vessels must have a Snapper Grouper permit to fish for these species in federal waters.

The harvest and possession of snapper grouper species by commercial and recreational fishermen will be limited to the recreational bag limit within the Special Management Zones.

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Size Limit Restrictions
Greater Amberjack   1 per person per day 28-inch FL
  • In April, for-hire vessels are limited to 1 per person/day or 1/per person/trip.
Hogfish     12-inch FL  
Spadefish   No more than 20 per person per day in aggregate with snapper grouper complex species    
Wreckfish Closed: January 1 – June 30 and September 1 – December 31 1 per vessel per day    

Seabass

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Size Limit Restrictions
Black Sea Bass In federal waters, closed when Annual Catch Limit (ACL) is met 5 per person per day 13-inch TL  

Porgies and Snappers

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Size Limit Restrictions
Red Porgy   3 per person per day 14-inch TL  
Vermillion Snapper Open year round 5 per person per day; excluded from 10 snapper per person per day limit 12-inch TL  
Red Snapper Possession prohibited Possession prohibited    
Lane Snapper   10 per person per day from this group 8-inch TL  
Black, Blackfin, Cubera, Dog, Yellowtail, Gray, Mahogany, Schoolmaster   12-inch TL  
Silk and Queen Snapper   12-inch TL  
Mutton Snapper   16-inch TL  

Grouper and Tilefish

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Size Limit Restrictions
Gag & Black Grouper Closed: Jan. 1 - Apr. 30 3 per person per day from this group; no more than 1 Gag or Black grouper or more than 1 Golden Tilefish may be included in this total 24-inch TL  
Scamp, Red, Yellowfin, & Yellowmouth Groupers Closed: Jan. 1 - Apr. 30 20-inch TL  
Golden Tilefish Closed: June 7, 2014
Will re-open: Jan. 1, 2015
   
Blueline Tilefish, Misty Grouper, Yellowedge Grouper, and Sand Tilefish      
Coney, Grasby, Red Hind, & Rock Hind Closed: Jan. 1 - Apr. 30    
Snowy Grouper   1 per vessel per day; included in the 3 grouper per person per day bag limit    
Warsaw and Speckled Hind Possession prohibited Possession prohibited    
Nassau & Goliath Grouper Possession prohibited Possession prohibited   If caught must be released by cutting the line and not removing the fish from the water.

All Other Snapper Grouper Complex Species

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Size Limit Restrictions
Including but not limited to: Lesser amberjack; Cottonwick; White Grunt; Scup; Almaco & Bar Jacks; Margate; Whitebone, Knobbed, Jolthead, Saucereye & Longspine porgies; Puddingwife; Banded rudderfish; Sailors choice; Bank seabass; Rock seabass; Gray & Ocean triggerfish   20 per person per day aggregate bag limit  
  • Bluerunners and Tomtates are excluded from the bag limit.

Sharks

A Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit is required in federal waters. All sharks must be landed with fins, head and tail naturally attached. Recreational anglers may only catch sharks using a rod & reel or handline. All other gears prohibited. Current federal regulations and shark identification guide.

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Size Limit Restrictions
Dogfish (spiny & smooth)        
Atlantic Sharpnose   1 per person per day    
Bonnethead   1 per person per day    
Blacknose, Blacktip, Blue, Bull, Finetooth, Lemon, Shortfin Mako, Nurse, Porbeagle, Spinner, Thresher, Tiger and Oceanic Whitetip Sharks   1 shark per vessel per day from this group 54-inch FL  
Great Hammerhead, Scalloped Hammerhead and Smooth Hammerhead Sharks   1 shark per vessel per day from this group 78-inch FL  
Atlantic Angel, Basking, Bignose, Dusky, Galapagos, Longfin Mako, Narrowtooth, Night, Caribbean Reef, Sandbar, Sevengill, Caribbean Sharpnose, Silky, Bigeye Sixgill, Sixgill, Smalltail, Bigeye Thresher, Bigeye Sand Tiger, Sand Tiger, Whale and White Sharks Possession prohibited Possession prohibited  
  • If caught sharks from this group must be released immediately.

The 2014-2015 Saltwater Fishing Regulations are provided in the Adobe® Acrobat® (PDF) format.