Fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in the Hilton Head area. Whether you are a seasoned pro or baiting a hook for the first time, the waterways of the low country have something to offer.
Hilton Head and the surrounding areas are popular with anglers because they are surrounded by water and offer so many varieties of fishing. Inland, there’s the quiet enjoyment of fishing ponds, lakes, and lagoons. The island, of course, is a gateway for Atlantic Ocean fishing, whether onshore or out at sea. There are also great options for fishing Port Royal Sound to the northeast, Calibogue Sound to the south, and along the Intracoastal Waterway that separates the island from the mainland.
Each of the waterways provides a great fishing experience, depending on what you are looking for. Whether it’s a quiet morning simply casting a line or indulging in extreme sport fishing, the area offers it all.
If this is your first time casting a line in this part of the state, here are some of the basics.
The area around Bluffton offers numerous freshwater ponds with bluegill, crappie, and largemouth bass.
The May River has many fishing docks along its shores. If you prefer to be on the water, you can kayak, canoe, or arrange for a charter to fish its waters and marshes.
Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge offers marsh areas and access to Skull Creek and MacKay Creek. A fishing dock and boat launches are in the refuge.
The Broad River Fishing Pier north of Bluffton is a good spot for freshwater fishing, including chasing catfish and bass. It has amenities for visitors including public restrooms.
Hilton Head Island has numerous inland lakes for freshwater fishing. Lagoons and rivers on and around the island offer quiet salt and brackish-water fishing. Then, there’s salt-water fishing either from shore or on the water.
Jarvis Creek Park allows catch-and-release at its 11-acre pond. Its banks and fishing dock are perfect for teaching little ones how to bait a hook and reel in a catch.
Near Sea Pines, Lawton Canal tends to get anglers enthused by the sheer variety of species available at one time. One option for accessing the canal is the fishing docks at Sea Pines Forest Preserve.
The serene lagoons at Palmetto Dunes and Sea Pines Resort offer some of the area’s best inshore fishing. The 11-mile lagoon system winds through the resort neighborhoods and teems with black drum, flounder, redfish, and trout. Resort guests can fish from the banks or in small watercraft. Outsiders can take a local charter.
For a deep-sea fishing experience without the boat, try the Charles C. Haigh Jr. Fishing Pier. The pier is open year-round, has no fees, and offers plenty of parking.
The Hilton Head area has numerous fishing charters you can hire. Many offer deep-sea excursions that can take you as far as 40+ miles off the coast.
Closer in, investigate charters to any of the 45 artificial reefs off the South Carolina Lowcountry. Some sit as close as 2-5 miles offshore and consist of sunken boats, freight cars, military vehicles, and even subway cars. Undersea life congregates around the structures. Two popular man-made reefs are Betsy Ross Reef and Fish America Reef.
Depending on the time of year up to 25-30 species are fishable. Even stingrays and sharks await your line.
In the popular summer months, anglers chase amberjack, cobia, king mackerel, and exciting tarpon.
Moving into fall, it’s redfish, black sea bass, flounder, grouper, sea trout, and popular redfish.
In winter, redfish and snapper are popular catches. Bottom fishing the man-made reefs in winter is popular.
Spring brings bluefish, large cobia, king mackerel, and several varieties of sharks.
If you are fishing from Hilton Head Island’s beaches, stay clear of designated swimming areas; fishing is prohibited in those areas. Designated swimming areas are marked by signs and lifeguard stations.
Anyone age 16 and over needs a license to fish in South Carolina, whether freshwater or saltwater. Exceptions include freshwater on private property, while on a fishing charter, or at a licensed fishing pier.