IMPORTANT FAQ & THINGS TO KNOW
Where can I fish from shore on Hilton Head?
Surf fishing is popular here, particularly during the warmer months. Bait on the bottom with a weighted rig
and a leader is the most common method of beach fishing. Fishing is permitted except in certain designated swimming
areas during the day. Lagoon fishing is also popular. Lagoons within Sea Pines include brackish ponds, holding
saltwater species and fresh water ponds, located inside the Forest Preserve. A $5 permit is required to fish
within Sea Pines. If fishing in a different gated community, be sure to check the local property owners association
to see what rules apply.
Are there any fishing piers here?
There are no fishing piers, but there are several large docks open to the public. These include Pinckney Island
Landing, located between Hilton Head Island and the mainland, a dock under the Cross Island Expressway Bridge,
and a dock at the Sailing and Rowing Center on Squire Pope Road.
Do I need a fishing license?
All individuals 16 years and older are required to have a license to fish in South Carolina. There are separate
licenses for fresh and salt water. Licenses may be obtained directly from the state at www.dnr.sc.gov or calling
What about crabbing?
A license is not required for recreational crabbing, though there is a limit of three lines or traps per
person. Popular local crabbing spots include the long dock at Harbor Town, the saltwater lagoons in Sea Pines,
and public docks on the island. Blue crabs must be at least 5 inches wide across the shell to be legally
What species of fish might I catch?
Common species found in the surf include whiting (also known as southern kingfish), sting rays, bluefish
and sharks, though deliberately targeting sharks off the beach is prohibited by local rules. Backwater creeks
and saltwater lagoons hold redfish, trout, flounder, black drum and ladyfish, as well as occasionally other
species. Nearshore waters accessible by a short boat ride may also hold Spanish mackerel, king mackerel,
jack crevalle, sea bass and cobia, depending on the season. Big game species such as mahi mahi, wahoo and
tuna are normally found close to the Gulf Stream, approximately 70 miles from our coast.
What type of baits do people use?
Bottom fishing with dead bait, such as squid, mullet or shrimp, is a popular method, particularly in the
surf. A wire leader is recommended to prevent toothy fish from biting through one’s line. Live or dead bait
under a float is commonly used in the back water; the murkiness of the water limits the effectiveness of
artificial baits in the surf.
When is a good time to fish?
Fishing here is heavily influenced by our large tides. The difference in water level between low and high
tide can be as much as 8 feet. Fish prefer moving water, so action is usually slow when the water is “slack”
at dead high or dead low. The timing of the tides changes every day; consult our local tide tables for information.
What about fishing charters?
Hiring a professional guide is a great way to enhance one’s fishing experience and learn about our local
waters. Blue Water Tackle Shop books five different private fishing charters, with methods and target species
varying depending on the boat and duration of the trip.