2012 - 2013 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 Minimum
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) 1 U.S. bushel of herring 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   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 federally managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) from 3-200 miles offshore. Regulations for some of these species may be changing soon. Please contact the SAFMC at 843-571-4366 or www.safmc.net to get the most up to date regulations on these species.

Many of these species are managed under an Annual Catch Limit (ACL). Fishery will close when the ACL is met or projected to be met. Current landings information can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/RecreationalLandingsandCatchLimits.html.

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. See "Special Information" for information on SMZs.

See "Special Information" for information on Marine Protected Areas.

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Minimum
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

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

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Minimum
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 See https://hmspermits.noaa.gov for for-hire vessel bag and size limits.
Yellowfin Tuna   3 per person per day per trip 27-inch curved FL  
Other tunas: Blackfin tuna, Bonita, and Little tunny        

Billfish

Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit 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 Minimum
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 federally managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) from 3-200 miles offshore. Regulations for some of these species may be changing soon. 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. Non-stainless 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.

Many of these species are managed under an Annual Catch Limit (ACL). Fishery will close when the ACL is met or projected to be met. Current landings information can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/RecreationalLandingsandCatchLimits.html.

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 (SMZs). See "Special Information" for information on SMZs.

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Minimum
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 Minimum
Size Limit
Restrictions
Black Sea Bass Open, effective
June 1
5 per person per day 13-inch TL  

Porgies and Snappers

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Minimum
Size Limit
Restrictions
Red Porgy   3 per person per day 14-inch TL  
Vermillion Snapper Closed: Nov. 1 - Mar. 31 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 Minimum
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 8, 2012; Will re-open: Jan. 1, 2013    
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 Minimum
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

Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit required in federal waters. Recreational anglers may only take sharks with rod and reel or handline. All sharks must be landed with fins, head and tail naturally attached. Check current federal regulations by visiting https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/.

Species Closed Season Bag Limit Minimum
Size Limit
Restrictions
Dogfish (spiny & smooth)        
Atlantic Sharpnose   1 per person per day    
Bonnethead   1 per person per day    
Blacknose, Blacktip, Blue, Bull, Finetooth, Great Hammerhead, Scalloped Hammerhead, Smooth Hammerhead, Lemon, Shortfin Mako, Nurse, Porbeagle, Spinner, Thresher, Tiger and Oceanic Whitetip Sharks   1 shark per vessel per day from this group 54-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.


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