Hilton Head Fishing: The Complete Guide

Studying Time: 8 minutes

Hilton Head Island is the place to go to get outdoor and benefit from the solar. That is {the summertime} of just about 3,000,000 folks, in spite of everything. Some come for the seashores. Others for the golf programs. However the factor that pulls many individuals again is the fishing. Hilton Head fishing is among the greatest within the state. And in South Carolina, that’s saying lots.

There are such a lot of methods to fish Hilton Head Island that it may be robust to know the place to begin. What do you catch, how do you do it, and the place do you go? On this article, we cowl all these questions, in addition to native tournaments, rules, and far more. Briefly, right here’s all it is advisable to know concerning the island’s angling.

High Fish Species in Hilton Head

Let’s begin with the fundamentals. Each place has its signature catches. Those that get locals excited and guests returning 12 months after 12 months. These are those to look out for in Hilton Head.


Redfish is the proper inshore species. Identified domestically as “Spot-Tail Bass,” they develop large, battle exhausting, and style nice. There are two sorts of Redfish in Hilton Head, the small “Puppies” and the massive “Bulls.” Pet Drum are round all 12 months lengthy, whereas the Bull Reds present up within the fall and winter. 

Everytime you fish, Redfish received’t be the one species taking your bait. Speckled Trout and Flounder additionally reside right here year-round. They each style nice, and Trout put up sufficient of a battle to make them worthy of their title. All collectively, they’ll offer you hours of pleasure amongst shallow sea grasses and sounds.


Nicknamed “The Silver King,” these guys are actual sportfishing royalty – large, cautious, and critically robust. As soon as hooked, Tarpon soar filter of the water and shake their heads with sufficient energy to snap your rod, let alongside your line. Inshore fishing doesn’t get harder than this.

As you possibly can count on, Tarpon have develop into an obsession for anglers all around the world. They’re significantly standard amongst fly fishers. In order for you the most effective probability of hooking one, go to in the course of the warmth of summer time. Tarpon begin to present up in late Might, and often transfer off initially of September.


Talking of summer time favorites, nothing will get native anglers speaking just like the anticipation of Cobia season. Cobia explode onto the scene in Might, bringing with them three months of superior angling. In the event you’re in search of large, tasty fish, you’ve obtained to offer them a strive.

Cobia like to hang around in deep sounds and round nearshore reefs. They’re the alternative of shy, and will even come to analyze what all of the noise is about whenever you arrive. They’ll fortunately take reside and useless baits, in addition to metallic jigs and spoons. Cobia aren’t fussy, however they’re robust.

Pink Snapper

Who doesn’t like Snapper? Massive, colourful, extremely tasty – there’s lots to like about these world-famous meals fish. The perfect time to search for Pink Snapper in Hilton Head is in winter. That is after they transfer nearer to shore and gap up round close by wrecks and reefs.

They received’t be alone, thoughts you. The native reefs come alive in the course of the chilly months. Anticipate to return throughout Triggerfish, Black Seabass, and Grouper. You can too catch Pink Snapper’s small-but-tasty cousin, Vermilion Snapper. A day of backside fishing is certain to earn you a fishy feast round right here.


There aren’t any ensures in the case of catching fish, however the Shark fishing Hilton Head has on its doorstep is about as shut as issues get. The island is surrounded by dozens of Shark species, from the shallow waters of the sounds to the distant depths of the Atlantic. They range massively in measurement, however all of them put up a great battle.

Inshore waters maintain small Blacktips and Bonnetheads which the little ones are positive to like. You can too catch larger fish like Bull and Lemon Sharks near shore. Head to deeper waters, and also you begin to see the actual terrors of the seas: Hammerheads, Tigers, and Makos all hunt offshore.

How you can Fish Round Hilton Head Island

As you would possibly count on, there are a selection of how to moist a line in Hilton Head. We received’t go into the nitty-gritty of each approach and deal with setup. As an alternative, listed here are the principle kinds of fishing you possibly can get pleasure from, and what makes each particular.

Fishing on a Boat

Boats are palms down the easiest way to get probably the most out of those waters. They open up the entire Atlantic and all of the fish in it. You may carry a great deal of tools and use a variety of methods to tempt fish onto the hook. Fishing on a ship additionally helps you to escape the crowds and fish extra distant, productive spots.

In the event you don’t personal a ship, your most important choices are to lease one or to go on a fishing journey with a neighborhood constitution captain. If you wish to have entry to a ship for the entire of your time in Hilton Head, you may get some nice offers on multi-day boat leases. Nonetheless, it is advisable to convey all your individual gear and bait. You additionally must know the place to fish – and how one can pilot a ship.

On a constitution, issues are a lot easier. The captain offers all of the tools and takes you straight to the most effective fishing spots. Additionally they cowl all the required permits. And right here’s the factor: Charters value about the identical as a single-day boat rental. Shared “social gathering boat” journeys can truly be cheaper, though you received’t get as a lot assist from the crew.

Fishing on a Kayak

Don’t like boats however need to preserve your angling choices open? Fishing on a kayak could possibly be simply the ticket. Kayaks will be tremendous low-cost to lease, whether or not it’s for a few hours or an entire week. And in contrast to boats, you don’t want a license to pilot one. You continue to want a fishing license, although.

The great thing about kayak fishing is in its simplicity. Launch from the seaside, or from wherever you lease it. Hit the native bays and sounds to reel in a wide range of fish. Inexperienced persons ought to stick with inshore species like Redfish and Flounder. Extra skilled anglers can head to deeper water in the hunt for Cobia and even Snapper.

The primary downside with kayaks is that it is advisable to convey or lease all your individual tools. You’re additionally fairly restricted in the case of house and the methods you should use. Lastly, you have to be conscious that kayak fishing is an actual exercise – don’t head out alone, particularly if you happen to’re new to the game.

Fishing on Foot

In the event you’re not fearful about filling the cooler or reeling in a monster, you possibly can have loads of enjoyable fishing from dry land. Hilton Head Island is legendary for its seashores, so surf fishing is a no brainer. You can too strive wade fishing or heading to a pier if you would like extra selection.

Redfish and Bluefish are the principle targets within the surf, together with the occasional Jack or Tarpon when in season. Trout, Flounder, and Sheepshead are all widespread in some spots. Head to the native parks, and you’ll even get pleasure from freshwater fishing for Bass and numerous Sunfish. 

The one factor you possibly can’t catch is a Shark. Shark fishing from shore is illegitimate on Hilton Head Island. Catching small ones is just about unavoidable, however you possibly can’t actively goal them. That is the case for all land-based angling, whether or not you’re on a seaside, a fishing pier, or anyplace else.

Hilton Head Fishing Spots

You’ve chosen your goal and determined how one can catch it, however the place must you go? You may’t actually go far mistaken wherever you solid your line, however there are a couple of locations that have a tendency to provide good fish. These aren’t secret honey holes, simply well-known and well-loved fishing spots.

  • Charles C. Haigh, Jr. Fishing Pier. A pier and boat ramp subsequent to Karl Bowers Bridge on Pinckney Island. It’s a little bit fundamental (no restrooms or lighting) but it surely’s a pleasant spot to fish for Redfish, Whiting, and the inevitable small Sharks, in addition to Blue Crab.
  • Jarvis Creek Park. Among the best spots for Bass fishing on Hilton Head. The lake right here is stocked with Largemouth Bass and Bluegill, which you’ll catch from the financial institution or from a small floating pier. Fishing right here is catch and launch solely.
  • The Calibogue Sound. An space of deep water on the toe of the island, between Hilton Head and Daufuskie. It is a great place to focus on Massive Redfish and Trout from a kayak. You can too discover Spanish Mackerel, Jacks, Tarpon, and Cobia farther out.
  • Fish America Reef. The closest reef to Hilton Head, simply 2.5 miles east of the island. Yow will discover Sheepshead, Bluefish, and Speckled Trout right here, in addition to King and Spanish Mackerel. Nonetheless, being so near city, it could get crowded in the course of the summer time.
  • Betsy Ross Reef. The most important synthetic reef in South Carolina, roughly 18 miles offshore from Hilton Head. This is likely one of the greatest locations to focus on backside fish like Pink Snapper, Black Seabass, and Grouper, in addition to Barracuda, King Mackerel, and extra.
  • The Gulf Stream. In the event you’re after correct deep sea fishing, that is the place to search out it. Assume Mahi Mahi , Wahoo, Tuna, and even Marlin. The Gulf Stream is roughly 70 miles out, so solely head there on a big boat with an skilled captain on the helm.

Licenses, Legal guidelines, and Native Occasions

You’re nearly set for that good angling journey. Earlier than you go, listed here are a few notes on essential rules and occasions to be sure to get pleasure from your time in Hilton Head to the fullest.

South Carolina Fishing Licenses and Rules

Supply: Chris Meller, Flickr, CC-BY-2.0

Everybody aged 16 and over wants a license to fish in South Carolina. That is the case for freshwater and saltwater. There are some exceptions, although. In saltwater, you don’t want a license if you happen to’re on a fishing constitution or a licensed fishing pier (Charles C. Haigh, Jr. Pier isn’t licensed). In freshwater, you don’t want one to fish on personal property, corresponding to Hilton Head’s resorts.

As we’ve talked about already, it’s unlawful to focus on Sharks from shore. One other species price mentioning is Cobia, which is closed for harvest all through the month of Might in state waters. Striped Bass are closed June by way of the tip of September, and saltwater Catfishes are protected year-round. Lastly, you possibly can’t gig for Redfish and Seatrout December by way of to the tip of February.

Hilton Head Fishing Tournaments

Yearly, anglers get collectively to problem one another in addition to Hilton Head’s fish. The oldest match on the island is the Sea Pines Annual Fishing Event. This kid-friendly occasion targets Largemouth Bass, Sunfish, and Catfish. It’s low-cost to enter and an thrilling exercise for the entire household.

Feeling extra aggressive? Head offshore within the Run of the Bulls Fishing Event to battle large Mahi Mahi. The match attracts the most effective anglers round. There’s a $20,000 prize for first place. Even with out the winnings, it’s positive to be an unforgettable expertise.

Hilton Head Fishing: A number of Fish, Tons of Enjoyable

There are countless methods to get pleasure from Hilton Head’s nature, however none of them evaluate to fishing. Whether or not it’s your youngsters reeling of their first fish otherwise you combating that catch of a lifetime, this sunny Lowcountry island provides you with reminiscences that you simply’ll look again on and smile for years to return. That, and a load of fish to eat whilst you’re right here.

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