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Charleston SC

Country: United States
District: Lowcountry
Type: Coast

Distance from
Charlotte NC : 322 km
Atlanta : 515 km


Charleston, SC is located on the East Coast of the U.S and in coastal SC. Local anglers refer to the region from the Charleston area and south into GA as the Lowcountry.

Lowcountry refers to the vast coastal plains of the region intertwined with saltwater bays, creeks, flats and barrier islands.

The area is rich in history and natural beauty as it is with marine life.

Fly fishing the Southeast Coastal U.S.

How To Get There

Distance from Charlotte NC International Airport: 200miles/3hrs.

Distance from Atlanta International Airport:320 miles/5hrs.

Charleston International Airport: Smaller, major airlines offer hops from above.

Centered on the East coast many cities can serve as a jumping off point. Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA over many arrival options with jumps to smaller cities as Charleston and Savannah areas. Driving from any of these points is not complex. Adequate transportation is available.

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Location Details

The city of Charleston SC and the historical harbor area it sits on is a destination that has endured 2 major wars, rampaging pirate, being burned to the ground, major earthquakes and huge hurricanes. What has remained is a colorful stately downtown and of course year round saltwater fly-fishing. Best overall months are May thru September but winter is typically mild and fish quite well.

Three tidal rivers, the Cooper, Ashley and Wando, feed the harbor of Charleston. Each river is flanked with shallow flats on both banks to varying degrees. Tributaries are also present and link some of the major rivers present. Fly-casting is a year round activity here particularly for redfish or puppy drum. Summer migratory species include Spanish mackerel, Jack crevalle, ladyfish bluefish. Spotted sea trout and flounder are residents most months. Target mouths of major creeks anytime, mud flat and grass edges on low tides and flooded spartina grass flats on high tide. Reds and bait move with the tide and you should to.

Be sure to check out local hotspots found on most maps such as Crab Banks, Castle Pinckney Island, behind Drum Island and the jetties during the warmest months of the year. The harbor has limited wading and shore angling areas so boat access is best.  Commercial traffic and recreational boating is popular so fish early and late when target the harbor.

North of the harbor via the Intracoastal waterway (ICW) is Isle of Palms and Cape Roman Wildlife refuge. Larger commercial boat traffic is less but pressure from locally owned flats skiff's and guide boats is noted. Fishing still remains good and shots are common despite the pressure. Courtesy is still found in the South. Give anglers room and do not cut into another's path are rules of the road. Keep anglers on the pole respect. The ICW is a deep boating channel running the length of the east coast. Branching from it is a series of bays named Gray, Hamlin and Copahee. These areas are no secret and redfish are educated here but plentiful. Again a skiff is best but the do it yourself angler can rent a kayak and within minutes of the Isle of Palm Marina be in redfish prime time territory. Check out Coastal for more info on this cheaper option of fishing.

Further north of Isle of Palm's is The Cape Roman Refuge. The area remains natural, undeveloped, vast and unspoiled with great fishing and little pressure. A guide will be needed here due the immense area. Tides are ever moving and depths of flats change so you can become high and dry.

Both these areas offer some of the best tailing redfish chances on the East coast for long rodders and anglers come from around the globe to chase them.  Tailing redfish is a summer time game, best on new and full moon cycles. The higher tides push reds further into the grass in searching for fiddler crabs. As they root in the mud, the tails of reds break the surface. The ICW is essential a highway for fish. Any inlet creek or bordering flat branches from the ICW at 90 degrees is worth a look. Again kayak anglers should explore these easy access spots.

To the south of Charleston Harbor and the city itself fishing remains constant to Savannah GA. Smaller towns and resort areas dot the landscape and fishing is still world-class. As a whole the area to the south is even more coastal habitat. Less pressure exists here as well mainly due to the expansive area of Lowcountry. Beaufort SC is a quaint coastal town to the south offering mud flats along the Broad River for miles. Further south is the ever popular, quiet family resort areas of Hilton Head, Kiawah and Edisto. Again year round fishing is abundant and besides the mentioned species you can add in cobia, tripletail, bonnet head sharks and tarpon.


Most anglers come for the redfish, specifically tailing fish. With boat access you can eventually wade and stalk individual fish. This experience is unique to few areas in the US. Fish range in all sizes but 10lb/30 inch specimens are possible. Quite the hookup in a few inches of grass!

Seasonal varieties exist as mentioned: Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, redfish, jack crevalle, seatrout, sheepshead, shark and flounder.

How To Fish

Fly-fishing in the salt is always most exciting and most demanding while sight fishing.

For Redfish Place offering out in front of feeding/tiling/mudding fish with minimal false casting. Try for a dinner plate target area. Use crab, baitfish and shrimp patterns. Adjust weight according to depths fishing. Use weed guards in the grass. Try classic Clousers, Deceivers and Seaducers. Matching color with bottom color your over. Have sizes to match forage from 2/0 to size 6 with bead chain, lead and weightless options. Use 9-12 ft leaders. Try blind casting on the less desirable tide stages to points, pockets, edges and creek mouths with attractor patterns like spoonflies and copperheads. Redfish pattern are easy and are easy to find. Good first casts are important to success when sight fishing.

For migratory fish look for busting, chasing and bird activity around baitfish pods in open water, breakwater and channels. Early and late beachfronts are worth a look for shore anglers.  Poppers, deceivers and Clousers will work. Match the size of the baitfish in all open water water scenarios.

Saltwater fishing always seems to involve wind. Be prepared to cast into by learning to double haul and use strong backcasts.

Never forget polarized glasses when fishing the salt.

Water is dirty in the summer except high in the grass yet crystal clear in the winter when algae blooms die off. Try attractor patterns when clarity is iffy.

Flats of the ICW hold fish all year long, frequently in sight of the dock/marinas.

Learn the importance of tides, moving water and a good chart.

Winter redfish - low tides from 10-2p.

Summer redfish - high tides when sight fishing conditions are best.

Migratory fish - moving water or tide turns them on.



8 wt rods with floating lines cover most days. Plenty of rod for windy days and heavier flies. 10 wt rods are great to have for large jacks. 6 or 7 wt fun rod for smaller reds, ladyfish and Spanish or trout.

Tippet range is 10-20 lb. Shock or light wire is needed for the toothy critters. Fluoro is great for the abrasive grasses and oyster bars.

Practical Info

Seasons: Redfish are available all year as are trout. Best is fall and winter. May thru September offers tidal flat fishing for "tailing" redfish both wading or by poled skiffs.

Summer months offer species including: Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, redfish, jack crevalle, seatrout, sheepshead, shark and flounder.

License requirements - info at The nonresident fee is valid for 14 days.

Guides are everywhere, be sure to choose a fly fishing specialist.

Guided services are in principle  for a full day. Some guides will offer half day trips.

As to assist one can  read the article Choosing a Guide on FFP.

Catch and Release - Redfish in SC have had game fish status since 1987 meaning no commercial sell is permitted.Gill nets were included and banned as well. Organizations such as CCA were instrumental in this type of legislation. Most, if not all fly fishing guides practise CPR. Catch.Photograph. Release. If harvest is desired slot limits exist and anglers can keep 3 day within the slot.

Catch and Release Tips: Use barbless hooks, Land Fish Quickly, Minimize handling, Revive Fish Fully, and Take Photos Quickly.

Non-fishing activities: to plan the perfect visit to experience the region's history,dining options,charm and southern style. Chefs,designers, and shoppers will be exceptionally pleased.
Guide:Capt. Chad Ferris


Accommodations range from 1 star for the guys to 5 stars for the family. Summer is peak tourism on the East Coast in the US. Great beaches are popular and plentiful. Golf is superb and family activities are numerous. Southern Plantations, gardens and cuisine are popular. Open markets and historical adventures exist. For more info check out above link. Families vacation here and return visits are common to the opportunities for all.

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