If you’re looking for the ultimate fishing experience, a day spent fishing for catfish on one of South Carolina’s many lakes or rivers is sure to please. With its warm climate and varied ecosystem, South Carolina offers excellent opportunities for anglers to reel in some truly big catches! In this post, we will explore some of the best spots in the state to cast your line and have an unforgettable time while doing it.
We’ll cover a wide array of locations that are home to plenty of hungry catfish – from standing bodies of water like Lake Marion to swift-flowing streams with lots of riffles running along their edges. So grab your tackle box, prepped with all the right baits and lures, get ready for a fantastic day full of reeling in exciting catches!
Top Catfish Fishing Locations in South Carolina
South Carolina is a paradise for catfish anglers, offering numerous rivers, lakes, and reservoirs teeming with these whiskered fish. Whether you’re targeting trophy-sized blue catfish, channel catfish, or flathead catfish, the Palmetto State has something for everyone. Here are some of the top catfish fishing locations in South Carolina.
1. Santee Cooper Lakes (Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie)
Undoubtedly, the Santee Cooper Lakes are the most famous catfish fishing destinations in South Carolina. These two interconnected lakes, Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, span over 160,000 acres and hold state records for blue, channel, and flathead catfish.
Lake Marion boasts vast cypress forests, flooded timber, and shallow flats, providing ideal habitats for catfish. In contrast, Lake Moultrie is deeper, with submerged islands and underwater humps attracting catfish. Drift fishing and anchoring near structures are popular techniques used by anglers in these lakes.
2. Lake Wateree
Located in the central part of the state, Lake Wateree is another excellent destination for catfish anglers. With over 13,000 acres of water, this lake offers diverse habitats, including submerged timber, deep channels, and rocky points.
Anglers can find all three major catfish species in Lake Wateree, with blue catfish being the most abundant. The best time to target catfish here is during the summer months when they are actively feeding on shad.
3. Congaree River
Flowing through the heart of South Carolina, the Congaree River is a fantastic location for catfish fishing. This scenic river is home to blue, channel, and flathead catfish, offering a more relaxed fishing experience than the busy lakes.
The Congaree River is best fished from a boat, allowing anglers to cover a lot of water and find the most productive spots. Look for deep holes, logjams, and current breaks where catfish will likely hide.
4. Lake Wylie
Lake Wylie is a popular catfish destination between South Carolina and North Carolina. With over 12,000 acres of water, this lake provides plenty of opportunities for anglers to target blue, channel, and flathead catfish.
The best time to fish for catfish in Lake Wylie is during the spring and fall when the water temperature is ideal. Anglers can expect success when fishing near drop-offs, points, and creek mouths.
5. Broad River
The Broad River is another excellent catfish fishing location in South Carolina. This river offers a mix of deep pools, rocky shoals, and sandbars, providing perfect habitats for catfish.
Anglers can target all three major catfish species while fishing the Broad River. The best technique is to use cut bait, such as shad or herring, and fish near structures like boulders, logjams, and undercut banks.
6. Cooper River
The Cooper River near Charleston is a renowned catfish fishing destination in South Carolina. The river is home to blue, channel, and flathead catfish, with blue catfish being the most abundant. The river’s deep channels, ledges, and structure provide excellent hiding spots for these fish.
Fishing near the Pinopolis Dam or the Tailrace Canal can yield great results. Anglers should use cut bait, such as shad or herring, and target areas with current breaks and submerged structures.
7. Lake Greenwood
Lake Greenwood, situated in the western part of the state, spans over 11,000 acres and offers excellent catfish fishing opportunities. The lake is home to blue, channel, and flathead catfish, with channel catfish being the most common.
Anglers targeting catfish in Lake Greenwood should focus on fishing near submerged timber, deep channels, and points. Night fishing is particularly productive, as catfish are more active during this time.
8. Pee Dee River
The Pee Dee River, also known as the Great Pee Dee River, is another fantastic catfish fishing location in South Carolina. This river system is home to all three major catfish species and offers a variety of habitats, including deep holes, sandbars, and logjams.
Fishing from a boat is the best way to cover a lot of water and locate productive spots on the Pee Dee River. Use cut or live bait and focus on fishing near structure and current breaks.
9. Lake Hartwell
Straddling the border between South Carolina and Georgia, Lake Hartwell offers over 56,000 acres of prime catfish fishing waters. The lake is home to blue, channel, and flathead catfish and provides diverse habitats, such as submerged timber, creek channels, and rocky points.
Anglers targeting catfish on Lake Hartwell should focus on fishing near deep channels, points, and humps. Drift fishing with cut bait or live bait can yield great results, especially during summer.
10. Edisto River
The Edisto River, one of North America’s longest free-flowing blackwater rivers, offers excellent catfish fishing opportunities in South Carolina. The river is home to blue, channel, and flathead catfish, and provides a serene and scenic fishing experience.
Anglers should focus on fishing near deep holes, logjams, and undercut banks while using cut bait or live bait. The Edisto River is best fished from a small boat or kayak, allowing anglers to navigate the winding river and access prime catfish habitats.
South Carolina’s diverse waterways offer numerous catfish fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. From sprawling lakes to meandering rivers, there are countless locations to explore and enjoy some fantastic catfish fishing in the Palmetto State.
The Best Time of Day to Fish for Catfish in South Carolina
Catfish are a popular species among anglers in South Carolina due to their size, taste, and the challenge they present. Knowing the best time of day to fish for catfish can significantly increase your chances of success. Catfish are generally more active during low light conditions and can be found throughout the day. However, there are specific times when they’re more likely to bite.
Early Morning Fishing
The early morning hours, just before and during sunrise, are an excellent time to target catfish. As nocturnal creatures, catfish feed actively during the night and into the early morning. During this time, they move closer to shallow areas in search of food, making them more accessible to anglers.
Late Afternoon and Evening Fishing
Late afternoon and evening hours, especially during sunset, are another prime time for catfishing. As the sun begins to set, catfish become more active and move towards the shallows again to feed. This period is often considered one of the best times to fish for catfish because it coincides with other species’ feeding habits, which catfish prey upon.
Night fishing can be highly productive for catfish, particularly during the warmer months. South Carolina’s hot summer temperatures can cause catfish to become less active during the day and feed primarily at night. Anglers should consider using strong-smelling baits, such as cut bait, chicken liver, or stink bait, to attract catfish during nighttime fishing.
Factors to Consider
While the time of day plays a significant role in catfishing success, other factors also impact your chances of catching these whiskered fish. Water temperature, weather conditions, and the presence of their primary food sources can all affect catfish activity. Paying attention to these factors and choosing the right time of day can help you maximize your catfishing success in South Carolina.
1. What type of rod and reel should I choose for catfish fishing?
When choosing a rod and reel for catfish fishing, consider the size of the fish you are targeting and the type of water you will be fishing in. A medium-heavy to heavy action rod with a strong backbone is ideal for handling larger catfish. For reels, baitcasting reels offer better control and accuracy, while spinning reels are easier to use for beginners.
2. What line strength should I use for catching catfish?
The line strength you choose depends on the size of the catfish you’re targeting and the structure of the fishing area. A 10-20 lb test monofilament line is suitable for smaller catfish. However, if you’re targeting larger catfish or fishing in areas with heavy cover, a braided line with a higher test strength (30-80 lb) is recommended for its durability and abrasion resistance.
3. Which type of hooks are best for catfish fishing?
Circle hooks and J-hooks are the most popular choices for catfish fishing. Circle hooks are known for their ability to hook fish in the corner of the mouth, reducing the risk of gut-hooking, while J-hooks are versatile and can be used with various bait types. The size of the hook depends on the size of the bait and the catfish species you’re targeting.
4. What type of bait should I use for catfish fishing?
The choice of bait largely depends on the catfish species you’re targeting and personal preference. Some popular bait options include cut bait (fish chunks), chicken liver, nightcrawlers, shrimp, and stink bait. Experimenting with different baits and observing which one works best in your fishing area can help you make an informed decision.
5. Do I need a specific type of fishing weight or sinker for catfish fishing?
The type of weight or sinker you choose depends on the fishing technique you’re using and the water conditions. For example, if you’re fishing in current, a pyramid or bank sinker can help keep your bait in place. When fishing in still water, egg or no-roll sinkers are more suitable. The weight should be heavy enough to keep your bait on the bottom but not too heavy that it prevents the catfish from taking the bait.
6. Are there any essential accessories I should have when catfishing?
Some essential catfishing accessories include a sturdy fishing net or grip for landing large catfish, a hook remover or pliers for safely unhooking the fish, a measuring tape or bump board for measuring your catch, and a quality tackle box to store and organize your gear. Additionally, a comfortable and reliable life jacket is crucial for fishing safety.