Beaufort, SC Fishing: Productive and Diverse Fishing at the Heart of South Carolina’s Lowcountry Region

Fall in love with the Lowcountry Region by traveling to the beautifully historic city and naturally scenic Beaufort, South Carolina.

Beaufort, SC Fishing: Productive and Diverse Fishing at the Heart of South Carolina’s Lowcountry Region
Beaufort, SC Fishing: Productive and Diverse Fishing at the Heart of South Carolina’s Lowcountry Region
Team Guidesly

April 28, 2022, 6 min read

Updated on April 28, 2022

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Beaufort is one of the historic cities in the famed South Carolina’s Lowcountry. It lies on Port Royal Island and is primarily known for preserving its antebellum architecture. Its name is similarly spelled to another Beaufort in North Carolina. Locals distinguish the cities by their shared name: South Carolina’s Beaufort is BEW-fert, while North Carolina’s is BOW-fert.

After its official founding in 1711, Beaufort was initially a shipbuilding capital before becoming the center of Lowcountry’s slave society, whose wealth was heavily reliant on crops such as rice and indigo. Following the Battle of Port Royal, the city became Union-occupied during the Civil War, attracting many escaping captives until their liberation was declared.

The city had gotten back on its feet by the end of the Civil War, only to be devastated by a hurricane. Following its slow rise out of the ashes, Beaufort became a tourist destination. Visitors flocked to its well-preserved historic district with its collection of former plantation mansions. It has likewise become a favorite filming location, with many modern classics such as Forrest Gump and The Big Chill being set in the city. Its mild year-round climate and lush, marshy estuaries add to the city’s timeless appeal. 

Surrounded by marshy estuaries, this harbor city is a no-brainer fishing hot spot, a beautifully scenic destination that will satisfy and excite anglers of all interests and levels.

Beaufort Fishing

two anglers river fishing

Expect nothing less from South Carolina’s Beaufort as a fishing hot spot. Consistently featured in many top fishing lists, Beaufort has a diverse set of locations where you can cast a line and expect a bite or more.

An ideal place to start fishing Beaufort is within its city limits. Broad River Fishing Pier may be the only fishing pier in the city, but it is well worth your while, especially if you want to use your fly fishing gear. It is a particularly productive haven for freshwater catch like channel catfish, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass. It has been renovated to provide visitors with a more convenient and comfortable recreational experience. The pier now features public restrooms, lighting, and parking. A part of the old Broad River Bridge remains amid the pier’s reconstruction and is also a great place to cast a line. 

Hunting Island State Park is another fishing haven favored by locals and visiting anglers and the state’s most visited state park. What makes it a unique destination for anglers is that it has freshwater and saltwater fishing spots that yield catch all year round. 

Inside the park, anglers can fish the newly renovated Nature Center Pier, which provides access to Fripp Inlet, where you can catch saltwater fish like sea trout, redfish, and southern flounder. You can also surf-cast on the beach and in Johnson Creek or launch a boat on the Russ Point public boat access. Offshore from Hunting Island State Park, you can target blue marlin, common dolphinfish, snapper, grouper, and king mackerel. If you want a more peaceful fishing experience, surf cast on the island’s south end as it gets less foot traffic. Make your surfcasting even more productive by using fresh-cut bait like whiting or croaker and waiting for an incoming tide. Please note, however, that there’s a bag limit of three redfish caught per day for every angler, and they should measure 15 to 23 inches. The area is famous for yielding reds bigger than that, so anglers are advised to release them safely back into the water.

Port Royal Boardwalk at The Sands is a picturesque fishing spot where you can fish Sands Beach, where Battery Creek meets the Beaufort River. Here you can fish for sea trout, redfish, blacktip shark, black sea bass, Atlantic stingray, and summer flounder.

Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park is yet another public park that offers picture-perfect sights and even better fishing. It features landscaping gardens, dining areas, and a scenic walking path. Fishing here happens mostly on the seawall, where you can cast a line for sea trout, whiting, different shark species, and other saltwater fish. 

Offshore fishing directly from Beaufort’s marinas will take you to local waters that yield plenty of redfish, sea trout, southern flounder, black drum, sea bass, Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, cobia, and tarpon. If you’re willing to travel further, heading to nearby Hilton Head Island will be well worth your bucket. Its signature catch is tarpon, a favorite among serious sport fishers and an obsession among fly anglers. Apart from this fighting fish, Hilton Head Island also has redfish, red snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, and vermilion snapper. It’s also a great place to target some shark. Anglers can target blacktip shark and bonnethead shark from inshore, bull shark and lemon shark nearshore, hammerhead shark, tiger shark, and mako shark farther out in the open water.

Hilton Head Island is teeming not just with fish but also with fishing spots. You can never go wrong here wherever you fish, but here is a list of its most popular areas anyway: the Calibogue Sound for bull redfish, sea trout, Spanish mackerel, crevalle jack, tarpon, and cobia; Fish America Reef for sheepshead, bluefish, and sea trout; Betsy Ross Reef, the state’s biggest artificial reef and home to plenty of bottom fish like red snapper, grouper, and black sea bass; and finally, the Gulf Stream, 70 miles out from Hilton Head Island, where you can genuinely experience deep sea fishing for common dolphinfish, marlin, wahoo, and tuna.

From Beaufort, you can access different fishing hot spots with ease. You can get to productive Lady’s Island from Beaufort Bridge. You can fish in Harbor Island and Fripp Island from Hunting Island, both private areas that teem with visitors and seasonal residents during summer and spring. From Port Royal Landing Marina, you can fish Paris Island MCRD. 


Top 10 Fish Species in Beaufort, SC

The top 10 fish species in Beaufort are redfish, largemouth bass, sea trout, smallmouth bass, red snapper, blacktip shark, sheepshead, tarpon, southern flounder, and Spanish mackerel.

Seasonal Fishing

While fishing in Beaufort is productive all year round, it is incredibly excellent during fall. October and November are a particular highlight as their great months to catch sea trout, redfish, and southern flounder on your fly fishing gear or light tackle. What makes fall an ideal time to fish in the area is that you can fish in different tide conditions if you’re out fishing the whole day. Black drum are available inshore mostly any time of the year. In late winter, bigger adult drum head offshore to spawn, so if you’re keen to catch some record breakers, it’s time to brave the open waters and the cold. Sheepshead is another all-year-round inshore catch. Because of its proximity to the Gulf Stream, Beaufort’s local waters may attract migratory species during the warmer months, allowing you to catch pompano, flounder, triple tail bluefish, cobra, shark, mackerel, and more. Wahoo can be caught all year round in the Gulf Stream.

Immerse in Beaufort’s Local Beauty and History

Beaufort is a travel magazine favorite, and for a good reason. It’s a beautifully historic city with immaculate village vibes,  great art, cultural scenes, preserved historic structures, and a scenic natural landscape. 

1. Book a Fishing Charter

Whether you’re simply fishing a few miles offshore or heading straight for the Gulf Stream, booking a local fishing charter and a guide is the safest and most productive way to enjoy fishing in Beaufort.

2. Stay at the Beaufort Historic Inn

Intrigued by Beaufort’s history? Immerse in it by booking a room at Beaufort Historic Inn. It’s easy to spot — a pink sorbet Victorian mansion blocks away from Bay Street. 

3. Join a SouthurnRose Buggy Tour

Learn more about the history of Beaufort by hopping on a 50-minute buggy tour. This tour will be led by a professional guide who will take you through the city’s preserved Antebellum and Victorian architecture and may even point out popular Hollywood filming locations.

Fish in Beaufort and beyond.