Cheraw, SC Fishing: Angling in the Prettiest Town in Dixie

Experience fishing in the riverside city of Cheraw in South Carolina, where there are also tons of other things to do.

Cheraw, SC Fishing: Angling in the Prettiest Town in Dixie
Cheraw, SC Fishing: Angling in the Prettiest Town in Dixie
Team Guidesly

November 1, 2022, 7 min read

Updated on October 29, 2022

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Cheraw is a city located in Chesterfield County in northeast South Carolina. It is situated along the west banks of the Great Pee Dee River. Before European settlement, the area was inhabited by the Cheraw and Pee Dee American Indian tribes. The Cheraw resided near the waterfall hill when the city started as a small trading post at the head of navigation on the Great Pee Dee River. Only a few scattered Cheraw families remained in the city by the time of the American Revolution and after the devastation caused by the Europeans due to the import of infectious diseases. In the 1740s, there were many English, Scots, French, Huguenots, and Scots-Irish settlers in Cheraw. By 1750, the city had become a known Anglo-American village with a growing river trade. Cheraw was one of the first inland villages and was one of only six places in South Carolina that appeared on English maps during that time. Joseph and Eli Kershaw were granted part of the Cheraw in the 1760s. Now, it’s a downtown historic district. The Kershaws called the city ‘Chatham,’ but locals continued to call it ‘Cheraw’ or ‘Cheraw Hill.’ 

Cheraw is one of South Carolina’s most picturesque and oldest inland towns. It was dubbed ‘The Prettiest Town in Dixie.’ Its wide streets are lined with rows of elm trees that color the town green, helping it the perfect place to leisure and have a relaxing city getaway. It also offers great military history after the American Revolution and the Civil War. People will also enjoy exploring the downtown area because its unusual art and architecture are well-preserved. Anglers will have no problem finding places to fish in Cheraw because the Great Pee Dee River and lakes are just a stone’s throw away.

Cheraw Fishing

angler, fly fishing, clouds, river

Cheraw is one of the best places to visit for anglers who plan to do many things besides fishing. The city is a riverside community, which makes access to various angling spots easy and convenient. The landscapes also provide a scenic and peaceful fishing experience despite its rich city culture and vibe.

Just to Cheraw’s east is the Great Pee Dee River. This designated State Scenic River has a 232-mile-long coastal plain, and favorable natural conditions make it one of the area’s best recreational fishing and boating places. Some commercial fishing is done during the winter because it sees an annual shad run. The river system is free-flowing and unaltered, serving as critical habitat for migratory and resident fish species. Anglers into freshwater fishing can look for species such as blue catfish, flathead catfish, channel catfish, largemouth bass, black bullhead, bowfin, bluegill, common carp, and longnose gar in the freshwater portions. For keen saltwater anglers, there are amazing opportunities to target fish like red drum, black drum, sea trout, mullet, southern flounder, southern stingray, striped bass, white bass, and yellowtail amberjack. Anglers won’t have a hard time finding spots to fish in the river because it has multiple public access sites and boat ramps. A ramp in Riverside Park is located on the city’s west. The entire 70 miles of the Great Pee Dee River can be navigated using small vessels. The lower sections are steered mainly by large powerboats. Anglers can choose to do some bank fishing or use small motor boats and canoes in the river’s narrow abandoned channels and oxbow lakes. The river is considered the state’s catfish fishing paradise because those fish are primarily sought after by anglers. Most of the catfish came from upstream impoundments in North Carolina. Plenty of catfish can be found in the river’s marshy areas, rock areas, drop-offs, and steep banks. The best way to get a bite is by baitcasting with eel, bream, gizzard shad, and mullet. Those targeting flatheads can go night fishing because it’s when they are most active. Monster blues are best found in the daytime.

Cheraw also has immediate access to the Great Pee Dee River’s tributary, the Little Pee Dee River. It is another State Scenic River that is an outstanding example of a coastal plain blackwater river. Like its larger counterpart, it’s a popular destination for fishing and boating. It has tea-colored water, cypress-tupelo swamps, lakes, and sandy bottoms, and bars are a habitat for freshwater fish like redbreast sunfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, bowfin, and black crappie. There are plenty of boat ramps available along its 14 miles of water. 

Cheraw State Park showcases another great place for fishing through Lake Juniper. The 360-acre lake is a favorite among canoers and kayakers. Anglers can fish in the lake for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, bream, catfish, and chain pickerel. A South Carolina fishing license is required to fish in the lake. Anglers may avail of one at any retail outlet that sells fishing licenses in Cheraw. Anglers with their boat with gasoline motors up to 10 hp can use it in the lake. Hand-powered watercraft is especially allowed. Lake Juniper feels very secluded, making it ideal for anglers looking for a peaceful and relaxing day of fishing. Its waters are very dark, with lily pads covering several feet along some areas from the shoreline. Hiking trails, a boardwalk, and a long wooden bridge offer access for anglers who want to cast their line from land. 

Anglers can also check out the Cheraw Fish Hatchery in Cheraw State Park. The warm water hatchery annually raises and distributes over three million sport fish in its 31 ponds and releases them into South Carolina’s public lakes and rivers. Some fish produced at the site are striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, redear sunfish, and channel catfish.


Top 10 Fish Species in Cheraw, SC

The top 10 fish species found in Cheraw, SC, are blue catfish, flathead catfish, channel catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, redbreast sunfish, black crappie, and bowfin.

Seasonal Fishing

The best time to target species like bass, catfish, redfish, and flounder are from May to September. Black drum action is excellent between February and March. Winter is the worst time to go fishing in South Carolina, but fish like redfish and chain pickerel can be caught in that season because they can withstand cold temperatures. Bluegills can be targeted during their spawning season, which occurs from May through August, sometimes lasting until September. Sunfish are also best sought after when they spawn from April through August. The best time to go crappie fishing is in March and April. Anglers looking for carp can fish for them when they spawn from April to June. Bowfin are best targeted from March to early June.

A Unique Way to Explore Cheraw 

Cheraw is filled with rich greenscapes and an architectural legacy dating back over two centuries. One won’t run out of things to do in the scenic city.

1. Book a Fishing Charter

Cheraw is home to many waterways filled with a variety of fish, making it a renowned fishing spot in the region. Anglers can book a fishing charter to grasp better what kind of angling the city’s local waters offer. Boat rentals are available at Lake Juniper. 

2. A Modern Historical Tour

The Cheraw Historic Cell Phone Tour is a great and unique way to get acquainted with the city’s beautiful history. The tour is free and available anytime. All people need is their phone and an internet connection. Three types of tours are available. People can find more info and download brochures on the city’s official website. Brochures for the tours can also be found in the box outside the Town Hall.

3. Go Camping

Aside from fishing, Cheraw State Park and Lake Juniper offer more fun outdoor activities. The park offers an 18-hole golf course, nine cabins, 17 lakeside campsites, picnic shelters, and over 7000 acres of parkland, mostly covered in piney woodlands. People can go paddling, SUPing, swimming in Lake Juniper, or biking and hiking on its scenic trail system.

Fish in Cheraw and beyond.