Sporting Life // 6 min Read

7 Underrated Fly Fishing Spots in South Carolina

Written by Palmetto Bluff

With its abundance of rivers, waterways, and streams, South Carolina is one of the best destinations for fly fishing in the Southeast. Not to mention, its mild weather throughout the year makes it a great place to fish all year round. Whether you are an experienced angler or new to fly fishing, the Palmetto State has some great spots to check out! 

Continue reading to discover a local guide to the best spots for fly fishing in South Carolina. 

1. May River

Spanning 15 miles and winding through Old Town Bluffton and Hilton Head Island, the May River is one of the most underrated fly fishing spots in all of South Carolina. Golden marshes and lush maritime forests board the creeks and brackish waterways of the river. Many fish species reside in the river, including redfish, speckled trout, black drum, flounder, and sheepshead. Some of our favorite fly fishing spots include Skull Creek and the Palmetto Bluff’s inland waterway system. 

Another great aspect of the May River is its proximity to Palmetto Bluff. An upscale resort, the Montage Palmetto Bluff is set within a 20,000-acre community nestled along the May River. Here, you can enjoy convenient access to the best fly fishing spots and the resort’s state-of-the-art amenities, including an extensive nature preserve, a waterfront marina, and a Jack Niklaus signature golf course. Whether you spend a week or just a few days visiting the Lowcountry, the May River in Palmetto Bluff is a must-visit fly fishing destination in South Carolina. 

2. Chattooga River

Winding through South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, the Chattooga River is the longest free-flowing river in the Southeast. A whitewater river, it features everything from statuesque waterfalls to narrow streams and various other picturesque settings. The Chattooga River is infamous for being the filming location of the 1972 adventure movie Deliverance. 

Due to its abundance of brown and rainbow trout, the Chattooga River is one of the top fly fishing destinations in the state. Here, you can find a Delayed Harvest stream a couple of miles off Highway 28. Keep in mind that in South Carolina, Delayed Harvest runs from November 1 through May 14 each year. With the abundance of trout during this season, you can hone your fly fishing skills without competing with bait fishermen. If you enjoy hiking and being fully immersed in nature, the Chattooga River is a must-visit fly fishing spot.

3. Lowcountry Salt Marshes

In recent years, anglers have increasingly favored the Lowcountry Salt Marshes in Charleston. This saltwater marsh comprises a complex ecosystem that can pose navigational challenges. Dominant species in this habitat include channel bass, spot-tail bass, redfish, and sea trout.

Successfully fly fishing the salt marshes hinges on adeptly locating the fish. Prime spots in the Lowcountry include creek mouths, oyster bars exposed during low tide, deep creek holes, choke points, and flooded shorelines. These marshes offer year-round fishing opportunities. During the summer months, popular catches include flounder, sheepshead, black drum, jack crevalle, and Spanish mackerel, while winter brings trout to the forefront as the primary target.

4. Cooper River

Venture beyond Palmetto Bluff’s borders, and you’ll discover the scenic wonders of the Cooper River, a historic waterway meandering through the Lowcountry. Despite its relatively short length, the river boasts a broad expanse as it winds through Berkeley and Charleston counties, finally merging with the Ashley River to form the iconic Charleston Harbor. Known for its abundant populations of striped bass, catfish, and largemouth bass, the Cooper River presents a dynamic playground for anglers of all skill levels. 

5. Kiawah River 

Located along Kiawah Island and just a short drive from Charleston, the expansive Kiawah River is a picturesque fishing destination home to a variety of species of fish. Here, you can enjoy fly fishing while taking in the beauty of the surrounding golden marshes and seeing a variety of protected wildlife species. 

Additionally, the salt marshes bordering the river provide the opportunity for excellent shallow water sight fishing all year long. Sight fishing, a method of fly fishing that entails spotting fish in the water and then luring them by observing their behavior, is a challenging and engaging activity. This technique is commonly used to target the abundant redfish and trout that call the river home. If you’re interested in embarking on a fly fishing charter with the guidance of experienced fishermen, contact the local Heron Park Nature Center for more information. 

6. Whitewater River

A freestone river weaving through South Carolina and North Carolina, the Whitewater River is best known for its picturesque waterfalls and powerful rapids. The river is roughly 14 miles long and empties into Lake Jocassee. Since the Whitewater River is located in some of the most rural parts of the state, the natural scenery is truly a sight to behold. 

When it comes to fly fishing, the most abundant fish species in this river is wild trout. Many fishermen access the best fishing spots via the Overlook Trail off of Highway 281. Keep in mind that some hiking may be required to reach the best fishing spots. We also recommend planning a trip here in the springtime as it is the best time to fly fish in the Whitewater River. 

7. Lower Saluda River 

Streaming from Lake Murray and just a short drive from Columbia, the Lower Saluda River is a popular recreational destination. Locals and visitors alike enjoy boating, paddleboarding, whitewater rafting, and fishing. 

The cool temperatures stem from Lake Murray’s bottom provide an excellent environment for trout. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources abundantly stocks the river with tens of thousands of brown and rainbow trout each year from November through April. The Lower Saluda River also sees the largest migration of landlocked stripers in the eastern part of the state. This makes for an unbelievable fly-fishing experience! 

Experience May River Fly Fishing at Palmetto Bluff

Interested in casting your line into the tranquil waters of the May River in Bluffton, South Carolina? We invite you to visit Palmetto Bluff to experience the art of May River fly fishing for yourself. While you’re here, we would be happy to take you on a tour of our community and introduce you to the private Palmetto Bluff Club and its many amenities. 

Click the button to begin planning your visit.

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