THERE’S PLENTY OF FISH IN THE SEA

Fishing is a year-round activity on Hilton Head Island. For t hose that want to keep their feet on the land, lagoon and surf fishing ar e popular choices. For t hose looking for a bit more adventure, inshore and offshore fishing may be t he ticket.

LAGOON FISHING

Most of the lagoons on Hilton Head are brackish, meaning they are both fresh and salt water. Don’t let the calm waters fool you; fish can gr ow to enormous sizes (red drum can weigh more than 50 pounds). Other fish caught in t he lagoons include tarpon, striped bass, black drum and the occasional blue fish. Live bait such as shrimp and finger mul let are your best bets, but they are usually hard to come by unless you catch your own or ar e fishing off of a private charter boat. Spinning and top water lur es fished with a lightweight spin rod are another popular option.

SURF FISHING

There are a lot of junk fish (skates, rays, smal l sharks) in the Carolina surf, which can be thrilling to catch, but frustrating for those in pursuit of game fish. Red drum, kingfish, and flounder ar e some of the more prized fish that can be caught. Squid strips, minnows and bunker chunks are the most common types of bait used in the surf. They can be purchased at any tackle shop along with 2- to 3-ounce sinkers to combat the rough water. Don’t feel like you have to cast hal fway to the horizon to catch fish, some of the biggest can be taken right out of the breaking waves. The best t imes to surf fish are early mornings and evenings, when t he beach crowds have subsided and the fish are most active.

INSHORE & OFFSHORE FISHING

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, and willing to spend a majority of the day surrounded by water, inshore and offshore fishing can provide some real thrills. Party boats accommodate large numbers of passengers, but private charters are also available (usually for groups less than 6). Half and full day trips are typical. These trips generally target fish that are specific to the season, and can include marlin, tuna and cobia. Most offer specialized shark fishing trips all year. Your vessel may travel many miles out to sea, or stick to the inshore waterways.

LICENSES AND REGULATIONS

Fishing Hilton Head Island South Carolina law requires that all anglers over the age of 16 have a state fishing license to fish from the surf or water banks. A 14 day license is $5 for residents and $11 for non-residents. Commercial fishing boats provide all their passengers with licenses. Private plantations and resorts usually restrict fishing to owners and guests, and each is subject to its own set of rules. For more information, go to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources homepage, www.dnr.sc.gov.