South Carolina Record Fish: The Complete Guide

Jul 5, 2024 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Anglers from around the globe flock to South Carolina to compete in fishing derbies and vie for the biggest catch of their lives. The “Palmetto State” is a prime destination on the East Coast, attracting anglers with its 187 miles of coastline that boast numerous trophy catches. And South Carolina’s fish records proudly display these achievements from over the decades.

A scenic photo of Charleston, the largest city in South Carolina

The state’s inshore waters are plentiful, offering marshes, flats, and inlets teeming with various fish species. Meanwhile, the Gulf Stream harbors some of the fiercest game fish offshore, providing a thrilling challenge for experienced anglers. Freshwater enthusiasts will also find world-class lakes to enjoy – and that’s just scratching the surface!

Whether it’s the vast Atlantic Ocean, the coastal inlets and bays, blackwater rivers, or the state’s extensive lake system, South Carolina offers diverse angling opportunities. Catching monster fish is a big deal here, and everyone is welcome to try and break these records. Read on to discover which one you could conquer next.

Biggest Fish Caught in South Carolina by Species

Let’s be honest, nearly every angler has dreamt of checking out the bite in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Mount Pleasant, or Murrells Inlet. South Carolina’s fishing scene is so incredible that it’s hard to know where to begin.

The list of record fish in South Carolina is nothing short of impressive. One standout is the 1,780 lb Tiger Shark caught in 1964 off Cherry Grove by W. Maxwell – the largest catch ever recorded in SC. Another notable record is the 65 lb Great Barracuda caught out of Georgetown by Henry Selor in 1948 – another huge record that has stood for nearly 70 years.

To explore the records for some of the most celebrated catches, check out the links below. They’re organized alphabetically for you to easily navigate.

Black Seabass

  • South Carolina state record: 8 lbs, 3 oz in Fripp Inlet in 1995
A closeup shot of a young boy holding up a Black Seabass to the camera aboard a fishing boat on a sunny day in winter, with a man standing behind him looking over the side of the boat
Photo courtesy of Sea Owl

For anglers looking to score big, Black Seabass are a prime target in South Carolina. The state record, an impressive 8 pounds, 3 ounces, was set by L. L. Hudson back in 1995 at Fripp Inlet, highlighting just how fruitful these waters can be.

Black Seabass typically range from 1 to 3 pounds, but Hudson’s catch is proof that there are giants out there waiting to be caught. These feisty fish usually patrol the waters a few miles offshore, particularly around reefs and wrecks. The winter months are ideal for Black Seabass fishing as this is when they move closer to shore, making them more accessible.

When going after these jet-black fish, you’ll want sturdy yet sensitive tackle to feel those subtle bites. Squid and cut fish are the go-to baits, dropped right to the ocean floor where Seabass like to hang out. Fish around structures like reefs and rocky bottoms to increase your chances of a big catch. With the right gear and a bit of persistence, South Carolina’s waters offer a thrilling challenge for any angler looking to reel in a trophy Seabass.


  • South Carolina state record: 21 lbs in Charleston in 1975
Two anglers aboard a fishing charter, smiling and holding a large Bluefish with the waters visible behind them on a day with sunny intervals
Photo courtesy of UnReel Sportfishing

Bluefish are another thrilling target for anglers along the South Carolina coast. The state record Blue stands at a whopping 21 pounds, caught out of Charleston in 1975 by J. A. Curtis.

Most Bluefish in South Carolina typically weigh between 5 and 10 pounds, making Curtis’s record catch truly remarkable. These fish are notorious for their voracious appetite and sharp teeth, which means they’ll always provide a good fight. The best time to target bigger specimens is during their migration periods. Visit in spring and fall, when these fish are most abundant along the coast.

To catch these aggressive predators, locals often use live bait such as mullet or menhaden, along with lures that mimic the fast-moving fish Blues prey on. Trolling and casting near schools of bait fish or around structures like jetties and piers are pretty effective methods. Emulate these techniques and you might hook a Bluefish that could rival Curtis’s legendary catch!


  • South Carolina state record: 92 lbs, 10 oz on Hilton Head Island in 2009
An angler in a baseball cap, crouching and holding a Cobia caught while fishing nearshore in Wanchese, NC, with a charter boat behind him in the water
Photo courtesy of Cutawhiskie Charters #1

Cobia fishing in South Carolina has long been a favorite among anglers. And it’s no wonder, as the state’s waters produce some impressive catches. The current state record for Cobia proves just that, standing at a massive 92 pounds and 10 ounces, caught by R. Maroudas in 2009 off Hilton Head Island.

Most Cobia here typically weigh between 20 and 50 pounds, while Maroudas’s record catch was almost double that! These fish have a curious nature and often follow larger marine creatures like Sharks and Rays, sometimes even approaching boats out of sheer curiosity. Charleston, along with Beaufort, is one of the prime spots to target Cobia, especially during the spring and early summer months.

Use live bait such as eels, crabs, or large bait fish to lure these monsters. They also react well to jigs and artificial lures that mimic their natural prey. The fight with a Cobia is almost always intense, making them a prized catch for any angler. Whether you’re fishing nearshore or around offshore structures, the thrill of landing a Cobia in South Carolina is unmatched. 


  • South Carolina state record: 6 lbs, 4.8 oz in Murrells Inlet in 2021
A man in a blue shirt and baseball cap standing on a fishing boat in the inshore waters near Kiawah Island, SC, holding a large Flounder by his waist on a bright day
Photo courtesy of Fishing Charleston 101

If you’re looking for a challenge, try breaking the South Carolina Flounder fish record. J. Fairey’s Flounder, weighing in at 6 pounds and 4.8 ounces, set the bar in 2021 at Murrells Inlet. This area is renowned for its productive inshore waters, making it a prime spot for pursuing these camouflaging creatures.

While Fairey’s catch was truly exceptional, most Gulf Flounder in South Carolina typically weigh between 1 and 3 pounds. Murrells Inlet, along with other coastal areas like Charleston and Myrtle Beach, are perfect spots to check the Flounder bite with their inlets, bays, marshes, and flats.

Come in summer and fall to target these Flatfish when they’re most active, and make use of live bait such as mud minnows, finger mullet, or shrimp to entice them. The key is to drift or slowly drag the bait along the bottom, mimicking the natural movement of their prey. Flounder are ambush predators, lying in wait on the sandy or muddy bottoms to strike. You might find a big one at the end of your line with the right technique and a bit of patience!

Gag Grouper

  • South Carolina state record: 54 lbs 4 oz at Isle of Palms Marina in 2018
An angler in a backwards baseball cap and sunglasses showing off his monster Gag Grouper catch aboard a fishing charter out of Myrtle Beach, SC, on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of The Reel Myrtle Beach Fishing Charters – 32′

Landing a big Gag Grouper in South Carolina is exciting, especially when you consider the record set by James L. Lasher III in 2018. His impressive catch of 54 pounds and 4 ounces at the Isle of Palms Marina highlights just how rewarding these waters can be.

Lasher’s Grouper was exceptional, particularly since most Gag Grouper in South Carolina weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. But the Isle of Palms Marina is a particular hotspot for anglers aiming to hook these powerful fish, thanks to its productive reefs and ledges. Charleston and Hilton Head Island are also top launching points for Gag Grouper, making them ideal destinations for your next fishing adventure.

To successfully catch a Gag, you’ll want to use live or cut bait such as pinfish, sardines, or squid. Bottom fishing is the preferred method, requiring stout rods and heavy lines to handle their strength and tendency to dive for cover. 

Largemouth Bass

  • South Carolina state record: 16 lbs, 2 oz in Lake Marion and an Aiken Co. Pond in 1949 and 1993
A closeup of two anglers in South Carolina holding up three Largemouth Bass after a successful fishing trip
Photo courtesy of Fishin’ Adventures

South Carolina boasts two record catches of Largemouth Bass, each weighing in at 16 pounds and 2 ounces. However, these records were set decades apart – pointing to the enduring appeal and potential of South Carolina’s freshwater fishing.

The bar was first set in 1949 by P. H. Flanagan at Lake Marion, a well-known spot for trophy Bass. The lake’s vast expanse and abundant cover provide an ideal habitat for Largies. The record was tied, however, in a private pond in Aiken County by Mason Cummings in 1993. So not only large lakes but also smaller, well-managed private waters can produce record-breaking Bass in SC!

Largemouth Bass typically weigh between 5 and 10 pounds here, making these 16-pounders exceptional. To entice Bass this big, you’ll want to try techniques like flipping and pitching jigs, casting large swimbaits, or working topwater lures during early mornings and late evenings. There are multiple spots throughout the state with great potential, including the expansive waters of Lake Marion and hidden private ponds.


  • South Carolina state record: 75 lbs in Murrells Inlet in 1965
A man in a blue shirt and baseball cap holding a Redfish aboard an inshore fishing boat in Kiawah Island on a cloudy day, with a boy looking towards the camera and another man sitting and fishing off the deck of the boat behind him
Photo courtesy of Marlin Dog Marine

Along the entire Gulf and Atlantic coasts, Redfish are legendary. And the South Carolina fish record proves why! A. J. Taylor‘s legendary 75 lb Redfish, caught in 1965 at Murrells Inlet, remains an impressive benchmark for any angler on the hunt for a trophy.

Murrells Inlet is a hotspot for these robust fish, thanks to its rich estuaries and marshes. Typically, anglers catch Redfish up to 30 pounds, so Taylor’s record catch is a significant outlier. Other productive areas include Charleston and Hilton Head, where these fish thrive in similar environments.

The most effective way of targeting Redfish is with live bait such as shrimp or mullet. Artificial lures like spoons and soft plastics also work, depending on your preference. And, if you’re looking for a potential wall-hanger, come in spring or fall. This is when “Bull” Reds show up. We think it’s high time someone broke this half-century-old record!

Spotted Seatrout

  • South Carolina state record: 11 lbs 13 oz in Murrells Inlet in 1976
A bearded angler in a baseball cap and sunglasses holding a Spotted Seatrout aboard a fishing boat, with the calm inshore waters of South Carolina behind him on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Top Predator Adventures

Spotted Seatrout, also known as Speckled Trout, are another favorite target for anglers in South Carolina’s inshore waters. In 1976, A. Pendergrass set the state record with an 11 lb, 13 oz Trout, once again caught at Murrells Inlet. Typically, these waters produce catches weighing 2–5 pounds, so an 11-pounder is quite a trophy. 

We’ve already spoken about Murrells Inlet being an inshore angling haven, so it should come as no surprise that the South Carolina fish record for this fish was caught here! Besides this spot, Charleston and Beaufort also offer abundant opportunities for Specks, who you’ll usually find swimming alongside Redfish.

Shrimp or mullet, as well as artificial lures like soft plastics and topwater plugs, are these fish’s kryptonite. Come in the early morning or late in the evening for the best chance of enticing a bite, with peak season taking place in late fall and early winter. Feel free to experiment with your presentation… Who knows? You might land a fish to challenge Pendergrass’s record!

Striped Bass

  • South Carolina state record: 46 lbs, 13 oz in the Combahee River in 1993
An elderly angler in a baseball cap struggling to hold a large Striped Bass on a lake in South Carolina on a clear winter's day
Photo courtesy of Santee Cooper Charters

Landing a Striped Bass in South Carolina is a rewarding experience, and few catches illustrate this better than the state record set by B. W. Chambers in 1993. The massive, 46 lb, 13 oz Striper in the Combahee River was over double the usual Striper catch of 10–20 pounds!

The Combahee River is known for its rich and diverse ecosystem, which is an ideal habitat for Striped Bass. Along with other prime locations like Lake Murray and the Santee-Cooper Lakes, this shows South Carolina’s great potential for trophy-sized fish. 

Striped Bass are particularly active here during the cooler months, with spring and fall being the best seasons to catch them. Make use of live bait such as shad or herring, or artificial lures like swimbaits and jigs for the best results. Whether you’re fishing from a boat or along the riverbank, the right approach and a bit of patience might help you challenge Chambers’s legendary record.

Yellowfin Tuna

  • South Carolina state record: 241 lbs, 12 oz in Charleston in 1979
A younger and older man standing aboard a fishing charter in South Carolina showing off their catch of a Yellowfin Tuna with the open waters visible behind them
Photo courtesy of Missin’ Link Outdoors

We’ll wrap up this list with a true mammoth of a fish! Now, there’s nothing quite like a Tuna at the end of your fishing line even at the best of times. But when you feel one as big as T. C. Lewis did in 1979, you know you’re in for a treat. His 241 lb, 12 oz Yellowfin Tuna off the coast of Charleston is rightly the stuff of legends. 

The offshore waters near Charleston need no introduction. Within a few miles, you’ll be out in the open ocean, with the Gulf Stream bringing plenty of big fish. Yellowfin Tuna swim by as they migrate north and back again during summer, with most weighing between an impressive 60 and 100 pounds. However, as Lewis’s catch proves, there are plenty of bigger fish out there! 

If you want to challenge the current state record, you’ll want to try trolling with lures that mimic the fish’s natural prey, such as squid and smaller fish. Come in summer with heavy-duty rods and reels spooled with a strong line to give yourself a fighting chance. Your next adventure could see you reel in a fish to rival this legendary brute!

South Carolina State Record Fish: An Overview

Before we wrap up, here’s a straightforward overview of South Carolina’s fish records for quick reference. The table below details each species, their record weights, and the locations where these impressive catches were made.

Black Seabass83Fripp Inlet1995
Cobia9210Hilton Head Island2009
Flounder64.8Murrells Inlet2021
Gag Grouper544Isle of Palms Marina2018
Largemouth Bass162Lake Marion/Aiken Co. Pond1949/1993
Redfish750Murrells Inlet1965
Spotted Seatrout1113Murrells Inlet1976
Striped Bass4613Combahee River1993
Yellowfin Tuna24112Charleston1979

South Carolina State Record Fish: A Neverending Story

A group of three anglers sit on a boat, while one other angler stands behind them, holding up a large Redfish each, with the water behind them on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of All In One Charters

This was just an introduction to South Carolina’s fish records. Remember, this list is just the beginning. The thrill of fishing is that records are made to be broken, and each cast in the Palmetto State could set a new standard. We’re constantly on the lookout for record-breaking catches, and there’s always room for new legends to rise.

It’s now over to you to test your skills in South Carolina’s waters. If you bring home a trophy catch, check here to see if your name belongs on the state’s fishing Wall of Fame!

What did you think of our guide to South Carolina’s state record fish? Which catch impressed you the most? Do you have any South Carolina fishing stories? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Please note that all of the images used in the article are used to reflect the species caught and in no way claim to be of the record catch.

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Lisa traded the lecture hall for the vast expanse of the world's waters, transforming her love of teaching into an insatiable passion for angling and storytelling. She would sail through oceans, lakes, and rivers, reeling in the world’s fish stories one catch at a time.

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