HARVESTING SEABROOK ISLAND SEAFOOD
Fun and Delicious
Seabrook Island abounds with a wide variety of seafood that is available throughout the year and is fun and easy to harvest. The freshest seafood possible is available to those who are willing to spend some very enjoyable time along our island’s beaches and creeks. A fishing rod, crab net, bucket, bait, cooler of ice and a license are all that is needed. Laws and regulations pertaining to harvesting South Carolina’s marine resources are available at www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/pdf/reg1213.pdf.
A South Carolina Department of Natural Resource Recreational Fisheries license is required to harvest fish, shrimp, oysters or clams and can be obtained locally in most of our hardware and tackle stores. The cost is nominal (residents – $11.00 annual or $5.00 two weeks / nonresidents – $35 annual or $11.00 two weeks). This license covers recreational fishing, crabbing, oystering, clamming and shrimping. Individuals 64 years of age or older may obtain a lifetime senior license for a one-time fee of $9.00
A license is not required to harvest blue or stone crabs by individuals utilizing no more than two crab traps, three drop nets, three fold up traps or three hand lines with a hook and single bait per line.
Fishing can be excellent every month of the year in our creeks and rivers as well as on the front beach. Red drum (also called spot tail bass, puppy drum, red fish, as well as several other common names) is our most abundant and sought after game fish but there are several others as well.
Here are the daily limits and rules for the most common:
Red Drum – 3/day – between 15 and 23 inches in total length
Drum – 5/day – between 14 and 27 inches in total length.
Spotted Sea Trout – 10/day – over 14 inches total length
Flounder – 10/day – over 15 inches total length
Sheepshead – 10/day – over 14 inches total length
There are over 30 additional species that may be encountered.
Black Drop nets, dip nets, crab traps, and chicken necks or backs tied to a string are all used to catch blue and stone crabs. Crabs are most abundant in our creeks and rivers from late spring through the summer months. Blue must be at least 5 inches across (point to point). Only stone crabs with two claws can have one claw removed. The removed claw must have a propodus (forearm) 2 3⁄4 inches in length. It is unlawful to possess any stone crab body (live or dead). Female blue crabs and female stone crabs with eggs (called a sponge crab) must be returned to the water.
Crabs should be kept in a cold cooler but not directly on ice or in a basket or bucket but never in water as they will quickly die (also true for oysters, clams and shrimp). Crabs spoil very quickly so never cook and eat a crab that is not alive when you clean it or place it in the pot.
Oysters and clams may be harvested only from a designated State or Public Oyster Ground. Luckily, we have a public bed nearby in the Kiawah River (see map). Oyster and clam season typically runs from the middle of September to the middle of May each year. South Carolina oysters are intertidal (growing between high and low tide lines) so getting to the bed at low tide is a must. Heavy boots are important to protect you from extremely sharp shells. Intertidal oysters grow in clusters and are harvested by hand. Bring a bucket or basket, a hammer or metal bar to break off the larger oysters, and a strong back. A rake, garden hoe, or suitable hand tool may be utilized to search for clams just under the surface and among the oyster shells. Harvesting limits are two bushels of oysters and one-half bushel of clams per day for two days during any 7-day period.
Shrimp may be harvested with a drop net, cast net or seine (special restrictions apply) in all of Seabrook Island’s marine waters. Shrimp are most abundant during the warm months of the year. The harvest limit is a generous 48 quarts of whole shrimp or 29 quarts of headed shrimp per day. Bait may be utilized to attract shrimp during a special 60-day shrimp baiting season beginning around September 15 and requires a Shrimp Baiting License.
(Photo credit: Google images)
-Submitted by Charles Moore
Charles Moore was formerly a supervisor with the SC Department of Natural Resources (SC DNR) and is currently a member of the SIPOA Lakes & Wildlife Committee.