The actual position of the North Carolina/South Carolina border is not well marked in the marshes between Ocean Isle and Dunn Sound, and the fish don’t pay any attention.
Unfortunately, fishermen must pay attention, as redfish are managed by different regulations and limits depending on which side of the state line you’re fishing. The location of the state line is “must know” information as some creeks wander back and forth across the state line or begin in one state and end in the other.
Fishermen in North Carolina are limited to a single red drum per day in a slot that begins at 18 and ends at 27 inches. South Carolina fishermen may keep up to three red drum per day in a slot that runs from 15 to 23 inches. All other red drum must be released immediately.
Guide Mark Stacy is licensed to fish in both states, and he routinely ventures back and forth during a day of fishing. He has adopted a limit structure that meets the regulations in both states. On fishing expeditions that cross the state line, Stacy maintains a single fish limit for red drum with a slot of 18 to 23 inches.
Flounder are often caught incidental to red drum, and fishermen welcome them to the bag. North Carolina’s creel limit on flounder is six per day, with a 15-inch size minimum. South Carolina fishermen can keep up to 20 flounder per day, with a minimum size of 14 inches. Stacy’s limit is six fish with a minimum size of 15 inches.
Both states have 14-inch minimum sizes on speckled trout, but the season in North Carolina is closed until June 15. After that, the daily creel limit is four fish. South Carolina fishermen can keep 10 specks per day.
Even black drum are managed differently. In North Carolina, the daily creel limit is 10, with a 14-inch size minimum and a restriction of one fish longer than 25 inches per day. South Carolina fishermen can keep five fish per day in a 14- to 27-inch slot.
For more information, visit www.ncdmf.net and www.dnr.sc.gov.