Last Updated on May 28, 2022 by Capt. R.C.

South Carolina fishing offers something to look forward to for every season. Fall, winter and spring each have their own unique offering in our estuaries and nearshore waters. When it comes to summer, it gets me eager to chase the elusive silver king.


Key Factors for South Carolina Tarpon Fishing

  • Water Temperature
  • Abundance of Bait
  • Salinity Levels
  • Knowing the Patterns


Water Temperature

The 2022 tarpon season in South Carolina will fire up in the coming summer months. Water temperature is the primary factor for these fish to make their first appearance. Like humans, tarpon have a temperature range where they are most comfortable. The most favorable water temperature for tarpon is 75° – 95° Fahrenheit. It is very rare to see tarpon in waters below 70°, and cold shock/mortality occurs in waters below the 50° – 55° range.

We are in late May, and water temps are already already 78°. I have seen several tarpon while on light tackle charters in Winyah Bay. While it may be a little early, it is encouraging to see that tarpon are already showing up on the South Carolina coast.


Abundance of Bait

Baitfish such as mullet, gizzard shad, threadfin and menhaden tend to show up along with the warmer water temperatures. These two factors are the reason that the tarpon migration begins in Southern Florida and ends (for the most part) in South Carolina. When it comes to South Carolina tarpon fishing, water temperature provides accommodation and bait provides the incentive.

We are seeing an abundance of small menhaden from Myrtle Beach to Georgetown. Mullet are coming out of their winter hiding places, and gizzard shad were found schooling in the bay last week. The early arrival of bait and rising water temperatures are two key factors for a strong tarpon season.


Salinity Levels

Many references, such as the SCDNR Marine Species page, acknowledge that tarpon are able to survive in a wide range of water quality and salinity levels. However my best luck has come when fishing in oxygen rich, high salinity water. It seems like the fish are happier and definitely more active while in quality waters.

It is interesting to note that tarpon are able to survive in these conditions, though. Tarpon are the only fish I know of with a modified air bladder that allows them to utilize atmospheric oxygen. In a long fight, we can observe the fish inhaling air which gives them energy to extend the fight. It can get a little frustrating for the angler as every gulp of air seems to add another 15 minutes to the fight! Your tarpon charter captain should know when the time is right to get the fish boat to the boat.


Knowing the Patterns

Tarpon fishing takes a certain commitment and understanding. Just like anything else in life, hard work will be rewarded. As a charter captain, it really takes a lot of time on the water to key in on local tarpon behavior. A good tarpon fishing guide will be able to locate the fish.

Identifying tarpon patterns doesn’t have to be complicated; you just have to account for the above factors. While every day is different, following the bait in quality water with favorable temps will lead you to success. Many times, you will know whether or not tarpon are in an area. If not, just keep hunting until you find them taking advantage of the factors you will be looking for.


Harvest Moon Fishing Charters

If you are looking to test your skills on a Tarpon Fishing Charter, we will be happy to give you the best possible experience. Harvest Moon Fishing Charters primarily focuses on tarpon fishing in the summer months. Call us to book today 843-485-7424