Summertime in the Holy City is all about the water, whether you spend it relaxing by the pool, reading at the beach, or casting a fly into a lake. But for some water-sport enthusiasts, no summer pastime satisfies the soul as much as a day spent deep-sea fishing. Regardless of whether you fish from your own boat, a friend's, or a chartered vessel, the experience of hooking a mahimahi is unlike any other.
When you're planning a trip out to sea, Captain Ivan Shultz of Captain Ivan's Sport Fishing says you need to be honest with yourself about your tolerance to the sun and the surf. Not doing so is a mistake that Shultz sees over and over. "It's like leaving the Lowcountry for Colorado and skiing black diamond trails for 12 hours. Unless you're an avid snowboarder or skier, you're just not going to hit the mountain for 12 hours straight. You're just not used to that kind of exposure," he says. "It's the same for people who come here for a visit and go out fishing."
If you're fairly intolerant to either the sun or the surf, stay close to shore where you can still pluck red drum, speckled sea trout, flounder, shark, and sheepshead from the warm waters in the greater harbor area. If you elect to do near-shore trolling, you open up the realm of piscine possibilities to Spanish mackerel and tuna.
For those of you with stronger stomachs, offshore bottom fishing is a great option. Most charters will take you out as far as 50-60 miles offshore in search of the big ones. Sea bass, triggerfish, porgys, and spadefish are just some of the varieties you should expect to see.
Adventurers can step up their game even more, should they choose to do so. Deep-sea bottom fishing is also available through many charter operators, most of which would likely be willing to take a party out as far as 70 miles, especially if the trip is an all-day affair, where you'll be able to fish for vermilion snapper, red snapper, amberjack, large sea bass, and the occasional mahimahi.
For those with the stomach for the sea and the hunger for big game fishing, deep-sea trolling is the way to go. For many anglers, no experience is more harrowing or more memorable as a day spent far from land searching for the big ones, the trophy fish — tuna, wahoo, marlin, sailfish, or mahimahi, not to mention large sharks.
Most charter outfits include licenses, bait, and tackle as part of their fee package. Rates depend on the size of your party, the size of the boat, and the type of trip you want to undertake. Chartering a full boat for the whole day is likely to cost you more than a grand.
Adamada Sportfishing Charters, Shem Creek, Mt. Pleasant, (843) 200-5299/(843) 677-5631
Charleston Fun Fishing Charters, 1407 Shrimp Boat Lane, Mt. Pleasant, (843) 568-2521
Captain Ivan's Sportfishing, 805 Duck Hawk Retreat, James Island, (843) 762-2020, captainivan.com
Daymaker Charters, 95 Ripley Pointe Drive, West Ashley, (843) 452-8010, daymakercharters.com
FinAddict Charters, 15 Krier Lane, Mt. Pleasant, (843) 224-7462, charlestonflyfishingguide.com
Fin Stalker Charters, 1085 Clearspring Drive, James Island, (843) 509-9972, finstalker.net
Hot Shot Charters, 95 Ripley Point Drive, West Ashley, (843) 209-1630, hotshotcharters.com
Knot @ Work Fishing Charters, 85 Rivers Point Row, James Island, (843) 442-7724, knotatworkfishing.com
Marino's Fishin' Charters, 56 Ashley Point Drive, West Ashley, (843) 414-4896, marinosfishincharters.com
Mistress Sportfishing Charters, 1610 Ben Sawyer Blvd., Mt. Pleasant, (843) 452-2744, fishmistress.com
The Reel Deal Charters, (843) 388-5093, (843) 437-7333, thereeldealcharters.com
Risky Business Charters, 95 Ripley Point Drive, West Ashley, (843) 729-8300, riskybusinesscharters.com
Southern Tail Charters, 17 Concord St., Downtown, (843) 991-8372, southerntailcharters.com
Teaser 2, 3642 Pandora Drive, Mt. Pleasant, (843) 881-9735