Sharks of all species, sizes invade Charleston Harbor in September

Sullivan McElveen caught this shark in Charleston Harbor while fishing with guide Dylan Rohlfs of RedFin Charters.

When Sullivan McElveen of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., caught her first shark in Charleston Harbor, she couldn’t stop smiling. It gave her a new respect for sharks and an appreciation for why anglers target them.

“The biggest fish I’d caught before that was an upper-slot redfish, and I thought that was a fight,” she said. “But the shark — wow! I still can’t believe what a fight that was. Catching it was truly a thrill.”

McElveen was fishing with Dylan Rohlfs of RedFin Charters when she hooked the shark, a 5-foot-plus bruiser that bit a big chunk of cut bait in about 35 feet of water.

Rohlfs said the Harbor is a great place to target sharks this month.

“The sharks are active here in the harbor throughout the year, including September,” he said. “We catch a big variety, and we catch them in all sizes. For anyone looking for a fun fight, a shark fishing trip can give you all you want.”

Rohlfs said in September, anglers targeting sharks can catch bull redfish, which are also on the prowl in the harbor.

He said catching sharks just takes some basic knowledge and tools. Knowing how to read current breaks is a plus.

A big fight

“I like to anchor down, then cast two lines out,” Rohlfs said. “I use an 8/0 circle hook, 80- to 100-pound braided line with a comparably-sized fluorocarbon leader, and a 4500 to 5500 series Daiwa BG spinning reel. Just about any type of cut bait will do, and once the lines are out, I like to keep the rods in rod holders. When a shark bites, you’ll know it.”

When a shark bites, Rohlfs said anglers need to be prepared for a big battle. Anglers are often surprised, he said, at how strong of a fight these sharks put up.

“Once you’ve got the rod out of the rod holder, you just need to reel as you lower the rod tip, then stop reeling and pull up on the rod,” said Rohlfs (843-277-5255). “Then, reel down again, stop reeling and lift. Even with the fight of a shark, reeling down, then lifting the rod should be a smooth process. Let the rod do its job, let the drag on the reel do its job, and you’ll get the shark in. Let it run when it’s pulling against the drag, then get back to reeling.”

Rohlfs said anglers can expect a variety of shark species this month, including bonnetheads, hammerheads, fine-toothed sharks, sandbar sharks and bull sharks.

About Brian Cope 2762 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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