2021 blue catfish law took effect June 16
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster recently signed a new statewide catfish law that went into effect on June 16, 2021. The new law implements a daily creel limit of 25 Arkansas blue catfish per person. Only two of those fish can be larger than 32 inches.
This same regulation has been used on the Santee Cooper lakes before, as part of a 2014 law that expired in 2018. But the law is now for all public bodies of water in South Carolina.
The SCDNR supported the bill, and fishing guides were also in favor of it. It’s a big step in protecting a species that up until recent years had no creel limit and no size restrictions. The law is designed to increase the population of blue catfish while allowing anglers the chance to harvest plenty of fish, including up to two trophy-sized fish.
The 2014 law was viewed by SCDNR and Santee’s anglers and fishing guides as a huge success. It expired due to a technicality in the law which included a sunset clause after a certain number of years. That’s when fishing guides, the SCDNR, and the Santee Cooper Country Tourism Board pushed to have this new law enacted. Along the way, lawmakers decided it was a good regulation for all public waters in South Carolina.
The new law has no sunset clause
Capt. Charles King of KingFish Charters said he — and all of the guides he has spoken to — are strongly in favor of the new law.
“It’s a very good law, and it’s good that it’s being implemented statewide. As guides, we are in favor of it. It allows our customers to catch plenty of fish to take home. Twenty-five catfish a day is plenty to keep. And allowing up to two fish larger than 32 inches gives anglers the chance at keeping a trophy. At the same time, it protects those trophy-sized fish because all but two must be released,” said King (843-296-1083), who fishes out of Blacks Camp.
Unlike the 2014 blue catfish law, this one has no sunset clause. So it will remain law unless a new regulation is proposed and passed by state lawmakers in the future. As part of the new law, the SCDNR must report on the status of the blue catfish fishery throughout South Carolina by Jan. 1, 2025.
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