Fish


Kiawah Island's brackish and freshwater ponds, creeks, and rivers are home to a wide variety of fish species.  Fishing is a popular pastime on the island, with red drum, flounder, spotted sea trout, and largemouth bass being the most sought after species.

Freshwater

GrassCarp_KICA

Grass Carp


Dark green to brown upperparts, lighter colored underside.  Large scales and tail.

 

Where to see

Freshwater and brackish ponds.

Notes

Up to 4 feet long and 70 pounds.  These large plant eaters are stocked for aquatic plant control and eat a variety of submerged and floating vegetation.  Not typically caught by fisherman since they are herbivorous.

Tilapia

Tilapia


Silvery-green sides, red around mouth and gills, and bright orange borders on dorsal and tail fins.

 

Where to see

Freshwater and brackish ponds.

Notes

Up to 14 inches and 1-5 pounds.  Native to Africa.  Stocked for aquatic plant control.  Often seen tending circular nests in shallow water near pond edges.

bream

Bluegill (Sunfish, Bream)


Flat body, round shape, olive-colored with dark blue/purple around gills and mouth.

Where to see

Freshwater ponds (River Course, Tennis Club Villas).

Notes

Up to 5 pounds but typically less than a pound. This colorful freshwater fish is a popular game fish. Eats small insects and minnows. Often caught using crickets or worms for bait.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass


Olive-green with dark blotches, underside whitish.

Where to see

Freshwater ponds, particularly in center of island (River Course, Tennis Club Villas).

Notes

Up to 20 pounds, typically 1-5 pounds. Highly sought after freshwater fish. Voracious predator. Eats minnows, small fish, worms, frogs, and salamanders.

Saltwater

Bonnethead

Sharks


A variety of sharks inhabit the waters surrounding Kiawah.  Most are less than 5 feet long.

 

Where to see

Saltwater rivers, creeks, ocean.

Notes

The 3 most common sharks are the Bonnethead, Atlantic sharpnose and Black-tipped.  They feed primarily on shrimp, crabs, and small fish.  Small sharks are routinely caught by surf fisherman.

Whiting

Whiting


Gray-brown, often with black bars.  Long body, single barbell (whisker) under mouth.

 

Where to see

Saltwater rivers, creeks, ocean.

Notes

1-3 pounds.  Bottom dwellers that eat worms, crabs, and shrimp.  Commonly caught by surf fisherman using cut shrimp or squid.  Very good to eat. 

Menhaden_Jim

Menhaden


“Shiny” silver with darker back and black spot behind head.

Where to see

Brackish and saltwater ponds, river, ocean.

Notes

Up to 18 inches long.  Also called “porgy” or “bunker”.  Very oily flesh.  Fished commercially for oil and as fertilizer.  Often caught in cast nets and used as bait for larger gamefish.

Mullet2

Striped Mullet


Silver-gray with darker upperparts, horizontal stripes on body and small mouth.

Where to see

Brackish and saltwater ponds, rivers, creeks, ocean.

Notes

Up to 25 inches and 10 pounds.  Eats algae.  Commonly seen leaping out of the water.  Small mullet are often caught in cast nets and used as bait for larger gamefish.

SpotCroaker

Spot/Croaker


Small, silvery, oval-shaped panfish.  Spot are more rounded in shape with a dark spot behind gill plate.  Croakers “croak” when handled.

 

Where to see

Brackish and saltwater ponds, rivers, creeks, ocean.

Notes

4 to 10-inches.  Commonly caught.  Good to eat.  Typically caught fishing on the bottom with shrimp or squid.

Pinfish

Pinfish


Silver with greenish hue, yellow horizontal stripes and dark spot behind gills, sharp dorsal spines.

 

Where to see

Brackish and saltwater ponds, rivers, creeks, ocean.

Notes

Up to 10 inches.  Commonly caught by anglers.  Eats small fish and invertebrates.  Not a highly sought after fish due to the bony nature of its flesh.

Black Drum

Black Drum


Vertical black and silver stripes.  Barbels (whiskers)under chin.

 

Where to see

Brackish and saltwater ponds, rivers, creeks, ocean.

Notes

Up to 50 pounds, typically 2-5 pounds.  Good eating fish.  Black stripes fade away as fish get larger.  Bottom feeder.  Most commonly caught on shrimp or squid.

Sheepshead

Sheepshead


Vertical black and silver stripes.  Teeth distinctive, look similar to human teeth.

 

Where to see

Brackish and saltwater ponds, rivers, creeks and ocean.

Notes

Up to 20 pounds.  Typically found around docks and pilings.  Eats barnacles, crabs, and mollusks.  Typically caught using live fiddler crabs as bait. 

Flounderclose

Southern Flounder


Dark brown with light spots.  Underside is solid white.  Both eyes on top side of body.

 

Where to see

Brackish and saltwater ponds (Canvasback, Egret, Bass, and Beachwalker), rivers, creeks, ocean.

Notes

Up to 10 pounds, typically 1-3.  Lays on bottom and ambushes small fish and shrimp as they pass by.

Specktrout_Jim

Spotted Sea Trout (Speckled Trout)


Silver fading to white on belly.  Black spots on sides.

 

Where to see

Brackish and saltwater ponds (Canvasback, Egret), rivers, creeks, ocean.

Notes

Up to 12 pounds.  1-5 pound fish routinely caught in island ponds.  One of the top species of inshore game fish in South Carolina.  Young trout primarily eat shrimp, while adults mostly eat fish. 

Red Drum (2)

Red Drum (Spottail Bass, Redfish)


Silver to reddish-brown with black spot near tail.

 

Where to see

Brackish and saltwater ponds (Canvasback, Egret, Pintail, and Beachwalker), rivers, creeks, ocean.

Notes

Up to 60 inches and 80 pounds.  20-30 pound fish routinely caught in island ponds.  Eats a variety of prey, including shrimp, blue crabs, fiddler crabs, and fish.