SCDNR - News Release
October 11, 2004
(843) 953-9310

Support your coastal resources: Purchase a Gone Fishing License Plate!

Dog riding in the back of an old Chevy pickup truck with a "Gone Fishing" license plate

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held a press conference and ceremony on October 7 at the Marine Resources Division in Charleston to announce that a new vehicle license plate is available to South Carolina citizens. The Saltwater Conservation Vehicle License Plate, commonly known as the Gone Fishing License Plate, calls the attention of fishermen, boaters, conservationists and everyone who loves the water and our state's coastal resources.

Funds from the sale of the license plate will go to the DNR and will be used to help protect South Carolina's marine resources.

"Today's ceremony initiates a long-term project that will be beneficial to the DNR and its mission far into the future," said John Frampton, DNR Director. "This license plate is an excellent example of how the public, recreational fishermen and everyone who appreciates the coast can demonstrate their support for our state's natural resources."

Mike McShane of Johns Island is the chairman of the DNR Board. "The DNR is one organization with a united mission, and the DNR Board is committed to the agency's mission of protecting and conserving our natural resources," he said. "This license plate symbolizes what the DNR is really all about – it promotes conservation by giving user groups the opportunity to contribute voluntarily to programs that further recreational fishing activities in our state."

The South Carolina General Assembly supported the concept of a license plate, allowing the DNR to initiate its design and production through the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles. Representative Chip Limehouse (R - House District #110, Charleston County) took the lead in sponsoring House Bill 3990, which made the Gone Fishing License Plate possible.

"Being from the coast and a representative in the South Carolina General Assembly, my priority in government service is to promote conservation. I fully support the Gone Fishing License Plate, and I believe that I speak for all members of the General Assembly who have a deep appreciation for what the DNR represents."

Robert Boyles, the Deputy Director for the DNR's Marine Resources Division, spoke during the ceremony. "We are excited about the opportunity to work with the citizens of South Carolina to promote this license plate," he said. "I want to recognize the outstanding efforts of staff who worked through the lengthy process of making the license plate a reality. The plate is visually attractive, but more importantly, it effectively communicates our commitment to conservation."

The slogan on the license plate says, "Gone Fishing," and the plate features the state's most popular saltwater game fish, the red drum. The license plate not only portrays the importance of saltwater recreational fishing in South Carolina, it also serves as a symbol for all conservation-minded citizens.

Scott Whitaker, president of the South Carolina chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, spoke at the ceremony, and stated that his organization supports the license plate and all it represents. "The symbol of the red drum on the license plate reaffirms that the DNR is in step with recreational fishermen and also the general public. The Coastal Conservation Association encourages its members, other fishermen, and anyone who loves the water to support the DNR in this effort," Whitaker said.

Trey Zimmerman, DNR marketing coordinator, worked diligently to design and develop the license plate, and is responsible for promoting the sale of the plate in the future. Zimmerman will work closely with anglers who purchase a Saltwater Recreational Fishing License and fishing clubs throughout the state, as well as with conservation organizations, to encourage the sale of the plate.

The cost of the plate is $75 every two years, in addition to the regular registration fee. South Carolina citizens are encouraged to purchase this special license plate to help enhance and protect our coastal resources for future generations. The DNR also encourages those who may not even fish to purchase a plate to support the conservation of all our living resources and associated habitats.

To purchase this one-of-a-kind license plate, please visit any S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles location, call their main office at 1-803-737-4000 or visit their Web site at

SIDE BAR: Red drum, the featured fish on the Gone Fishing License Plate

Red drum, also known as spottail bass, are only about one-half inch in length when they arrive in small tidal creeks, which provide important habitat for the juvenile fish.

During their subadult phase (10 months to three years), red drum mainly inhabit larger tidal creeks and rivers, although some are also found along the front beaches of barrier islands, and around inlets near jetties and sandbars.

The adult red drum become sexually mature and can spawn when they reach approximately three to five years in age. At this point in their life cycles, red drum move from the estuaries and join the breeding population inhabiting the coastal ocean waters off South Carolina. It is rare for an angler to catch a red drum over 15 pounds inside the estuaries.

After red drum reach sexual maturity and join the spawning population found in coastal waters, they grow very slowly. The diet of the larger red drum consists mainly of fish and crabs. Atlantic menhaden and spot are the preferred fishes. The occelated and speckled swimming crabs are the most frequently eaten crabs. The most important environmental factors affecting reproduction of red drum, as well as many other fish, are water temperature and the amount of daylight. As days begin to get shorter and waters begin to cool in mid to late August, adult red drum begin their reproductive activity.

In South Carolina, red drum are classified as gamefish and cannot be bought or sold, and they can only be harvested with hook and line or by gigging. The gigging season is closed during December, January and February because red drum move more slowly due to the lower water temperatures, making them easy targets.

State laws limit anglers who possess a South Carolina Recreational Fishing License to two red drum per person per day, and the fish must be within 15 to 24 inches in length.

Most red drum in South Carolina are caught by anglers fishing from boats in the tidal creeks, bays, sounds and inlets, but they are also caught in the surf and by gigging. Surf fishing for red drum peaks in the spring and fall.

- Written by Jennie R. Davis -