The silhouette of a cast net flying across the water is a classic icon of the lowcountry. Both for catching bait and harvesting shrimp for dinner, casting can be a fun activity for all ages.
Know the rules. You can't keep most large fish (flounder, etc. ) caught in a cast net. If you have questions, check the SCDNR website.
Share the dock. It is considered good etiquette to limit your casting to an hour or so, rather than monopolize the dock. (Carts that drive by repeatedly are likely neighbors waiting for a turn and too polite to say so.)
Take only what your family can eat in one meal. This helps us preserve the balance of the ecosystem, and is courteous to your fellow anglers. If you are single-handedly feeding a crowd of 25, you should probably shop for seafood in Mount Pleasant or on the Isle of Palms. Do not stock a freezer or cooler with shrimp for another day.
Be careful with bycatch. There is a bucket system in place on the dock to provide you with a way to release what you've caught that you don't want. Do not throw dead or dying bycatch into the impoundment. Instead, put it and any leftover bait, dead fish, shrimp heads, etc. in this bucket. When you are done for the day, take the bucket across the road and dump it on the outside of the impoundment.
Leave the dock when an alligator comes within the white markers.
Watch out for obstacles. The rice trunk has ensnared many a net. If your net does get caught on something and you can't release it, call Lori or the interns for help.
Alligator Safety Rules for fishing and crabbing
Only crab with weighted hand lines in the impoundment. Do not use crab traps, or leave crab traps at the crab dock. Crabs feed on the bottom and alligators feed at the surface, so use a weighted line and always keep bait on the bottom. Bait on the surface will attract alligators.
Only use fish as crab bait. Use fish or shrimp heads, or catch mullet in a cast net. Bait can be purchased at the marina store. Do not use chicken or other meat. (Alligators investigate the unusual smell.)
Use the bucket on the dock to dispose of dead or dying bycatch, shrimp heads, or anything else you catch in your cast net that you don't want. Carry it to the outside of the impoundment and dump it there. Return the bucket to the dock.
Minnow and crab traps are best placed on the outside of the island. Since thrashing fish and captive bait can be irresistable to alligators, do not hang minnow traps or keepers off the crabbing dock.
Leave the dock if an alligator is paying close attention to your fishing efforts. If they come to associate people with food, everyone is at risk. If you are fishing and crabbing and an alligator comes within 60 feet of you, immediately remove all lines from the water and leave the area. (If you are at the crabbing dock, the white pipes delineate the 50'.)
Keep your pet on leash or voice control at all times.
Contact public safety at 843-296-4952 or the wildlife interns at 843-568-3996, or the Environmental Program Director at 843-568-3994 if you are alarmed or concerned that an alligator is behaving in an unduly aggressive manner.
Check to see if the dock is closed to hook and line fishing. The main crabbing dock is closed to line fishing during the summer months so we don't attract alligators. Signs are posted at the dock.
A fed gator is a dead gator. It is crucial that alligators not become overly accustomed to humans, or begin to associate humans with food. When alligators lose their fear of humans, we have to close the dock or kill the alligator. Since Dewees is a conservation easement, we are not regularly permitted to remove and kill an alligator. Each one of us is an important part of the process. If we want to preserve our favorite crabbing and fishing areas, they must be safe for alligators, too.