AHQ INSIDER Santee Cooper (SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report – Updated October 31 Reviewed by Momizat on . --   October 31 Santee Cooper water levels are at 73.21 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 73.17 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Morning surface --   October 31 Santee Cooper water levels are at 73.21 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 73.17 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Morning surface Rating: 0
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AHQ INSIDER Santee Cooper (SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report – Updated October 31

 

October 31

Santee Cooper water levels are at 73.21 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 73.17 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Morning surface temperatures are in the mid-70s but should drop with the cold front.

Santee Cooper bass fishing is a tale of feast-or-famine, and in the Carolinas Bass Challenge last week there were some monster sacks – while a lot of people didn’t catch a fish.  Sometimes the same anglers struggled from the first day to the second day.

Overall, Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that fish are behind where they are “supposed” to be at this time of year, and he has been catching fish in 6-12 feet of water.  It’s usually all about the bait at this time of year, and a week or two ago it looked like the bait would be moving into the creeks.  However, when temperatures warmed back up that migration stopped, and recently the best action has been coming fishing slowly with Carolina rigs and Texas rigs outside the creeks and in the mouths.

We are on the verge of significant cooling, and when that happens bass will follow shad into the backs.  They will be caught on swimbaits, crankbaits and even topwater lures in both lakes.  In the backs of creeks look for wood, stumps or trees, and cover will be at a premium with water levels pretty low.   Water levels should continue to fall and if so fish will have to move to find new cover.

Craig Jurgonski & Jack Belt had two fish in the 11-pound range on day 1!

Craig Jurgonski & Jack Belt had two fish in the 11-pound range on day 1!

Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that crappie are biting well, and they are catching some very big fish as well as lots of 1 ½ to 2 pounders.  Fish are still on mid-depth brush, and even with the water down there are also some fish on shallow cover.  Fishing minnows and jigs 8-16 feet down in 15-30 feet of water has been the best pattern.

Even though water temperatures are still warm bream fishing is getting better on brush.  However, as temperatures drop it should get much better.

Catfish are still spread out in the lakes, and Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that during the day he is having the best luck drifting in about 15-40 feet of water.  At night the best fishing has been deeper, and anglers drifting 25-46 feet of water have had the best results.  Herring and white perch have been the best baits.

October 18

Santee Cooper water levels are at 72.99 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 73.02 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Morning surface temperatures are in the mid-70s but should drop with the cold front.

Water levels are 2 ½ to almost 4 feet down in the Santee lakes, and combined with the cold snap Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that bass fishing has gotten a little slow.  However, when a fish does bite it is usually a good one.

Fish are still shallow but they are transitioning to eating shad, and so baits like swimbaits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits are working the best.  Fish have not really moved into the creeks yet but they are on their way there, and 5-6 feet has been a good depth range to look.

Topwater lures have not been producing recently for Brett.

Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that crappie fishing has gotten even better, and fish are all over the brush in both lakes.  With water levels several feet down the brush is not as deep as usual, but fish are holding about 8-14 feet down over brush in 18-25 feet of water.  In the upper lake fish have been holding a little shallower, while in the lower lake they can be found on slightly deeper brush.

Arnold Brooks with a couple of nearly 3-pound crappie caught this week with Captain Steve English

Arnold Brooks with a couple of nearly 3-pound crappie caught this week with Captain Steve English

There are some bream on brush but really water temperatures need to get a little cooler before they stack up.

Catfish are pretty spread out on the lakes, and Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that during the day he is having the best luck drifting in about 15-25 feet of water.  During the night the best fishing has been very deep, and anglers drifting 40-50 feet of water have had the best results.  There are not a ton of fish in that range but the ones that are there are big.  Shad can be seen flipping all over the lakes right now and it is definitely a cut shad bite.

While there are not a lot of boats fishing for catfish in the canal, there is plenty of bait there.

October 3

Santee Cooper water levels are at 73.42 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 73.36 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Morning surface temperatures are back into the 80s.

In the main body of Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie the lake is clear for Santee.

Unseasonably warm weather has delayed a further migration into the creeks, but Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that bass are still in very shallow water.  Fish have moved into 1 – 1 ½ feet of water around grass, a typical early fall location.  They will eat topwater lures like frogs and buzzbaits in the morning and sometimes throughout the day, and soft plastics will also work when they won’t feed on top.  He suggests fishing four feet of water or less most of the time.

As temperature drop shad will move into the backs and bass will follow them, and swimbaits and crankbaits fished in shallow water in the backs of creeks will produce.  Soft plastics will also catch fish around brush and trees.

Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that crappie fishing remains pretty good, and overall fish are still pretty scattered around a variety of mid-depth brush.  The best numbers of fish have been about 16-18 feet down in 25-28 feet of water.

Jeter and Jay Yates with a couple of nice fish caught with Captain Steve English

Jeter and Jay Yates with a couple of nice fish caught with Captain Steve English

Bream are also starting to show up well on brush in about 12-15 feet of water in both lakes.

There continue to be nice catfish caught on Santee,  but Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that the pattern has gotten deeper.  During the day he is drifting in 25-35 feet of water, while at night he is drifting in 25-45 feet.  Overall Moultrie seems to be fishing better and more consistently than Marion right now, and while there some really good catches in Marion it is feast-or-famine.

Some nice fish are also being caught of the canal, mostly anchored at night.

September 19

Santee Cooper water levels are at 73.94 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 73.88 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Morning surface temperatures range from about 76-80.

In the main body of Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie the lake is clear for Santee.

Although he is surprised by how quickly it happened, Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that as of this morning the bass have finally made their long-awaited fall move into very shallow water.  Overall they found a strong bite, with a 7 ½ pound fish, a couple of 4-pounders, and plenty more.

Fish have been around trees and wood in 4-5 feet of water, but they have now moved into 1 – 1 ½ feet around grass.  This is a typical location to go when it first gets cool.  They will eat topwater lures like frogs and buzzbaits.

Even during the day Brett suggests concentrating fishing efforts on four feet of water or less, and he says that if they won’t take a topwater then soft plastics may work.

Caught this morning with Captain Brett Mitchell

Caught this morning with Captain Brett Mitchell

Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that crappie fishing remains pretty good, and he is exclusively concentrating on the upper lake.  Overall fish are still pretty scattered around a variety of mid-depth brush.  The best numbers of fish have been about 16-18 feet down in 25-28 feet of water. Small bream are still everywhere but the better fish have still not yet grouped up on brush.

There continue to be nice catfish caught on Santee, and Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that he is still doing well drifting herring and perch in 30-40 feet of water at night.  During the day he is finding the best success drifting in 10-30 feet of water.

Overall the night bite remains better than the daytime bite, and at night there are also some good fish being caught anchoring shallow.

Stevie has not heard any reports for bigger fish from the canal, but small ones can be caught there on dip baits.

Captain Jim Glenn reports that fishing remains good, although the cool snap could change the bite.  For now he has found the best bite drifting in 10-25 feet of water, but if the bite slows he suggests prospecting in 35-40 feet during the day.

September 13

Santee Cooper water levels are at 74.31 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.34 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Morning surface temperatures are in the low 80s.

Because of drawdown related to the storm visibility varies greatly over the lake.  For example, the west side of Moultrie has been clearer than the east.

After light fishing activity before the storm, Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that crappie fishing has been pretty good in both lakes this week.  In the lower lake they have caught smaller numbers of fish but they have been good ones, while action in the upper lake has been a little faster.  Overall fish are still pretty scattered around a variety of mid-depth brush.  The best numbers of fish have been about 16-18 feet down in 25-28 feet of water. Small bream are still everywhere but the better fish have not yet grouped up on brush.

Greg with. a nice 2-pounder caught on Marion with Captain Steve English

Greg with. a nice 2-pounder caught on Marion with Captain Steve English

Greg with a 2-pounder caught out of Lake Marion this week

Post-storm there continue to be some nice catfish caught on Santee, and Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that he is still doing well on a night drifting pattern in 40-45 feet of water. It continues to produce big fish. During the day he has had the best luck drifting in 15-25 feet of water.

Overall the night bite remains better than the daytime bite, and at night there are also some good fish being caught anchoring shallow.

They are pulling less water now than in the week and a half leading up to the storm, but anglers are still catching plenty of fish at anchor on dip baits.

Captain Jim Glenn reports that his personal experience as well as reliable reports also indicate that fishing is strong right now, and they have been catching catfish before they can even get four rods out.  He has found a good bite drifting in 9-24 feet, with the best action on the shallower end in 9-15.  He is also receiving reports of big fish caught in 40+ feet, including during the day.

There is little change in the bass pattern on Santee Cooper, and Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that while fish have still not made the big push very shallow they are eating better.

The best pattern is still fishing topwater lures like frogs or buzzbaits shallow anywhere there is shade, cover or weed early and late, and then once the sun gets up pitching soft plastics to any type of cover with shade in 3 feet or more.  There are also some fish around deeper cover, but Brett has found very few fish much deeper than 12 feet.  Brush piles, stumps and stump beds out to 12 feet have all fished about the same, with Carolina rigs and Texas rigs the best way to fish the deeper stuff.

September 5

Santee Cooper water levels are at 74.58 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.97 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Morning surface temperatures are around 80 degrees.

Fishing activity has been very slow on the Santee Cooper lakes this week with the hurricane looming, but Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that before the storm the bass bite had picked up a little bit.  While fish have still not made the big push very shallow they are eating better.

The best pattern is still fishing topwater lures like frogs or buzzbaits shallow anwhere there is shade, cover or weed early or late, and then once the sun gets up pitching soft plastics to any type of cover with shade in 3 feet or more.  There are also some fish around deeper cover, but Brett has found very few fish much deeper than 12 feet.  Brush piles, stumps and stump beds out to 12 feet have all fished about the same, with Carolina rigs and Texas rigs the best way to fish the deeper stuff.

Brett has also found some good fish up in the swamp recently in 2-4 feet of water.

August 21

Santee Cooper water levels are at 74.92 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.83 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Morning surface temperatures are in the mid- to upper 80s and without much rain clarity is good.

There continue to be some nice catfish caught on Santee in the heat of summer, and Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that he has discovered a strong night-time bite drifting in 40-45 feet of water.  The first time he fished this pattern he caught multiple fish in the 25-30+ pound range, and it has continued to produce.

During the day he has had the best luck drifting in 15-25 feet of water.

Overall the night bite has been better than the daytime bite, and at night there are also some good fish being caught anchoring shallow.

There is also a decent amount of fishing activity in the canal, where anglers are mostly anchor fishing. They are catching plenty of small fish in the canal on stinkbait.

A nice catch on Captain Stevie English's boat

A nice catch on Captain Stevie English’s boat

While the big bass seem to be in hiding on the Santee lakes, Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that there are still pretty good numbers to be had.  The best fishing is in the 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. window, and his boat is catching 10-12 fish per day.

The best pattern is still fishing topwater lures like frogs or buzzbaits shallow anwhere there is shade, cover or weed.

Once the sun gets up the predominant pattern is pitching soft plastics to any type of cover with shade in 3 feet or more.  There are also some fish around deeper cover, but Brett has found very few fish much deeper than 12 feet.  Brush piles, stumps and stump beds out to 12 feet have all fished about the same, with Carolina rigs and Texas rigs the best way to fish the deeper stuff.

In the lake they are mainly catching small bream, but Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that in the canals some very nice bluegill have been biting.  They are fishing on the bottom on the sides of the canal in about 12-15 feet of water.

On the crappie front, Steve reports that they are starting to catch more fish in the upper lake.  They are in 14-20 feet of water and the bite is definitely improving as we move towards September, which happens every year.  Minnows are working best.

July 29

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.44 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.34 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are around 84, and the lake is fairly clear.

The biggest change this week has been with the catfish, and Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that a deep drifting bite has come on at night.  Saturday night he got six fish over 25 pounds drifting in deep water.  There has also been a good shallow bite at night anchoring in 3-10 feet of water around trees.

During the day fish are a little smaller, but drifting in 8-15 feet remains the best pattern.

The canal has started producing more big fish to go with still very strong numbers.

A nice catfish caught with Captain Stevie English

A nice catfish caught with Captain Stevie English

There’s not a lot of change in the bass pattern on the Santee lakes, and Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that on most morning or afternoon trips they are still getting a nice one four to five pounds or more.

Between daylight and 7 a.m., and then again between 7 p.m. and dark, there is a good topwater bite.  Fish anywhere there is shade, cover or weed, with frogs, buzzbaits, or your favorite surface lure.

Once the sun gets up the predominant pattern is pitching soft plastics to any type of cover with shade in 3 feet or more.  There are also some fish around deeper cover, but Brett has found very few fish much deeper than 12 feet.  Brush piles, stumps and stump beds out to 12 feet have all fished about the same, with Carolina rigs and Texas rigs the best way to fish the deeper stuff.

The bream fishing remains good on Santee Cooper, withCaptain Steve English (843-729-4044) reporting that yesterday his boat caught a nice haul of fish off beds.  Fish continue to move into the shallows around bedding moon phases. When that happens the fish on the brush get smaller, but then they move back out to brush again after the new or full moon once bedding activity slows down.

Crappie fishing remains fairly good, and Steve reports that they are catching a few fish 15-25 feet down over brush, and then some shallower 8-10 feet down over brush.  Fish are really scattered and it seems like they are seeking out the choice brush regardless of depth.  Minnows are working best.

July 22

Santee Cooper water levels are down to 75.27 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.51 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are in the upper 80s, and clarity is relatively high.

Even though it’s the heat of summer some good bass continue to be caught on the Santee lakes, and Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that on most morning or afternoon trips they get a nice one four to five pounds or more.  Last night they caught a 6-pounder, good for the win in the Sunday Showdown Series.

Between daylight and 7 a.m., and then again between 7 p.m. and dark, there is a good topwater bite.  Fish anywhere there is shade, cover or weed, with frogs, buzzbaits, or your favorite surface lure.

Once the sun gets up the predominant pattern is pitching soft plastics to any type of cover with shade in 3 feet or more.  There are also some fish around deeper cover, but Brett has found very few fish much deeper than 12 feet.  Brush piles, stumps and stump beds out 12 feet have all fished about the same, with Carolina rigs and Texas rigs the best way to fish the deeper stuff.

The winning bag from last night's tournament

The winning bag from last night’s tournament

The bream fishing remains good on Santee Cooper, withCaptain Steve English (843-729-4044) reporting that fish continue to move into the shallows around bedding moon phases.  When that happens the fish on the brush get smaller, but then they move back out to brush again after the new or full moon once bedding activity slows down.

Crappie fishing has been good but not great, and Steve reports that they are catching a few fish 15-25 feet down over brush, and then some shallower 8-10 feet down over brush. Fish are really scattered and it seems like they are seeking out the choice brush regardless of depth. Minnows are working best.

On the catfish front, Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that there has not been much of a deep bite recently, and drifting 8-12 feet during the day and anchoring 8-10 feet at night has been the primary pattern. He is also doing some daytime anchoring in the upper lake around timber.  There are lots of small catfish being caught in the canal on dip baits.

Overall there are more big fish being caught at night, but better numbers during the day.

June 25

Santee Cooper water levels are at 76.06 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.59 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are in the mid-80s, and the upper end of the system is still dingy while the lower pond is clear.

The bream fishing remains good on Santee Cooper, andCaptain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that they continue to catch strong numbers of fish off of beds.  In his last trip they caught 30 or 40 nice bluegill.  They are also still picking up crappie off the same brush as at last report, with a couple of nice fish off each brush pile.

Captain Steve English guided Rodney Beard to this nice 15-ounce bluegill

Captain Steve English guided Rodney Beard to this nice 15-ounce bluegill

On the catfish front, Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) and Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that fish are still on the same anchored pattern from the last report.

There is no change from the last report in the bass pattern, with Captain Brett Mitchell(803-379-7029) reporting that the best bite is still to fish topwaters early and then trees with soft plastics.

June 21

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.74 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.22 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are in the low to mid-80s, and the upper end of the system is fairly muddy because of a lot of water coming in.

The return of summer heat and changing water levels has slowed down bass fishing a little, but Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that they are still picking up some good fish on topwater lures in the morning.  After that fish can be caught on worms around trees.

Until the water stabilizes a little Brett doesn’t expect the bite to improve too much, as for right now fish don’t know whether to go deep or shallow.

Crappie fishing has been good recently, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that fish are still on mid-depth brush 10-15 feet down in the 20-30 foot range.  The bite is better than it has been the last two years.

Spawning activity for bream peaks around the new and full moons, but the mayfly hatch has also added another variable that has the bream aggressive and feeding.  Overall the bite has been good, and fish can be found feeding around shallow beds, deeper beds, and areas where the mayflies are hatching in 12-15 feet of water.  While the shellcracker spawn started earlier in the year they are still finding both shellcracker and of course bluegill beds.  Crickets are hard to beat.

Captain Jim Glenn "guided" Captain Bill Plumley to this nice Santee system shellcracker

Captain Jim Glenn “guided” Captain Bill Plumley to this nice Santee system shellcracker

On the catfish front, Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that they are still catching fish in 10-15 feet of water during the day. At night they are anchoring in shallow water in 5-10 feet of water and catching them on cut herring.  The day bite remains a bit stronger although rising water temperatures may change that soon.

While there are not a lot of reports of big fish being caught in the canal, channels have been biting well on stinkbait there.

Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) adds that there appears to be a strong population of catfish in the lakes right now, but there could be a slowdown in the bite now that the spawn is underway.  Of course not all the fish will spawn at the same time, and so in a system as big as Santee you should certainly be able to find feeding fish if you move around.

June 6

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.48 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.34 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are in the low to mid-80s, and the lake remains relatively clear.

There’s not a lot of change with the bass, but Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that the bite is still pretty good. On his last morning trip they caught about ten fish, including a couple of 6-pounders and some in the 4 pound range.

The tail end of the shad spawn is still going on in the mornings, and Brett has seen shad around both grass and trees.  Fish are also feeding on spawning bream, a pattern that will last well into the summer.  The action is still shallow in 1-4 feet of water.

The morning has been by far the strongest time to fish, with buzzbaits, Pop-Rs, Spooks or about any other lure you prefer working.  After the morning it turns into a slower soft plastic bite.

Brett Mitchell fights a good Santee bass last week

Brett Mitchell fights a good Santee bass last week

Crappie fishing has been pretty good albeit a little inconsistent, but on good days Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that they have caught 40+ fish.  Fish are still on brush that is not terribly deep, and fishing 10-16 feet down over 20-28 feet of water is still a good range.

There has been a good bream bite shallow, and bluegill have been caught in 2-5 feet of water around shallow grass, besides trees and along edges.  Crickets under a float will work as well as anything, and in the grass they are using Bream Busters to get in the right areas.

On the catfish front, Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that the daytime fishing has actually been a little better than the nighttime action, with 10-15 feet both at anchor and drifting working well.  At night the fish are shallower, but right now he is switching some of his night trips back to days.

The canal bite has also turned on, with most people drifting but some also anchoring.

Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that the blue catfish bite has held up pretty well, and he is exclusively drifting with shad in 10-20 feet of water.  There has also been some really good anchor fishing for eating-sized channel catfish with dip baits in 4-6 feet of water early and late.

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