AHQ INSIDER Santee Cooper (SC) Spring 2019 Fishing Report – Updated February 22 Reviewed by Momizat on . -- The newest Santee Cooper fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-santee-cooper-sc-spring-2019-fishing-report/ February -- The newest Santee Cooper fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-santee-cooper-sc-spring-2019-fishing-report/ February Rating: 0
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AHQ INSIDER Santee Cooper (SC) Spring 2019 Fishing Report – Updated February 22

The newest Santee Cooper fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-santee-cooper-sc-spring-2019-fishing-report/

February 22

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.38 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.20 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures range from the mid to upper 50s, and the water is still dirty.

With rising temperatures Santee Cooper bass were starting to move towards the banks, but with water levels dropping a foot since the 17thit has pushed the fish out to deeper water.  Fish can be found in the 2-8 foot range, but the fish on the shallower end of that are the stragglers and they are going the other direction.  There were some fish up in the grass when water levels were rising, but once again the best fishing is around wood – either trees or brush piles.  Spinnerbaits and soft plastics are the best baits right now.

Both lakes are still fishing about the same, and it is really a matter of personal preference where anglers want to fish.

Brett Mitchell and a young angler with a nice Santee bass caught during the last warming trend

Brett Mitchell and a young angler with a nice Santee bass caught during the last warming trend

Crappie are on the move right now, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that around Angel’s Landing there have been some good reports of fish caught trolling.  There also some fish still being caught around mid-depth brush, but they should be starting to make their way into creek channels and eventually towards the banks.  Once the water warms a few more degrees things should really take off.

On the catfish front,Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that overall the bite remains a little slow.  There were certainly some big fish up to 76 pounds caught in the recent Cabela’s tournament, but numbers are down right now.  Fish are fairly scattered, and they can be caught drifting both shallow and deep water.   At times anchoring is also working.   Most any fresh cut fish will work.

Striped bass fishing is pretty slow since the water got dirty again.

February 6

Santee Cooper water levels are at 76.25 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.25 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are already in the mid-50s and should hit 60 by week’s end. Clarity is improving but the lake is definitely still stained.

Bass fishing is improving with the warm temperatures, and Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that in both lakes fish are starting to move to the shallows because of the warming trend.  Fish are in an early pre-spawn staging pattern, and wood in less than five feet of water is the best cover to fish. Some very large fish have already moved up into 3-6 feet of water and this is a great time to catch a giant 9-11 pound fish.   Spinnerbaits, Rattle Traps, soft plastics and swimbaits will all catch fish.

Both lakes are fishing about the same, and it is really a matter of personal preference where anglers want to fish.

Captain Brett Mitchell shows off a nice early spring Santee bass

Captain Brett Mitchell shows off a nice early spring Santee bass

Crappie fishing has been a little slow, but Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that this round of warm weather is moving fish out of deeper water and towards the banks.  Spider rigging in 8-15 feet of water is a good way to target these migrating fish.

There is also a ton of fishing activity in the old Santee River where they have pulled a lot of water through the Wilson Dam but things are now calming down.  Because there is only one small landing there can be a long wait to put in and take out a boat.

On the catfish front, overall the bite has been a little slow.  There have been reports of decent numbers of smaller fish drifting out in 30 plus feet of water, but bigger fish have been few and far between in the last week or two. With this warming trend, however, it is worth anchoring in the shallows at night with cut bluegill and white perch. It will be a little while longer before the shallows are productive during daytime hours.

The pattern for striped bass fishing is mostly unchanged, and Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that they are still catching some fish trolling Rattle Traps.  Fish can be caught around deep water or deep drops near large schools of bait.  Some fish are also being caught on jigging spoons in 20-30 feet of water.

January 25

Santee Cooper water levels are at 76.48 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.13 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures range from about 47-50 degrees.  The lake was clearing before the latest round of rain.

It’s still not a good time to catch numbers of bass on the Santee Cooper lakes, but Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that they are still catching some good ones.  The best pattern remains heading for the least stained water and fishing in 6-10 feet with crankbaits and spinnerbaits around wood.  Look for little drop-offs where fish are feeding up on cold or even dying shad.

The upper lake is still fishing pretty tough, although with a whole lot of current small breaks in the current do create some opportunities.  Overall, though, cold and muddy water is tough sledding and you are better off targeting areas where the water is more settled.

The pattern for striped bass fishing is mostly unchanged, and Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that they are still catching some fish trolling Rattle Traps.  Numbers are not what they would be if the water were clear as conditions have fish scattered, but around deep water or deep drops fish are can be found around bigger schools of bait.  There are schools of shad suspended in deep water, although if the shallows warm a couple of degrees they will move up.  Some fish are also being caught on jigging spoons in 20-30 feet of water.

Crappie fishing remains a little slow, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) has actually been heading to the Santee river rather than focus on the lakes.  However, some good ones can still be caught in the lakes even though the numbers are way down.  The best pattern is still fishing 14-20 feet down in 25-30 feet of water.  They do not expect a huge improvement in the bite until spring.

On the catfish front, Captain Jim Glenn reports that with tough weather conditions there has not been a lot of fishing activity in the past week. However, the pattern is mostly unchanged and fish still seem to be concentrated in 30-40 feet of water.  Drifting flats with some bait on them with cut gizzard shad is the best pattern.

January 17

Santee Cooper water levels are at 76.41 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.04 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are about 52 degrees.  There is a ton of water running through the lakes, with the upper lake still muddy and the lower lake dingy.

Don’t go out bass fishing on the Santee Cooper lakes right now if you are expecting to catch numbers of fish, but Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that they are catching some good ones.  The best pattern is heading for less stained water and fishing in 6-10 feet with crankbaits and spinnerbaits around wood.  Look for little drop-offs where fish are feeding up on cold or even dying shad.

The upper lake is fishing pretty tough right now, although with a whole lot of current small breaks in the current do create some opportunities.  Overall, though, cold and muddy water is tough sledding and you are better off targeting areas where the water is more settled.

Even with the dirty water it’s a pretty good time for striped bass on Santee, and Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that they are catching some fish trolling Rattle Traps.  Numbers are not what they would be if the water were clear as conditions have fish scattered, but around deep water or deep drops fish are can be found around bigger schools of bait.  There are schools of shad suspended in deep water, although if the shallows warm a couple of degrees they will move up.  Some fish are also being caught on jigging spoons in 20-30 feet of water.

Crappie fishing remains a little slow, and while Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that they are still catching some good ones the numbers are way down.  The best pattern is still fishing 14-20 feet down in 25-30 feet of water.  He does not expect a huge improvement in the bite until spring.

On the catfish front, Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that he has found the best bite on recent trips in 30-40 feet of water. He is marking some fish deeper, but having trouble getting them to bite.  His boat is drifting flats that have some bait on them, and they have found that the fish only seem to want gizzard shad.  While the bite is a little slow they are catching an average size of 5-15 pound fish with some up to 25 pounds.  A 75 pound catfish was also caught last week.

A nice Santee Cooper catfish caught this week with Captain William Attaway

A nice Santee Cooper catfish caught this week with Captain William Attaway

January 10

Santee Cooper water levels are at 76.41 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.16 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are in the mid-50s.  The lakes are still muddy and it is unlikely that they will clear up in the next week or two, even in the absence of fresh rain, with a massive amount of dirty water already making its ways down the rivers.

At first the warming trend on the Santee Cooper lakes presented a boon for the crappie fishing, and a little over a week ago Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reported that he was catching fish as shallow as ten feet.  Temperatures continued to rise, however, and eventually they briefly hit 58 or 59 on the main lake and as high as 62 or 63 in some of the protected backs.  Some fish even began staging in a virtual pre-spawn mode, but they got so scattered out that the fish became very hard to find.

The cold snap should push fish deeper, however, and in the coming days Steve hopes to find the fish around brush in the 25-30 foot range where they can be caught on both jigs and minnows.

Bream fishing is slow.

On the catfish front, the fishing also got tough as temperatures got warmer and the fish scattered out.  After today’s colder weather the best bet is again to drift in the 30-35 foot range with fresh cut bait, which has been the most consistent pattern over the last month.

New bass report to follow.

January 2

Santee Cooper water levels are at 76.40 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.10 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Water temperatures have risen to about 55 degrees. With a tremendous amount of inflow the lakes range from dingy to muddy.

As the lake temperatures have risen Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that crappie have moved up shallower.  Some fish have come about 10 feet down in 18 feet of water, while other crappie have come about 25 feet deep over 30 feet of water.   Atypically, not all the fish are in the very deepest brush when winter should be approaching its coldest.

It is worth noting that they are still trying to target the least muddy water, and there are some areas in the lower lake which are just dirty and not actually muddy – so they are fishing these.

While numbers have not been excellent, they have caught 25 fish up to about 2 pounds on some recent trips. There are also some good bream mixed in with the crappie.

Vern with a good 2-pound crappie caught Monday

Vern with a good 2-pound crappie caught Monday

On the catfish front, Steve reports that they have marked a lot of fish and bait in 15-25 feet of water, but they continue to have better luck in about the 30-foot range.  Drifting fresh cut bait is the best pattern.

Bass continue to be current-oriented but fishing is tough right now.

December 20

Santee Cooper water levels are at 76.56 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.14 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Water temperatures range from about 49-52 degrees. Both lakes are muddy.

In some ways bass are in a typical winter pattern in the Santee Cooper lakes, but in important ways B.A.S.S. Tour professional and Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that they are not doing what they should be.  As expected bass are starting to think mostly about shad, which is typical.  However, water levels are much higher than usual and there is so much water coming through that fish are not in the usual spots.  Fish should be in small creeks and on steeper creek ledges in 5-8 feet of water, but the shad are not positioned like they should be and the bass are just not there.

The one reliable place that fish can be found is in the current.  There is current up the river as well as around the canal, but they have been pulling enough water through the lakes that current can be found in other places, too.  Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and swimbaits will catch fish, and there is even some sporadic schooling.  Outside of areas with current it is pretty hard to find fish right now.

All the water is also affecting the crappie, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that the lakes are so muddy that they are only able to fish a few of their brush piles which for one reason or another are in dingy rather than muddy water.  The fish just don’t want to be in the muddiest areas.  While numbers are down, they have caught some nice fish up to about 2 pounds. Some good bream are also mixed in with the crappie.

Catfish reports indicate that the best action has come in 25-35 feet of water.

November 30

Santee Cooper water levels are at 76.20 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.72 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Water temperatures are in the low to lower mid-50s.  The upper lake is very muddy, while parts of the lower lake are cleaner.

It’s not what you expect to hear in cold, muddy conditions, but B.A.S.S. Tour Professional and Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that the massive inflow into the lake is creating a ton of current and as result both bass and striped bass are schooling on both ends of the canal.  These fish can be caught on crankbaits, swimbaits and lipless crankbaits.

Outside of the canal area, even though fish were starting to get into a deeper pattern before the rain muddy water has pushed them to the banks again and so 2-4 feet is a better range to search.  Lake levels have been up-and-down and so fish are a little skittish, but a spinnerbait is a good bet for shallow fish in these dirty conditions.

By his standards they aren’t catching a ton of crappie with Captain Steve English (843-729-4044), but he reports that they have been getting some really nice ones.  Yesterday they “only” caught 22 fish, but they ran to almost 3 pounds. This week they have caught multiple fish in the 2 ½ to 3 pound range.

With the lower lake cleaner than the upper his boat has been concentrating on Moultrie, even though mud does not necessarily stop the brush pile bite.  They are fishing 14-20 feet down over deeper brush in the 30-35 foot range. Some big bream are mixed in with the crappie.

Cheryl from Iowa with a 2 pound, 13 ounce crappie caught yesterday with Captain Steve English

Cheryl from Iowa with a 2 pound, 13 ounce crappie caught yesterday with Captain Steve English

The common denominator with the catfish seems to be deep, and Captain William Attaway (803-924-0857) reports that he has found fish in the teens on up to the high 20s drifting the lower lake in 40-45 feet of water.   Cut gizzard shad have been working well.  Expect more big fish to turn on as it gets colder.

Captain Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) reports that he is also drifting deep, and his observation is that drifting in the 30-37 foot range is the best place to pick up fast numbers of 3-10 pound fish.  Cut herring and shad are both working well for these eating-sized fish. For now catfish are roaming more, but as it gets colder they will relate tighter and tighter to bait schools – particularly when the bait starts dying.

November 15

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.39 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.47 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Water temperatures have dropped all the way into the 60-degree range to the high-50s.

Before the cold snap B.A.S.S. Tour Professional and Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that bass were still on wacky worms and crankbaits around shallow trees, but changing conditions will put the fish deeper and make them want a slower presentation.  The good part is the big fish will bite better and better!

The best place to look right now is in the 6-12 foot range with slow-rolled crankbaits and jigs.  If the cold really knocks the fish in the head you want to pick up a shakey head in the toughest conditions.  In the early to mid-fall fish are more likely to be around gently sloping banks and flats, but as it gets cold they want sharper drops.  When temperatures get below 55 they will be relating better to stumps, brushpiles and wood instead of bait.

Patterns are similar in both lakes, but current can create variations in some areas.  Up the river, in the swamp area and around the canal you can see some current moving, but in other parts of the lake it can be hard to detect much effect.

Even with nasty weather Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that this week they have caught some nice bream and crappie when conditions allowed them to take guide parties out. Fish have been around mid-depth brush in the 20-25 foot range, and they are fishing 10-16 feet deep.  Some fish are shallower but not many fish have moved onto the very deep stuff yet.

Just another amazing day with Captain Steve English

Just another amazing day with Captain Steve English

There are a range of depths where catfish can be caught, and to be sure some anglers have been catching fish fairly shallow in 10-15 feet of water. However, most of the bigger fish seem to be in deeper water now and drifting as deep as 40-45 feet has been the best pattern.  Cut herring and shad are both working.  Overall the bite is good and a lot of fish have been caught.

There is not much going on in the canal where they are pulling water so hard that most people are fishing the lakes.

October 19

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.98 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.09 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Water temperatures have dropped into the mid to upper-70s and they are pulling a lot of water through the lake.

Bass have gotten into an exciting fall pattern on the Santee Cooper lakes, and B.A.S.S. Tour Professional and Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that there is a lot of schooling activity around balls of shad.  So far the fish have not really moved into the creeks, but anywhere on the main lake where you can find current the bass are using that to corral the shad.  The upper part of Lake Marion is a good place to look, but you can find a similar pattern down the lake.  Moving water is key.  3-8 feet is a good depth range, and both topwaters and crankbaits are working.

The schooling pattern is best early and late, and in the middle of the day fishing soft plastics around grass and trees remains the best pattern.

A nice kayak fish caught this week on Santee by Brett Mitchell

A nice kayak fish caught this week on Santee by Brett Mitchell

On the crappie front Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that they have caught some good numbers of fish in the lower lake, and there are also a lot of nice bluegill around brush.  Fishing 7-18 feet deep over 14-25 feet has been the best pattern for both species.

The catfish bite has been pretty good, and Steve reports that he has heard of successful fishing in 7-12 feet, but also of strong catches drifting out in 40 feet.  Fish are highly scattered.  As temperatures get colder more big fish should show up.

September 21

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.63 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.07 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  While a good bit of water is moving through the system it is not too dingy.

Right before the hurricane bass fishing was already getting better, and B.A.S.S. Tour Professional and Guide Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that fish are still moving into a fall pattern.  Depending on what end of the lake they are on fish are making a similar but opposite transition into about 2-4 feet of water.  On the upper end of the system they are coming out of the woods onto the flats, and on the lower end of the lake they are coming up out of deep water towards shallows.  Fish will be setting up around wood and trees in the target depth range, and shallow running crankbaits and spinnerbaits will both work well.  Soft plastics are also still catching fish.  In the next week or two as temperatures cool topwater baits should get going.

It’s unclear how the storm has affected the catfish bite, but beforehand Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that he was having good success drifting cut shad in 20-35 feet with the best bite on the deeper end of that range. Fish in the teens and twenties seemed to be around 30 feet, while smaller blues were around 35 feet.  There were also a lot of 6-9 pound blues in 25-30.

On the crappie front Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) also has yet to get back on the water, but before the storm fish were biting around brush in 15-20 feet of water.

Fishing should be normalizing again on the Santee Cooper (SC) lakes after Florence

Donnie Mac from Spartanburg with a pair of nice ones caught with Captain Steve English

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