AHQ INSIDER Santee Cooper (SC) Spring 2019 Fishing Report – Updated May 21 Reviewed by Momizat on . -- The newest Santee Cooper fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-santee-cooper-sc-summer-2019-fishing-report/ May 21 S -- The newest Santee Cooper fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-santee-cooper-sc-summer-2019-fishing-report/ May 21 S Rating: 0
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AHQ INSIDER Santee Cooper (SC) Spring 2019 Fishing Report – Updated May 21

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

May 21

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.70 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.40 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are in the mid to lower 80s, and could hit 90 by this weekend.  The lake is relatively clear.

It may not be as good as the spring bite, but Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that bass fishing has been strong in shallow water.  Fish are feeding on bream and shad spawning in the shallows, and they are generally in 1-4 feet of water.  Crankbaits, soft plastics, worm and buzzbaits will all catch fish, and it’s more about fishing in the right areas than having the perfect bait right now.  Mornings are better, but there have been some spots that are productive right through the day.

A strong late spring morning with Captain Brett Mitchell

A strong late spring morning with Captain Brett Mitchell

Crappie fishing has been good recently, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that they are catching several fish on each brush pile they target.  Depths range from about 10-16 feet down over 20-28 feet of water.

Steve has caught some nice shellcracker up shallow spawning, and he expects more bluegill to move up on the next new and full moon.

On the catfish front, Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that during the day they have caught nice fish drifting cut herring in 10-14 feet of water.  There has been a good anchored bite in the canal.

In the next week or two the action will shift more to a night-time bite.

Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that fish are entering the spawning period and so it would be unsurprising if there is a slowdown in the bite, especially for bigger fish.  However, not all catfish spawn at once and so it will not totally shut down.

As it gets very hot the best pattern may be fishing shallow at night.

May 7

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.79 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and around 75.3 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are around 74 in the morning, rising into the upper 70s by evening, and the water is very clear for Santee.  On the lower lake there is about 6 feet of visibility and Marion is not much dingier.

The bass spawn is essentially over on Santee Cooper, but Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that fish are feeding up on spawning shad as they regain weight and strength lost during their own spawn.  Early in the morning fishing edges in areas that have trees and grass is the best pattern for targeting bass feeding on shad, and any bait that mimics a shad such as a spinnerbait, swimbait or fluke is an option.

When the sun gets up fish will back off into 3-10 feet of water, and you want to fish around deeper trees or drops.  Crankbaits, Texas rigs, and Carolina rigs are good options after the sun rises.

Bream are moving shallow and will be spawning on the next full moon, and since they usually start spawning a few days before the full moon, in about a week they should be bedding again. While you can catch fish on frogs and topwaters during the day now, that bite should get much better in about a week.

Crappie fishing has been good recently, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that they have caught good numbers of fish on his last few trips.  Fish have not gone deep and they are setting up on mid-depth brush, but certain brush is holding far more fish than others.  It seems that location is more important than depth, but 7-15 feet has been a general range.

A few small bream can still be found on brush piles but the better ones have moved shallow.

A big bream caught yesterday with Captain Steve English

A big bream caught yesterday with Captain Steve English

 

And the Pridmore family with a good crappie catch on the same trip

And the Pridmore family with a good crappie catch on the same trip

On the catfish front, Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that fishing is good with a good range of quality fish being caught from the teens to the forties.  Both drifting and anchoring with fresh cut bait is working, with fish shallow in 4-10 feet of water early and then usually in 15-20 feet later in the day.  Out to 40 feet there are lots of small fish, although there are always exceptions such as a 33-pounder caught in 38 feet of water a few days ago.  Both lakes are fishing about the same, with shallow trees producing well early and at night in Marion, and stump fields, flats and islands producing at the same times on Moultrie.

Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) also reports that anchoring in the shallows has been good early and late, while during the day he is drifting the 25-35 foot range.  It seems that a lot of fish are following bait down through the locks.  The canal bite has also gotten very good.

April 25

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.67 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.53 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are in the upper 60s, and the lake is relatively clear.

The bass spawn is winding down on Santee Cooper, and Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that right now we are in the middle of the last significant wave of spawning activity.  While there are certainly still some fish on beds, when this group of fish completes the spawn it will be over for all practical purposes.

As fish move into the post-spawn phase they set up on the first available wood and grass out from their spawning areas.  They will stay shallow in 5-6 feet of water or less, and they will be feeding on spawning shad and bream.  Topwater lures and soft plastics are both good bets.

Numbers of fish caught recently have been good, although bigger fish have been a little fewer and farther between.

A nice Santee bass caught this week with Captain Brett Mitchell

A nice Santee bass caught this week with Captain Brett Mitchell

There has been a pretty good crappie bite recently, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that almost all of the black crappie seem to have completed the spawn.  They are setting up on brush in about 10 feet of water where they are catching them on minnows and jigs.

White crappie have different spawning patterns, and they actually lay their eggs in deeper brush on the lakes. Right now there are some white crappie being caught that are still full of eggs, and so that spawn is still underway.

Steve reports that bream are in a spawning stage, and on the last full moon a lot of shellcrackers were caught in shallow water.  They are already starting to find less bluegill on brush so they are starting to move up closer to shallow water and getting ready to spawn on the next moon.

In catfish news, Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that they are still catching fish drifting in deep water in the 25-30 foot range. Additionally, a good anchored bite has been going on in 5-8 feet of water both early and late.  The canal is also starting to turn on.  Herring and shad are both working well, and there have been pretty good numbers caught recently.

April 3

Santee Cooper water levels are at 75.51 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.90 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are generally in the lower 60s, and the lake is relatively clear.

The spring bass spawn is well underway on Santee Cooper, and Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports that a significant percentage of fish are already on beds.  Even after a couple of cold days it’s unlikely that fish will turn around and head back out to deeper water, and so Brett suggests fishing in 3 feet of water and less. By the weekend they should be biting very well, with soft plastics, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits or about anything you want to throw catching fish.  While there is another wave of fish out in deeper water there are enough fish shallow that you might as well target them.

Brett Mitchell and Jerry Montjoy with 26.2 pounds of bass caught in the March CBC

Brett Mitchell and Jerry Montjoy with 26.2 pounds of bass caught in the March CBC

For right now the crappie don’t seem to be quite so immune to the effects of cold weather, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that it may take a day or two for the fish to get back in the skinniest water. However, the fishing was very good before the cold snap, with fish mixed between shallow and deep, and they will be back there again with temperatures in the 70s.  The shallow fish are spawning, and there are also some out on brush that have already spawned as well as some egg-laden fish that have yet to move up.  Generally the first place that fish go after spawning is the brush closest to shallow water, typically in 10-15 feet.

Steve reports that bream have not moved shallow yet, but they are feeding very well suspended around brush in 10-20 feet of water.

In catfish news, Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports that the best pattern has been drifting in 25-30 feet of water.  The best action has come in Lake Moultrie, but there has also been some good fishing in about 30 feet of water in front of the Moultrie dam.  Some anglers have also started anchoring in 8-10 feet of water, but the shallow anchoring bite will improve with a couple more degrees.  The canal bite has not started yet but should take off when things warm to around 70 degrees.  For now cut river herring and shad have been the best baits.

March 22

Santee Cooper water levels are at 76.25 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.00 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures are in the upper 50s to low 60s in the warmest, most protected areas. The lake ranges from stained to muddy in the upper end, although there are some clearer pockets.

Once again a cold front has slowed down the Santee Cooper bass bite, but Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) still reports that overall fish are moving shallow.  Except for a few very early fish that possibly spawned at the end of February they have not yet bedded, but if the weather allows the first big wave of fish should move up in the next few days.  Fish are just outside spawning areas, such as in the first depression on the outside of spawning pockets or trees that are close to spawning flats.  Right now expect fish to be as shallow as 2-3 feet of water or even less, and on colder days they have been holding very tight to cover.

The trick is finding the fish right now, and when you do locate them they will take about anything. Texas rigs, jigs, spinnberbaits and small crankbaits will all catch bass.

Crappie fishing has improved in the lakes, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that before the cold weather they were catching more and more fish shallow each day.  The cold has slowed them down a bit and pushed fish out to brush, where they are also catching a ton of bream 10 feet deep over brush in the 17-foot range.

When temperatures rebound the best pattern will again be casting at cover in 3-9 feet of water.  Most of the fish are full of eggs and have not started spawning yet, although a few may have.  They will eventually spawn in 1-2 feet of water.

A nice crappie caught today by John Peery with Steve English at Santee

A nice crappie caught today by John Peery with Steve English at Santee

On the catfish front, Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that fishing is a little hit-or-miss right now, but there have been some really big fish in the 60s and 70s caught recently.  Overall fish are in a transition from deep to shallow, and so drifting in deeper water and anchoring in 4-10 feet of water are both working.  About equal numbers of big fish are being caught each way. Cut herring and cut shad have been working the best.

Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) also reports that he is fishing a mix of deeper water and shallower, and before temperatures got cooler he was catching fish at anchor in 8-10 feet of water.  The best deep drift he has found is in 27-34 feet of water, and cut herring and gizzard shad have also been his baits of choice.

March 6

Santee Cooper water levels are at 76.44 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 75.13 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).  Surface temperatures have dropped from about 60 into the low to mid-50s and the lakes are getting muddy even though Moultrie is still only slightly stained.

Even though the cold front this week has pushed things back a little bit, it’s clear which way the Santee Cooper bass are headed.  Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029), who with his tournament partner landed 26 pounds and finished 3rdin the CBC last weekend, reports that by last weekend fish had started to move shallow. As soon as the cool front passes they will go that way again, and he advises looking in black water ponds and shallow flats in 2-4 feet of water.  Grass beds and hard cover are both productive.  Overall fish are in pre-spawn mode, and the first wave is very close to spawning.

A monster 3-fish limit caught Sunday on Santee Cooper

A monster 3-fish limit caught Sunday on Santee Cooper

While some crappie continue to be caught in the lakes, Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that fishing has been pretty tough.  Some fish have been caught deep, and some have been shallow, but nothing is consistent.  They were moving shallow before the cold spell, but it has pushed them back.

On the catfish front, Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that overall the bite remains slow and fish are scattered.

There were some good reports of shallow anchoring at night before the cold front, but that has slowed down.

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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