AHQ INSIDER Santee Cooper (SC) Winter Fishing Report – Updated February 20
Santee Cooper water levels are at 74.9 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.9 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). Surface temperatures range from the mid-50s on the main lake to the upper 50s in the shallows.
Warm water temperatures have crappie moving shallow already on the Santee Cooper lakes, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) says that may not be a good thing. It’s only February, and if there is another blast of cold air and water temperatures drop then the eggs could die. Still, there’s nothing we can do it about it! For now fish are scattered between deep and shallow water, and Steve has caught some fish full of eggs around brush in about 20 feet of water that are staging and waiting to go up. There are also some fish up super shallow, which are either males or females that have already spawned.
Steve is also catching some bream, but they are deeper in about the 28-35 foot range around brush.
Tournament angler Steve Harmon reports that bass are also starting to make their way shallower with the water warming up. They can be caught in ditches and depressions in front of spawning areas in about 4-6 feet of water in both lakes. Worms and spinnerbaits are working well.
On the catfish front, Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that warming water is also pushing everything shallower. Anchoring in 4-10 feet of water during the day and at night will produce, and drifting in water in the teens and twenties is also a good pattern. With the herring and shad run these are the preferred baits right now.
Santee Cooper water levels are at 74.31 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 74.25 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). Surface temperatures are currently about 51 degrees but will rise today.
Tournament angler Steve Harmon reports that bass fishing has been pretty good recently on Santee Cooper, and while he isn’t catching (or really pursuing) the 8-10 pound fish that will be needed to win tournaments in a month or two he has been finding good numbers of healthy, strong-fighting 1 ½ – 5 pound fish that are hungry. With water levels a bit down the best pattern for getting your line pulled has been to focus on relatively shallow creeks and ditches in 4-8 feet of water. Bass are pushing bait up the channels to areas in that depth range, and fish can be caught on crankbaits that dive to about 2 feet off the bottom. Steve is changing the size of his crankbait depending on how deep he is fishing to keep the bait about that depth off the bottom. Spinnerbaits fished a foot or two off the bottom are also working well.
Steve speculates that the better fish may be out deeper, and with the lake a bit down some of the places he usually considers “deep” are shallower than usual right now. He expects the lake to continue coming up.
Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) advises that both the crappie and bream can still be caught around deep brush in the 28-45 foot range, and out on the water today his boat is concentrating on fishing 20-30 feet down. The bite has been better in the lower lake than the upper; typically at this time of year he finds that in the upper lake fish just stack up in the river channel where they can be seen on a graph but are hard to catch.
Steve has not been up shallow to see if some fish have moved up, but with the warm weather predicted that is certainly possible.
Santee Cooper water levels are at 74.14 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 73.86 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). Before the cold front water temperatures were holding about 53.
On the catfish front, Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that before the weekend the big fish still had not turned on, but he was optimistic that the cold front might improve that bite. On Friday his boat caught 30 plus total blue catfish in the 1-15 pound range drifting with cut mullet in 35-45 feet of water, and other boats seem to have had similar results recently. Even with large pieces of bait smaller blues still dominated the creel, with a decent number of 8-10 pounders.
Big concentrations of bait are beginning to show up in 40 plus feet of water.
Santee Cooper water levels are at 74.02 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and also at 74.02 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5).
It’s that time of year on the Santee Cooper lakes, and Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) advises that both the crappie and bream have moved onto deep brush in the 28-40 foot range. Fish are about 20-30 feet down, and the bite has been a little better in the lower lake than the upper. In the canal a lot of bluegill and shellcracker have also been caught casting worms from the bank.
More bass and catfish information to follow, but limited reports indicate that small catfish are being caught during the day with some bigger fish caught at night on white perch and bream fished on the bottom. The catfish are also deep.