While Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) continues to report that the overall fishery for blue catfish in the Santee Cooper lakes is a bit down from past years, recently his boat has been having successful days for big catfish on both lakes. He has caught a number of fish in the 30-40 pound range as well as some “teenage-sized” fish while drifting the lakes. Jim says he has had the most success prospecting around drops and humps, with the best fish coming in water depths in the 20s where the surrounding water drops down into the 30s and 40s. In the upper lake there are less drops and humps in that depth range and the best underwater features to target have been along the river ledge in water depths in the 20s.
Jim has spent the most time drift-fishing recently, but he has also had some success anchoring in the same areas. There have also been some fish caught shallower during the day around the right spots under the right (often wind-blown) conditions. The Diversion Canal has produced some nice catches at night, and as always the fishing in the canal has been best when there is some current.
White perch has been Jim’s bait of choice for some time, and right now he is almost exclusively fishing with white perch steaks, heads, butterflied fish or some other cut. Anglers report a large population of small blue and channel catfish in the lakes, and so a more durable bait is needed. This population of small blues indicates successful spawns in the recent past and could be a good sign for the future. Finally, the population of channel catfish seems pretty healthy – in addition to cut bait these fish will take dip baits and other choices.
Captain Linwood Thornhill (843-509-8174) reports that it’s simply too hot for him to spend time targeting largemouth bass right now, but he also reports a respectable catfish bite with some fish in the 30s and 40s being caught. At the other end of the Santee spectrum he has spent most of his time fishing at night in the upper lake, and perhaps because of this he has having the best success anchor fishing in 3-5 feet of water. He has also been catching some fish in the daytime and has heard the same reports of good catches in the 20+ foot range in the lower lake.
(While you won’t catch his bass boat out on the water right now, Linwood notes that a lot of largemouth have moved out to drops in the 10-15 foot range. If anglers are dead-set on targeting them Linwood suggests fishing a Carolina rig with a worm.)
Overall, water temperatures are very hot and lake levels are still down, even with recent rains. Lake Marion is at 73.7 – almost three feet below full pool, and Lake Moultrie is at 73.6 – almost two feet below full pool. In spite of tough conditions fish besides catfish are still biting:
Crappie: Good to very good. Despite the heat Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that that the crappie fishing remains very strong, and considering how long his boat has been experiencing a really good bite he surmises that the fishery is in very good shape. Fish can be caught all over from shallow to deep water, but he is having his best luck around creek channels with brush and trees 15-25 feet deep in the upper lake. The lower lake has been a bit tougher. Minnows are still producing excellent numbers of fish up to 2+ pounds.
Bream: Fair. Captain Steve English reports that as this stage of the summer there simply aren’t as many people targeting bream, but at the last full moon around the first of the month there were a decent number of people targeting fish up shallow spawning. Some good fish can still be caught shallow on bait and panfish lures, and there are also a number of fish holding a little deeper at the first drop. While there are some fish out on the deeper brush where the fish live much of the year they are mainly smaller for now.
DHEC fish advisories: Largemouth bass and bowfin (mudfish) should only be eaten once per week.