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Santee Cooper Fishing News and Report (Updated July 2)

  • by Jay

It may not be what people think of as traditional crappie season on the Santee Cooper lakes, but that doesn’t mean that anglers who know where to look can’t wear them out even during the heat of the summer. Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that his boat is catching 50-70 crappie per day right now by fishing over brush in 16-24 feet of water with minnows. And contrary to what might be expected, on some days the best bite has been in the middle part of the day!

While both Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie are producing crappie, for numbers Steve is finding that the upper lake has been a bit more productive. But for big fish it has been hard to beat the lower lake. Check out this photo taken on Captain Steve’s boat yesterday where they picked up 12 fish from their first stop, including some this size. You know it’s a good day fishing when it starts off that way.

A couple of nice crappie caught off Captain Steve English's boat
A couple of nice crappie caught off Captain Steve English’s boat

Overall, water temperatures are hot and levels have come down a bit over the last few weeks, with Lake Marion at 76.8 – approaching two feet below full pool, and Lake Moultrie at 75.5 – about six inches below full pool. Despite the heat there are still fish to be caught:

Bream: Good. Captain Steve English reports that between moon phases bream pull out slightly towards stumps and other cover just off from their shallow spawning areas, but with today’s full moon bream are back on the banks spawning. Aggressive spawning fish will take a variety of natural and artificial baits. There are always fish that can be found on the deeper brush piles but this is the time to look up shallow.

Catfish: Fair to good.  Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that things have picked up somewhat for catfish, and in a couple of days of drifting in 10-20 feet this week his boat has caught good numbers of channels and blues up to about 20 pounds. There have also been some anglers fishing stinkbait and catching surprisingly large blues up to about 15 pounds in isolated locations around the lower end of Lake Marion and in the diversion canal. While it’s not unusual to catch small blues on stinkbait, catching bigger ones that way is somewhat unexpected. There have also been some good night time catches in the diversion canal and both anchoring and drifting in the lower lake.

Largemouth bass: Slow to fair. Captain Linwood Thornhill (843-509-8174) reports that fishing continues to drop off as is customary at this time of year, but a few fish can still be caught around grass and cypress trees. For shallow fish he recommends frogs and plastic worms at this time of year. Lots of fish have moved out to drops in the 10-15 foot range, and for these fish Linwood suggests fishing a Carolina rig with a worm.

DHEC fish advisories: Largemouth bass and bowfin (mudfish) should only be eaten once per week.

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