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Santee Cooper Fishing News and Report (Updated October 23)

  • by Jay

Perhaps it’s the season, and perhaps it’s the effects of the recent rain, but largemouth bass fishing has been wide open on Santee Cooper recently.  Captain Linwood Thornhill (843-509-8174) reports that on one recent trip he caught 40 fish, and on another he caught more than 30 bass.  Most of these have been in the 1-4 pound range, but with numbers like that – especially compared to other lakes in South Carolina – it’s hard to complain!

Linwood says that it appears the rains are pushing the fish into shallower water as they try to get away from the most heavily stained areas, and he has had his best luck in the less dingy areas.  However, other anglers he has talked to have done well even in heavily stained water.  Linwood is targeting the shallows in 3-6 feet of water fishing for bass that are trying to get away from the mud.  However, from what he has seen fish aren’t committed to moving all the way into the ponds or the very backs of pockets.  90% of his fish have been caught on worms.

The bass fishing has been pretty darned good since the rains, but the catfishing was good even before the rains.  While Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) hasn’t noticed much of an improvement since the flood on recent trips including yesterday he has had a ton of bites and caught some good fish up to about 24 pounds.  Today, however, the wind has died (we talked while he was on the water) and the biggest fish so far have been in the 12-14 pound range for both boats in their party – windless days on Moultrie can be tough. Strips of mullet have been the best bait for Jim.

Linwood Thornhill reports that in his own catfishing he too has found a pretty good bite in both lakes, and he has heard of some anglers have success fishing pretty much every pattern.  The upper lake, the lower lake, drifting deep, drifting shallow, anchoring shallow, and night fishing have all been successful at times.  Linwood has also heard positive reports on mullet, herring, perch and other baits.  That is not to say that everything is working all the time, and one day his son slayed the catfish anchoring in 3-5 feet of water and Linwood returned the next day to fish the same pattern with very little success.  Jim points out that the adage “If you can find the fish, you can catch them” seems true right now.  About the only place Linwood has not heard positive reports is in the Diversion Canal, and he believes current flow will need to slow down before it turns on.

A double caught yesterday on Captain Jim Glenn's boat
A double caught yesterday on Captain Jim Glenn’s boat

Overall, Lake Marion is about a foot below full pool, and Lake Moultrie is barely an inch below full pool. The upper lake is still very muddy while the lower lake is slightly less so; Captain Steve English says he has never seen the lakes so uniformly dingy, with the upper lake looking like clay.

Striped bass:  Good.  Linwood Thornhill reports that anglers are having great success catching fish, and were it not for the low keeper ratio this would be a “very good” bite.  Particularly on Lake Moultrie striped bass are schooling from 3 p.m. until dark, and anglers are following the birds to locate them and then casting bucktails and spoons.  The hatchery area has been good.  Fish are generally over 25-50 feet of water and some anglers are drift-fishing live bait to catch them.

Crappie: Fair to good.  Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that before the flooding he was catching 50-70 crappie per trip in the upper lake, but the influx of freshwater has turned the bite off so much that he is having difficulty even getting a bite  up there.  After trying yesterday he turned around and returned to Moultrie. Concentrating on the lower lake he has been catching 25-40 fish per trip, and Steve has found the fish suspended 10-16 feet deep over 18-25 feet of water.  He has had no luck in deep brush and it appears the fish have not moved there at all.

Bream: Fair.  Captain Steve English reports that they are catching some bream mixed in with the crappie, and while you can catch a mess of fish right now none of them have much size.

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

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