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Santee Cooper (Lake Marion & Lake Moultrie) Fishing Report

Learn more about Santee Cooper below

January 20

Santee Cooper water levels are at 73.73 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and 73.51 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). The lower lake is still clear even as the upper lake is getting dirty, and morning surface water temperatures are about 47 degrees.

Warmer water is often found at the very backs of the creeks on Santee Cooper, and as a result Captain Brett Mitchell (803-379-7029) reports

January 6

Santee Cooper water levels are at 73.71 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and about 72.64 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). The lakes are still very clear and morning surface water temperatures are down to the mid-50s. 

Even after this cold snap overall mild temperatures mean that the crappie bite has stayed extremely good for the season, and Captain Stevie English (843-709-8138) reports

December 22

Santee Cooper water levels are at 74.03 in Lake Marion (full pool is 76.8) and about 73.78 in Lake Moultrie (full pool is 75.5). The lakes are still clear and morning surface water temperatures are about 58. 

With a relatively mild winter the crappie fishing has not slowed down yet on Santee Cooper, and even though Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports

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About Santee Cooper

Known together as the Santee Cooper lakes (formally the Santee Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation Project), Lakes Marion and Moultrie are located in the outer coastal plain to the southeast of South Carolina between the cities of Columbia and Charleston.  The lakes are joined by the 6 ½ mile long Diversion Canal to form a system with 160,000 acres of water and 450 miles of shoreline spanning parts of 5 South Carolina counties – Berkeley, Calhoun, Clarendon, Orangeburg and Sumter.  From 1939 to 1942 the lakes were created in a hydroelectric project by the South Carolina Public Service Authority, commonly known as “Santee Cooper.”  The lakes vary from shallow swamps at the upper end of both lakes (but most famously Lake Marion) to the vastness of Lake Moultrie –14 miles across at its widest point and appearing to be a great, open bowl.  Under the surface there is the reality of varying contour in both lakes.

Popular species targeted by Santee Cooper anglers include largemouth bass, a recovering population of striped bass, white and black crappie, bream (most notably shellcracker and bluegill), and several species of catfish.  While open to debate, the case can easily be made that the Santee Cooper lakes are the premier freshwater fishery in South Carolina.  In most major species categories the lakes have produced state or even-world record class fish.  The co-state record largemouth bass was caught out of Lake Marion (16-2 caught in 1949), until 1993 the world record freshwater striped bass came from Santee Cooper (55 pounds), the state record white crappie came from Lake Moultrie (5-0 caught in 1957), and the state record shellcracker (5-7.5 caught in 1998) came from the Diversion Canal.  Among catfish the current world record channel catfish was caught in Lake Moultrie (58 pounds caught in 1964) and the current state record flathead was caught in the Diversion Canal (79-4 caught in 2001).  The current state record blue catfish (109-4 caught in 1991) was caught in the Tailrace Canal below Santee Cooper and held the world record until 1996.

As would be expected to support so many trophy-caliber fisheries, the Santee Cooper lakes have an extensive forage base.  The five major bait species in the lakes are gizzard shad, threadfin shad, American shad, blueback herring, and menhaden, which immigrate and emigrate from the lakes based on seasonal patterns.  Mullet are also present at times.