A lot is going on in the Santee Cooper lakes this month. In fact, October is one of the most productive seasons for a variety of species, according to several guides.
Guide Alan Spence, who targets catfish and stripers, said the big news for many anglers is the striper fishing season opens again on Oct. 1 after a four-month, no-fishing restriction.
“Last October, the opening week of the season was tremendous in terms of huge catches of fish being made,” Spence said. “It seems that more fish were caught in the lower lake in October, and this is the one time of the year that I will sometimes leave Lake Marion and fish Lake Moultrie for stripers.
“The stripers will be caught on a variety of artificial baits and lures, including jigging spoons, bucktail jigs as well as live bait, and the key areas will be along the drops near the Pinopolis Dam as well as in the lower end of Lake Marion.
“The biggest question will be how many keeper-sized fish we’ll catch,” said Spence (803-983-8284). “Early last season, they were few in numbers, but as the season progressed, the bigger fish got more active. With another year of growth, we’re hopefully we’ll see more 26-inch fish (this October). But odds are good we’ll see a lot of fish of various sizes caught.”
Guide Chris Orvin from Moncks Corner said stripers can be found in a variety of different way as the month progresses.
“They can be caught in good numbers schooling, trolling lures such as the Stretch 25s, and fishing live bait, specifically blueblack herring,” said Orvin (843-509-2306). “But the key to success will be to do your fishing around forage fish; that is the consistent key for finding and catching stripers.”
Orvin said the striper fishing will not be the only hot fishing on the Santee Cooper lakes.
“The largemouth bass action literally cranks back up as the cooler weather moves in, and the crappie fishing will be good as well,” he said. “The largemouth will be shallow along the edgelines around cover, as well as schooling on baitfish in the shallow, open flats. Crankbaits, worms and swimbaits will all produce Again, find the forage when looking for October largemouth. The fishing will be excellent in both lakes.”
Orvin said to key on weedy points, pockets and other areas that may be shallow but are close to deeper water — especially for big fish.
“October can certainly be a good month to hook a hawg bass, so it’s a prime time to be on the lakes for a variety of reasons,” Orvin said. “You can catch and release a large number of chunky largemouth on most any given day in October, but you can also hook a trophy bass on any given cast.”
Orvin said crappie fishing will also be excellent, with a lot of the action around deep brush piles in open-water areas. A lot of the fish he caught last October were around 24 feet deep, but that is subject to change based on water conditions.
“But some of the crappie fishing may be a bit more shallow, as the fish will tend to follow shad more shallow during the fall,” he said. “Tight-lining minnows as well as casting jigs will work for the crappie fishing.”
Spence said October is usually one of the most-productive months for catfish, with both big blues as well as big flatheads typically caught.
“October is a great month for both species, plus, the temperature is such you can fish all day and enjoy being on the lake,” he said. “Typically, the spring fishing can be fantastic, but is often weather-dependant. October usually brings some stability to the weather. There’s always a chance of a tropical storm that can complicate the fishing, but otherwise, we can get on a pattern and rely on that pattern sticking for a while.
“The water temperature is falling by October, which is good, as it puts a lot of big catfish are on the move,” Spence said. “For blue catfish, I prefer to use cut bait (from) perch, herring, shad or bream. I’ll use live bait when focusing on flatheads. Sometimes when drift fishing, I can key on both species, and at times, fishermen will do well catching both species in either lake. However, Lake Marion seems to have the edge in flatheads overall. Both lakes have a great population of blue catfish, but Lake Moultrie typically produces better with the blues in October because it’s more conducive to drift-fishing. But make no mistake, you can catch both species in both lakes during October.”
Spence said that much of his bream fishing is for bait, and the same goes for white perch, but if fishermen are targeting these smaller fish, the action is typically good, especially early in the month.