The four-month closed season for striped bass on Lake Moultrie has finally ended, and the fishing action has been wild.
According to Kevin Davis, guide and owner of Blacks Camp, the striper fishing was red-hot when it opened on Oct. 1 and has been wide open since.
"LakeMoultrie is absolutely piled high and deep with stripers right now," Davis said. "The same is probably true with LakeMarion, but I'm fishing Lake Moultrie. Literally every underwater creek junction with the main lake that is deeper than 20 feet is holding huge schools of stripers. Finding fish is really not a problem, and the really good news is that catching a bunch of fish is also a no-brainer."
Davis (843-753-223) said fishermen are catching keeper-sized stripers, plus a huge numbers of stripers just under the 26-inch size minimum.
"It's reasonable to expect to catch 50 to 60 stripers on any given day – and sometimes a lot more," Davis said. "Capt. Leroy Suggs hit them on a cloudy day and caught over 40 stripers schooling on topwater. To have that kind of schooling action this early in the season is phenomenal.
“As expected, a lot of the fish are just under 26 inches, and if handled carefully can be released unharmed back to grow an inch or so and hopefully caught again later. But many of these fish weigh several pounds and are still great fun to catch. But we're also seeing some quality fish caught as well."
Davis said that the schooling action is best early and late in the day, unless it’s cloudy, then the action can last all day.
"For schooling fish, we're using a wide variety of bucktails that produce on a cast-and-retrieve method," he said. "If the sky is overcast, chartreuse is the best color, and if the sky is clear, then use white. Also, many topwater lures will produce, but the Striper Swipers and Storm Creek Chubs are great."
Davis said live bait is producing great action when the stripers are not schooling.
"This is the time when we drift fish," Davis said. "We'll find a school of stripers and get above them and allow the wind to move us over the fish. We'll put the bait at eyeball level or slightly above."
Davis said he is using small hooks with the live herring, specifically, a No. 2 Eagle Claw LO42 wide-gap hook. He prefers 17-pound monofilament with a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader and a two2-ounce weight to keep the bait at the right depth.
"I know these hooks are small, but stripers can be picky, the small hook works better, and it usually hooks them in the roof of the mouth," Davis said. "If fish have to be released, they can be released at the side of the boat unharmed. But if they are large enough to keep, they'll stay on with these hooks."
Davis said the great fishing is likely to just get better.
"As the weather cools, topwater fishing will improve, and even more keeper fish should be caught," he said. "The fishing is great, but this is just the beginning."