With muddy water throughout the Catawba and Congaree river systems combining to dump muddy water in the Santee Cooper system, guide Kevin Davis has found some “green” water on the lower end of Lake Moultrie; when he did, he found the catfish biting like crazy.
“I went to the lower end of the lower lake of the Santee Cooper lakes and found some good water color, a good green hue, and more importantly, found baitfish and catfish clumped together,” Davis said. “That’s usually a recipe for success, and that’s exactly what’s occurring.”
Davis (843-312-3080) said the fishing has slowed for most other species because of the dingy and muddy water coupled with very cold water. He said even the deep water crappie action has slowed.
“The blue catfish seem to thrive in this cold-water, late-winter situation,” Davis said. “If you find them along with some bait in decent water conditions, you can get on a bunch of quality fish at this time of the year. That’s precisely what’s occurring now, and this action should remain good for a while since the water temperature is very low. Plus, the area where the water color is still good is a major reason for success recently because the number and quality of fish in the muddy water is not nearly as good. It will take a while for all this muddy water to clear out of the lakes, and meanwhile, we’ll be able to catch some quality catfish.”
Davis, who is the host of the “The Santee Cooper Sportsman” on CV television in Charleston on Sunday mornings, said he is catching primarily blue catfish by both drift- and anchor-fishing.
“When I find a bunch of fish and forage loaded up on a ledge or hump, I’ll anchor and cast to them,” he said. “In this cold weather, they like a stationary bait when that’s possible. I rely heavily on my electronics, and on some days, I just don’t find that forage-and-fish situation. When I find fish and bait scattered over a larger area, I drift fish, but I drift as slowly as possible, and it does result in more bites at this time of the year.”
Davis said the bite is consistent throughout the day, with a lot of the fish in deeper water, but the depth will vary from 20 to 40 feet deep, depending on the daily water and weather conditions. Cloud cover does seem to make for a better bite in shallower range. In addition to good numbers of quality fish, he is catching some heavyweights in the 40-pound and larger class.
“My preferred bait is cut herring, but also gizzard shad and perch will work well,” he said. “The key is to mark fish in an area, then give them time to bite before taking off to explore other areas. I’ve found that sometimes it takes a while for them to start biting, but when they do, we’ll sometimes catch several in a short period of time once we get the first one to bite.”
Davis uses 7-foot rods and baitcasting reels spooled with 30-pound line. He ties on 6/0 Gamakatsu Circle hooks and about two ounces of weight when bottom-fishing from an anchored boat and an ounce of weight when drift-fishing the Santee drift rig.