Fishing success and a net survey by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources confirm the striper spawning run is underway on the upper end of Lake Marion, according to Steve Pack at Pack’s Landing.
“The water temperature is climbing slowly, the water color is great for stripers and most every species and there’s plenty of water movement. Everything is in place for a great striper season in upper Lake Marion,” said Pack, who said SCDNR runs a multi-species net survey every year beginning in late February.
“They are looking for a variety of species, not just stripers, but it gives us a handle on what’s moving in our area,” Pack said. “This year, they had twice as many stripers as I can ever remember, and they’ve been doing this for many years. Plus, we started catching our own live herring as of the first of March, and sure enough, fishermen are catching stripers. There was a 21-pounder caught recently near the Santee State Park, and we’re looking for a great season.
Pack said cold weather had held the water temperature down, but overall, it is looking good, and regardless, the stripers are making their move.
“The key is that the stripers are ready, and they’re here and moving through,” he said. “So the bite is on and will only get better over the next few weeks. But for big fish, now is a great time to go striper fishing here.”
"The water conditions are good for catching stripers both in the river and in the flats because we have plenty of current," he said. "Most of the striper action is coming on cut bait, but a few are being taken on whole, live herring."
Pack said the best action is usually very early in the day, but also, late afternoon can be very good. Low-light times are best but there will be a steady bite through the day.
"A flurry of action is potentially better early and late, so I suggest fishermen be on the water, rigged and ready by dawn," Pack said. "Typically, fishermen can catch a dozen or more stripers by 9 o'clock in the morning. On the, I fish the willow-bush side of the river; that’s where the sandbars are, and essentially, that’s the inside bends. I do cast some baits on the shallower on the sandbars and some into deeper water toward the channel; you never can predict for sure where the fish will be. We’re also catching a lot of catfish as well right now, some big ones.
"It's crucial to keep fresh bait on for the best striper action," said Pack, whose business carries big, saltwater herring. "I change baits every half-hour, but when fish are biting well, the action is fast enough that keeping fresh bait on is not something I have to put on a timer."