Although striper season is closed for four months, there’s still plenty of great action on several species at Santee Cooper. According to guides, the fish begin to get into more-reliable, warm-weather patterns, and some species — such as crappie — begin to consistently hold on brush in open water along deeper drops and ledges. The fishing for these fish can been sensational in June and throughout the summer and fall.
Also the catfish action is excellent, with more fish moving back to deeper water; ditto largemouth bass. Their move to deeper water is relative, however. They are in a post-spawn mode but still found primarily in shallow water.
Guide Kevin Davis of Blacks Camp said bass are still shallow, but just a bit deeper than in the previous couple of months.
“We’ll catch big largemouth in shallow water throughout the rest of the spring and summer,” said Davis (843-753-2231). “The largemouths have moved from the spawning-type cover in very shallow water to slightly deeper water.
“I seek out areas that are just a couple feet deeper, but it’s crucial to ensure there’s plenty weeds, vegetation such as eel grass, cypress trees or other cover to which they can relate. They will be able to find food readily, and except for early and late in the day, they will be holding tight to cover in depths ranging from four to eight feet. A wide variety of lures will work, but early and late in the day, topwaters are always an excellent choice, with frogs being one of my favorites at this time of year.”
Davis said that another productive June pattern in takes place when there is good water flow in the Diversion Canal — expected after such a wet winter and spring.
“Working the blowdowns and other cover along the edge of the canal can produce some excellent largemouth action,” he said.
The catfishing action begins to stabilize this month, according to guide Chris Orvin of Moncks Corner.
“While the catfish action is very good in the spring in both Moultrie and Marion, the depths and places fish are found will vary, and sometimes getting on a pattern that will hold up for a while is difficult,” Orvin said. “I like the more-stable weather in June and during the summer; it helps keep things more predictable. As a real bonus, I also begin catching a lot of really big catfish in the Cooper and Santee rivers below the lakes as well. It’s actually the best of both worlds for catfishing. They’re literally biting almost everywhere.”
For fishing in the lakes, Orvin said will usually drift-fish in the afternoon and into the evening hours, but the river fishing is good throughout the day.
“Fishing late in the evening and then for a few hours after dark seems to give me the best opportunity to catch more big catfish in the lakes,” he said. “It enables me to fish the magical time at dusk and then after dark. Some of my largest fish are caught right at dusk and for the first couple of hours after dark. But I think the current flow in the river helps the action be reliable throughout the day, so there are plenty of opportunities.”
Catfish action is very good in Lake Marion as well, according to Steve Pack at Pack’s Landing, but the big catfish are on a different pattern.
“There are a couple of good patterns, and one is catfish will still be caught in the river using live bait,” Pack said. “We fish the deeper side of the river this time of the year. Also, we’ll begin to catch catfish on a different but very productive pattern. The freshwater mussels begin to die off and start floating to the surface, and the blue catfish in particular will begin to feed heavily on them. We’ll drift-fish in the open flats, and if it’s windy, we’ll catch big catfish two or three feet deep in seven to eight feet of water drift-fishing shad or herring. The rigs are the key. We’ll use a crappie-sized float and split-shot, with the bait suspended about two to three feet down. The catfish will be roaming the flats looking for the mussels, and we’ll get into some huge catfish fishing in this unique manner.
“This pattern will usually last several weeks, often well into July with good water flow like we’ve had this year. On calm days, the catfish may be found a little deeper, so we’ll drift deeper areas, but we’ll still be fishing relatively shallow, usually six to eight feet deep in 10 to 12 feet of water. This is a good pattern right on into July as well.”
Pack said fishing is good for almost all species of panfish, including crappie, bass and bream. Pack said crappie will typically be caught on the deeper brush piles and will be taken tight-lining minnows or casting small jigs around the brush. Bream will usually be a bit more scattered and will be found holding close to trees or grassbeds.
“There will be some bream bedding in June, but usually not quite as good as in May,” he said. “But big limits will be caught both by fishing around trees and weeds for isolated scattered fish when they are not on the beds,” he said. “Crickets are the best bait for bream, and if you use worms, some shellcrackers can be caught as well.”