For some of the hottest, fast-paced and diversified fishing any angler could dream of, the Santee River seems to be the hotbed for a myriad of fish-catching opportunities.
Capt. Joe Dennis guides on the Santee and Cooper river, as well as Lake Moultrie, but he’s spending much of his time on the Santee River right now.
“We’re catching an awesome diversity of fish in huge numbers,” Dennis said. “On most any given day, we are catch lots of huge redbreast, giant bream, shellcrackers, and on some days, a lot of big crappie,” he said. “Also, we’re rigged with topwaters such as Tiny Torpedos and white Flukes, and plenty of big striper and largemouths are schooling on top as we fish along the river. When they blow up feeding on baitfish within casting range, we’re hooking up with these fish as well. Overall, the action on the panfish is just part of the equation, but we’re usually catching limits of huge panfish.”
Dennis (843-245-3762) said the time is ideal because the water has warmed sufficiently to put the redbreast and bream on a great bite whether they are bedding or not. Plus, the bonus bass and stripers add a special dimension.
“As a rule, we’re catching most of our redbreast and bream and other panfish species on crickets bumping the bottom in 6 to 10 feet of water,” he said. “There’s usually a little current, and we move along and will hit pockets of fish. If they are big, we’ll re-drift those areas and continue to catch fish. Only occasionally will we anchor; it has to be pretty special, because moving and searching seems to be the best way to catch fish consistently and in the largest sizes.
“We’re using light spinning rigs loaded with 4-pound test line on the panfish. We have a 1-ounce bell sinker on the bottom and a short leader a few inches above that with a gold No. 2 Eagle Claw hook. We do occasionally catch some catfish drifting, and that adds even more diversity.”
Dennis said the fishing for stripers and largemouth has been exceptionally exciting; some keeper stripers are surfacing, and a number of largemouths in the 5- to 7-pound class have been caught.
“What I love about this action is we can be catching big redbreast and bream, and when largemouth or stripers school near us, we pick up a rod that’s rigged and ready and work it over those schooling fish; they’ll usually explode on the bait, and it’s game on,” he said. “It creates an active fish-catching environment, but one that’s exciting, and at the end of the day, my clients have enjoyed an awesome day of fishing. On my most recent trip, we caught bass and stripers as well as three limits of big panfish and completely emptied four cages of crickets. We threw back a lot of big bream that were keepers because we get selective toward the end of the trip.”
Dennis said this fishing should continue to be good through the summer, but the most-consistent action will be over the next few weeks.