The striper fishing on both Santee Cooper lakes, closed for four months, opened on Oct. 1, and for many fishermen it was as celebrated an opening day as any dove or deer opener. And many were rewarded for their effort.

One guide who has been fishing the Santee Cooper lakes for decades is 74-year-old Truman Lyons of Santee Cooper Charters. Last year, Lyons opened the season with a terrific catch of 70 stripers, all of which were suspended fish caught on jigging spoons. On opening day this past Wednesday, fishing by himself from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., he caught 35 stripers, again, all on jigging spoons.

“The striper fishing is awesome right now,” Lyons said. “I stopped on three places to fish and drifted across stripers I had marked on the graph and caught about a dozen or so at each spot, then moved to purposely see if I could find more in different locations. And I did. The good thing is that the three spots were in different depths of water (45, 40 and 28 feet). I also saw some schooling action on the surface and went to it and immediately caught one. But there was no need to go to schooling fish, I had all I could handle on suspended fish, and I was worn out after those two hours.”      

Lyons said the size of the fish he caught varied, but the action was fast and furious. He said a larger percentage of the fish he caught were at or above the 26-inch size minimum than in past years.

“When the striper season opens in October, I personally don’t use live bait, although live bait will certainly catch stripers in October,” Lyons said. “But the fish are in such a pattern that they are very aggressive and will readily take spoons. I prefer 1-ounce Hopkins Shorty spoons and 1-ounce Flex spoons in white. The technique is simple: just lift the spoon up and let it fall back and be ready for the striper to bite. The fish are typically suspended, and I drop the bait to the depth they are holding and jig the spoon. Most bites are aggressive.”

Lyon (843-729-2212) said fishermen can use live blue-black herring and drop them to a depth just above where stripers are marked on the graph and enjoy fast action. But he said they’ll bite the spoons just as quickly and often better throughout October and well into November.

The key, he said, is to look for stripers suspended around baitfish.

“You’ve got to find the right places, but when you do, the opportunities to catch stripers and lots of stripers are outstanding right now,” Lyons said. “I’ll be fishing the humps and holes and using my graph to look for stripers suspended around baitfish for best results, and I’ll primarily be fishing in Lake Moultrie. But striper fishing is excellent on both lakes.”