From cold nights to hot days, the weather continues to bring unpredictable conditions for anglers, but one faithful participant finally showed up in the lower Waccamaw River over the last few days and in a big way: striped bass.   

“Stripers showed up good in the Waccamaw River lately,” said Capt. Robert Mayer of Top Knotch Fishing Charters (843-240-9477). “Friday, we caught four in about an hour, and they were all over 20 inches.”

Striped bass are one of Mayer’s his favorites, especially in the winter and early spring around Georgetown.

“Since December, I have been fishing hard for stripers in the North Santee, Pee Dee and the Waccamaw, and we have been catching fair numbers of fish everywhere, but the Waccamaw was dead until now,” he said.

During the winter, striped bass congregate in the lower part of the rivers in brackish water there is enough bait available to sustain them and some of the warmest water is located. While the Georgetown area is not widely known for striped bass, it sure doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of these fish around for anglers to encounter.

According to Scott Lamprecht, SCDNR’s regional fishery biologist, the coastal river striped bass population in South Carolina does not leave the river much, but they are believe to migrate between adjacent river systems using the ICW.

“There is a lot of in-system movement between adjoining river systems. For example, one fish that was tagged in the Santee system was re-captured just below Blewett Falls Dam in the Pee Dee River,” he said.  

The fish Mayer has been catching lately are showing signs of potential reproductive activity.

“Every fish I have caught over the last week have been completely full of eggs,” he said.

Mayer is using mostly large, weighted grubs, deep-diving crank baits, Rat-L-Traps and anything else that resembles a fleeing baitfish.

The best opportunities to find a striper in the lower Waccamaw is around creek mouths, structure in deep water and any other good ambush locations. They will often congregate along the edges of current seams in deep water, and that makes these creek mouths and deep-water structure ideal.

Additionally, anglers can expect striped bass to be aggressive. As the water begins to warm some, baitfish will move toward the warmer waters at the surface, where surface and shallow-diving lures will do the trick.

With the full moon on the rise, the next few weeks should bring some exciting action in the Waccamaw for striped bass for anglers ready to break the mold and hear that familiar drag sing away.