South Carolina is home to plenty of lakes, rivers, ponds, and numerous saltwater creeks, inlets, lagoons, and open ocean for sportsmen to enjoy. With so many fishing opportunities throughout the state, it's only natural that South Carolina is also home to a number of boat manufacturers.
While a number of boat companies, including Scout, Sea Fox, Sportsman, and TideWater make their boats in South Carolina, there is another brand that has some unique characteristics over those.
Santee Boats, which are made by the father-son team of Ralph and Matt Mitchell in South Carolina’s Upstate, are smaller craft than the boats mentioned above, and will appeal to a lot of anglers who fish everything from blackwater rivers to lakes and even saltwater creeks and inlets.
It’s not an offshore boat, and you might not want to troll for stripers in the middle of Lake Murray, but you could troll around its coves, and for an all-around boat that can put you in all the nooks and crannies that South Carolina’s panfish, bass, catfish, flounder, and speckled trout hide in, this is the type of boat that will serve you well.
A jonboat can certainly work in those areas, but Santee Boats are more refined, with features typically found on bass boats and saltwater flats boats, just in a smaller package.
When I say smaller, I’m talking a maximum outboard rating of 25 horsepower. When I say refined, I’m talking center console, raised deck, circulating livewell, under-deck storage, bilge pump, pre-wired trolling motor mount, and a proprietary fiberglass diamond-plating on the deck and seat that helps with grip, but doesn’t hold nearly the amount of dirt and grime that most fiberglass boat floors and decks do.
“Most fiberglass boats have those really tiny dots all over the deck that helps add grip. But once it is dirty, it stays dirty. That’s one thing I wanted to change, and I’ve found that the diamond plating adds the same amount of grip, but is much easier to clean,” said Ralph Mitchell.
On top of having everything pre-wired, these boats also have channels for more wiring, giving buyers the option of adding electronic accessories without having to worry about where they are going to hide their wires. The running lights, bilge pump, and livewell pumps? Forget about those; those aren’t options – that’s standard equipment, already wired and installed.
Mitchell hasn’t always built boats, but he’s always been in the boating business, including stints with Marquis Boats and Stingray Boats. Striking out on his own in 1992, Mitchell opened Creative Fiberglass, a fiberglass molding and repair business, which is now located in Fountain Inn, just outside of Greenville.
After repairing fiberglass boats for decades, the Mitchells decided to build and sell their own line of boat. That’s how Santee Boats came about.
One question the Mitchells often get from folks looking at their boats for the first time, is how stable can such a small, canoe-shaped boat be.
"It has a lot of similarities to a canoe, so stability is one of the first things folks ask about. And they are always surprised to see how much more stable it is than they think by looking at it. That's why we did the video of Matt walking around the rails for. He's a grown man, and you can see the boat is under no danger of tipping as he walks with his full weight on the rails," said Mitchell.
Aside from the center console model, they also make a tiller steer boat and a stick-steering version. And either model can feature the high front deck or a lower front deck. The boats can be purchased from a network of dealers across the Carolinas, including Perry's Marine in Simpsonville, Cooper River Marine in Moncks Corner, and Barry Capp's Marine in Hendersonville.
Click here for more information about Santee Boats.