Guide Tony Shepherd said catching a trophy striper is a distinct possibility on any given day in the spring, but he’s developed a method to single out huge fish.

“It’s the old big-bait-equals-big-fish concept,” he said. “If I’m after a huge striper and not concerned with catching smaller fish, I select huge bait, and one local preference is a 12-inch gizzard shad. This is a bait big stripers in Clarks Hill already want, so it’s a natural.”

Shepherd will also use the wild herring that migrate from the ocean into the Santee Cooper lakes each spring, and these huge herring are great when used at Clarks Hill.

“A lot of these herring are in the 10-inch-plus size class,” he said. “Using huge baits, I avoid bites from smaller fish, (and) that enables me to search for really big fish. We may only get a few bites — perhaps only a couple — on any given day, but the potential for a trophy fish skyrockets.”

Shepherd said anglers have to develop a trophy hunting mentality, and patience is paramount to success. 

“I liken this pattern to hunting for big bucks,” he said. “A good analogy would be having the patience to pass up on a nice 10-point buck just to have the opportunity to get a 14-point trophy.”