It’s never a bad time to fish the Santee Cooper lakes, but November can be really good, especially for anglers seeking a bite from a striper. These fish are as active this month as they are all year, and catching them isn’t a problem.
Casting surface plugs early in the morning can produce a few rockfish, and anglers drifting with baits on the bottom will happen across one or two from time to time, but the best way to catch stripers this month is by ripping spoons vertically.
“These fish are suspended in different depths throughout the water column, so you can catch them at any depth. It can be difficult to catch them if you’re fishing in a conventional way because they are so staggered,” said guide David Hilton (843-870-4734). “You might catch one at 20 feet and then not catch another one at that depth all day, but you might hook one in 35 feet right after that. Cranking spoons is the way to catch them no matter what depth they’re at.”
Cranking, aka ripping, is a little different from what most people call jigging. When jigging, anglers drop the spoon to the bottom, pull it up a little, then drop it back down, keeping the lure near the bottom or at a relatively constant depth the whole time. When ripping spoons, anglers drop the lure to the bottom, then crank it all the way back to the surface as fast as possible, then drop it right back down again.
“Jigging only covers a small section of the water column. Cranking the spoon as fast as you can all the way to the top before dropping it again covers the entire water column, and no matter how fast you think you can reel, you won’t reel it too fast for these fish to hit it,” he said.
It’s not uncommon to catch 100 stripers a day ripping a spoon, Hilton said, but you’ll need to wade through a lot of undersized fish.
“The stripers are getting bigger though. Last year, we caught more keepers than we have in quite a few years, and we caught plenty that were just barely too small. This should be a good year, and this is the way to catch them,” he said.
Hilton suggests using fluorocarbon line in 15- to 20-pound range, and as long as the water temperature is 60 degrees or warmer, the stripers will actively bite.
“I can usually catch them this way through Christmas, and November is overall the best month from year to year,” he said.