The stocking by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is intended to supplement natural reproduction that has historically maintained the Santee Cooper striped bass population. Hatchery personnel and management biologists have increased the number of stock locations around the system in order to facilitate survival. In addition, the fingerling size at stocking has been increased, which should also help survival.
The Santee Cooper system includes not only the well-known lakes, but also the Wateree, Congaree and lowers Saluda Rivers. All parts of the system are used by striped bass during part of the year or at least during a stage of their life cycle.
"While we can't affect the amount of water Mother Nature gives us, we can change the age at which we harvest fish, so females survive long enough to spawn at least once," said Statewide Hatchery Coordinator Leo Rose. "I especially want to commend Dennis Wildlife Center Project Leader Forrest Sessions and his staff for a great job this year raising large, good-quality stripers and meeting all the management requests statewide."
Striped bass fry for the Santee Cooper stockings were produced at the DNR's Jack Bayless Fish Hatchery in St. Stephens. The fry were grown out to one to two-inch fingerlings prior to being stocked in the lakes. Funding for the Jack Bayless Fish Hatchery and the striped bass stockings comes from license fees and Sport Fish Restoration Funds, which are derived from a federal excise tax on selected fishing gear and motorboat fuel.
For information on DNR's freshwater fish stocking program, call (803) 734-3886 in Columbia. Check the DNR Web site at www.dnr.sc.gov/fish.html for South Carolina freshwater fish regulations. Find out more about hatcheries in South Carolina at the DNR Web site: hatcheries.dnr.sc.gov/index.html
The DNR Freshwater Fisheries Section annually stocks from seven to 10 million fish in state waters, including striped and hybrid bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel and blue catfish, bluegill, redbreast, red ear sunfish (shellcracker), and rainbow, brook, and brown trout. Anglers in South Carolina spend almost $742 million to fish each year, making the sport, with economic multipliers factored in, a billion dollar business in the Palmetto State.