As water temperatures dip in December, with frequent cold fronts blasting through South Carolina, the fishing on the Santee Cooper lakes, Marion and Moultrie, seem to defy logic and actually improves instead of slowing.
Veteran guide Dave Hilton from Ridgeville, S.C., has long cherished the opportunity to catch multiple species of fish at Santee Cooper. During November, the striper and catfish action is exceptional on Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, so Hilton set out to learn how to double-dip.
The new striper regulations implemented on the Santee Cooper lakes this past June have received rave reviews from fishermen, guides and landing operators around Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie. This has created a lot of optimism for the striper fishing season that reopens Oct. 1.
September is a transition month from summer to fall patterns on the Santee Cooper lakes, and the fishing is excellent for several species. The key is following fish, as they’re often on the move following forage. Find the forage and the right habitat for the species you seek, feed them the right stuff, and they’ll eat it.
Bobby Winters is a 23-year-old catfish and striper guide on the Santee Cooper lakes who has a youthful passion for catching fish. We were fishing on a hot, summer day, and he’d targeted an area with undulating bottom contours for drift-fishing. We had been drifting only a short while when one of his nine rods bowed over.
The new striped bass regulations approved by the South Carolina legislature and signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster on May 3, 2018, became effective immediately, much to the delight of many Santee Cooper striper fishermen.
Catfish are typically on a strong bite year-round at Santee Cooper, but June offers opportunities to be highly productive in a number of different ways. With the warming water, it’s an excellent time to pursue all of the “big three”catfish species: blue, flathead and channel.
The flooded cypress and gum tree forests and the abundance of shallow vegetation of Santee Cooper is Ground Zero for some of the best panfish action in South Carolina. Bull bream and super-sized shellcrackers abound, and anglers armed with the basic techniques of how, when and where to fish for this dynamic duo have an opportunity to limit on either species or a combination of both.