Kyle Austin wins Bassmaster Open at Santee

Kyle Austin won the 2024 Bassmaster Open at Santee March 7-9. (B.A.S.S. photo)

Santee guide wins big on home lake

In classic “local boy does good” fashion, Kyle Austin, who lives and guides in Santee Cooper Country, won the biggest tournament of his career on his home lake when the St. Croix Bassmaster Open took place in March.

Austin’s total weight for the 3-day event was 83 pounds, 7 ounces.

After finishing Day 1 in 13th place with a 5-fish limit of 24 pounds, 7 ounces, Austin catapulted himself into first place at the end of Day 2 after weighing in a whopping 31-pound, 8-ounce bag. He held on for the win, catching 27-8 on Day 3.

The win secures a spot in the 2025 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Ray Roberts in Texas for the pro angler, and will go a long way in helping him reach his goal of qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series.

Austin said he couldn’t have gotten his biggest win at a better venue.

“This is a dream come true on my home lake. It’s so special having all my family, friends and fans standing in that parking lot. Santee Cooper will always be a special place to me,” he said. “There’s no place I’d rather stand up with this trophy.”

Cypress trees played a big part

Austin won $49,638 in prize money for his first-place finish.

The majority of his fish came on a 1/2-ounce Strike King Red Eye Shad Tungsten 2-Tap lipless crankbait and a 1-ounce spinnerbait with tandem willow blades. He stayed on the move for much of his time, fishing flooded cypress trees. Local knowledge helped him tremendously with this strategy.

“These fish get on the same trees year after year. I had the confidence of knowing which ones they get on. So I just kept running those trees until I caught a big one,” he said.

Inclement weather shortened Day 3, and threatened to cancel it completely. Had that happened, Austin would have been declared the winner because he was the leader at the end of Day 2. But he is glad he didn’t win that way.

“I didn’t want to win on a cancelation. I’m glad we fished. I wanted to get back out there,” he said.

When not fishing tournaments, Austin is a full-time fishing guide on the Santee Cooper lakes. And while bass fishing is his passion, he also guides for catfish and other species. To book a trip with Austin, visit or call 843-209-3726.

About Brian Cope 2745 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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