Anchor early, drift late for Santee’s summer catfish
Catching catfish isn’t a problem on Santee’s Lower Lake, no matter what month it is, according to Capt. Jason Wolfe of Wolfe’s Guide Service (803-487-3690). The August heat brings challenges for anglers, but the fish usually cooperate well enough.
Wolfe has a two-step plan for catching fish during the dog days of summer.
“The Lower Lake can get pretty windy once the sun gets up. But early mornings are usually quite calm. So I like to get on the water before sunup, anchor down, and put out six lines,” he said.
To avoid unwanted movement, Wolfe suggests anchoring both the front and back of the boat.
“If you’ve got one good anchor on your boat, you need one more. If you’re fishing with just one, the least amount of current or boat traffic will have you swaying, either creating slack in your lines or pulling them too tight,” he said.
He likes to start the morning in fairly shallow water, where he said catfish patrol during the early morning hours. He uses a basic Carolina rig here, with 60-pound Slime Line monofilament, 1-ounce sinkers and Triple Threat circle hooks from size 3/0 to 8/0.
Early fish can be a bonus
“Fishing that shallow water first thing, sometimes you can score a really big fish before the sun is even up,” he said.
And once the sun does get up a ways, he pulls up anchor, gets into some open water, and drifts.
“We usually have enough wind by then to push the boat. I like to stay around .6 mph so I’ll use drift socks if I need to slow the boat,” he said.
To cut down on snags, he’ll replace his sinkers with Drifting Stix, which are long, thin, flexible weights that aid in sliding through debris. He prefers drifting sideways, which allows him to space his Big Cat Fever rods out a little more for better coverage.
Once his rods are baited and his lines are cast, he places the rods in rod holders and watches the rod tips.
“One mistake a lot of people make is they try to set the hook too soon. And that’s true whether you’re anchored or drifting. It’s best to just wait for the rod to double over. The fish will often hook itself as long as you don’t jerk the bait away. Sometimes it’s just not a very strong bite and you’re not going to catch those anyway,” he said.
Wolfe said the Lower Lake has too many good anchoring and drifting spots to count.
“I’ll go back to areas that have produced in the past, but I’m always finding new spots too. The lake is so diverse that I don’t think you can go wrong no matter where you fish,” he said.
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