Santee upper lake fishing report: catfish in stump fields


Anchoring down is the key to Lake Marion catfish right now

The catfish bite continues to be strong on the Santee Cooper lakes. And that’s true no matter what the weather is doing. Cloudy, foggy, rainy, windy, or bright and sunny, any day has been good for catching Santee’s catfish.

Capt. Jason Wolfe said the key to catching them on the upper lake right now is anchoring near stump fields and feeding them big baits.

“The catfish are heavily congregated in the trees on the upper lake near the state park and areas similar to that. They love hanging out in those stump fields this time of year,” said Wolfe, of Wolfe’s Guide Service.

Anglers need to approach these areas with caution. But Wolfe said the amount of stumps and debris shouldn’t deter anyone from fishing here. The potential payoff is greater than the risk, as long as you’re careful.

“You have to get in the thick of these trees so that you can cast all around the stumps. These fish are in here thick and they’re willing to bite. But you have to put the bait right on them,” he said.

Fishing solo is challenging in these areas. Wolfe likes to have at least one other angler on board to serve as a lookout for stumps as he steers the boat into place.

Cast close to debris and depth changes

“Just put one angler up front to scan the water for stumps, and take it slow. When that angler alerts you to a stump, steer clear if you have the time. If not, just put it in idle until you’re clear. It takes a few extra minutes. But it’s worth it once you’re anchored in the right spot,” he said.

Wolfe said these areas often have an underwater ditch running through them that provides a change in depth that catfish like.

“It might be just a foot or two difference, but that’s all it takes sometimes. The catfish love to be close to depth changes,” he said.

Once anchored down, Wolfe puts out up to eight rods, casting the big, cut chunks of baitfish close to stumps and along depth changes. Then he puts the rods in his rod holders. When that’s done, it’s simply a matter of waiting.

On a trip last week, Wolfe and his client caught dozens of catfish in the 10 – 25 pound range fishing this way. They anchored in four different spots, catching several catfish in each one before the bite slowed enough to prompt the anglers to move. Each spot they anchored was within sight of the last one they fished.

Steering a boat around so many stumps and trees can be treacherous, so take it slow and have a lookout when searching for a place to anchor.

“Sometimes it’s just a matter of fishing the same stump field from a different angle. Once the bite slows from one angle, approach it from the other side. Anchor down again, and get your baits back in there,” he said. “You’ll catch a lot of quality sized fish this way. And there’s always the potential for a true trophy.”

Wolfe (803-487-3690) stressed that anglers should always use two anchors — one at the back of the boat and one at the front of the boat.

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About Brian Cope 1998 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of 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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