Change strategy when you’re catching only small Santee Cooper stripers


Big stripers travel with other big stripers

The fall striper bite on the Santee Cooper lakes is a must-see event for anglers. Typically, hundreds of birds hovering over the water in fall are prime indicators of a surfacing school of stripers. Sometimes, anglers may want to consider leaving fish to find other fish. Here’s why.

During the fall, striped bass pack into large schools, corral baitfish and chase them to the surface. Quite often, members of a school will be roughly the same size. That’s because many stripers travel in age groups.

If you find a school where all of the fish are large and in charge, you might be in a perfect place to spend significant time fishing. But if the fish are all short, anglers should consider changing strategies to get that limit of 26-inch keeper fish in the boat for the ride home.

Guide David Hilton said bigger fish will either be packed together or at a different depth than the juveniles.

“If you want to catch larger adults, (they) hang under the smaller fish and towards the bottom,” he said. “They get big by being smart and not getting caught. But if you drop down deeper with live bait towards the bottom, they can’t stand a blueback herring dangling in their faces.

“Big fish hang around together and small fish will hang around together. If you are in a school of small fish, leave them and find some bigger fish.”

About Jeff Burleson 1312 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.

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