Santee State Park offers many fishing opportunities

Striped bass are one of many species anglers can catch while visiting Santee State Park.

Park has lodging, boat ramps, tackle store

South Carolina boasts 47 state parks, most of which are located on or near a body of water. Each park is unique and so are their fishing opportunities. Whether you’d like to sample the deep, cold waters of Upstate lakes, catch fish in a backwoods pond in the Midlands, fish in the slow moving rivers of the Pee Dee, or surf fish along the Grand Strand or Lowcountry, our state parks can give you what you’re looking for.

Santee State Park is a popular destination for anglers, and it’s no wonder why they flock here. Aside from two well-maintained boat landings, Santee State Park has numerous camping opportunities for anglers wanting to wet a line for multiple days.

So what fishing opportunities exist at Santee State Park? It’s located on the shores of Lake Marion, often referred to as the “upper lake” by locals. Catfish, largemouth bass, several species of bream, crappie, and of course, rockfish (stripers).

And anglers don’t have to go far to find access to all of these fish. Leaving from either boat launch puts anglers right in the middle of the action. Directly across from one landing is a flooded cypress forest, and this month, you’ll find the bream plenty active in there. Bluegills and shellcrackers seem to be equally abundant, and often when you’re catching bluegill, you’ll find shellcrackers in the same spots, just a little bit deeper.

Try crickets for bluegills under corks, and use worms for the shellcrackers, either on the bottom, or just deeper under those same corks.

Heading left out of the landing will put you into an array of other flooded cypress forests, and will eventually take you to Pack’s Flats, where you can access the Santee River. Catfish and rockfish are plentiful here, but don’t pack away the bream rods. You’ll still find them in the cuts of the river banks, and in eddies all along the river.

You’ll find the largemouth in too many places to mention, starting with the ones talked about above. Lily pads and other surface vegetation are found all over the lake, and this time of year, hitting those early in the morning and in the evening is always a good bet.

Heading right out of the landing will put you in some bigger water. You’ll catch plenty of catfish and rockfish in this area too, and crappie are often found in the main river channel this time of year. They like to go deep, and move between brush piles in, or near, some of the deepest water they can find.

If you decide to stay in one of the 30 cabins at the state park, you’ll only have to launch your boat one time. 10 of the cabins sit over the lake, and have small piers which allow you to dock your boat. The other 20 cabins are along the lakeshore, and they all have small cleared areas on the shore that you can pull your boat up to. Trailering your boat everyday isn’t a problem though. Each cabin has ample parking.

For anglers with bigger boats, you can actually fish saltwater after launching from Santee State Park. It will take some time, but going through the locks of the dam on the lower lake gives boaters the opportunity to travel all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. So camping at this park gives you the chance to fish fresh water and saltwater, all from the same launching point.

About Brian Cope 2787 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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