Lower Lake linesiders

Capt. Lee Suggs is one of the top striper guides on the Santee Cooper lakes. (Photo by Brian Cope)

It’s striper time on Lake Moultrie

Santee’s stripers come back in season on Oct. 1, and you can bet Capt. Lee Suggs of Captain Leroy’s Striper Charters will be putting his clients on these fish early and often.

Striper season has been closed since June 15, so the fish aren’t particularly lure-shy yet. Suggs (910-995-1168) uses a two-pronged approach for them this month. One is topwater; the other is spoon-feeding them.

“My favorite way to catch them is with topwater lures. Being able to see them bite, as well as feel them, is about the most fun you can have with a fishing rod in your hand,” he said.

Suggs said any number of topwater lures will work just fine, from walk-the-dog type lures, to popping lures, to surface-spinning lures. But the trick, he said, is to find the schools of surface-feeding fish first.

“Once the season starts, I try to keep tabs on where they’re schooling. They move a lot, and can move long distances from one day to the next. But when I’m out here almost every day, I can at least have some good references as to where I’m seeing them,” he said. “And that helps me know where to start looking each morning.”

Suggs uses a pair of binoculars to look for signs of schooling activity.

Moving on

“Sometimes the schools are so big you can see them slashing the top from a long distance away. But it’s usually the birds that give them away first. When you see a big group of birds diving, that’s where the stripers have pushed the baitfish to the surface,” he said.

This type of fishing keeps Suggs on the move. He’ll crank the outboard and head their way, usually getting there in time to get a number of casts into the school before they disappear.

“Usually they’ll feed long enough for everyone on the boat to get a shot at a few. Then they’ll go down deep,” he said.

That’s when Suggs turns to the Berry’s Flex-It Spoon, a lure he drops straight down, then reels back up quickly, making several sharp jerks with the rod as he reels.

“Sometimes they hit it while it’s falling. Sometimes they hit it on the way up, and sometimes they hit it right as you jerk it,” he said.

While his clients are catching fish this way, Suggs continues looking for other schools on the surface. When he finds another one, it’s topwater time again.

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 brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.

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