Santee Cooper winter striper fishing report


Santee striper bite is hot in deep holes

Capt. Joe Dennis of Captain J Hook Charters brings us this late January Santee Cooper fishing report. Dennis said the striper bite is excellent, especially when using live herring for bait.

“We’ve been catching some quality stripers in deep holes and getting our limit quickly on some days,” said Dennis.

Using his electronics, he finds schools of stripers, then anchors down if possible, lowering bait to the fish. He runs his Thump’em Up fish attractor to get the fish interested.

“You can see a handful of fish on your screen, and when you turn on the Thump’em Up, you’ll see more stripers appear. It’s a big help in concentrating those fish into groups under the boat,” said Dennis.

The stripers are biting throughout the day, but Dennis (843-245-3762) has been having the most luck before lunch. He said anglers need to make sure they’re offering baits above the depth the fish are showing.

“Here lately, I’ve been finding the fish hanging out at about 42 feet deep. I’m putting my bait at about 35 feet. The stripers like to feed up, so they’re coming up to get those herring,” he said.

The lower lake is producing numbers of good-sized fish

The numbers of stripers are definitely there, but Dennis said the quality is too. He prefers fishing the lower lake this time of year.

“We’re catching a lot of keepers, and we’ve caught some in the 12-pound range lately. These are good, quality fish. The cold weather doesn’t bother them at all. They actually fight better in the cold because they don’t wear down like they do when the water is warm,” he said.

Dennis said many anglers miss out on some of the best striper fishing of the year because they assume the fish don’t bite in the cold.

Bundling up on a cold morning is a small price to pay for Santee’s excellent winter striper fishing.

“A lot of people are just waiting until the spring when the weather is more comfortable to the angler. But they’re missing out on some of the best fishing by doing that. Right now the fish are feeding, you don’t have to worry about bugs or getting too hot, and the water is much less crowded,” he said.

He expects the striper bite to remain constant throughout the next 6 weeks — all the way to the beginning of the spring bite.

Aside from the stripers, Dennis said they are also occasionally catching some Arkansas blue catfish in the 15- to 25-pound range.

“We are not targeting the catfish, but some are mixed in with the stripers. They are a good bonus catch on some days,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2800 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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