Sizzling stripers on the Wateree River

The swift current of the Wateree River is a hotspot for stripers all spring.

Stripers will continue hot bite throughout May

Striper fishing has been on fire since mid-March on the Wateree River, and the stripers will continue biting throughout May.

A big concentration of these fish have settled into the area between Hwy. 1 and the Lake Wateree Dam, spawning and recovering as they prepare to head downstream and back to the Santee Cooper lakes until next spring. Right now, they’re feeding up to regain their strength before making that big downstream trek. And that’s good news for anglers. These fish have big appetites and they’re not shy about striking aggressively.

Capt. Jason Wolfe of Wolfe’s Guide Service (803-487-3690) loves fishing here this month.

“I’ve had some really good days for stripers here this time of year, and I’ve had some really great days. Every day is a little bit different, but you can count on these stripers to bite consistently good this time of year,” he said.

Wolfe said most of his clients catch these fish on wakebaits like the Cordell Red Fin. He suggests casting at a 45-degree angle toward the bank or structure, then working the lure back through current, eddies and slack-water pools created by the rocks and boulders present in this stretch of the river.

“All you need to do is just give it a steady retrieve. You don’t need to do anything erratic because the way this lure shimmies back and forth on its own is enough to draw strikes.

Steady as she goes

“You just want to make sure that when you’re retrieving the lure, you’re prepared to get a hard strike. You might reel it all the way a few times without a hit, then on the next cast, a fish hits it like a lightning bolt. You can’t get complacent or you’ll miss those hard strikes,” he said.

Wolfe said the stripers will sometimes bite as soon as the angler first cranks the reel handle. Other times, they’ll hit it in heavy current, in the slack pools, or in an eddy.

“The beauty of fishing here is they can hit it anywhere,” he said.

On some days the fish are so aggressive that Wolfe will try other lures like long soft plastic curly tail jigs or swimbaits with fairly light jigheads.

This part of the river is very rocky, swift, and dangerous if you’re in the wrong boat. Wolfe uses a G3 aluminum boat with a jet-drive Yamaha. ■

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About Brian Cope 2176 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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