Swift current stripers

Tom Christofaro of Camden caught this chunky striper last March while fishing with Wolfe’s Guide Service. (Picture by Brian Cope)

Santee Cooper’s stripers are running up the rivers

This month, stripers from the Santee Cooper lakes make a big run up the Congaree and Wateree rivers, getting ready for their annual spawn. They’re packing on the pounds, so they don’t turn down too many meals.

Capt. Jason Wolfe of Wolfe’s Guide Service (803-487-3690) said the hottest bites typically take place in fast moving water on these two rivers. That’s especially true when large rocks, cuts in the bank, or anything else offers a break from the current to these fish.

“They like to hunker down behind something that breaks the current, and they ambush prey that is getting washed by that same current,” he said.

Wolfe said March can be a finicky month, with air temperatures ranging from freezing to unseasonably warm 80-degree days. But that big swing doesn’t stop the stripers from biting.

“This time of year, these fish run up these rivers as far as they can. It’s triggered by their need to spawn, and they gorge themselves. It’s not the day-to-day weather that triggers them to feed. It’s the time of year,” he said.

But the bite can be a little tougher on some days.

“The most important thing is to be in the fast moving current, and with all the boulders present, you can’t do it without a jet-drive outboard. Otherwise, you’ll bust your prop and be stranded,” he said.

And even on the tough days, anglers can catch some whopper-sized stripers.

“Some days, you can catch them no matter where you cast. Other days, you’ll find the fish holding really tight to cover, and you’ll have a narrow area that you must cast into in order to get a bite,” he said.

Wakebaits like the Cotton Cordell Red Fin Shad are deadly on these fish.

“It’s an easy lure to work, because you just cast it out and reel it in. You can speed your retrieve up or slow it down. Usually, just a steady retrieve works best,” he said.

Wolfe said this month, you can expect to catch these fish any time of day.

“They’re feeding as much as they can throughout the day, all month. But first light through mid-morning is generally when the best bite occurs,” he said.

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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