Santee Cooper’s last minute stripers

Only half of June is open to stripers at Santee, but anglers don’t want to miss this bite. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Santee’s striper season closes June 15

Santee Cooper’s striper season closes on June 15, but the bite is too hot for anglers to call it quits before then. Capt. Joe Dennis of Captain J Hook Charters said the most consistent bite right now is in deep water. But, he said the Diversion Canal is always a good place to start the day.

“By now, Santee Cooper’s stripers have made their runs up the Congaree and Wateree rivers to spawn, and most of them are already back in the lakes. But you can still catch some in the Canal, especially in the first hour of the day,” said Dennis (843-245-3762).

He said plenty of stripers are in both lakes now, recovering from their spawning duties. This means they are hungry and willing to bite. He catches most of his in the lower lake, but he catches his share of them in the Canal this month.

“They are in deep water on the lower lake, and they are kind of grouped up in loose gangs. They’ll be in water around 35 feet deep, but they move from one day to the next, so you have to do a little bit of looking each day,” he said.

Start in the Canal

Dennis uses live bait on No. 3 hooks, 14-pound Slime Line monofilament, and Striper Stealth rods. And on most days, he drops his first baits in the Diversion Canal.

“These are mostly fish that are headed back to the lower lake, and they’ll hunker down in that deep water once they get there. But we’ll catch them in the Canal while they’re still heading home,” said Dennis.

He likes fishing the canal first thing in the morning. 

“I like to get there as early as possible, and you’ll catch some bonus fish before the sun even gets up. But the most consistent bite takes place as the sun clears the trees,” he said. “And usually, for about an hour, you’ll get steady bites that time of day in the canal.”

On some days, anglers can catch their limit in that first hour. On others, they may have to weed through over-the-slot fish and undersized fish. And once the bite slows there, Dennis heads out to the deep water to catch stripers that have already made it home. 

About Brian Cope 2783 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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