A long-time trophy fishery

The Santee Cooper lakes have been producing trophy blue, channel and flathead catfish for more than 50 years.

A 58-pound channel catfish was caught from Lake Moultrie in 1964, setting state and world records that still stand today. While the Santee Cooper lakes provide excellent fishing for numbers of channel catfish, the sizes are no longer extreme and are not typically considered trophy size, even for channel catfish.

The big impact for trophy catfishing on Lake Marion, Lake Moultrie and the Diversion Canal took root more than 50 years ago when the S.C. Department of Natural Resources stocked catfish in the lakes, with now-legendary results.

After that stocking, the Santee Cooper system developed into a world-class fishery for both blue and flathead catfish, and at times, state records for both blue and flathead catfish have come from Santee Cooper. The current state-record blue, a 113.8-pound fish, was caught from Lake Moultrie in 2017. Santee Cooper flatheads have held state records several times in the past, with fish bigger than 70 pounds caught and certified. The two most recent state-record flatheads were caught in the Cooper River downstream of Pinopolis Dam, which impounds Lake Moultrie.

About Terry Madewell 809 Articles
Award-winning writer and photographer Terry Madewell of Ridgeway, S.C., has been an outdoors writer for more than 30 years. He has a degree in wildlife and fisheries management and has a long career as a professional wildlife biologist/natural resources manager.

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