Santee Cooper Fishing Report
Lake levels are about 2 1/2 feet below full pool in Lake Marion while Lake Moultrie is about 1 foot below full pool.
Crappie: Very good. Captain Steve English (843-729-4044) reports that his boat has been catching limits every day, with sizes also strong including a recent fish over 3 pounds. Fish have moved a bit deeper, and right now the best fishing bas been dropping minnows 10-18 feet down over brush in 20-35 feet of water. More fish have been caught in the lower lake, but nice sized crappie have been caught in both. This bite should hold up through mid-December.
Bream: Good to very good. Captain Steve English reports that bluegills are very heavy on the brushpiles. Fishing crickets 10-18 feet down over brush in 20-35 feet of water has been the best pattern, which equates to the same areas that crappie are being caught. Bluegill are generally a bit more aggressive than crappie so the best bet for anglers targeting crappie is to move on to the next brushpile if they start catching bream.
Catfish: Good. Captain Jim Glenn (843-825-4239) reports that the expected seasonal improvement in catfishing has occurred as predicted, and with water temperatures dropping into the mid-60s and then below fishing got much better. In the recent Hills Landing tournament a record was set with a winning total, 10-fish weight of 412 pounds(!), and places 2-7 each had over 200 pounds. In addition to seasonal factors this probably indicates that there has been better growth with the population decline over the past few years, and the protection of big fish may be helping. In his own fishing Captain Jim has found good results drifting cut shad in 8-25 feet on days with a steady breeze. Fish still seem to be scattered but they will begin to move into deeper water in both lakes as temperatures continue to fall, and the bite may get relatively consistent (depending on weather) once water temperatures stay well below 60.
Striped bass: Good. Captain Jim Glenn reports that striped bass fishing has been good in both lakes. Numerous sub-legal fish have been caught but also some keeper-sized fish over 26 inches have been caught. Fish are often located in the deeper sections of Lake Moultrie and on the edges of drops that run from 35-45 feet of water. Lake Marion fish are scattered along the old river channel and into flooded timber as well as in the mouths of bigger creeks like Wyboo and even further up the creek if bait is sufficient. Anchoring will catch fish as well as drifting live bait and/ or jigging spoons and jigs. Fishermen have also been targeting schooling fish; schooling can be found at various depths in both lakes depending on where the bait is found.
Largemouth bass: Fair. After a slow-down largemouth bass fishing has been better over the past couple of weeks, and fishermen have resumed targeting fish around visible structure in shallow water. This pattern should hold up until water temperatures drop much below 60 degrees or cold fronts push fish to deeper water. There has also been some schooling activity reported in the afternoon and some fish have been caught on swimbaits.
DHEC fish advisories: Largemouth bass and bowfin (mudfish) should only be eaten once per week.