UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

The Santee clause

A brief fog delay gave anglers time to double check their tackle and contemplate their Santee Cooper game plans.

SUMMERTON, S.C. - Don't let the dim skies or the morning's 25-minute fog delay fool you - FLW EverStart Series Southeast Division anglers have loads of opportunity awaiting them on the Santee Cooper lakes, named Marion and Moultrie.

Stormy weather arrived the day before the tournament and, while day one should be mostly dry, cloudy skies will persist. That should keep the surface bite viable throughout the day and Alabama pro Shaye Baker is pleased with that outlook. He'll throw a white Jackall Iobee frog with expectations of quality over quantity.

"I saw that weather coming for three or four days now, so I was excited about that," Baker said. "I love throwing a topwater frog and this is the perfect kind of weather where you can do it and have a pretty " border="1" align="right" />good chance at winning.

"I caught some big fish in practice (on the frog). The first place I pulled up to I caught a 3-pounder and two sevens in the first 30 minutes and I thought 'This is going to be unbelievable.'

"I'm getting big bites when I do get bit so if I can go out there and get five bites I think I'll be ok. It's a nerve-racking way - to fish for five bites. But if you get the right five, there's no need to cull."

Baker will spend his day in Lake Marion and target a variety of vegetation in about three feet. "They're just out there roaming, so you just try to cover as much water as you can and try to get some good bites."

Local pro Michael Maxfield expects much of the action to take place in relatively shallow water, as fish coming off their recent spawn fan out and become moody. "The fish are in that post-spawn funk and they're starting to move out and suspend in those 5- to 6-foot depressions and that makes them a little tougher to catch.

Searching broad areas with soft plastics like a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper can prove productive."Certain groups of fish are starting to bite better. They're moving around, but they're kind of grouped up in certain grass patches with some stumps in them. You can get in an area and catch three or four decent fish pretty quickly and then you might go two or three hours and not have a bite.

"It seems there are just little pods of fish that are active, so it's just locating those groups when they're biting. There are so many fish in this lake that you're around them pretty much all the time. You either have to figure out how to make them bite, or be there when they decide to bite."

One factor that will offer a feast or famine scenario is the shad spawn presently occurring in the lakes. As Maxfield notes, a brief period each morning sees the bass ravaging the shad and snapping at pretty much anything else they see.

"If you get in an area where they're biting, you can get well pretty quick but after that, it gets tough again," he said.

Maxfield said a variety of topwater and subsurface baits will appeal to the bass chasing shad. He likes a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper, Texas rigged with a small bullet weight for depth. Senkos andFlorida pro JT Kenney will hunt for his big fish with a Strike King KVD 1.5 crankbait. swimbaits on the Alabama rig have also produced for him.

Straight Talk pro J.T. Kenney said anglers should have no trouble finding a bait the fish will bite. The challenge, he said, will be finding enough consistency to assemble a competitive stringer.

"There's a lot of stuff going on right now," Kenney said. "It seems like you can catch fish doing a little bit of everything, but everything's a grind. You catch one here, one there. You can catch them flipping, fishing worms on trees. All the typical Santee stuff is working but none of it is (solid).

"I think the key to this tournament is going to be the shad spawn bite. Get a couple good ones early and then picking off the rest of them throughout the day. When they're feeding on those shad like that, it doesn't matter what you throw - frog, spinnerbait, I'm throwing a Strike King KVD 1.5 crankbait. You just get a bait in front of them and they'll eat it."

South Carolina pro Ken Ellis said he'll forego the shad spawn and devote all of his time to a couple of A wacky-rigged finesse worm will be the go-to bait for South Carolina pro Ken Ellis.post-spawn patterns. First, he'll look for fish that have settled out into the eel grass and gator grass and throw topwater frogs, toads, swimming plastics and buzzbaits. His other scenario involves throwing wacky-rigged worms around deeper trees. Patience, he said, will be a valuable ally today.

"It's like Santee always is - we have a really good quality fish, but sometimes you just have to be patient and get five of six good bites," Ellis said. "It's not like a place where you can catch 70-80 fish and cull through them. You just have to catch the opportunities you get."

As Maxfield notes, Lakes Marion and Moultrie present plenty of viable habitat, but the dialing in the sweet spots will be the difference between a good day and a great one. Local knowledge, he said, will prove advantageous but not necessarily decisive.

"There are millions of trees and stumps and depressions but only certain areas of them hold fish," Maxfield said. "It might be 6-8 inches difference in water depth and if you know where those areas are, those are the areas that tend to hold fish and that's where the locals have an advantage. But on this lake, you can catch a 10-pounder at any time.

"There will be a group at that top and then there will be some separation based on the weights. TodayTwelve to 13 pounds will be pretty common and then you'll have some guys who'll be way up in the upper 20's."

Logistics

Anglers will take off from John C. Land III Landing located at County Road 514-260 (Greenall Road) in Summerton, S.C., at 6:30 a.m. each day. Weigh-ins will be held at the takeoff site on Day 1 and 2 beginning at 2:30 p.m. On Day 3, weigh-in will be held at the Walmart store located at 2010 Paxville Highway in Manning, S.C., beginning at 3:30 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Pros will fish for a top award of $35,000 plus a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger 177TR with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.

The EverStart Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title along with $5,000 for the pro and $2,000 for the co-angler. The top 40 pros and co-anglers from each respective division will qualify for the EverStart Series Championship that will be held on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., Nov. 1-4.

The EverStart Series tournament on Santee Cooper is being hosted by the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce.

Thursday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:51 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 60 degrees
Expected high temperature: 78 degrees
Water temperature: 70 degrees
Wind: SE 5 mph
Humidity: 60 percent
Day's outlook: Mostly cloudy

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2012-04-19-santee-cooper 

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