UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Smith Mountain Lake

Bring ’em Big or Bust at Santee Cooper

Bring ’em Big or Bust at Santee Cooper

The Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division wraps up its season this week on Santee Cooper. The final tournament, which is presented by Bass Pro Shops and hosted by the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce, kicked off this morning out of John C. Land III Landing. A field of nearly 200 pros and co-anglers will likely enjoy some of the best fishing the Costa FLW Series has to offer all year. With stable conditions, water temperatures in the 60s and a full moon peaking just four nights ago, there are a lot of big fish “up” at Santee Cooper right now, and the word on the water is you better bring ’em big or bust.

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About the fishery

Santee Cooper is actually made up of two lakes, Marion and Moultrie, which are connected by a diversion canal. Both lakes are generally shallow and feature numerous acres of backwater ponds and spawning flats, making Santee Cooper a mecca for springtime bass fishing.

Santee Cooper has no shortage of fishing cover, either. Targets include weedy backwater ponds, stumpy flats, riprap along the canal and the bridges, docks, and cypress trees. Both lakes are extremely healthy right now, and either one could produce the winning fish.

 

Current conditions

When legendary Santee Cooper pro Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C., says the conditions are “pretty good” on lakes Marion and Moultrie, you can bet the Costa FLW Series weigh-in bags are going to get stretched to the max this week.

“It’s going to be a great tournament,” Ellis says. “Seventy-five pounds to win is not out of the question. A lot of big limits have been coming in. Thirty-three pounds won a tournament here last weekend, and lots of 25-pound-plus bags have come in over the last several weeks. It’s been amazing.”

Ellis reports that both lakes are in really good shape. The upper lake (Marion) is a little low and abnormally clear for this time of year, while the lower lake (Moultrie) is about normal level and a little bit more off-colored from wind.

Water temps in the backwater ponds are in the 67- to 70-degree range, and main-lake temps are more like 61 to 63. The recent full moon triggered a major spawn in Santee’s numerous backwater ponds, but the peak of the main-lake spawn has not happened just yet.

“That’s what’s neat about this place right now,” Ellis says. “You can pick any stage of the spawn you want to fish. If you like sight-fishing, fry-guarders and postspawners, you can fish the ponds. If you prefer more prespawn stuff, the main lake is still heating up.”

 

Tactics in play

Sight-fishing is always a favored tactic at Santee Cooper in the spring, especially with so much clear water in play. But swim jigs in the pads and Yamamoto Senkos skipped around cypress trees are probably going to fool some big ones this week as well.

 

Critical factors

Ellis believes wind is going to be the determining factor as to how far the big weights reach down the weigh-in sheet. Heavy wind will hurt the cause, but if it’s calm and slick, big bags will abound. A small frontal passage brought hard west winds for the final day of practice, but those winds are forecast to subside to just 5 to 10 mph out of the north today.

 

Dock talk

Most of the dock talk has been about the massive limits Santee Cooper has produced over the last few weeks. And though most of those big weights have come from team tournaments where anglers work together to catch the best five fish they can, there is still plenty of reason to believe that this week’s tournament will produce some hefty limits.

 

Tourament details

Format: All 196 boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: John C. Land III Landing, 4404 Greenhall Road, Summerton, SC 29148

Weigh-In Time: 3 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: John C. Land III Landing

Championship qualification: The top 40 boaters and co-anglers in the end-of-season standings in the Southeastern Division will qualify for the Costa FLW Series Championship, which will be held this fall on Lake Guntersville. Current standings can be seen here.

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Tags: rob-newell  morning-story  2018-04-05-santee-cooper 

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