UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

Tougher but Still Santee Cooper

Tougher but Still Santee Cooper

It’s an exciting question: Can Santee Cooper repeat what it did last year? 

The final leg of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division is underway on the historic South Carolina fishery, little more than a year to the date of last year’s slugfest when it nearly took 25 pounds a day to win. So as anglers launch this morning for the 2019 event, presented by Power-Pole, all are wondering if Santee can show off once again why it’s one of the top fisheries in the country.

 

About the fishery

Marion and Moultrie, which make up the Santee Cooper fishery, are vastly different lakes in terms of shape and layout, but they fish similarly. Marion (to the northwest of Moultrie) looks like a fairly typical river impoundment – long, somewhat narrow and dammed up at the eastern end of the lake. It’s connected to the more circular, bowl-shaped Moultrie by a diversion canal about two miles in length.

Both lakes offer an abundance of shallow-water cover and structure, including cypress trees, backwater ponds, stumps, bridges, docks and riprap. While Marion is the largest lake in South Carolina, it isn’t that deep, averaging about 13 feet, and Moultrie only averages out slightly deeper at 18 feet. Simply put, Santee Cooper is a shallow springtime-fishing paradise. 

 

Current conditions

Everything seems primed for yet another slugfest.

While the area has been pounded with rain throughout the winter, the water levels have finally stabilized on both bodies of water. Moultrie is definitely lower than it was a year ago, but nothing too bad, according to pro Bryan New. Plus, it’s “gin clear” and seems perfect if there’s a final push of spawners.

“I mean, you can clearly see everything on the bottom in 4 or 5 feet of water in some places,” says New of the lower lake.

Meanwhile, Marion is a couple inches high, and thus, they’re pulling a lot of water through it. All that current seems to be creating some decent visibility in Marion, too, outside of the northern swamp area, which New says is quite dirty. Some of the backwaters are also dirtier than one might expect, but that has little to do with rain and more from carp spawning and muddying up various areas. 

As for water temps, New has been reading 68 degrees in the morning, rising to the low 70s. With temps that high, New says he’s seeing the last wave of spawners setting up in the typical places. However, he’s also seeing a lot more fry and fry guarders than he did a year ago, since the tournament is being held at the end of the month as opposed to the beginning.

One concern he certainly had was the storms they’re calling for Friday.

“If it storms like what they’re saying, that’ll ruin the spawn and tree bites, which are both kind of the same deal,” New says. “If it’s just cloudy, that will help the shad spawn bite, but again, if it storms it will probably hurt that, too. 

“All depends if it happens. One minute they’re calling for a 90-percent chance. The next, it’s 30 percent. So we’ll see.”

 

Tactics in play

The shad spawn, spawners in and around cypress trees, and punching were the predominant patterns a year ago. Guess what? They’ll probably be the predominant patterns this year, too, along with topwaters and maybe even some schooling fish.

Ronnie McCoy won it last year with a mix of shad spawn tactics and sight-fishing, but with the tournament being held a few weeks later, guys won’t solely be able to hang their hats on what they did last year and expect it to work again.

“I’ve been saving some of my best stuff, but I’ve been hitting similar stuff as last year, and it’s not quite been the same,” New says. “That said, with the way this lake is, a guy should still be able to fish however suits him and he’ll catch fish.”

 

Critical factors

  • Weather – If Friday’s forecast comes through and the area is blasted by storms, guys are certainly going to want to do a lot of damage today, because their patterns could be hurt tomorrow.
  • Shad spawn – While the bass spawn is mostly done, New says the shad spawn is in full swing. Problem is, guys are struggling to get bit targeting it, as opposed to last year.
  • Angler of the Year – Bragging rights are on the line, with Cody Nichols (496 points) holding a slight lead over FLW Tour pro Bryan Thrift, who happens to have two Costa FLW Series victories on Santee Cooper. Thrift is no stranger to AOY pressure, but it could impact others.

 

Dock Talk

While excitement was sky high heading into the event after last year and how well Santee Cooper has fished the last few years, the talk throughout practice has been all about how much tougher it’s been. Of course, you have to take into account “tough” is relative compared to how well things went last year.

“Every tournament, guys say how tough it is in practice,” New says. “This tournament, though, a bunch of guys who never complain about that stuff have been calling me complaining. So I’m thinking it may actually be as tough as it has been for me.”

The shad spawn seems to be vexing a lot of guys, as New says he has yet to talk to anyone who has been able to consistently make the shad-spawn bite go. Meanwhile, the tree bite is producing a lot of numbers, but it seems to be lacking the quality from last year, making him worry the big girls have already come and are long gone into postspawn mode.

All that said, most everyone is expecting at least one bag close to 30 pounds to be brought in the first day, and the need for 20 pounds a day to even have a shot at the win.

 

Tournament details

Format: All 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: 6:30 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: John C Land III Landing, 4404 Greenall Road, Summerton, S.C.

Weigh-In Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: John C Land III Landing

Complete details

Tags: shad-spawn  santee-cooper  bryan-thrift  bryan-new  sean-ostruszka  morning-story  2019-04-25-santee-cooper 

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Takeoff for day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division finale on Sam Rayburn was about as perfect as it gets. Light wind paired with crisp, comfortable temperatures and plenty of sun provided an auspicious beginning to the Toyota Series event on the sprawling Texas reservoir. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake of the Ozarks

Top 10 Baits from Lake of the Ozarks

Jigs and topwaters – that’s pretty much all you need when it comes to fall in the Ozarks. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks

Top 10 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks

Five straight years of Lake of the Ozarks hosting a Toyota Series Plains Division event in October usually takes the guesswork out of what to expect. Anglers pretty much did what they’ve come to know as tried-and-true patterns on the historic fishery. READ MORE »

Cook Goes Wire-To-Wire

Cook Goes Wire-To-Wire

He put his name on the map as one to watch on day one. Today, Corey Cook put his name on the hardware as one of the best on Lake of the Ozarks right now. READ MORE »

Krekovich Finally Gets Co-angler Victory

Krekovich Finally Gets Co-angler Victory

After being the only co-angler to bring in a limit the first two days of the Toyota Series Plains Division event on Lake of the Ozarks, the co-angler from Granite City, Ill., only managed to bring in two today worth 4 pounds, 3 ounces. Fortunately, no other co-angler brought in more than three, and his 27-12 total held up. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 3

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 3

Lady Luck shines on us all sometimes, but sometimes she doesn’t. For this morning, at least, she sure wasn’t shining on Corey Cook READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 2

Scrapping plans and making long runs can be a scary deal, but the risk can be worth the reward. READ MORE »

Cook Still Leads on Lake of the Ozarks

Cook Still Leads on Lake of the Ozarks

Corey Cook stumbled a bit on day two of the Toyota Series Plains Division event on Lake of the Ozarks. Bringing in 15 pounds, 4 ounces, Cook weighed an average bag and boosted his total of 38-13, which is still more than 4 pounds ahead of second place. Behind Cook, Andy Newcomb is in second with 34-6, and Shane Long is in third with 31-9. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 2

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Plains Division on Lake of the Ozarks has started out pretty much like yesterday – pretty weather but pretty short on fish. READ MORE »

Cook Blasts 23-9 on Lake of the Ozarks

Cook Blasts 23-9 on Lake of the Ozarks

Day one of the Toyota Series Plains Division event on Lake of the Ozarks was pretty tough by the standards of the fishery, with just one angler cracking the 20-pound barrier. Blowing the doors off the competition, at least on day one, Corey Cook hammered out 23 pounds, 9 ounces to take more than a 6-pound lead over second place. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 1

When the fish are on the move, it can make life miserable for anglers. Day one of the Toyota Series Plains Division event on Lake of the Ozarks showcased that pretty well. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

The Toyota Series visited Lake of the Ozarks this exact same week in 2019, and it launched under torrential rains, gusting winds and a strobe light's worth of lightning that delayed the takeoff until 8:15 a.m. A year later, the weather couldn’t be more beautiful for the second stop of the Plains Division. READ MORE »

Fall Junk Fishing Jam Starts at Norman

Fall Junk Fishing Jam Starts at Norman

The third and final Toyota Series Eastern Division event is off and rolling this morning on Lake Norman near Charlotte, N.C. While Norman has hosted a couple of past Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit events and is a popular stop for the Phoenix Bass Fishing League, this is the first time the Toyota Series has taken a crack at the large Carolina lake. READ MORE »

Plains Division Kicks Off on Dardanelle

Plains Division Kicks Off on Dardanelle

All the major bass tournaments Lake Dardanelle has hosted since 2004 have followed different scripts, and the Toyota Series Plains Division event that kicks off today will be no different. With a schedule full of changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first event of the Plains Division season, and it’s the last division to kick off in 2020. READ MORE »

High Water on Tap for College Open

High Water on Tap for College Open

By mid-September, Kentucky Lake can be absolutely lights-out when you find a big school up on its many shallow bars. This week, during the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, that’s probably not going to be the case – instead of locking a topwater in their hands, college teams are likely to take a much more varied approach. READ MORE »

Southwestern Division Hits Fort Gibson

Southwestern Division Hits Fort Gibson

The Toyota Series Southwestern Division rolls on with the Toyota Series at Fort Gibson Lake. Hosted by the Wagoner Area Chamber of Commerce, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Southeastern Div. Wraps on Neely Henry

Southeastern Div. Wraps on Neely Henry

The Toyota Series Southeastern Division is wrapping its 2020 season with the third and final stop at Neely Henry Lake out of Gadsden, Ala., this week. While Neely Henry is often a perennial stop on Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine schedules, this is the first time the Toyota Series has visited the winding reservoir along the Coosa River in northeast Alabama. READ MORE »

Curveballs Ahead for Cal Delta Field

Curveballs Ahead for Cal Delta Field

The California Delta is a frequent stop for anglers in the Toyota Series Western Division. The storied fishery has hosted countless FLW tournaments over the years, but this year is different, as the event was rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of the traditional May or late-September dates for the stop, the rescheduled date is this week, right in the middle of August. The new time of year will surely make things different than previous years. READ MORE »

Another Erie Battle Begins

Another Erie Battle Begins

The Toyota Series Northern Division is going out of Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie once again. This week’s event takes place on August 18-20, and it is the second stop of the Northern Division. Like the last event out of Sandusky, Erie is in play, as well as the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, with all Canadian waters being off-limits to fishing. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Erie presented anglers the opportunity to fish Erie or make a 100-mile run to Lake St. Clair. Pros found success doing both, with Justin Lucas taking home the crown by 1 ounce sticking it out on Erie. READ MORE »