To start, I’ve never been here before. This week is my first time at Santee Cooper. After last week, fishing Lake Guntersville, which I was extremely familiar with, I’m kind of glad to be fishing a new place. It’s always fun to go somewhere you’ve never been before and try to figure it out.
This place is a monster. You have two lakes: Lake Moultrie and Lake Marian. And then there is the canal that connects the two, so there is a whole lot of water in play here — several tens of thousands of acres of water.
There are cypress trees, there is bank grass, there are docks, there is rock, there are just tons of different options here.
I started by looking back at some preliminary research that I did, like I always do. Basically it's a quick Google search of the fishery. I found an area that I feel like normally plays, and that’s where I’ve spent most of my time. If I tried to cover the whole thing in three days, I would get too spread out and wouldn’t get anything done. I kind of found an area or a piece of one of the lakes that I liked, and I have tried to learn as much as I could about it. I feel like that was my best plan; having not ever been here before. I just didn’t feel like I needed to try to see the whole dang thing.
I have been on Google Earth and have been looking at my mapping a lot. After I got out there on Monday and started getting a couple of bites, I began to learn what I was looking for — at least I think I did.
Of course, we're here in the fall, just like last week, so I think this tournament will be, for the most part, tough. The water temperatures are in the low 70s now. They are down to around 72-73, somewhere right in there, so we’re right smack in the middle of that fall transition. The fishing’s going to be fairly tough again. I would say the weights will probably be a little bit better than they were last week, but that’s just a guess based on what I’ve seen in practice.
The average size and the health of these fish seem to be a little bit better. Where on Guntersville this time of the year, they’re skinny, here these fish seem to be pretty dang fat no matter if it’s a 12-incher, a 14-incher or a 3- or 4-pounder. It’s going to be another grinder event, for you the most part, however. I’m not getting a ton of bites a day, but I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve had 12 or 15 of what I felt like were keeper bites. I’ve shaken a lot of fish off because I’m fishing a lot of hard cover, a lot of Cyprus trees, and laydowns, and stuff like that.
As far as baits here this week, I will throw a few different things; a wacky worm around the trees is always a player on places like this. The fish use those trees. The primary cover where I am fishing is the trees. There’s not a bunch of offshore structure or anything like that, at least not to my knowledge. So, they use those cypress trees a lot. You can wacky worm around those. I’m going to flip around with a Texas rig and stuff like that, too. One player here this week will be Texas rig with a 5/16th-ounce Mustad Tungsten weight, a Mustad Grip Pin Max flipping kook and an X Zone Lures Muscleback Craw.
When I feel the need to finesse them, I’ll throw the X Zone True Center Stick on a spinning rod. That’s been my main deal in practice, so we will see how it goes during the tournament. I’m hoping to get five good bites, and if I get 12 or 15 bites in a day in total, then I can end up with a pretty decent bag.
All in all, it has been a decent practice, so I am looking forward to getting this one started. Let’s see how it goes.