If you were to roll up to the Costa FLW Series weigh-in today with a 20-pound bag of fish, you would find yourself in 30th place. That’s how good the fishing is at Santee Cooper right now.
Still not convinced it’s good?
There were 12 limits weighed in at more than 24 pounds, including Scott Canterbury’s massive 32-pound, 1-ounce catch for first.
And the scary part is, it could get better tomorrow.
The Costa FLW Series presented by Frabill has hit Santee Cooper square in the middle of springtime’s first big warm-up, and fish are literally funneling to the shallows in droves. Water temperatures have soared from 55 degrees last week to nearly 70 degrees today. What’s more, the weather is perfect for fishing.
Though it got a little breezy in the afternoon of day one, the morning started out slick calm for the first few hours of fishing. Whether pros wanted to sight-fish or fish offshore for staging fish, blue skies and light winds made it easy.
With that, many pros commented that this is just the beginning, and that fishing should be just as good or possibly stronger tomorrow.
Here’s how the pros chasing Canterbury caught their fish.
Seven ounces shy of the 30-pound mark, Bradley Dortch claimed second place by catching fish that “moved up overnight.”
“I had found a bunch of fish in an 8-foot ditch down in the lower lake,” Dortch describes. “But I fished that ditch all morning, and the fish were gone. So I moved up on the flat next to the ditch and it was game on. I really think those fish in the ditch all moved up onto the flat to start spawning overnight.”
Dortch says his key bait was a 3/8-ounce Picasso spinnerbait with a NetBait BK Swimbait on the back.
“That’s what I was catching them on in the ditch during practice,” he says. “But they still liked it once they moved up on the flat today, too.”
Well-known local pro Brett Mitchell ran a one-two punch on Santee Cooper that landed him in third place on day one.
In the morning, Mitchell targeted what he calls “leftover winter fish” in deeper water on the upper lake and then moved to the lower lake to catch the first wave of springtime bass moving in to spawn.
“They have not started spawning just yet, but they’re picking their spots,” Mitchell says of the bass in his area. “On the lower lake, I’m using reaction baits – ChatterBaits, spinnerbaits and jigs – all around grass. I’m going to give those deep fish a few minutes again tomorrow morning, then I’m headed down after it warms up.”
Tim Malone tapped the cypress tree bite on Santee Cooper for his fourth-place spot on day one.
“I don’t think they’re spawning on these trees just yet,” he says. “They’re in 4 to 5 feet of water, so I think these are more staging fish that are moving into this area to spawn. Now they may start spawning in there soon, but I believe they have just moved in and are getting acclimated to the area.”
Pat Fisher is fishing trees, too, but he believes the fish he is catching are actually spawning.
“I’m skipping wacky-rigged Senkos to cypress trees,” Fishers says, “and I do think they are spawning around those tree bases because sometime I’ll catch more than one off a tree. I probably caught 15 keepers today, and I think more and more are moving up by the day. Tomorrow should be pretty good, too.”