There were three predominant patterns at Santee Cooper: Pitching wacky rigs to cypress trees, sight-fishing and the shad spawn.
Yet, they weren’t the only patterns, as a couple locals managed to do plenty of damage with some locals-only offshore patterns at the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division season finale presented by Power-Pole.
With so many tactics in play, here’s a look at the best baits that helped the top 10 anglers.
1. Many anglers were focused on the cypress-tree bite, but none did it better than Bradford Beavers. His weapon of choice was a green pumpkin Yamamoto Senko. He also capitalized on a small shad-spawn pattern with a white ¼-ounce Eye Strike Texas Eye jig with a Keitech Swing Impact FAT trailer.
2. Local legend Lex Costas did a lot of what he does best, fishing deep current seams in the canal between lakes Marion and Moultrie. A white homemade hair jig that he’d swim and hop along the bottom (and get hung up and break off often) and a crankbait were his tools there. That said, he made a run at the victory Saturday by switching to dragging a green pumpkin Zoom Magnum Trick Worm around stumps and brush piles in 4-8 feet of water.
3. A small clump of trees in Moultrie have produced giant kickers Mike Watson for decades. They did again this event, as he skipped a wacky-rigged green-pumpkin Yamamoto Senko.
4. Joey Sabbagha committed himself to a shad-spawn pattern north of the Route 95 bridge with a Greenfish Tackle Swim Jig in Guntersville shad color with a Strike King Rage Swimmer trailer. He tossed the swim jig on a 7-foot, 3-inch Level Performance rod with 20-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon. He also caught a few on day one on a BOOYAH Pad Crasher frog.
5. Many pros committed to one pattern or lake. Kyle Welcher went with all three major patterns and both lakes. For his shad-spawn bite, Welcher tossed a white 3/8-ounce Davis Baits Elite Swim Jig with a Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw trailer. For flipping cypress tree or targeting bedding fish he flipped and pitched a green-pumpkin Yamamoto Senko with an 1/8-ounce weight on 20-pound test K9 Fishing fluorocarbon line.
6. Todd Smith doesn’t like fishing deep, but once he realized it was his best bet, he committed to it with a Carolina-rigged, green pumpkin Zoom Lizard on a 5/0 VMC hook or a ½-ounce weight on 20-pound test Sunline fluorocarbon and a Scottsboro Tackle swimbait. He threw both on a 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy Fitzgerald rod in Moultrie. Before he went deep, he skipped trees with a watermelon red Yamamoto Senko or a California 420 Zoom Trick Worm on a 1/8-ounce Picasso shaky head paired on a Big Bear spinning rod with 15-pound test PowerPro braid to a 10-pound test Gamma fluorocarbon leader.
7. William Fletcher loves his old, homemade spinnerbaits, such as Peanut Craft Lures version with a white-chartreuse-and-blue skirt, gold willow leaf main blade and chartreuse kicker Colorado blade. He tossed it around staging areas north of the 95 bridge.
8. Count Brent Riley among the cypress tree-wacky rig contingent. He got to skip his Yamamoto Senko with a chartreuse-dyed tail within sight of his house on Moultrie.
9. With the cypress trees getting so beat up with pressure, FLW Tour pro Bryan Thrift made a key switch to lighter line for his wacky-rigged 5-inch Damiki Stinger. His line choice was 15-pound test P-Line TCB Braid to a 10-pound test P-Line Tactical Fluorocarbon leader. He threw his wacky rig on a 7-2 medium-heavy Fitzgerald Vursa spinning rod, Abu Garcia Revo Premier 30 spinning reel and with a 3/0 Berkley Fusion19 Finesse Wide Gap hook.
10. Mark Hutson really wanted to play to his strengths and sight-fish, but after all his marked fish left, he fished some brush he’d sunk and been saving in Moultrie with a Zoom Ol’ Monster (green pumpkin) with a ¼-ounce weight.