April is wide open at Santee Cooper

Terry Madewell

March 25, 2011 at 9:59 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Big blue catfish can be caught in relatively shallow water this month, either drifting or anchoring with chunks of cut bait.
TERRY MADEWELL
Big blue catfish can be caught in relatively shallow water this month, either drifting or anchoring with chunks of cut bait.
According to Kevin Davis, who owns Blacks Camp on Lake Moultrie at the end of the Diversion Canal, the fishing news around Santee Cooper this month can be summed up as “absolutely awesome” for just about everything.

Of course, most fishermen want a bit more detail than that, but Davis said that almost any angler should find his or her favorite species willing to bite during this month.

“Our guides will be fishing for catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, bream, shellcracker and striper during April,” said Davis (843-753-2231). “The term ‘wide-open fishing’ is very appropriate.

“The fishing in the Diversion Canal is typically awesome during April,” Davis said. “Usually, with normal spring rains, we’ll have consistent water flow through the canal, which provides great fishing for blue, channel and flathead catfish. The blues and channels can be caught by anchoring and casting cut bait or by drifting. Fishermen who drift-fish usually do so with big chucks of cut bait about two feet off the bottom. The catfish in this moving water are usually feeding and aggressive, so having the bait just slightly off the bottom works very well.”

Davis said that the flathead fishing is also outstanding right out of the cut from Blacks Camp into the canal.

“Fishermen after flatheads will anchor where they can fish alongside or in cover using live bait such as white perch or bream,” he said. “Big flatheads are a popular target here during April.”

For open-water catfishing, Davis said that the action is typically best in shallow, stump-filled flats at this time of the year.

“I suggest looking for slightly deeper depressions during the day,” he said. “Get on a stump flat in three feet of water and find a depression that drops to seven or eight feet, and you likely have a hotspot for big, shallow-water blue catfish action. At night, fishermen will do very well in the shallow water around these depressions. Big chucks of cut herring make the best bait.”

Largemouth bass fishing is going strong during April, and Davis said there has been a tremendous resurgence over the past couple of years.

“Last spring, during March and April, we saw a lot of huge catches of largemouth,” he said. “We had two limits of five fish weigh in at over 40 pounds at Blacks Camp and many limits of five fish that weighed in at over 30 pounds. That’s impressive anywhere.

“Some of the fish will still be spawning on the full moon in April, so bed-fishing is good then. Also, for non-bedding fish, the stretch of water from the Russellville Flats to the Duck Pond will be great. Fish the blackwater ponds and coves with white willow-leaf spinnerbaits, Senkos, and plastic worms. We’ve got a lot of natural vegetation back in the lakes now, and that has helped the bass fishing tremendously.”

The crappie fishing is excellent, and Davis said most slabs are still in fairly shallow water during April.

“A lot of crappie will be caught in the blackwater ponds in four and five feet of water,” he said. “Minnows as well as 1/16th-ounce jigs with curlytail grub bodies will produce the best action.”

The shellcracker action also peaks this month, according to Davis. These panfish grow to outlandish sizes but can still be caught in limit numbers.

“The best fishing for shellcrackers is on the full moon in April and again in May,” he said. “The fish will usually be in very shallow water around brush, logs, trees or weeds. There will be some bream action as well, but typically, the bed fishing begins to peak during May.”

Striper action is also on the upswing this month. A good number of fish are caught early in April in the Diversion Canal on a variety of lures, according to Davis.

“The fish are migrating back from their spawning run, and a lot of fish will be caught in the canal using bucktails, Rat-L-Traps and crankbaits,” he said. “However, as the month progresses, the open-water, live-bait fishing in both lakes begins to really improve and by May.”

For sportsmen who want a break from fishing, turkey season is open through April, and several guides work out of Blacks Camp.

In other news, the Santee Bass Matters organization is holding its second bass tournament on April 30. Last year’s tournament was a huge success, with lots of big fish caught. Visit www.santeebassmatters.org for more details.




View other articles written Terry Madewell