The Santee Cooper lake system consists of two lakes, Marion 110,600 acres and Moultrie 60,400 acres. These two lakes are joined by the 6.5 mile diversion canal. These world-class fishing lakes were created from 1939 to 1942 for a hydroelectric project by the South Carolina Public Service Authority, commonly known as “Santee Cooper” because of the two river systems the project connected. The lakes vary from shallow swamps and blackwater ponds to vast open water with a multitude of underwater structures. Lake Marion was not completely cleared, as a result fishermen will find there are thousands of stumps, standing dead tree trunks and live cypress trees. Lake Moultrie is more open and is 14 miles across at its widest point. These lakes do not ice over during the winter and there is no closed season for fishing. Weather permitting, fishing is year-round.
Fishing License Regulations
Hunting and fishing pricing is based upon your residency:
- Commercial Saltwater License
Children under the age of 16 are not required to purchase a hunting or fishing license unless they are engaged in commercial activity or using any nongame fish devices (traps, trotlines, gill nets, hoop nets, set hooks, jugs.)
Predominant Fish Species
- Bream-spawn in May, June and July during the full moon phases
- Crappie– In the spring, catch them in blackwater ponds and coves. After they leave shallow water, the crappie will spend the rest of the year on deep brush.
- Catfish– caught all year long
- Bass-Fishing has been tremendous. Fish shallow grass end of Feb. through June. After that, 5 – 10 feet around deep grass. Largemouth will come shallow once more usually around October.
- Striper– Striper season is June 1 through September 30 and again in October 1 through May 31. It is illegal to fish for stripers in the Santee Cooper Lakes in the summertime
Lake Santee Specific Rules
Game Fish: A total of 40 game fish may be kept in any one day. This total shall not exceed more than the limits or exceptions listed below.
Smallmouth Bass: No more than 5 fish combined total per day of smallmouth, largemouth, redeye, spotted bass or their hybrids. 12-inch size limit.Largemouth Bass: 14 inch size limit.No more than 5 fish combined total per day of smallmouth, largemouth, redeye, spotted bass or their hybrids.
Bream: (including bluegill, flier, warmouth, pumpkinseed & redear, green sunfish & spotted sunfish), white bass, chain pickerel or jackfish, redfin pike, yellow perch: 30 fish per person per day.
Crappie: 8 inch size limit, 20 fish per person per day
Arkansas Blue Catfish: Daily possession limit of not more than 25 fish. Also unlawful to possess more than two fish greater than 32 inches.
Striped Bass: Total 3 fish
Within the boundaries of the Santee River system (including lakes Marion and Moultrie), from October 1st through June 15th, it is “unlawful to take or possess a striped bass less than twenty-three inches or greater than twenty-five inches, provided that one striped bass taken or possessed may be greater than twenty-six inches.
The season is closed June 16 – September 30