Feature

Switch to Santee for Late Summer Bass

Mark Hodge Jr. – Aug. 28, 2017

It’s August, it’s HOT and it’s humid. But don’t worry; fall is just around the corner. Most Lowcountry anglers spent their dog days floating down the Cooper River. It’s where all of the local open and trail tournaments take place each summer, and for good reason, it might as well be a 40-mile fish freeway.

But what about Santee Cooper? Most tournaments don’t shift back to the lakes until October, but the fish are there and waiting. Making the switch from catching 50 fish in a day to catching 15 may not sound appealing at first, but now may be the best time of the year to catch a big bag of bass. Many of these fish haven’t seen a lure in months.

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The threat of fewer bites didn’t deter me from making a recent trip to Blacks Camp and Restaurant for a hot breakfast and a day on the lake.

When I move from one of these bodies of water to the other, I like to start right where I left off at the previous location. This meant throwing a frog to the grass lines and targeting largemouth that were focused on baitfish. It didn’t take long to see that I was in for an eventful of day catching chunky bass. The shallow frog bite was on in full force. I spent the morning on Lake Moultrie, working water willows and gator grass in about three feet of water. My most productive spots were near S&S Campground, between Blacks and Duck Pond.

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I put a lot of movement in the bait, walking it back and forth and throwing water without actually moving it forward. When they hit it, they choked it. There was no waiting to set the hook on these bass. It sounded like someone threw a brick in the water.

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My frog setup is a One3 Fate Chrome rod by 13 Fishing. For this technique I like a 7’3” rod with a medium heavy action. I paired it with a 13 Fishing 8.1:1 Inception reel, spooled with 30 pound braided line. The extra tip you get from the medium heavy action let’s you cast the smaller frog a lot farther, and also lets the fish take the frog a little better when it bites at the same time that you move the frog. The slightly shorter length of rod than most anglers throw allows me to cast a little more accurately than I can with a longer rod. It didn’t take long to put a nice 15lb limit in the boat.

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As the day went on and the sun came up, it was time to change tactics. The move to deeper water meant breaking out my worm rod to fish brush piles. For this I like the Muse Black 7’6″ medium heavy-moderate rod, paired with an 8.1:1 Concept A reel by 13 Fishing, lined with 15 pound fluorocarbon line.

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After a few unsuccessful stops I settled in a water depth that started producing. Brush and stumps in 10-12 feet were holding a little better than average fish. After culling the last two smaller fish from the morning frog bite, I’d accumulated a nice 20-pound bag of Santee cooper largemouth.

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As the trip came to an end I considered the day a success. Making the switch to the lake paid off. Sometimes the secret to having a great day on the water is as simple as doing something a little bit different than everyone else and getting away from the crowd.

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