What to expect at King Kat on Santee Cooper?
Santee Cooper lakes have a reputation as a big fish destination. This weekend’s Cabela’s King Kat Tournament will be testing that theory at a good time of the year. Spring is usually pretty hot on the South Carolina lakes in the area known as Santee Cooper Country.
Social media has been alive recently with photos and videos of some nice Santee Cooper blues. In mid-February Santee Cooper trophy catfish guide, Paul Blackwell (Fish On Guide Service), hooked his client up to a 93-pound giant. Anglers fishing the tournament this weekend can be assured there are plenty of big cats to be caught.
Blackwell reports that what has been working for him is river herring and gizzard shad. White perch and mullet are also commonly used on Santee Cooper.
“River herring are starting to come up to the lake already,” offered Blackwell. “So, they are plentiful. Gizzard shad has been off and on to catch. I know there are a few bait shops in SC that has some jumbo gizzards for sale. You just need to check around.”
Blackwell advises King Kat tournament anglers to pay attention to the bait patterns. Determine the depth they are holding and experiment with cuts of bait.
“I’ve noticed over the past few weeks the wind has had some effect on the pattern,” reported Blackwell. “Find where the bait is, what it is, and find the presentation the fish prefer. If you know these things, and figuring out the pattern the fish are most actively feeding on should help you catch fish.”
Trevor Nederhoff and Josh Brown are fresh off a good showing at the King Kat event on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway at Columbus Mississippi in February. They will travel from Alabama to fish this weekend’s competition. It will be their first trip to Santee Cooper Country. The Alabama team will travel on Thursday before the tournament and do some scouting and a little pre-fishing on Friday.
“Josh and I have definitely been doing our homework for this one,” said Nederhoff. “The weather looks favorable which is rare as of late. We’ve dialed it down a bit to a few methods we are going to try. I’m thinking it could be a shallow bite this weekend.”
As far as bait is concerned, Nederhoff and Brown are planning on having white perch, hickory shad, and blue herring on board. They used an unconventional bait when they took second place on the Tombigbee. They used cuts from a bowfin they had caught the day before. So, who knows, they may have a mystery bait in the cooler.
“Hopefully our plan works out,” said Nederhoff. “The difficult thing for us is having two unknown lakes to choose from.”
Melinda-Bryan Folsom has some very applicable advice for Santee Cooper anglers. The lakes are open and can get rough if the wind gets up. It is also loaded with stumps, often just under the surface of the water.
“Be very careful,” warned Melinda in a Facebook post. “That body of water has stumps everywhere! When the water is rough the waves will show the stumps. We fished it just a few hours a month ago and we have the utmost respect for that body of water.”
The weigh-in at Black’s Camp and Restaurant should be plenty exciting on Saturday, March 10th. The public is invited and welcome to attend. It should be a good one with plenty of photo ops.