Known for its thriving populations of striped bass, or stripers, South Carolina offers abundant striper habitat and provides anglers of all skill levels with a range of excellent spots to land this exciting game fish. Whether you prefer river systems or large reservoirs, this state has it all.
Anglers can expect a high-quality fishing experience, thanks to the state’s conservation efforts and the presence of large, trophy-sized stripers in a huge number of locations around the state.
Various techniques can be used, such as trolling, casting, or live bait fishing, providing anglers with a chance to try different approaches and enjoy the thrill of landing these fish. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a total beginner, striped bass fishing in South Carolina is an adventure you won’t want to miss.
1. Santee Cooper Lakes
Located in the eastern part of the state, the Santee Cooper Lakes, including Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, offer exceptional striper fishing opportunities. Access to these lakes is convenient, with numerous public boat ramps and fishing piers available.
Trolling is my preferred method to use here, especially around submerged structures and humps where a healthy striper population often gathers together. Casting and live bait fishing near the lake’s channels and drop-offs can yield great results as well.
The lakes are known for producing trophy-sized striped bass, with some record fish exceeding 40 pounds, making it a favorite destination for avid anglers like myself.
2. Broad River
Flowing through central South Carolina, the Broad River is another top spot for striper fishing. Access points can be found in various areas along its 150-mile length, providing easy entry for anglers.
The Broad River offers a diverse range of fishing opportunities, from casting along rocky banks to drifting live threadfin shad bait in deep pools. When targeting striped bass here, using fake lures like swimbaits or topwater plugs can be extremely effective, especially during the early morning or late evening.
Always keep an eye out for areas with strong currents, as river stripers tend to gather there to feed on baitfish and enjoy the higher oxygen content and cooler deep water temperatures. Anglers fish these spots since they are often very packed with what seems to be a million fish, all seeking food and giving you a great chance to catch a big fish easily.
3. Lake Murray
Having over 650 miles of coastline, Lake Murray is a popular destination for both recreational boating and striper fishing. The lake boasts numerous boat ramps and marinas for easy access throughout the year.
You can catch stripers in a variety of different ways at Lake Murray, including trolling along main lake points and submerged humps. During the cooler months, when stripers are more active, casting spoons or jerkbaits near shoreline structures can yield great results.
Fishing at night with live bait, such as threadfin shad or herring, is also productive and is one of my personal favorite times to visit this normally busy lake. Lake Murray offers a good chance of catching striped bass in the 15 to 20-pound range.
4. Lake Hartwell
Spanning the border between South Carolina and Georgia, Lake Hartwell is a sprawling reservoir that offers excellent striper fishing opportunities. The 56,000-acre lake features numerous boat ramps and fishing piers, providing easy access for anglers.
Trolling is one of the most popular techniques here, particularly around main lake points, creek channels, and underwater humps. Anglers often use downriggers and planer boards to present their baits at different depths.
Casting swimbaits or jigging spoons near points and deepwater structures where stripers hang out can also be productive. Lake Hartwell is known for its healthy striper population, with the potential to catch several fish in a short amount of time as well as trophy-sized big fish.
5. Congaree River
Running through the heart of South Carolina, the Congaree River offers a unique and scenic setting for striper fishing. Access points are available at public boat ramps and parks along its 53-mile length of banks.
When targeting stripers in the Congaree River, focusing on deeper pools and eddies is essential, as these areas tend to hold concentrations of what might seem like a million fish. Casting swimbaits or soft plastics near downed trees and rock formations can be effective.
Fishing during the spring and fall months, when striped bass migrates upriver to some deep water areas, increases your chances of success. The Congaree River provides a tranquil and rewarding striper fishing experience for anyone seeking a scenic getaway.
Striper Fishing South Carolina Tips
Study Striper Habits
Understanding the behavior and feeding patterns of big stripers is very important for successful fishing. Learn about their preferred habitats, migration routes, and feeding habits in South Carolina’s waterways.
This knowledge will help you narrow down your fishing locations and increase your chances of encountering active stripers. Rivers and lakes are not the only places to catch stripers; excellent reservoir fisheries exist around the state and can provide some of the best fishing away from fast-moving rivers.
Time Your Fishing
Timing is key when it comes to striper fishing. Striped bass are more active during low-light conditions such as early morning, late evening, and even at night. Plan your midsummer fishing trips accordingly to take advantage of these cooler periods of the day when stripers are more likely to be feeding.
This is true for all fishing areas throughout the state, not just the ones mentioned here. The Savannah River chain, Lake Greenwood, Lake Thurmond, and many other well-known fishing spots will all be better or worse depending on the season and time of day.
Choose the Right Gear
Invest in appropriate gear for striped bass fishing if possible. Medium to heavy action spinning or baitcasting rods paired with strong reels and a reliable drag system are recommended. Spool your reel with a high-quality braided fishing line, typically in the 20 to 30-pound range, to handle the powerful runs of stripers. Grab baits that you enjoy using, whether it’s soft plastic worms, creature baits, spoons, jigs, or more.
Utilize Live Bait
Schooling stripers in South Carolina are often enticed by live baitfish such as gizzard shad, threadfin shad, herring, or perch. Use live threadfin shad bait whenever possible, either by rigging them on a Carolina rig or under a slip bobber.
Ensure that you follow local baitfish regulations and obtain the necessary live bait permits if required. Anglers properly licensed to use live bait (if applicable) can get excellent results when they begin pushing shad or blueback herring on the hook for these trophy fish to target.
Master Artificial Lures
Stripers are known to be aggressive predators, making fake lures an effective option. Topwater lures, swimbaits, jerkbaits, spoons, and jigs are all popular choices for targeting striped bass in South Carolina. Change up your retrieval speed and experiment with different lure colors to find what works best on any given day.
Explore Different Techniques
Don’t limit yourself to a single fishing technique. Stripers in the state can be caught using a variety of methods, such as trolling, casting, and jigging. Many anglers drift their bait or lure as the fish run upstream or when the stripers start their spawning attempt. Be open to trying different techniques based on the conditions and the behavior of the fish, and don’t be afraid to try something even if you are brand new to it.
Big stripers are constantly on the move, so shoreline fishermen, as well as those on a boat, should be prepared to adjust your fishing location if you’re not having success in one spot. Use a fish finder or keep an eye out for diving birds, surface activity, or schooling baitfish, which can indicate the presence of feeding striped bass.
Being mobile and willing to explore different areas will increase your chances of finding active huge fish willing to strike. It’s not uncommon for even a small lake to have a separate striper population a good distance from the one you may be having no luck with.
Practice Catch and Release
Striped bass populations in South Carolina benefit greatly from catch and release practices. Consider releasing the majority of the fish you catch, especially the larger trophy-sized ones, to ensure the sustainability of the fishery for future generations and keep the striper population in your favorite spot strong and healthy.
Stay updated on local fishing reports, regulations, and any changes in fishing seasons or limits. Join online fishing forums or chat with local anglers to gain valuable insights and stay informed about the latest striped bass fishing trends in South Carolina. Also, be aware of any areas of the river or lake that may be off-limits when stripers start their spawning attempt for the season.