Santee Cooper Lake Preview

A wide variety of possibilities face the NPFL pros as they prepare for Stop #3 of the 2023 NPFL Season.

Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons

Stop number three of the 2023 NPFL season brings the anglers and their families to South Carolina to the big fish factory Santee Cooper Lakes. The system consists of two lakes – Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, which are joined by a six-plus mile canal. Moultrie covers 60,000 acres while Marion is over 110,000 acres, and together, they offer anglers a wide diversity of fishing opportunities.

After two days of practice, the lake is giving anglers mixed reviews and many are less than thrilled to find the conditions much tougher than expected. While April is known as a big-bass month on Santee Cooper Lakes, depending on the weather, May can be tough. With the majority of bass done spawning, and little to no fry-guarding activity, the post-spawn funk is in full swing and anglers will have to continue to cover water on the final day of practice to locate groups of bass.

Timmy Reams is no stranger to leading the Progressive Angler of the Year race on the NPFL trail, and although he didn’t end up winning in 2022, after two events, he is right back in control for 2023. Reams has been super consistent in his events and hardly has a below-average finish, but after two days of fishing, he notes this one could be it.

“It has been five or six years since I was on Santee and the lake is super tough right now, “said Reams. “They are in that post-spawn funk stage by the looks, and scattered between shallow, deep, and in between.”

Reams has mainly been focusing shallow and is having a hard time duplicating any bites he has had in practice. His bites have been inconsistent and the pressure has been hard to get away from.

“I am not fishing hard but I am trying to get bit,” he added. This might be a five to eight bites-a-day kind of event for me and I have tried to find areas away from others and have not been successful. We are supposed to get some wind throughout the tournament and I am keeping that in mind while looking around.”

After a big win on Pickwick for stop one, Brandon Perkins sits right behind Reams in the AOY race just eight points back. Also, like Reams, Perkins is having a hard time putting together the Santee Cooper Lakes puzzle this week.

“I am wondering if I have any clue what I am doing out here,” said Perkins. “It’s been terrible for me, and after talking to a few others, I think it is pretty tough in general. I’ll put it this way – we may see the highest winning weight we have ever seen, but also the lowest check weight – I think it is going to be tough on the majority of the field, including myself.”

With one day of practice remaining before an off-day Wednesday, Perkins had an up-and-down practice. The up was he did get bit and shake off a limit on the first day, but the low was he has zero bites on Monday. Perkins has sampled both shallow areas, deep areas, and brush piles in between without any consistency. 

“At this point, I am almost going to focus 100% shallow and try to salvage a check,” he added. “I thought we were going to catch them well, or at least if you got around them, they would eat decent – that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

Mike Corbishley has been to Santee Cooper for a couple of multi-day events in the past and has had trouble stacking good days together. With conditions the way they are, he has a feeling that it may be more of the same.

“It is absolutely going to be a grinder for us,” said Corbishley. The fish are still shallow, and some are deep, and some in between. Finding consistency will be tough. I have been fishing both, and catching them both ways.”

Unlike Reams, Corbishley has had the majority of his areas to himself throughout practice and notes the lack of wind throughout practice has kept people spread out.

“That may change with the wind forecast but for now, I have only run into a couple of our guys so far, “he added. “For someone who can stay consistent and get a limit, it will go a long way. I am guessing it could be won shallow or deep, and whoever wins will be junk fishing – I would not be shocked at all.”

Follow all the Action

Tune in daily from May 25 through 27 to watch daily action from Santee Cooper Lakes, with Live Coverage here and on the FREE PHYX TV App beginning on Thursday.

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Check out the results from Wright Patman Lake in Texarkana, here!

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