A new study will monitor the movement of Santee Cooper striped bass within lakes Marion and Moultrie and upper Santee, Wateree, Congaree, lower Saluda and lower Broad Rivers.
Fish will be tagged with internal transmitters as well as yellow external tags for angler identification. A $50 reward is offered for returned transmitters. Anglers are asked to return both the external tag and the internal transmitter. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) needs to retain the transmitters from each fish, so anglers are asked not to just clip off the yellow external tag. Anglers are also asked to record the total length and weight of each fish if possible and where the fish was caught.
Anglers should call (toll-free) 1-888-TAGS-4-SC to report tagged fish and to receive their reward. Contact DNR fisheries coordinator Wade Bales at (803) 734-3932 in Columbia for more information.
The Midlands Striper Club donated telemetry equipment valued at more than $5,000 to support the striper study. Sportfish Restoration Funds, derived from excise taxes on fishing equipment, are also being used.
Previous short-term studies have shown that the Santee Cooper striped bass population utilizes the lower Saluda, Congaree and Wateree rivers seasonally. Striped bass move upstream to spawn in the Congaree and Wateree rivers in the spring. The Congaree River is the primary spawning location for this population. During late spring and summer, striped bass utilize the lower Saluda River where it discharges from Lake Murray Dam and provides a thermal refuge.
The occurrence of large, adult striped bass (more than 10 pounds) has decreased over time in lakes Marion and Moultrie. Fish of this size are significant since they are mature enough to contribute to the spawning population, and they support a popular recreational fishery. This study will track movement of large, adult striped bass for 15 consecutive months to determine what regions of the Santee Cooper drainage these fish utilize throughout the year. Identification of seasonal migration patterns and habitat use could assist managers in identifying appropriate management options. Striped bass are currently managed within this region through a 21-inch minimum size limit and a five-fish creel limit.