Santee Cooper Blue Catfish

Catfish Artwork courtesy of Pam Corwin, DNR Fisheries Biologist
Artwork courtesy of Pam Corwin, DNR Fisheries Biologist

The Santee Cooper system is known as one of the best blue catfish fisheries in the country. Starting in the mid-1960’s with the introduction of 180 sub adults, today this fishery contributes as much as $8 million per year into the region’s economy. That is more than twice that of the largemouth and striped bass fisheries combined.

Since 2003, standardized winter gillnet sampling has shown a decrease in the amount of juvenile fish in the system. The lowest ever number of juveniles recorded in winter sampling occurred in 2013. This indicates that the fishery cannot sustain the current level of harvest and regulations are needed to protect the long term viability of the fishery.

Who is using the fishery?

Current regulations:

Why does DNR care?

Recommended regulation changes for the Santee Cooper blue catfish fishery:

Addition Resources:


The Santee Cooper system includes the Lower Santee and Cooper River systems. The Lower Santee River system includes all waters and tributaries seaward of the Lake Murray Dam, the Columbia Canal Diversion Dam, and the Lake Wateree Dam to the freshwater/saltwater dividing line on the North Santee River and the South Santee River.   The Cooper River system is includes all waters and tributaries, including the Tailrace Canal, of the Cooper River from its point of origin seaward to the freshwater/saltwater dividing line.