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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

May 12, 2011

Seasonal Santee Cooper striped bass
closure begins June 1

Seasonal closures of the Santee Cooper, inshore waters and territorial sea striped bass fishery are set to begin June 1 and will extend through Sept. 30. No striped bass may be harvested or possessed for any reason during the summer months. These closures, along with the open season bag limit of three fish per day and a minimum size of 26 inches, were signed into law to address the ailing striped bass fisheries.

The Santee Cooper System is bordered upstream by the Lake Murray Dam on the Saluda, the Columbia Diversion Dam on the Broad River, and the Lake Wateree Dam on the Wateree River. The downstream boarders are the freshwater-saltwater dividing lines on the Santee and Cooper Rivers. This includes the Santee Cooper Lakes, all of their tributaries and outfall rivers or everything in between the ocean and first dams above the Santee Cooper Lakes. The closure also extends to the inshore waters and territorial sea, as defined by: inshore waters and territorial sea are defined as the Ashepoo River, Ashley River, Back River in Jasper and Berkeley counties, Black River, Black Mingo Creek, Bull Creek, Little Bull Creek, Combahee River, Copper River system, Cossawhatchie River, Cuckholds Creek, Edisto River, Horseshoe Creek, Lumber River, Lynches River, Great Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee rivers, Pocotaligo in Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton counties, Salkehatchie and Little Salkehatchie rivers, Sampit River, Lower Santee River system, Tullifinny, Thoroughfare Creek, and the Waccamaw River.

The regulation changes, adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor, were based on recommendations from the Striped Bass Stakeholders Committee, organized by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in fall 2007. It was composed of interested striped bass anglers that were nominated by legislators whose districts bordered the system. Committee members thoroughly examined all the available data and all the management options before making their recommendations.

While the 26-inch length limit is aimed at allowing female stripers to reach reproductive age, the summer closure is aimed at reducing the high rate of catch and release mortality that freshwater striped bass experience when water temperatures are high. Due to the stress of the angling and the high water temperatures, research shows that many released striped bass often die within a few days of being caught. Ethical anglers are encouraged to only catch what you are allowed to keep and quit fishing for stripers once limits are reached. During the season closures, it is illegal to deliberately fish for striped bass. If you repeatedly hook stripers while fishing for other species, change your baits or your location. When you accidently catch a striper, minimize the time the fish is fought and handled.

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