Opens Destinations: Santee Cooper

Fishing a month later than when Preston Clark made his record catches during 2006, anglers are not likely to find spawning areas covered with 5- and 6-pounders this time around. Still, many bass will be shallow in this massive 171,000-acre system that includes lakes Marion to the north and smaller, bowl-shaped Moultrie to the south.

 That's because many fish stay shallow in the thousands of acres of backwaters and coves rich with cypress trees, gator grass, primrose, stumpfields, willows, pads and bulrushes.

 "I fish backwaters year-round," says guide and tournament angler Don Graham.

 "The biggest problem most fishermen have here is intimidation," he continued. "Do I fish Moultrie? Do I fish Marion? Do I fish the canal or the river?

 "Fish are everywhere. You don't have to run 70 miles. Find a spot and stick with it."

 Soft stickbaits and jerkbaits in green pumpkin and watermelon green are popular offerings for shallow bass, while Pop Rs, Spooks and other topwaters should work early and even later in the day with cloud cover. Big Texas rigged worms and spinnerbaits also might produce, as could soft plastics around cypress trees.

 For more information on the area, visit the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce Web site: www.clarendoncounty.com.

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