On the Water
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- South Carolina for Kids
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- Civil War Adventures
- South Carolina Waterways
- Three Days in Horse Country
- South Carolina for Seafoodies
- South Carolina Kitsch
- Gullah and African American History
- Upstate Weekend
- South Carolina’s Top Ten for Golfers
- South Carolina’s Offbeat Festivals
- Southern Comforts
- Lowcountry Romance
A good way for the casual traveler to enjoy the lakes is at Santee State Park (251 State Park Rd., 803/854-2408, www.southcarolinaparks.com, Mon.–Sun. 6 a.m.–10 p.m., $2 adults, 15 and under free) on Lake Marion near the town of Santee. This very popular park is focused exclusively on lakefront living and recreation, with cabins galore. A nature-based boat tour of the lake departs from the Tackle Shop on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (times vary, so call ahead to Fish Eagle Tours at 803/854-4005). The park also has two boat ramps on-site.
An easy way to fish is on the old bridge over Lake Marion, running parallel to I-95 and now used as a fishing pier. Serious anglers, however, gravitate towards the many fish camps and marinas all around the huge circumference of the lakes. Some are quite plush by semi-rural standards, featuring cabins, lighted fishing piers, and attached restaurants.
Notable examples are Randolph’s Landing (122 Randolph’s Landing Wy., 803/478-2152, www.randolphs-landing.com) up at the Santee Dam, Cooper’s Landing (1526 Gordon Rd., 803/478-2549) just off I-95, and Harry’s Heart of the Lakes (320 Harry’s Camp Cir., 843/351-4561, www.harrysfishcamp.net) at the southern tip of Lake Marion.
A fishing guide always comes in handy, especially on a body of water like Lake Marion, which has many stumps lurking beneath the surface. While most fishing camps offer guides, some key independent operators are bass specialist Inky Davis (803/478-7289, www.inkydavis.com) out of Manning, redfish and bass man Captain Jimmie (843/553-1139, www.jimmiehair.com) out of Eutaw Springs, catfish hunter Joe Drose (843/351-2860, www.santeecoopercats.com) out of Pineville, and catfish veteran Captain Casey (843/761-3092) out of Moncks Corner at the southern tip of Lake Moultrie. Generally speaking, a full day out on the water will run about $300 for one or two customers.
All fishing on the lakes for those over 16 requires a valid South Carolina fishing license, available at any tackle shop, online (www.dnr.sc.gov), or by phone (888/434-7472). A seven-day non-resident license is $11. A total of 40 game fish can be kept any one day, with no more than 10 black bass, five striped bass, and only one catfish over 36” long.
Kayakers can put in at many spots on the lakes, including Santee State Park. Of particular interest is the Berkeley County Blueways (843/719-4146, www.berkeleyblueways.com), comprising 175 miles of paddling trails from lower Lake Marion all the way southeast to Francis Marion National Forest. Blackwater Adventures (843/761-1850, www.blackwateradventure.com) and Nature Adventures (843/928-3316, www.natureadventuresoutfitters.com) offer various kayak and canoe tours, along with rentals.
There’s even a beach of sorts on Lake Moultrie, Overton Park (843/761-8039, daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Memorial Day–Labor Day, $2). It’s at the southern tip of the lake at the Pinopolis Dam; get there by taking Highway 52.
An outstanding recreation guide is available at www.santeecoopercountry.org.
© Jim Morekis from Moon South Carolina, 4th Edition