The Santee Cooper Country lake system consists of two lakes, Marion 110,600 acres and Moultrie 60,400 acres. These two lakes are joined by the 6.5 mile diversion canal. These world-class fishing lakes were created from 1939 to 1942 for a hydroelectric project by the South Carolina Public Service Authority, commonly known as “Santee Cooper” because of the two river systems the project connected. At the present time the Santee Cooper Country lakes hold a world record Channel Catfish (58 lbs). These lakes held the world records for Striped Bass until 1993, its weight was 55 lbs. and Arkansas Blue until 1996, its weight was 109.4 lbs. State records currently held are: Largemouth Bass - 16.2 lbs, Black Crappie - 5 lbs., Chain (Jack) - 6.4 lbs., Shellcracker - 5.7 lbs, Warmouth 2.25 lbs., Channel Catfish - 58 lbs., and Arkansas Blue Catfish - 109.4 lbs., Flathead - 77.3 lbs.
The Santee Cooper Country lakes vary from shallow swamps and blackwater ponds to vast open water with a multitude of underwater structures. Lake Marion was not completely cleared, as a result fishermen will find there are thousands of stumps, standing dead tree trunks and live cypress trees. Lake Moultrie is more open and is 14 miles across at its widest point.
The Big Fish Big Bucks Fishing Derby is sponsored by the Santee Cooper Counties Promotion Commission, the destination marketing organization for Santee Cooper Country. Berkeley, Calhoun, Clarendon, Orangeburg and Sumter Counties. (803) 854-2131