On a hot summer day in July of 1964, W.H. Whaley of Pineville caught an astonishing 58-pound, over 47-inch long channel catfish, breaking a world record. It’s rare to even find one of these over 20 pounds. There are other unique things to do at Lake Moultrie as well, where that gigantic monster of a catfish was caught. If you want an unforgettable adventure in South Carolina, this is one of the best places to have one.
Lake Moultrie in Berkeley County is the third largest lake in the state and part of the Santee-Cooper lake system, along with Lake Marion. It’s the location for multiple state records of other types of largest fish caught as well, including a five-pound black crappie in 1957, a 113.8-pound blue catfish in 2017, and an over 28-pound longnose gar in 2015.
So if you love fishing and are interested in the possibility of catching a record-breaking fish, Lake Moultrie is a great option!
Kayaking is another fun Lake Moultrie activity. If you don’t own a kayak, rentals are available at Lake Moultrie Kayak Rentals & Tours.
For your own real-life survivor experience, book The Gilligan Tour with Lake Moultrie Kayak Rentals & Tours, where kayaks are launched from a private ramp with a local guide into the Bonneau Beach canals. From there, the group will paddle into the cove and to Boyscout Island, perhaps the best-kept secret of South Carolina.
The island is uninhabited, thus, no crowds due to its difficulty to be accessed even by boat. The local guide will help you to navigate the stump fields and shallows to reach the pristine beaches and cypress coves.
The guide will also identify all types of wildlife observed, from alligators to birds of prey like osprey. It’s a “Sportsman’s Paradise!”
At the final destination, the real fun and adventurous "survivor-style" fun begins when the guide leaves. Guests can then enjoy exploring for themselves until they are ready to find their way back.
Another unique Lake Moultrie experience is taking a ride through the Pinopolis Lock, a concrete and steel structure built in the 1940s for inland navigation and commercial traffic. It’s the only way to get from Trailrace Canal into Lake Moultrie and back, even though it never ended up serving its initial purpose.
The lock is used often by recreational boaters. From the Tailrace Canal, massive steel gates 80 feet high slowly open to allow boats to enter into the concrete box, large enough to accommodate up to 20 other boats at a time.
Once inside and tied up, very important for safety, the gates close. Then water is pumped in and the boat begins to rise. It feels as though you are a toy in a giant bathtub! In about 15 minutes, occupants rise 75 feet from the canal and another set of gates on the other end eases open.
The lock gets busy at times during the summer months. Santee Cooper officials ask boaters to remember the lock does not operate during thunderstorms or rough-water conditions and to keep the hours of operation in mind, as the entire procedure takes between 20 and 45 minutes to complete, depending on the crowd. Boats or watercraft must be at least 10 feet in length and no longer than 150 feet. Watercraft such as jet skis must be tied to boats during the lock operation. While the use of the lock is free, it’s best to call 843-899-LOCK (5625) in advance if you have a large party of boats.
Alligator hunting is another common activity at Lake Moultrie. In 2020, Hunter Ben Bussey and catcher Shawn Adkins caught a 12-foot, 500-pound gator near Lake Moultrie, and shortly thereafter the processor where that alligator was taken was given one that was 758 pounds and almost 14 feet long. A Bobcat had to be used to move it.
Lake Moultrie also holds hiking opportunities by way of the
Lake Moultrie Passage, a 26.8-mile trail which is a small portion of the massive Palmetto Trail of which a total of 380 trail miles of the intended 500 have been completed. Considered an easy route, it takes an average of seven hours, and 49 minutes to complete and is a popular trail for backpacking, birding, and camping. February through November is the best time to visit the trail.
The Palmetto Trail is a project of Palmetto Conservation that, once completed, will be one of 16 cross-state continuous trails in the United States, stretching from the northwestern mountainous region of the state through the middle and to the southeastern coastal region.
With so many activities to choose from, you may want to make this a weekend adventure. You can stay in this Lakefront Retreat VRBO that has a game room and private dock and sleeps up to ten people.
There are also camping options in the Lake Moultrie area if you prefer that route.
If you want to go out for a meal, check out Watermark Bar and Grill for the best fried catfish in the southeast. Whether you select one or more of these activities or do all of them, you are sure to have a wonderful time and finish with some amazing new memories. To get a feel for the Pinopolis Lock experience, take a look at this video:
Just like with anything else, things are always best when you’re able to experience them in person. Visit the Pinopolis Lock section on the Santee Cooper website for more details on that adventure, the Lake Moultrie Kayak Rentals & Tours website to schedule The Gilligan Tour, and the Lakeside Retreat VRBO listing for additional information and to book your stay there.
Which of these adventures sounds most appealing to you? Please let us know in the comments below!
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Explore South Carolina
Lake Moultrie, South Carolina, USA