SCDNR’s Lynn Quattro and Santee-Cooper country Jane Powell talks about the deployment of concrete pillars and other material into the lake. These materials are for fishing enhancements as they give fish habitats and places to conjugate in the lakes.

Lake Marion’s fish have a new place to call home.

Several large concrete pipes were placed in the lake on Wednesday as the final step in a years-long effort to build fish habitat.

“We feel like it’s important for us to do these habitat enhancement activities that we saw today,” S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ Chief of Fisheries Ross Self said.

“As lakes age, they lose a lot of structure. It’s not so much the case here because there’s a lot of still a lot of standing timber in the Santee Cooper system. But by using this hard material, these concrete structures that we put down, they will last a long, long time,” Self said.

The concrete pipes are the type used for culverts. They were carried across the lake on a barge and dropped in with the help of a crane.

The pipes are considered fishing enhancement materials. They’re placed in the lake to create a habitat for the fish, increasing their population.

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“When we add things like this to the lake – big, big concrete structures or even smaller things like Christmas trees, bamboo buckets, wax bushes, that basically gives some structure to fish,” SCDNR biologist Levi Kaczka said.

Self said, “These new structures that were put out there will provide habitat or places for bait fish to hide, to hold around. That in turn will attract more predatory fish, the kind of fish that folks like to fish for.”

The project is a combined effort of SCDNR, the Santee Cooper Public Service Authority and Santee Cooper Country.

Wednesday marked the 23rd and final instance of the team creating artificial fish habitats in lakes Marion and Moultrie under the current permit. The effort started in 2010, but the Army Corps of Engineers permit is about to expire.

The latest artificial habitat was placed in the Eutaw Springs area, behind Bells Marina.

Santee Cooper Country’s Executive Director Jane Powell says that there have been good fishing reviews in the area since the project started.

“I had someone tell me just this week that they have never fished at one of the enhanced habitats without catching a fish,” Powell said.

Buoys are placed at the spots on the lake where the items were dropped to give anglers a sense of where the fishing might be good.

“This material will provide a structure and habitat for fish to hold on. It’ll attract bait fish, which will in turn attract predatory fish or sport fish that folks like to fish for,” Self said.

The enhancements give anglers “a place to start where they know there’s some structure, where they know there’s probably some fish holding to allow them to have a more successful day until they learn – learn more about the other parts of the lake,” Self said.

The habitats give new visitors a good place to start fishing, Powell said.

“It’s a great project. It’s good for tourism, it’s good for the ecosystem of the lake. It’s a good project all the way around,” she said.

The entire project cost a total of $45,000, but much of the effort and materials were donated. The final effort was helped with material donated by CCPM. Quattro says that the donations helped immensely.

“The donations greatly help because getting that material donated reduces the cost of increasing habitats in the lakes, so we really appreciate those donations,” Quattro said.

“This has just been a great project. This just shows that the partnerships have been great. Everybody has worked really well together and it’s all for the best interests of the Santee-Cooper lakes and the state of South Carolina,” Powell said.

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