Something’s Fishy in St. Stephen and It’s Free to See
Fish are fascinating to us humans. Whether saltwater or freshwater, we like to catch them (and some like to then release them), consume them and starting next week, you can even view them.
That’s because the viewing window at the St. Stephen Fish Lift will be open for the public. You can see fish migrating from the Atlantic Ocean, Santee River and Rediversion Canal and, after exiting the fish lift, into Lake Moultrie and beyond.
For many years now, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has staffed the fish lift, located a few miles north of St. Stephen off U.S. Highway 52. They offer tours, starting on Friday, March 15, until Tuesday, April 30. The visitor’s center with its panel displays is very informative and guides are very knowledgeable. The hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Groups are welcome.
You’ll typically see American shad, blueback herring, striped bass, catfish and other fish. It is almost certain you’ll see some fish, maybe a lot of fish, but there are no guarantees. The fish lift has been in operation since the mid-1980s, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s St. Stephen Powerhouse was completed. It’s on the Rediversion Canal (not to be confused with Santee Cooper’s Diversion Canal), a 14-mile long body of water that flows from upper Lake Moultrie to the Santee River. Fish passage was an integral part of the project.
There are three hydroelectric units at the facility that have a generating capability of 84 megawatts. When there is sufficient flow from Lake Moultrie, the units run a lot. That’s been the case this year with all the rainfall from the upstate. Santee Cooper receives this hydro power and has the ability to turn the units on and off remotely from our Energy Control Center in Moncks Corner.
So, check it out. To arrange a tour, call the Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau at 843-825-3387 or 843-749-1358. The address is 1275 Rediversion Road, St. Stephen, SC 29479. For more information, visit SCDNR’s website. Happy viewing! Hope a lunker looks at ya.