November is a favorite month for local outdoorsmen around the Santee Cooper lakes because of the great diversity of excellent fishing and hunting opportunities. It all comes together this month. The fishing is outstanding, and deer hunting reaches the peak of rut activity. Plus, small-game seasons open this month, and with several WMAs around and near the lakes, there more than ample opportunities for hunting as well as fishing.

The striper fishing is still making big news, and rightly so, as the surface schooling action begins to improve. The largemouth bass fishing may provide some of the best action, and November is an outstanding month for lots of bass and big bass in both Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie.

Guide Inky Davis said the bass fishing continues the fast-paced action of October right on into November.

"The water temperature is dropping, but the topwater schooling action is still going strong," said Davis (803-478-7289). "In addition, the fishing continues to be good for quality and quantity of fish using bottom-bumpers, crankbaits and spinnerbaits in both lakes.

"I'm fishing a lot of the edge lines of cypress trees as well as weedlines that drop into 4 to 7 feet of water. Not all of the fish will necessarily be found deep, but that's a preferred range for November.

"Late in the month, the cooling water has a impact on the speed the lures need to be worked, and I'll begin fishing bottom-bumpers a little more. But the entire month is usually excellent for catching largemouths."

Guide Truman Lyon has spent 37 years putting clients on various species on both Santee lakes. The 80-year-old Moncks Corner resident still actively guides and keeps up with the fishing year-round. Lyon (866-631-6801) said that, as striper fishing goes, November is excellent for numbers of fish.

"I have different patterns I employ during November," he said. "They begin with locating baitfish; that's the real key. Find baitfish, and you're in the right general area. Stripers schooling on the surface is a great opportunity during November, and that's a great way to locate baitfish.

"Another tactic I have great success with is using jigging spoons," he said. "I'll use the hammered-type spoons in white as well as silver. I prefer the 1-ounce versions, and (I) jig it vertically along the edge of a drop and down the slope. Usually, once you mark the fish, it's easy to work the lure at the right depth."

Lyons said the productive depth may change daily, but during November, between 35 and 50 feet is usually best on Lake Moultrie. His other technique is to use live bait.

"I'll use herring, gizzard shad or threadfin shad as bait," he said. "They will all catch stripers. I'll fish free-lines behind the boat, usually with just a couple of split-shot on them, but that can vary with the wind. I will also use down rods with one to two ounces of weight above the leader. Again, the weight will depend on the wind and drift speed. I like to keep the speed of the drift less than three-quarters of a mile per hour. I almost always use a wind sock to keep the boat positioned properly and the speed in the right range.

"Typically, catching a lot of stripers is not a problem during November, but not a lot of legal-sized fish of 26 inches were caught last year in the fall of 2011. But we did catch a good number of fish in the 24- and 25-inch class last fall, and according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, this should be the year we begin to catch more keeper-sized stripers."

The crappie action is also good in November and Buster Rush, who guides on Lake Marion with his son, Russell, said it's a transition month for papermouths - but good catches can still be made.

"Most of the crappies will still be caught off woody objects, such as brush piles, along the drops and ledges as well as downed trees and logs," said Buster Rush (803-432-5010). "Early in November, the fish may still be in 12 to 14 feet deep in the creeks, but as the water cools, they move to the main lake. The crappie will still orient to brush, but deeper in the main lake. Tight-lining minnows is still the best tactic. The key is to work brush at a variety of depths with live minnows until you hit the pattern for the day. The summer of 2012 was very good for big crappie, so I expect November to produce good fishing as well."

The outdoors action at Santee Cooper and surrounding areas is not all about fishing during November. Take your pick: great fishing or hunting. Or better yet, do a good bit of both.