While prime time to catch big bass in skinny water is long past, largemouth fishing remains very good for both quantity and quality, according to longtime tournament pro Ken Ellis of Bowman. Ellis, who works heavy cover in both lakes this time of year, said one key is to stick to the shallow water - just slightly deeper than when the fish were spawning.
"The fish won't be in the real shallow water as they were when we caught them bedding during March and April," Ellis said. "However, they will still be orienting to fairly shallow water and can be caught on topwater lures, soft plastics as well as crankbaits. They will be holding in or over some of the weedy cover in the lake as well as around woody cover. Look for even just slightly deeper depressions to be enough to hold some hefty largemouth. Most of the fish now orient to the cover, even during the summer months. They don't get out on the deep drops like they did years ago."
Also at the top of most anglers' lists for hot-weather fishing is the catfish. Both blues and flatheads will bite great this month, both day and night.
Alan Spence of Spence's Guide Service, who focuses most of his efforts on the lower end of Lake Marion, said he will typically have some excellent catches this month and will often target big flatheads this month, as the warmer weather seems to cause them to spike in activity.
"Live bait such as perch or bream will be great for the flatheads, and cut bait of most any kind will work well for blues," said Spence (803-478-5029). "I'll typically anchor in 20 to 30 feet of water, but occasionally, when the wind will allow, I will pick up some big catfish in rather shallow water as well, especially if I am fishing at night.
Steve Pack at Pack's Landing said drift-fishing for catfish in the upper end of Lake Marion becomes a very predictable June fishery.
"When the freshwater mussels start floating - and that typically occurs during June - the catfish seem to go crazy in the upper end of Lake Marion," said Pack (803-452-5514). "We'll actually just drift-fish across the open water, drifting from the upwind to the downwind side regardless of the wind direction, and place our baits from three to seven feet deep as we drift over the flats.
"We'll usually put a big chunk of cut bait, gizzard shad or perch, under a float. We'll catch a lot of catfish in the 20- to 30-pound class doing this. We'll use a crappie-sized float and split-shot, with the bait suspended above the bottom. I like the 4/0 Kahle hooks for this type of fishing. The catfish will be roaming the flats looking for the mussels, and we'll get into some huge catfish fishing in this unique manner.
"Fishermen can use mussel meat as bait, but it's not necessary; we catch just as many using cut shad. Some big catfish will also be caught in the main river in the upper end of the lake, especially in the deeper holes in the outside bends of the river."
Linwood Thornhill, who guides out of Blacks Camp (843-753-2231), said drift-fishing in Lake Moultrie is also excellent this month; he and other guides catch blues 20 to 35 feet deep on cut bait, particularly shad, bream and perch.
Panfishing is also great, and while the bream action will be very good, the big shellcrackers will be biting and will be on the beds again around the full moon, according to Pack.
"The size of the shellcracker is amazing, and these fish have become one of the more-targeted fish species here in the upper end of Lake Marion this time of the year," he said. "We'll see some huge fish caught throughout the summer, whether they are bedding or not."
Pack added that largemouth bass fishing is also good in the upper end of the lake this month, with topwater lures such as buzzbaits and floating worms being top choices.
"June is usually a good month for lots of bass, as well as some hawgs," Pack said. "But most fishermen are out early and done by mid-day, or they go out late in the evening."
NOTES: It's time to apply for alligator permits, and if you hope to hunt around the Santee Cooper lakes, applications will be continue to be received online by the SCDNR through 11:59 p.m., June 15. According to the SCDNR, there is no added benefit in trying to apply early, since the selection process does not differentiate between applications received on the first day or the last day of the application period. Hunters will be notified beginning in July of selection status, but you do need to apply soon if you hope to get drawn in 2013.