Several very strong fishing patterns are in place in November for anglers to enjoy on the Santee Cooper lakes, but one species really seems to stand out for most, and that’s the striped bass. According to most guides, the fishing is improved in the sense of more large fish are typically caught, as well as vastly improved topwater schooling action.
Kevin Davis at Blacks Camp said that schooling action on both lakes has been very good.
“The lower end of Lake Marion, as well as most of Lake Moultrie, is typically loaded with surface- schooling stripers in November,” Davis said. “The cooler weather sets up the forage, so stripers begin to surface feed a lot. Much of the surface action is early and late, with good action all day on cloudy days.
“A variety of lures will produce, lures such as Stripers Swipers along with a lot of similar lures. Also, simply casting bucktails into surface-feeding fish will produce excellent results. When the fish stop surface-schooling and go deep, I use jigs or spoons to continue catching them. They’ll show up on the graph, and you can fish directly under the boat.”
Davis (843-753-2231) said during other time periods, drifting live bait over schools of stripers located using electronics is a very productive method.
November on the Santee Cooper lakes is an excellent time to catch largemouth bass feeding up for the winter. Falling water temperatures trigger the bass to start putting on the “feed bag,” and the largemouth can be fairly aggressive in their bite during this month.
According to guide Chris Heinning, the lakes’ levels are often lowered in the fall to flood waterfowl areas downstream, help control vegetation, and enable work on docks and ramps.
“This lower water congregates bass into ditches and creek channels, making them easier to target,” Heinning said. “I use my Lowrance graph unit to locate depressions in four to seven feet of water with good amounts of cover nearby such as wood — in the form of cypress trees, stumps, docks and piers, as well as vegetation, including eel grass, floating heart and hydrilla if any can be found.”
One of Heinning’s favorite baits for November is a square-billed crankbait in silver for clearer water and chartreuse/shad in dingier water.
“This crankbait matches the hatch perfectly with the baitfish bass are gorging on,” he said. “Baitfish are abundant in November, and that’s a key to success. In addition to this lure, I use spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps, and they produce very good results as well, and as always, a straight-tail worm or plastic bait. This is the standard lure for times when fish may be in inactive periods and the fisherman have to encourage a bite.”
Heinning (803-236-1257) added a point of caution on Santee Cooper in November: to be aware of off-limits national wildlife areas and areas that are restricted due to waterfowl season. Heinning said he defaults to hunters anyway, as they have a short season versus fishermen being able to fish year-round. Also, he usually will start his guide trips later in day to limit impact on duck hunters in the early morning and evenings hours.
“There are still plenty of excellent places to catch fish, and typically November is a great month for the bass to bite all day long,” he said.
Buster Rush, who guides for both catfish and crappie on Lake Marion, is more into the catfishing mode this month.
“November is a very good month for catfish on both Marion and Moultrie,” Rush said. “I fish primarily on Lake Marion, but the action on big blue catfish is excellent on both lakes. In Lake Marion, I’ll do a lot of anchor-fishing in areas where I find a lot of baitfish and also along the humps and ledges in the open water. It’s a great time to catch some really big fish, as the water is cooler and the blues get more aggressive. There are some places in Lake Marion where drift-fishing is good, but a lot good drift-fishing action also occurs on Lake Moultrie.”
Rush (803-432-5010) likes to use cut herring and shad as his primary baits for catfish, although cut perch is also very productive.
“My ideal pattern is to look for areas where I see big fish marked on my graph, usually near some type of bottom change in the lake,” Rush said. “If plenty of forage is indicated, it’s probably a winner. I’ll set up and cast rigs all around the boat. Sometimes, we’ll catch a cooler of fish in one place; sometimes we’ll have to make multiple stops. But generally, the fishing is very good for catfish in November.”
Crappie fishing is still producing good action during November, especially early in the month on both lakes.
Guide Steve English (843-729-4044) said that fishing for crappie around underwater brush piles along the ledges and humps will produce some big fish at this time of the year.
“The key is staying on the move and looking for the right depth,” he said. “Both live minnows or small jigs will produce. As the water temperature changes — and sometimes it changes quickly in November — the forage will move, and the fish will move with them. So sometimes, it’s simply a matter of having to look for crappie in a few different depth patterns until you hit the right one for the day.”
November is a great month for a lot of species of fish. Pick one favorite, or several, and get on Santee Cooper now.