With hot weather beating down, one of the keys to success will be the ability to diversify your fishing and take advantage of what’s biting. August is hot and humid, but plenty of excellent fishing action occurs in Lake Marion, Lake Moultrie and the Santee and Cooper rivers downstream. Getting into that moving water below the dams is often the ticket to success.

Capt. Joe Dennis guides on Lake Moultrie and both rivers, and he’ll be fishing all three places this month for various species.

“August in one of the best months for consistently catching huge bream in Lake Moultrie by fishing over the deep brush piles,” Dennis said. “While the crappie fishing is also good with minnows or jigs, I always carry some crickets with me. Some of the brush piles will be loaded with big bream, and huge bream by the scores can be caught by fishing straight down, right over the top of the brush. Mark the depth of the top of the brush using your graph, and lower your cricket down to that depth or just above it, and the bream will tear it up. 

“Limits of heavy bream are the rule, not the exception, at this time of the year, and we may catch limits for all at one brush pile, or we may have to fish two or three brush piles. In addition, the crappie fishing over this brush is good as well, and that actually occurs in both Marion and Moultrie.”

Dennis (843-245-3762) said the excellent bream and redbreast fishing enjoyed in the Santee and Cooper rivers earlier in the year is still very good, but he is fishing a bit deeper, down to about 10 feet, bouncing bell sinkers on the bottom with a leader just above it baited with a cricket. Sometimes in the Cooper River, he said he’ll have to fish about 12 feet deep for best results.

August is one of Dennis’ favorite months to drift-fish for blue catfish in the Cooper River. Shad or herring make good baits, but he prefers whole menhaden in the 3- to 4-inch size class. He’ll catch them in the river using a cast net.

“I do cut their tails off to put more scent in the water,” he said. “This is big-fish bait, and August is prime time to do it. We will drift-fish in about 15 feet of water right along the edge of the drop. I’ll have two rods rigged for fishing straight down and two more drifting under a big slip cork set for just less than 15 feet of water. Keep the bait just off the bottom with either rig, and you’ll get plenty of bites.”

Dennis said that largemouth bass fishing is also good on the rivers and in both lakes during August.

“In both rivers, a lot of explosive topwater fishing occurs early and late in the day,” he said. “During the middle of the day, we work plastic baits around sunken cover including logs, bushes and blowdowns.”

Guide Inky Davis said a lot of bass are typically caught in August on both lakes, but the weather is hot so he generally gets out early and fishes hard for a half-day or so.

“Good topwater action generally occurs very early in the day, but the pattern typically changes to deeper crankbaits on points and stump flats and then soft plastics fished abound heavy cover once the sun gets up and the sky is bright,” Davis said. “Patience is a key, because sometimes you’ll go for an extended period with little activity and then find a spot that has several active fish. When you find such an area, work it hard until the actions slows, and you can often catch some quality fish, as well as decent numbers, in a fairly short period of time. As the day goes on, you’ll need to fish closer to heavy cover. 

Davis (803-478-7289) particularly likes a pocket of slightly deeper water where two different forms of vegetation meet.

“Another key area can be along the edgeline of cypress trees where the water depth falls from fairly shallow into deeper water. Plan your fishing to work the trees while they are in the shade for best results,” he said.

August typically means good fishing in the Diversion Canal. With good water flow though the canal, all three of the major species of catfish are likely to be caught in good numbers. For best results, most guides will drift by day with a bell sinker bouncing on the bottom and a 12- to 18-inch leader. The weight will vary from 1 to 2 ounces or a little more, depending on current and depth. Anglers can be productive with anything from cut bait, live bait, worms and stink bait to shrimp. At night, many guides recommend anchoring and flat-line fishing using some live bait, such as perch or bream, as well as cut bait. The live bait gives anglers a better opportunity to hook a big flathead catfish. Also, using stink baits at night can be very effective for both channel and blue catfish.

Overall, despite the typical dog days of summer heat that creates some discomfort, anglers can dip their hats in the lake or river to cool their heads or dunk a towel and wrap around their neck to cool off. Also, it’s not unusual to take a break and just swim for a few minutes. 

Stay hydrated, find a way to keep relatively cool and go fishing. The fish are biting. You’ve just got to go fishing.