Fishing takes a step forward in September, with improved action on a variety of species. With even just slightly cooler temperatures, the fishing for largemouth bass improves, especially in terms of topwater schooling action, and these fish begin chasing forage much more aggressively. That means anglers can get more aggressive with their fishing styles.

 The already good fishing for crappie around deep brush actually takes another step forward, and typically, the average size of the fish will increase as will the numbers. Both lakes Marion and Moultrie will be producing plenty of slab crappie in September.

The catfishing also really takes a leap forward, with good drift-fishing in Lake Moultrie and anchor-fishing in Lake Marion. As the year-class of forage species begin to grow, catfish begin to cluster around them, and September and early October are typically very good months for large catfish.

Buster Rush guides for crappie and catfish on Lake Marion and rates September as one of his favorite months for big crappie and lots of them.

“Actually, September begins about two months of excellent crappie fishing on Lake Marion, with some of the best crappie fishing of the year during this time,” Rush said. “By best, I am referring to consistent action on big, slab crappies. Typically, the fishing is already good, but with slightly cooler weather, it does seem to move the fishing productivity to the next level. 

“It’s also easier on anglers to fish longer hours, and the fish will be in depths ranging from 12 to 22 feet of water. Most of the crappie will be holding at the top or around the edges of the brush, and tight-lining minnows is the best tactic.”  

The crappie fishing will also be good on Lake Moultrie, according to Kevin Davis at Blacks Camp. 

“I fish both lakes, but I find the crappies are a little deeper on average in Lake Moultrie than Lake Marion, so it helps to know you’ve got to fish a bit deeper, but both lakes will produce plenty of crappie.

Davis (843-753-2231) said crappie are locked into the deep-water pattern of holding on brush and other woody cover around humps and drops, and they are very predictable. 

“They’ve had the summer to forage, and I catch a lot of big crappie during September and on into the fall months,” he said. “I usually tight-line minnows, but small jigs will work as well if the angler is adept at using them.”

Davis said depths will vary, even from one lake to the other, but usually fish will be found from 15 all the way down to 35 or 40 feet. The key, he said, is to work different depths until you hit the pattern for the day. Odds are good when you do, you’ll find plenty of crappie to catch a limit. 

“In addition,” Davis said, “the brush piles are typically really loaded with big bream as well. I double-dip, meaning I’ll bring a bunch of crickets as well as minnows. It seems that sometimes the bream will be stacked on one piece of brush and crappie on another. Either way, you can fun catching some huge bream as well as crappie.”

Both Davis and Rush said September is excellent for lots of catfish.

“We’ll enjoy excellent fishing in both lakes Marion and Moultrie,” Davis said. “Most of the fishing on Lake Moultrie will be drift-fishing, or on calm days, fishermen will use their electric motors to move the boats over humps and drops. The depths will vary from 20 to 45 feet.”

Rush (803-432-5010) said most fishermen anchor and fan-cast bottom rigs around the boat because of all the underwater, woody cover on Lake Marion.

“There are some open areas where drift-fishing will be productive as well, and actually, if you know when you can effectively use the drifting technique,” he said. “The best baits will be cut shad, bream or white perch for the blues and live baits for the flatheads, however flatheads will hit fresh cut bait as well.”

According to several fishermen, September is a transition month for largemouth bass, and it begins a pattern that ranks as a favorite bass-fishing stretch of the year.

Action improves in the upper end of Lake Marion, according to Steve Pack at Packs Landing, with a lot of bass now beginning to surface school.

“As weather overall begins to cool during September, the baitfish begin to move into the shallows in much bigger numbers,” Pack said. “Forage is always a key factor, and when they begin to get into the shallow water again in the fall, the bass feed heavily, and we’ll start seeing a lot more fish schooling on the surface. Plus, the fishing in the shallow water around cover will perk back up again. This is the time of year when fishermen again begin to catch a lot of fish and a lot of quality fish.” 

Pack (803-452-5514) said good fishing for catfish and bream in addition to largemouth bass is the norm for September in the upper end of Lake Marion, with fishing for all three improving as the month progresses.

September also marks the time when deer hunting becomes paramount around the Santee Cooper lakes as well. The deer season is now open in some form all around the lakes, and that will lure a lot of outdoorsmen off the lake and into the woods. Also, alligator season opens at noon on Sept. 13 and runs until noon on Oct. 11. The Santee Cooper lakes are very popular and highly productive for this exciting sport. The hunting seasons provide more elbow room for fishermen but the hunting is often almost too good to resist.

We do have the best of both worlds here, so whether you pleasure is hunting or fishing, the season for both is now.