Despite the cooling weather in November, the fishing action seems to just simply get better for a variety of species on the Santee Cooper lakes. In addition to good action, the potential for heavyweight fish also increases.
Guide Kevin Davis of Blacks Camp fishes both Lakes Marion and Lake Moultrie and says the almost is non-stop action on a variety of species.
“November is one of my favorite months of the year for several reasons,” Davis said. “First, the striper bite continues to be great from October, and this month we’ll start seeing more topwater schooling of big fish as well as numbers of fish in both lakes. Also, as the month progresses, live-bait fishing begins to improve, and by the end of the month, the action on big stripers is outstanding, especially near the Pinopolis lock and dam on Lake Moultrie.
“The key is that the menhaden are ganging up around this area, and that attracts the big stripers, and from late-November on through December, we’ll catch some of the biggest stripers of the year,” Davis said. “We typically catch more keeper fish during this time than any other, and also have lots of action on fish we release. Topwater lures and bucktails work for schooling fish, and for live-bait fishing, blueback herring or gizzard shad are great.
“If you can catch some menhaden, they are extremely productive. But if you locate a massive school of baitfish, stop the boat and drop live bait down and odds are good you’ll get hooked up quick.”
Davis (803-478-7289) said that along with the stripers, lots of big catfish will be caught on the menhaden pattern.
“Early in the month, drifting is good on both lakes, and anchor-fishing on big wads of baitfish or along drops on Lake Marion is good in many areas because the trees often make drifting difficult,” Davis said. “But during late November, the menhaden will draw the big cats just like the stripers.
“I’ve found that the catfish will tend to suspend and be found in the middle of the water column at this time, often right in the midst of the bait. For example, if you are in 40 feet of water, you may catch huge catfish in 20 feet; they’re feeding actively and will follow the bait.”
Davis said one of his favorite fishing trips during November is for crappie. He said the crappie bite is great on both lakes.
“My preference is from 20 to 30 feet on Lake Moultrie and slightly shallower on Lake Marion,” he said. “Sunken brush or woody cover on the bottom is a key.
“I use two different lures for crappie in November, and both are extremely effective,” Davis said. “I find the brush, and often I’ll see the fish on my graph, and I’ll know exactly how deep to fish. One lure I use is a jig called Ron’s Zip jig, a jighead made with a tinsel trailer. I use a minnow with that jig as added enticement. The tinsel seems to really attract the fish, and actually, the more fish you catch on it the better it is, because the tinsel seems to fluff out more. I put these rigs in rod holders and use my electric motor to put the boat in position right over the underwater cover and watch for the light bite of a crappie.
“I also use the Rockport Rattler, a jig that crappie tournament pro Whitey Outlaw uses extremely effectively here and all over the country to win crappie tournaments,” Davis said. “The jig has a rattler head — the only one I know of — and we’ll use this jig with a plastic trailer and hold this rod in our hands to feel the bite and lower it to the right depth and hold it. We’ll give it a light twitch every few seconds, but it doesn’t need much action; the rattler in the head does seem to draw the crappie. Between the two types of rigs we load up on some of the biggest crappie of the year during November. This works well in either lake; the key is to get over brush in deeper water.”
Guide Inky Davis also considers November a prime time for bass fishing, and while he fishes both lakes, he will focus much of his attention on Lake Marion at this time of the year.
“Cooling water temperatures do trigger the bass to feed more aggressively, and this is a time of year when forage fish are readily abundant,” Davis said. “The topwater schooling action is usually still very good early in November and slowly tapers off, but it can occur all month depending on the weather and how quickly the water cools.”
Davis (803-472-7289) said he fishes a lot of different types of cover to find the pattern for the day.
“Bass move a good bit, but one key is to cover a lot of territory such as fishing near deep holes, tree-line edges that drop into deeper water and around heavy cover,” he said. “Usually when I find forage and catch a couple bass quickly, I stay in that area for a while and often, it’s very productive. This is time of year you can catch and release a lot of bass, plus, quality fish are caught. With deer hunting and football season going on, often the lake is not heavily fished, and (that) gives me more options. November is among the best times of the year for both quality and quantity of largemouth.”
Davis said in addition to topwater lures for schooling fish he will use crankbaits that run shallow down to 7 feet near drops and trees as well as frog type baits and spoons in vegetation and worms and spinnerbaits around scattered targets.