Bream aren’t often a primary target of anglers this time of year. And while it’s true that they aren’t as easy to find in November as they are in spring and summer, they are worth looking for — and not that difficult to locate as long as you know where to look. Santee Cooper is one place that the bream bite can be plenty hot, no matter how cool the air or water temperatures are once the leaves have fallen and winter begins taking over autumn.

To catch Santee’s bream this month, don’t worry about beating the banks; the fish aren’t there. In fact, looking around the lake’s surface isn’t going to tell you much about where to find them. Deep water is where you need to look with a depth finder, and when you find it, your next step is to find isolated brush piles. 

“Anywhere from 15 to 35 feet of water on brush piles is where the bream go when the weather starts getting colder,” said David Hilton (843-870-4734), who guides out of Black’s Camp on the Lake Moultrie end of the Diversion Canal. “The best thing to do is mark several brush piles that are near each other. Most of them are artificial brush piles that anglers have sunk over the years. Either mark them on your depth finder or throw out a buoy when you’re over one. Then start fishing.”

Hilton said the key is knowing that when you find a series of brush piles in close proximity to one another, the bream are likely to concentrate on only one of those on any given day.

“They might be on a different one each day, and they might even move from one brush pile to another throughout the same day. Don’t waste too much time on one brush pile if you’re not catching them,” he said. “The cold won’t stop them from biting. You’ve just got to make sure the fish are there and not on another brush pile that’s just a few feet away,” he said.

Crickets work fine for bait, but night crawlers and red wigglers work well, too. Hilton suggests that once anglers find the bite, they bring their line in by hand rather than reel it in. Tying a small slip-knot to remind you of the proper depth is also an option.

Small hooks like Nos. 4 or 6 re good for this type of fishing, and anglers should use crimp-on weights up to 1/4-ounce. Hilton doesn’t usually use a cork, mainly because it’s easy to get hung up in the brush that way.

“You won’t see many people fishing for bream on the lake this time of year, but you can catch a limit pretty quick fishing like this,” he said.