Don’t depend on deep; many fish are still shallow

August fishing
Guide Bobby Winters catches plenty of Santee fish in shallow water throughout August.

Santee fishing action can be shallow in right areas

The best August fishing opportunities certainly include deep water for some species some of the time. But skinny water fishing is also alive and well during August.

Not all the fish are always in deep water in the Santee Cooper lakes during hot weather. Crappie hang out on deep brush, and catfish swim in deep holes. But excellent fishing opportunities exist in skinny water and plenty of big fish are available.

Hills and valleys

Catfish action can be excellent in the deep waters of both Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie. But Bobby Winters, who guides out of Blacks Camp, said not all the fishing is necessarily in deep water.

“Deep water is certainly an option. But what I refer to as shallow to mid-depths can still be excellent choices,” Winters said. “Just because the temperature is high doesn’t mean all the fish are deep. I like to drift fish hills and valleys this time of the year, and that’s simply bottom contours with a good bit of change in depth over a relatively small area.”

Some of his August fishing hotspots may be as shallow as 10 feet deep or less on the top of the underwater hump. But they drop down to deeper water on the sides. He often finds the fish in the 10- to 20-foot depth range.

Winters (843-751-3080) will certainly fish deep water this month, but the shallow to mid-depths will often be the prime spots.

“Find the forage in either Lake Marion or Lake Moultrie, and you’ll have a good leg up on the catfish action, including the potential for big fish,” he said.

August fishing means current for cats

That’s just one excellent hot weather catfish option, and fishing current is another, specifically in the Wateree or Congaree rivers in the upper end of Lake Marion. Both rivers offer miles of potentially productive water and typically provide good current flow, a strong attraction for hot-weather catfish.

Guide Bobby Winters said that not all catfish are caught in deep water in the Santee Cooper lakes during the summer. (Photo by Terry Madwell)

The two rivers have excellent catfishing in common but are fed by separate drainage systems. And this creates varying opportunities based on upstream rainfall and water conditions. Adapt to the best water-flow situation for top results.

Because of the current flow and abundant snags and bends in both rivers, most anglers fish from an anchored position. Depths usually run fairly shallow, and anglers will set up around the outside bends and along shoals to target blues, channel and flathead catfish. Often, anglers catch a combination of two or all three species during any given day. Shad, bream and perch are good bait choices for all three species. Stinkbait and red worms often help target hefty channel catfish.

Skinny water for fat bream

Bream action continues for those willing to hunt them down. This month, bream will be scattered around heavy cover. So working the edges of this shallow water cover will produce good limits of fish for those willing to cull smaller fish.

Guide T.C. Lloyd said some bream will spawn in August on the Santee Cooper lakes. They’ll still be shallow, but maybe not quite as shallow as they were in late spring. (Photo by Terry Madwell)

Guide T.C. Lloyd said many anglers totally overlook the opportunity for catching bream on the beds during August.

“The bed-fishing is still excellent around the full moon,” Lloyd said. “However, most of the beds are in slightly deeper water than where fishermen found them during the spring, and often far from the shoreline cover. But they’re still in shallow water, maybe 4 to 6 feet deep.”

Lloyd (843-307-6678) also uses the side-scan feature on his graph to search for bream beds in open water. This allows him to pinpoint open water beds much quicker.

“This has the advantage of enabling me and my clients to fish beds that are almost untouched by other anglers,” he said.

Early big buck opportunity

August marks serious deer season preparation, with the season opening in many areas around the Santee Cooper lakes on Aug. 15. It’s time to check stands to ensure they’re in safe hunting condition, rid them of wasps and clear shooting lanes. Also, scout for heavy deer-use patterns and make plans for the opening of the season. One thing that will get fishermen off the lakes during August is the allure of deer hunting.

It’s a hot time for sure, but the first few days of deer season offer a great opportunity for harvesting big bucks, many still adorned in velvet. Scout soybean and peanut fields early with trail cameras and glass.

Using trail cameras to lock into deer patterns enables hunters the opportunity to take a big buck very early in the season. Often the first few days of the season offer big buck potential because deer have not had hunting pressure.

The fish are biting and early season deer hunting offers prime, but often short-lived, opportunities for a big buck that hasn’t been pressured.

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Terry Madewell
About Terry Madewell 715 Articles
Award-winning writer and photographer Terry Madewell of Ridgeway, S.C., has been an outdoors writer for more than 30 years. He has a degree in wildlife and fisheries management and has a long career as a professional wildlife biologist/natural resources manager.

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