The Carolinas are blessed with numerous lakes, rivers and a spectacular coast packed with seemingly endless opportunities to wet a hook, but as far as fishing opportunities, it’s usually the big red drum, doormat flounder, chunky largemouth bass and hefty striped bass that bring anglers out of hiding. 

One of the most-overlooked fisheries is big bluegill, and summer is prime time to put a Bream Buster to work on bedding bluegills on one of South Carolina’s Santee Cooper Lakes. 

Bluegill are most anglers’ “first fish” before they often move on to other, more exciting fish that show up more often in the press. But they are powerful for their size and can be an exciting species to tackle on light tackle in shallow water. Summer is prime time to find a congregation on their spawning grounds, and while Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie are known more for world-record catfish and slab crappie, their 170,000 acres hold healthy populations of pound-plus bream.  

Bluegills are a member of the sunfish family and are found in lakes, rivers, creeks and just about anywhere in North America. During the summer, schools of fish slide onto their spawning grounds and create a colony. Just like largemouth bass, males construct the beds by fanning away the bottom substrate, creating a circular depression to hold eggs. Around the full and new moons, females arrive, packed to the brim with eggs. They soon drop them in the center of the beds and head back to deep water, leaving the males behind to guard the nest. 

Typically, most beds are found in shallow water along the rim of the lakes or edge of the incoming rivers that are often covered in woody and weedy vegetation. But guide, T.C. Lloyd of Southern Angling in Hartsville, S.C., ignores the