Anglers are catching boatloads of bream and crappie

bream and crappie
Matt Outlaw shows off a couple of December bream from the depths of Santee.

Believe it or not, December is a great panfish month

Most crappie and bream anglers in the Carolinas love fishing in the spring. They like fishing in the summer too. And the fall is also good. But the majority stow their gear away by December, and keep it stowed until March or even later.

They’re all making a big mistake. The crappie and bream are on fire this time of year, and they’re stacked up together in tight schools that rival anything you’ll see in the spring. The trick in most lake across the Carolinas is that this time of year, these fish are deep. Really deep.

Capt. Joe Dennis of Father and Son Outdoors TV said locating the fish on your electronics does the bulk of the work for you. Once you find them, it’s all a matter of giving them what they want to eat. He’s been doing most of his recent panfishing on Santee’s lower lake.

“I’m finding crappie and bream on the same brush piles located anywhere from 25 to 45 feet deep. These fish are all feeding up heartily. And even though I take crickets along for the bream, I catch plenty of them on the same minnows I’m catching the crappie on,” he said.

Matt Outlaw of St. Stephens agrees. And he said if you can’t find crickets, it’s not a problem at all.

“The last time I had crickets with me, I don’t think I caught any bream on them. But I caught plenty of bream on the crappie minnows,” he said.

Bream and crappie are feeding heavily this time of year

Both of these anglers use 14-foot long B ’n’ M poles with 6- to 10-pound Slime Line monofilament. They use small jigs which they tip with minnows or crickets, and they add an egg-sinker about four feet above the jig. That helps hold the bait steady in deep water. They use several rods at a time, and have them in rod holders with the rod tips out in front of the boat.

“Sometimes having that long of a rod makes a huge difference. On some days, it doesn’t matter, but when the fish are finicky or the sun is at the right angle, having a shorter pole puts your shadow on the fish beds, or allows them to feel the vibrations from your boat. The more distance you can put between the boat and the fish, the better your chances,” said Dennis.

bream and crappie
Matt Outlaw caught these crappie in the same spots he was catching bluegill.

These anglers aren’t picking up one or two fish here and there. They’re catching loads of crappie and bream — quick limits on some days. And these fish are good and healthy.

“You catch some good ones in the spring, but you catch a lot of skinny ones then too. But this time of year, these fish are feeding up for the winter. They’re all thick and healthy. You might catch some small, juvenile fish right now, but even they are thick. We aren’t catching any skinny ones right now,” he said.

Outlaw said this time of year, when folks see him pulling his boat into the gas station, some ask him what he’s been fishing for. When he tells them ‘bream and crappie,’ he said most folks just shake their heads and tell him those fish don’t bite this time of year.

“I used to try and tell them that yes, they do. But most people still don’t believe it. So now I just chuckle and tell them they’re right,” he said.

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Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1617 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. He can be reached at

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