Santee’s shallow bream bite is as hot as it gets

The late August heat has not slowed down the shallow bream bite at Santee. (photo courtesy of Father and Son Outdoors TV)

“August leftovers” are forgotten by many anglers

When the crew of Father and Son Outdoors invited us along for a bream fishing trip at Santee last week, I figured we would be trolling around the open areas of the lake looking for brush piles in deep water to find the fish. So when Whitey Outlaw showed up in his 20-year-old Duracraft with no trolling motor or depthfinder, I was a little confused.

“We’re going after what we like to call ‘August leftovers,’” said Outlaw. “A lot of people don’t realize it, but the bream are still bedding out here in shallow water. It’s pretty simple fishing, and it’s very productive. But we probably won’t see another boat out here all day doing it.”

After a 5-minute ride from Low Falls Landing, Outlaw shut off the outboard and climbed to the very nose of the johnboat. He took a short paddle and began paddling the boat around, keeping his paddle in front of the boat rather than switching from side to side. We were a good 30 or 40 feet from the bank or any structure when he handed me a long B’n’M graphite rod with no reel.

“Just flip it over there,” Outlaw pointed into an open space of water and demonstrated with his rod, flipping his cricket into the water. I did the same, but was a little curious as to why we weren’t fishing closer to the bank or the nearby cypress trees.

Bluegills dominated the day, but one shellcracker showed up.

It didn’t take long for our corks to go under, and the scene repeated itself for the next few hours, even as the day warmed to 100 degrees. These fish did not mind the heat at all, and we were fishing in very shallow water.

Simple fishing requires no special gear or electronics

“You can always go out to deep water and find brush piles that bream are on this time of year. But you can find plenty in shallow water. Some of the bream just prefer to stay shallow, and they will bed every month into the fall,” Outlaw said. “And this is simple fishing. You don’t need any special equipment. Anybody can do it. You just have to be willing to put up with the heat.”

Because this water is so shallow, Outlaw prefers his paddling method over using trolling motors.

“You’d be surprised at how much you’ll push these fish out of here with a trolling motor. It’s going to kick up mud and silt, and you’ll run the fish right off these beds. It’s pretty easy to move the boat around paddling this way. With a trolling motor, you’ll also move too fast. And you’re going to overlook a lot of fish that way,” he said.

Finding the beds without electronics is a bit of an art. Outlaw fishes these waters often enough to know where to look. But he said anglers can find them in a number of ways.

“If the water is clear enough and the sunlight is just right, you can see beds in clear water. You can also smell the beds. That’s one reason I like to paddle the boat into the wind. The smell is strong and unmistakable. Looking for bubbles is another way. A lot of people think bubbles just come from turtles and alligators, but you pay enough attention, and you’ll learn what bubbles from certain fish look like,” he said.

Just go fishing

And then there’s also the old-fashioned way of finding bream beds. Just putting your cricket out there and covering water until you start getting bit.

“That’s really the best way for someone that’s never been here before and doesn’t know where the beds are. Just get you some crickets and start fishing. Don’t waste a lot of time where you aren’t getting bites. There’s plenty of bream in here and they’re eating in even the hottest part of the day. A pole, some line, a cork, and some crickets is all you need. Just cover water until you find them. There’s plenty of beds out here so it doesn’t take long to fill a cooler,” he said.

Outlaw said anglers can find bream in Santee’s shallow waters all summer long and into the fall.

“I’ve caught them like this into late September and even early October. After that, I’m concentrating on crappie. But I’d bet you can catch them just like this into the fall until the weather really cools off a lot,” he said.

Watch Father and Son Outdoors TV on Mondays at 1:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. on the Pursuit Channel.


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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