Schools of hybrid bass plentiful on lake

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Hephzibah's Earnest D'Antignac holds up a 61-pound flathead catfish he spent nearly three hours trying to catch in Thurmond Lake's Big Hart. D'Antignac used a hybrid pink worm.

During the 1970s and '80s, it was routine to locate schools of hybrid bass numbering in acres on Thurmond Lake, with the fisherman's only problem deciding which fish to cast to.

That scenario was duplicated for the first time in years early Wednesday on the Columbia County side of the lake between Little River Marina and Cliett Creek at Mistletoe State Park.

Literally thousands of fish were chasing threadfin shad to the surface as far as the eye could see. There was no problem catching them on Thing Poppers and Berry's Flex-It Spoons, the three-quarter-ounce variety.

Once your depthfinder screen lights up with fish in 25 to 30 feet of water, lower the spoon to the bottom. Sharply raise the fishing rod's tip and quickly lower it, allowing the spoon to flutter to the bottom. The fish hit it on the fall.

Action starts shortly after daybreak and slows about 9 a.m. Don't give up. The fish are still in the area, but deep. Check it out with your depthfinder and when the fish show up, use the spoon.

l Professional guide Billy Murphy will conduct a deep-water trolling seminar at Broadway Bait and Tackle today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Included in the free seminar is advice on how to fish umbrella rigs and deep-diving lures.


Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. 410 Sprouse Road, Clarks Hill, SC 29821 (803) 637-6379 ( - Water temperature has hit the 90-degree mark on several early morning trips. As long as we had a breeze and a light chop, we've been catching fish. The small hybrids and white perch are hitting good, and some largemouths are schooling in Fort Gordon and Hamilton Branch. There's also been some good surface activity in the vicinity of the 378 bridge. Jason Edwards, of Sugar Mountain, Ga., tied for the largest fish of the week - a 15-pound striper. Ron Lyons, of Brisbane, Australia, also had a 15-pound striper, fishing with George Fuller, Frank Neal and Garry Gray and Gene Wilson. These guys are Vietnam veterans from the 319th Transportation Company and this is their 38th reunion. Talk about war stories - these guys have got 'em. Ron's comment after catching the big striper: "It was worth every bit of the 12,000-kilometer flight."

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide, (706) 860-7373) - Bob Wilson, of Atlanta, fished with me last Tuesday. We went up to Hart Creek. Water was low, but I caught three bass on the River2Sea top-water bait, biggest 4½ pounds. He caught three bass on the Yellow Fellow suspended stick bait and his biggest was 5 pounds.

Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706) 733-0124 (Web site with twins Brad and Jim) - Billy: Mike Brown, his son, Jonathan, from Martinez; and Buddy Bradley, of Graniteville, fished with me Thursday morning. We caught schooling fish 1 to 3 pounds on the CC Spoon and Thing Popper. Later, we trolled the umbrella rig and caught a 7-pounder and two 3-pounders. Last Sunday, Allan Fontenot, of Louisiana; Greg Gonzales, of Arkansas; and Ricky Peace and his 3-year-old, Mason, from Harlem, Ga., caught seven nice fish on the umbrella rig. Last Friday, Harry Bouser, Don Prescott, Charlie Pennington and Gary Hosier fished with umbrella rigs and caught 20 fish 6 to 9 pounds, most of them stripers. The fish didn't start hitting until 11:50 a.m.

Dale Gibbs, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass (706) 288-7510 - I returned to the lake after vacationing with my family and found that bass are responding to hot weather by schooling up. We're catching them using fall fishing techniques rather than summer ones. Quite a few fish are breaking early and late in deep water areas from Little River (Ga.) to Soap Creek. I fished a Heddon's Zara Spook in clear plastic, walking the dog with it slowly.

I caught two bass in the 1½ to 2-pound class and had a half-dozen blowups from other fish. I'd try fishing Carolina-rigged plastic worms in deep (25-35 feet) brush, while having your favorite schooling bait rigged on another rod.

Capt. William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass. (706) 589-5468 - Our clients have caught limits of fish every day this week. William McKie, of Augusta, and his son, Brett, of Savannah, fished live herring over deeply submerged treetops in Little River and it didn't take long to fill up a cooler with quality fish. Another father-son team, Richard and Dennis Gordon, of Augusta, and Tim Dent, of Atlanta, caught fish at each place we stopped. They caught a mixed box of small to large fish. Bill Baab found schooling fish and called us over where we arrived in time to see Bill fighting what turned out to be a 28-pound flathead catfish. The big fish of the day was hooked by Tim, but it got away. Our fish have all come on live herring fished 25 feet down in water 40 to 80 feet deep. My VHF radio handle is Crappie Master and I can be reached on the lake on Channel 68. Check out my Web site at

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 - I've been either hybrid or striper fishing, finding the former still back in the creek channels. I spot-check until I see breaking fish and I slow-troll live herring throughout the area. The stripers are in the deeper, open water. Danny Newton, of Hiltonia, Ga., caught seven to eight in the 8-to-12-pound range.

He went hybrid fishing with me last Friday and caught and released two limits. David Redd, of North Augusta, fished with me and caught 10 fish in the 8-to 12-pound class on bucktails fished on lead-core line. My VHF radio handle is Boat Racer and I can be reached on Channel 68. My Web site is

Albert Moody, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000 - Clem Anderson, of Augusta, has been catching 10-to-15-pound stripers trolling a Fat Free Shad 120 feet behind the boat at 3-to-4-mph by the dam. Phillip Hutto reported seeing huge schools of hybrids in the Mistletoe State Park area and he was right because cousin Ooollee Bricker and I caught limits of small hybrids on Thursday morning.

The fish hit practically everything we cast at them: Roostertails, Thing Poppers and a Gay Blade.


New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam

Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 - Big mullet are hitting red worms in the river's deep holes. Arthur Milligan and Charlie Dickens caught 30 big bluegills down river on crickets and worms. Some nice bream are hitting off the dam early in the morning before the sun gets up. A few small stripers have been caught.


Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 ( - Mike Craig and Gene Moyer had 9.78 pounds of bass, including a 5.70-pound bass caught by Moyer, to win last Friday night's tournament. He leads the big fish of the month contest. Clarence Gay and Lonnie Pope are still leading the points race with 35. Billy Gilbert and Ken Barton won the Sunday morning tournament with 5.42 pounds, including a 2.87 big fish.

The open team bass tournament is scheduled again today. A fishing license is not required to fish in our ponds. Tournament hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Our Sunday tournament starts at 6:30 a.m. and ends at noon.


Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 ( P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 - Ladyfish, often called "poor man's tarpon," are noted for their athletic ability when hooked on light tackle. It can leap six to eight feet out of the water and make scorching runs toward the boat.

The fish will hit live shrimp that you may be fishing in hopes of catching sea trout. It is not known for its edibility, but if you ever want to try it, here's how: The fish's meat is soft when raw, but will firm up once cooked. Small bones left after filleting dissolved or soften when cooked. If you want to be adventurous, give it a try. Otherwise, release the fish unharmed.



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