One of the first things I do after starting my outboard motor on Thurmond Lake is turn on my VHF radio and tune it to Channel 68. I don't know why I bother. Until I tune in the weather channel, the air waves are as silent as a tomb.
Two decades ago, friends urged me to add the radio to the electronics on my boat.
"You'll be able to call us and we'll tell you where the fish are schooling," they said.
Sounded like a plan, so I added the radio plus an 8-foot antenna.
Pretty soon, I was calling my guide and friends.
"Hello, Double Trouble (Billy Murphy). Got your ears on? Where are the fish?" "Hey, Crocket Rocket (Dave Willard): You catchin' 'em?"
My friends had one objection to the radio: When they told me where the fish were schooling, they told everybody else. It is disconcerting and annoying to reach the spot and find it occupied by a dozen boatloads of eager anglers.
They even resorted to a code, of sorts. A response on the radio might sound like this: "Hybrid Hunter (yours truly), come up to that place we discussed over the phone two days ago." My memory being what it is, it sometimes took me a minute or two to remember that place.
So something had to give and, guess what? Exit the radio.
So how do we communicate? Cell phones, of course. I have their numbers in my phone and they have mine in theirs. I try to remember to turn on mine when I get to the lake. And I've kept my radio, as have most of them, to be used in emergencies.
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 -- Jesse Dawson, of Warrenton, Ga., caught 10 crappies, 15 shellcrackers and four catfish.
Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. (Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 (www.crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) -- Water temperature is 86 degrees and very little wind, it has been another great week in Paradise. My groups have been having a blast catching fish three and four at a time. It has been the norm to go through six dozen baits in a little over an hour. I believe the oxygenation system is working as the huge schools of fish in the 24 to 30-foot range and our bait fish are living well. My groups have been catching 31 to 4-pound slab hybrids and stripers 6 to 9 pounds. Mickey Hudnall, of Ohio, and his family, Brandon, his Mom, Janet, Jim and Joe, caught their limit in just a couple of hours. This is their second trip and they've purchased a home in Savannah Lakes Village since they like it so much. They compared our fishing to the fishing up north and they said 50 stripers and hybrids definitely beat one walleye. I look for goods fishing to continue and may return to the glory days before the Russell Dam pumpack, as long as they keep the oxygen running in the summer.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (www.doubletroublefishingguides.com) -- Frank Toole, of Augusta, fished with me last Saturday. Joining him were his nephew, Dr. Jon Spiers and the latter's son, Jon Phillip Spiers, of Houston, Texas. Jon Phillip showed his dad and uncle how to catch fish. The 8-year-old caught a 12-pound striper on an umbrella rig and was able to reel it in by himself. They caught eight early on downlines and nine later on umbrella rigs. Last Thursday was a slow day, but got better during the late morning. My son, Jim, his son, James, my other grandson, Johnathan, Larry Freeman and Bonnie Jackson were the fish-catchers. We fished live herring on downlines during the early morning and caught 26 stripers and hybrids. We started pulling umbrella rigs about 9 a.m., and caught 12 more, but they were quality fish 6 to 14 pounds. We headed home at 11 a.m., with 38 stripers and hybrids.
William Sasser's Guide Service, (Capt. William Sasser and Capt. Mark Crawford, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, full time professional guides specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass). (706) 589-5468 (William), (706) 373-8347 (Mark) or (864) 333-2000. (Clark Hill Herring Hut) -- Mark: Chuck Courtney, Vickey Courtney, John Braden, his father, Richard, and James Stevens, all of Lincolnton, Ga., caught a limit of hybrids 2 to 4 pounds. All were caught on live herring fished on downlines in 40 feet of water. Shawn Seeser, Grovetown, and Michael Holiday, Pennsylvania, also caught a limit. Don Robinson Sr., Sarasota, Fla.; Don Jr., Evans; Zen Aquilla, Sarasota, and Carter Aquilla, caught 26 stripers and hybrids. Dean Brown, Mike DeGennaro, J.T. DeGenarro; Tony Padgett, Kyle Padgett and Kelvin Decato, all of North Augusta, limited out on 2 to 6-pound fish. www.williamsasserfishing.com.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 -- The early morning bite is fantastic, with some pretty good stripers among the slab hybrids. We even lost a couple of big stripers. The fish are hitting hard. You can hear the rod tip hitting the water. We're catching them in 40 to 60 feet of water in the primary ditches near the river channel. Ray Hodge, George Poston, Pat Timmerman and James Brooks, all of the Augusta area, enjoyed fishing at its best. They filled a cooler with big slab hybrids. Gary Biddle, Terry Cato and Chase LaFontaine, of the North Augusta area, had a fast morning a few hundred yards from the ramp. When the smoke cleared, they had a cooler full of big slab hybrids by 7:30. Glenn Ridgeway, Savannah Lakes Village, Neal Moore, Atlanta, and Matt Mistor, Michigan, had a hard time keeping the hooks baited and lines in the water with multiple hookups. They filled a big cooler with hybrids and stripers. Check out my Web site: www.fishlakethurmond.com.
Bradd Sasser, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000 -- Steve Counts, of North Augusta, caught a limit of hybrids and stripers. We're fishing live herring 25 to 35 feet on downline herring. Brent Smith, of Augusta, caught a limit of hybrids and a 7-pound largemouth.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706 722-8263) -- We postponed our carp tournament because of excessive heat.
Bubba and Dana Koss won the bass tournament with 11.30 pounds, including the big fish of 3.89 pounds. Mike and Greg Leaptrotte were second with 8.10 pounds and Wendell Smith and Bryan Kirsch were third with 5.60 pounds. Twenty-eight anglers were in the field.
Hattie Mae Green caught 31 good bream in the Pollard Pond on crickets. Donnie Murphy caught 11 bass on plastic worms in the Expressway pond. Andrew Cleveland caught 37 catfish on liver in the Ditch. Leonard Parker caught 16 crappies over 1-1/2-pounds each on minnows in the Ditch. Tony Culler and Leon Wright caught 63 bream and four bass in the Cornell Pond on worms and crickets. Tom Pierce and family caught 52 catfish on liver in the White Elephant Pond. Albert Jones and son had eight bass, four over 4 pounds each, on Rat-L-Traps in the Garden Pond., Carl Williams caught 10 carp including a 21-pounder, caught on doughballs. Herman All caught a 24-pound carp on corn in the Ditch.
Carter and Hunter Morris, licensed professional guides specializing in fly fishing for rainbow, brook and brown trout. (706) 833-1083 (www.flyfishingnorthgeorgia.com) -- Carter: It's been hot in the north Georgia mountains and most of the trophy streams are closed down until the fall. Noontootla Creek Farms are still open and fishing is pretty good early in the mornings, using grasshopper pattern flies. I had several trips there this week and my clients caught some very nice rainbows early, with nothing biting after 10 a.m. I also fished some high elevation streams late in the afternoon and caught a lot of small rainbows and browns on dry flies. We've had some afternoon thunderstorms, the streams are full and the fish active. My sons, Hunter and Taylor, came up from Athens this week and we hit a couple of the high elevation streams. We caught some great fish and had an even greater time together.
BEAUFORT, S.C., & VICINITY
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 -- Fishing is very good for whiting and flounder, while redfish are up and down. Spanish mackerel and bluefish are schooling near the shore off Fripp, but few are fishing for them. Trigger fish and large black sea bass are being caught bottom fishing. Grouper catches are just fair. King mackerel and dolphin (mahi-mahi) fishing near the Gulf Stream is good.
Just a reminder: The Fripp Island Fireworks Fishing Tournament will be held Saturday out of the island's marina. A captains' meeting and Low Country Boil will be held today at 7 p.m., at the marina, with fishing getting under way at 6 a.m., the next day. Awards will be given for the top two kings, the largest dolphin, wahoo and Spanish mackerel. More information: (843) 838-1518.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 -- Shrimp are beginning to show up in large numbers in the creeks, but many are too small for a shrimp cocktail. In about two weeks, the shrimp should reach a size good for bait and the cocktail. Meredith Davis, an oldtime fisherman, caught some nice spotted sea trout on Yozuri D-3 crank baits. Meredith tied on a 12-inch piece of 12-pound-test fluorocarbon as a leader to the 8-pound-test line on his reel. He waited for the tide to flood the oyster bars before casting. Before fishing, he crimped all the barbs on the lure's hooks, effectively making it weedless, and it also doesn't snag the oysters too much.