Fishing Report: Bucktails used to be a secret weapon

Fifty or more years ago, there used to be a mystery about catching striped bass in the Savannah River below the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam. Successful fishermen like Bob Baurle or Jimmy Davidson (before Baurle opened his tackle shop) usually kept mum on what lure they used to catch the fish.


Bill Upperman’s Butterbean Bucktail (white or yellow) was popular back in the 1940s and ’50s. The lure was shaped like a bean. It eventually was replaced by the so-called green-and-white “Smiling” Bucktail. Most of their success came from the bucktails being cast into the river from the South Carolina side of the dam.

My wife, Bea, and I wed in January 1966. Her parents, who lived in New Hampshire, were not able to make it to our wedding. We planned a trip to New England for the summer of 1967.

Meanwhile, I’d read Sports Afield magazine salt water fishing editor George Heinold’s description of a Biddeford, Maine angler’s success catching striped bass in the Saco River. I thought it would be neat for Bea and I to go fishing with him once we arrived in New England.

Bob Boilard did not disappoint us, but surprised us by trolling Bing McClelland’s Jig-A-Doo eel. The lure was made of soft rubber and sported three small hooks rigged on a soft wire. Boilard, who later became famous as a guide for President George H.W. Bush, stuck a small bit of earthworm on the lure’s tail hook as sort of a scent
attractor. We killed the fish, catching 14 up to 8 pounds.

So I bought a couple of packages of the eels (colors were black, brown) and brought them home to try on the Savannah. I trolled the rig below the lock and dam (before the area was blocked by mounds of silt) and caught two stripers in the 4- to 5-pound size. I’m sure that rig would work today, if you could find one. The Burke Flexo Products Co., has been out of business for years.

Today, of course, savvy anglers fish live herring for stripers, which also will bite weighted Zoom Super Flukes.



Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Jan and Jonathon Dunham, Warrenton, Ga., caught 30 pounds of catfish around the rocks at the Raysville Bridge. David Carr Sr., caught a 2-pound black crappie in our fish house on a minnow. Ally Bolton, L.B. Edge and Gary Edge caught 90 crappies in the German Creek area on minnows.

Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, full-time professional guide specializing in hybrids and striped bass and trophy largemouth bass. Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379; Water temperature is in the upper 70s, the lake is clear and dropping. We’re looking for breaking fish, which seems to be about the best way to find fish nowadays. Most of the surface activity is out over the river channel close to deep water. We’re also catching some downline fish, usually around mid morning, and those have been the larger fish. Andy Tisdale and his daughter, Ava, fished with Tom Allgood. We got into some breaking fish early and caught some hybrids. We caught yellow perch and flathead catfish on live bluebacks fished on freelines in breaking hybrids. It’s the first time I’d ever done that. We also caught some mid-morning stripers up to 7 pounds.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – I caught six bass on a trip by myself on Thursday. I fished humps from the marina to Mistletoe State Park to Lloyds Creek. All the bass came on a Pop-R. The humps had to be at least 15 feet deep with grass around them to produce fish

Fishing with Ralph Barbee airs Saturdays at 11 a.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. on Comcast Channel 21, My12TV, Knology Ch. 7, Atlantic Broadband (Aiken) Ch. 7 and Northland Ch. 9 (Fort Gordon).

Billy Murphy, professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (Web site – Last Saturday, my son, Jim, and grandsons James and Johnathan helped me scout for fish. We fished live herring on downlines in 20 to 30 feet of water and caught 14 fish, with James catching the big one of the day at 17 pounds. It’s the biggest fish the youngster has hooked and landed by himself. Last Wednesday, Mike Hopkins and his daughters, Janna and Joanie Olson, of Harlem, fished with me. My grandson, Johnathan, was first mate. The girls kept him busy taking off 20 fish and baiting their hooks. Each of the girls caught 5-pound stripers. But dad caught the big fish of 7 pounds.

William Sasser’s Guide Service, (Capt. William Sasser, Capt. Mark Crawford, Capt. Bradd Sasser, Capt. Andrew Tubbs, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, full time professional guides specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass). (706) 589-5468 (William), (706) 373-8347 (Mark), (706) 267-4313 (Bradd), (803) 507-5083 (Andrew) – Steve Brown, Steve West, Sam West, Ricky Burrell, Luke McMurray, all of Inman, S.C., caught a limit of hybrids and stripers. Terry Davis, Kenny Chavous, Joe Roland Jr., Nolan Short, Zachary Torres, Mickey Hughes and Rick Short, all of Hephzibah, also wound up with a limit; Gerald Gardner, Chuck Gardner, both of Evans.

Larry Sears and Anthony Sears, from Tennessee, and Zack Rutt and Mike Rutt, both of Evans, caught a limit. Chris Carter, Xavier Carter, Ty Carter and Chase Carter, all of Evans, limited out. Kyle Watson, Chad Mims, Trey Wilkie, Todd Long, Dwayne Stapleton and Keith Lawrence, all of North Augusta, landed 32 stripers and 121 white perch. Todd Bailies, Pam Bailies and Curtis Moore, all of Laurens, S.C., caught 26 hybrids and stripers. .

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – I got a couple of days in and the fish are starting to stack up like they’re supposed to at this time. We’re catching some quality hybrids and more stripers than I like. The latter are finicky and move a lot, so I’d rather fish for just hybrids. Bill White comes annually from Texas and is joined by his brother, Richard, from Atlanta. We had two wonderful days on the water and caught some quality hybrids. Bill says he can hardly wait until next year.

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Carter and Hunter Morris, licensed professional guides specializing in fly fishing for rainbow, brook and brown trout. (706) 833-1083 ( ( – Hunter: Early summer rain has kept the fishing good in smaller north Georgia rivers, even as air temperatures have started to rise. The Chestatee and Soque rivers are flowing at higher levels than at this time last year and the trout are much more active. This means that we will (hopefully) get an extra couple of weeks of quality fishing before the smaller private streams close to protect the trout. This also means some really fun fishing as it’s the time of year that big terrestrial dry flies are starting to be the most productive fly patterns. There’s nothing like seeing a huge trout come up to the surface to eat a big dry fly!


Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706) 722-8263 – We want to hold a customer appreciation week June 18-22. Each customer will get a free cup of bait with their paid daily permit during that time. Our annual free fishing day last Monday was rained out so we’ll reschedule it for July 6. Everybody needs to check in at the tackle shop off Doug Barnard Parkway before going fishing. Winners of last Friday’s bass tournament were

Preston Crews and Raymond Klaus with 9.14 pounds. Second were Mike Craig and Gene Moyer with 5.04 pounds. Third was J.C. Dicks by himself with 2.48 pounds. Big fish was a 4.86-pounder caught by Crews and Klaus. Tournament hours are 6 to 10 p.m., every Friday. Entry fee is $25 per person with an 80 percent payback. Brickyards report: Hiram Wilson caught six bass in the Expressway Pond on plastic worms. John Barrow caught 26 good crappies in the Ditch on minnows. Jeffrey Bailey caught 29 catfish in the White Elephant Pond on liver. Willie Moore caught 33 bream in the Expressway Pond on worms. Corey Smith caught eight bass on plastic worms in the Membership Pond. John McLean caught 36 crappies on minnows in the Membership Pond. Spencer Hill caught 37 catfish on liver and minnows in the Membership Pond. Scott Partridge caught 26 bream and three bass in the Membership Pond on minnows and worms. Lock and dam: Jimmy Ladson and Renee Gamble caught and released eight hybrids and stripers, including one over 20 pounds, on live herring down river. Greg Boone caught 54 big mullet on small red worms. Ronnie Matthews limited out on bream on crickets. Kevin Atkins caught a 32-pound catfish on cut herring.


Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – The Broad River for many years was the place to catch cobia from May through late June as the fish moved up the salt water river to spawn. That’s not the case this year. “I haven’t had any reports of cobia in the Broad,” said Capt. Ralph. But the Betsy Ross wreck area has been producing good catches of the fish. Out in the gulf, bull dolphin (mahi-mahi), wahoo and some billfish are being caught. Inshore fishing has been slow, no thanks to the high tides of 9 or 10 feet. Some redfish and a few gray trout are being caught.


Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 ( P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Bottom fishing is as good as it gets, with black sea bass limits being caught. Each of those fish has to be 12 inches tail length and there is a daily creel limit of five per person. This is the time of year for trolling with spoons. Many people also like to find schools of fish like Spanish mackerel and cast Clark Spoons into them. I also suggest diving crank baits. They’ll dive deep on the retrieve and when you stop reeling, they’ll wiggle back to the surface, attracting attention.



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