Recreational fishing might be on the way out

Austin Conder (from left), Chris Ryan and his father, Perry, show off a morning's catch of Thurmond Lake hybrids and stripers on a trip with Capt. David Willard.

So, you want to head to your favorite lake, river or pond to do a little fishing, but when you get there, there’s a sign that says “No Fishing.” It wasn’t there last week or even the day before. What’s going on?


Robert Montgomery pens a conservation column in B.A.S.S. Times, published monthly by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. Here’s what his Sept. column says: “Recreational fishing as we know it no longer exists in portions of Western Europe. Even more disturbing, the seeds of its destruction are well established here (in the U.S.) When people are asked whether they approve of recreational fishing for sport, answers change dramatically. In some urbanized states in the West, 25 to 30 percent of the people view angling for sport as cruel. About 20 percent feel the same way in more rural states.”

A worst case scenario, Montgomery points out, already exists in Switzerland. “The Swiss Animal Welfare Act of 2008 highlights the nightmarish possibilities. The legislation makes catch-and-release illegal because “it is in conflict with the dignity of the fish and its presumed ability to suffer and feel pain.’”

Adopting such a system in this country, Montgomery says, “would mean that a majority of the nation’s millions of anglers would stop fishing.”

The 79-year-old American Sportfishing Association (ASA) has created a new advocacy arm to rally fishermen whenever threats to the sport arise, said Dave Precht, B.A.S.S. Times editor, in that same issue. That arm is called Keep America Fishing (KAF) and it’s grown from 20,000 members two years ago to 750,000 this year. The goal is to increase membership to 3 million by 2015, Precht says.

So, what can you do?

“There is no membership fee to join,” said Gordon C. Robertson, vice president of ASA. “All you do is sign up for the e-newsletter and alerts and that is it. We do make it possible for members to make a donation.”

For more information, go to and click About Us. Don’t know about you, but I’m joining.

• My good friend, Albert Moody, was fishing in the Horseshoe Island area one morning this week when he saw a strange bird diving for bait fish being chased to the surface by hybrids, stripers or largemouth bass.

“You won’t believe this, but it was a pelican!” he said. I asked what he had to drink for breakfast, but our mutual friend, David Willard, was out there, too and vouched for Albert’s eyesight. “That bird was diving into the bait fish right next to my boat and having a grand old time,” Willard said. “I remember seeing a pelican up here several years ago.”

Local fishing notes


Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Debbie Percival, of Raysville, caught 19 crappies, including one of 2¾ pounds. She was fishing with minnows. Cecil and Margaret Foster caught 15 nice crappies on minnows. Jack Owens, of Grovetown, caught 25 crappies on minnows.

Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, fulltime professional guide specializing in hybrids, striped bass and trophy largemouth bass. (Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 ( – Water temperature is in the lower 80s, the lake is clear and continuing to fall. Fishing has continued to be good this week with live herring producing nice catches of fish after a change in the water strata. The fish have been coming to the surface in many cases as we have been expecting. September is our premier surface schooling month and the fish arrived right on time. I’ve spotted several large schools around Horseshoe Island as well as around Fort Gordon Recreation Area. The schools are mixed with stripers, hybrids and largemouths. The white-faced terns have returned and they are getting in on the action. They will tip you off many times, even if you don’t see many fish. They’ll be seen hovering over the action. The breaking fish are feeding on a variety of baits and they haven’t been up long enough top determine what the hot lure of the season. In past years, it’s been The Thing Popper, the Ice Fly and the Gunfish. This year, it may be a completely new lure. We’ll just have to wait and find out. When the fish sound, we’re catching them on live herring in the 40 to 50-foot levels in the same areas where we saw fish breaking. Chuck Lantz, family and friends caught a cooler full of fish. It was another case of the ladies outfishing the men, which happens all the time. Perry and Chris Ryan and Austin Conder had a great morning catching surface-breaking fish, as well as going deep mid morning with live bait. The guys enjoyed seeing breaking fish as far as the eyes could see. It wasn’t a long ways because it was a bit foggy. This hot action should continue to the full moon at the beginning of October.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – I found schooling largemouth bass in the junction of Cherokee and Mosley creeks. I caught six bass all on the Yellow Fellow, even though the bait fish they are feeding on are tiny. They were hitting it so hard they were ramming it.

Billy Murphy, professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 ( – Last Monday, Bradley Wilkerson, of Harlem, fished with me and Johnathan, my first mate. He caught 10 hybrids and stripers 4 to 7 pounds on the Capt. Mack Umbrella Rigs. We trolled from the mouth of Georgia’s Little River to the dam by zigzagging across the Savannah River from the Georgia side to the South Carolina side. We marked a lot of fish in that area. The fish were 60 to 80 feet down, but I could place my rigs only 40 feet down. There were a lot of bait fish in the area. Next time, I will have some live herring aboard. The water is still dropping and it may hit 15 feet below the full pool (330 feet) by the end of the month.



Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706) 722-8263 – If you’re in the military or a senior citizen, you can fish for half-price. If you’re handicapped, you can fish for free. Contact the bait and tackle shop for details. Brickyard report: We’re going to start a bass tournament at 7 a.m. Saturday. See the shop for details. Wayne Johnson and Joe White caught 25 crappies in the Expressway Pond on minnows. Jerry and Don Wilson caught 22 bream and 10 catfish in the Shack Pond on worms and liver. Larry Walker caught 20 catfish in the Ditch on cut bait. Jimmy Young caught 15 crappies in the White Elephant Pond on minnows. Jerry Skinner and his son, Aaron, caught 35 catfish and 10 carp on minnows and worms in the Ditch. Lock and dam: John King and Ken Ward caught 30 bream on crickets and worms down river. Jerry and Ann Davis caught 20 catfish and 35 crappies on cut bait and minnows.