After Thurmond Lake was opened to public fishing in 1952, it didn’t take savvy bass fishermen long before they discovered they could catch fish beneath the surface and not just on top.
The problem was to find the many drop-offs, sunken road beds and ditches and other such features where bass liked to hang out. In those days, depthfinders did not exist. So how did they locate such anomalies? The late Tommy Shaw told me that he’d take a concrete block or heavy window or sash weight, mark a 60-foot-long rope at 10-foot intervals, tie one end to the weight and lower it over the side of the boat. As the boat drifted, he’d raise and lower the block a foot or so off the bottom. When the weight hit a drop-off, he’d line up objects like tall pines on shore to mark its location.
“I’d back off within casting range and cast a weighted plastic worm into the area and I’d sometimes catch four or five fish from that one spot.”
Along came depthfinders from Lowrance and Humminbird factories. The early flashers emitted streaks of light when the sonar-like signal hit fish. So light streaks or bars on the device’s screen marked between zero (surface) and 60 feet would be fish. Shaw was a wizard with Little Cleo and Dardevle spoons. He’d cast them into the area, let them sink to the desired level (a 20-foot-length of monofilament line tied to his nylon casting line would be his guide to how deep the fish were) and catch white bass as well as largemouth during his early days on the lake.
Charter captain Mark Crawford took a photo from his Lowrance HDS 10 screen. The large inverted vees are striped bass, the smaller signals baitfish galore. There are even depthfinders today that can scan sideways beneath docks and other places.
If fish could sue, I am sure there would be many invasion of privacy lawsuits.
• Fort Gordon will celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday with a Kids’ Fishing Rodeo at Claypit Lakes.
• Requests for the local name fishing map have reached 100.
• Congratulations to Pete Wilcox, of Martinez, for receiving an award from Santee Cooper Country for his 50.2-pound Arkansas blue catfish in either Lake Marion or Moultrie – I’d guess Moultrie.
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Jack Owens and Billy Inglett caught 32 crappies, the biggest three-quarters of a pound, 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 (www.crockettrocketstriper fishing.com – Water temperature is in the low 80s, the lake is clear and continuing to fall. We’re still running into some breaking fish, but not as consistent as I would like to have this time of the year. I’m still fishing live herring for the bulk of my fish, but the deep fish have scattered and we’re having to pick ’em off one or two at a time. Jimmy Taylor, Savannah, brought up a group of fish killers. We had a slow morning on breaking fish, then started fishing live bait about 8:30 to 9 and caught some nice stripers at 60 feet. The deep fish turned off by 11 a.m., but as providence would have it, that’s when the fish started breaking. A school came up off the point at Ridge Road Campground. We were the only boat on them for two hours.
Capt. Billy Murphy, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishing
guides.com) – I went by myself Thursday after my wife, Lucy, and I had been out of the country for several days. The fish were everywhere, under the boat, schooling on top, but they wouldn’t bite. I finally caught a 21-pounder on a live herring fished 60 feet down in 110 feet of water. Later, I caught a 5-pounder 40 down in 50 feet of water. The lake is still turning over and after that happens, fishing should be on the upswing again.
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), (Bradd) (706) 267-4313, (Andrew) (803) 507-5083 – Cooler temperatures are bringing more fish to the surface to chase schools of threadfin shad. We spotted many schools north of Horseshoe Island in the main Savannah River channel during the early mornings and late evenings. They are breaking along the Georgia shoreline from the mouth of Georgia’s Little River to the dam. Mornings have had a slower but steady bite and evenings have been as fast-paced as you could ask for, with 10-fish limits coming in as little as 45 minutes. The bigger fish have been found in 40 to 65 feet of water and are hitting live herring. Smaller hybrids up to 2 pounds are being caught on ice flies thrown on 3-foot monofilament leaders tied behind casting floats. Berry’s Flex-It Spoons (¾ ounce) jigged up below the schools are producing hybrids up to 4 pounds. Some of the folks enjoying their trips this week include Christian and Tim Weathers, Augusta; Kelly and Gavin Fox, Evans; Joe Berg, Plum Branch, S.C.; Shannon and Noah Delsignor, Augusta; Rodney Brown and Cedric Willingham, Hampton, S.C.; Chad Krueger, Augusta, Mike Krueger, Madison, Wis., and Scott Bell, Augusta.
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Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – My parties this week caught a mix of fish from various depths. We were in 120 feet of water and caught some largemouth schooling in Parksville. The fish look like they’re getting into shallow water. The fish down deep were a lot better fish. They’d blacken out the depthfinder screen and we just knew all of our rods were going to be yanked down. But as it happened, we’d pick up one here, one there and maybe five or six fish during one session. Dave Redmond, of North Augusta, wanted to have a fish fry and recruited Danny Newton, of Hiltonia, Ga., and myself. We caught 17, just enough to fill an ice chest for a great fry. Check out my Web site: www.acestriperguide.com.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706 722-8263) – Military personnel, senior citizens, 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’ve been trying to start a bass tournament on Saturdays, starting at 7 a.m., but have had few participants, probably due to hunting season. We still would like to do it, so see the shop for details. Bob Ivey and Roy McNeal caught 10 good bass in the Ditch and Cornell Pond. Roy Davis and Wayne Johnson caught 30 crappies and 15 shellcrackers in the Expressway Pond on minnows and pinks. Mike and Ann Wilson caught 15 bream, and 25 shellcrackers in the Garden Pond on pinks and crickets. Tommy and Fay Young caught 20 catfish and 10 carp on rooster liver and carp bait. Jim Gordon and Roy Richardson caught 30 crappies on small minnows in the Ditch. Jerry Skinner caught 42 really nice crappies on minnows in the Ditch. Lock and dam: Joe Cooper and Dave Pearson caught 35 mullet on red worms. Josh Lewis and Jack Lowe caught 18 catfish on cut bait. Jim Smith and Jerry Shaw caught 25 shellcrackers down river on pink worms.
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Capt. Trae Evergit and his crew on The Reelist caught a 35-pound king mackerel to win the Fripp Island Kingfish Tournament over the Labor Day weekend out of Fripp Island Marina. Capt. Chris Prince and his crew on Cool Cat were second with a 29.2-pound king. Largest Spanish mackerel weighed 6.05 pounds and was taken by Capt. Tom Ogle and his crew on No Slack. The Keyserling Cancer Center was the recipient of a $4,000 donation. Next events on Fripp are the annual Owen Perry Memorial Inshore Tournament Oct. 19-20 and the annual Kids’ Thanksgiving Fishing Tournament on Nov. 23 at the marina.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771– While heading to the fishing grounds last Saturday with a charter party on board Capt. Rick witnessed an unusual phenomenon. He slowed his boat to idle speed to go under an overpass and a sturgeon estimated to weigh 200 pounds jumped in front and almost landed inside the boat. I am glad the fish didn’t land in the cockpit. It would have destroyed whatever it would have hit and is charter party would be jeopardized, too. Both Atlantic and shortnosed sturgeon are endangered species and anyone caught in possession of one is subject to stiff fines. So if one lands in your boat, heave it back in quickly.