Saltwater fishermen who ply the waters around Fripp Island and Beaufort will be thrilled to know that one of the top game fish again has shown up in the tidal rivers and sounds.
Capt. Ralph Goodison Jr., who lives on and reports from Fripp Island, mentioned sightings of the fish in his report as did Capt. Judy Helmly in her Savannah report.
My first happy experience with the fish came more than 30 years ago in the Broad River and Port Royal Sound near Beaufort. Cobia seek shelter in the shade of the Broad River Bridge and sometimes gather in the shade of fishing boats.
I was the guest of my friend, Lee Nason, who showed me how to place the barb of a hook just beneath the skin of an eel near its head. Other anglers pierced the top and bottom lips of the eel with the hooks, but Lee’s method kept the slippery critter in a more natural state.
Lee is deceased now, but I’ve never forgotten our times on the Broad and Parrot Creek where we caught redfish and spotted sea trout during the fall and winter months.
Live eels are the way to go. Carry a small towel with which to grasp the eels; otherwise, you’ll be chasing ’em all over the boat.
Another place to catch cobia with eels, or with artificial squid, is the sea buoys en route to the 2PR buoy in the sound. I threaded a two-foot length of wire leader through the head and body of the squid, a product of Seven Strands Tackle Co. A half-ounce egg sinker was threaded onto the wire and fit into a cavity in the lure’s body. Then an 8/0 hook was attached to the business end of the wire, a strong swivel twisted onto the upper end and tied to 30-pound-test monofilament line, and one was in business.
I spotted a good fish in the shade of a buoy, cast the lure past it and reeled rapidly to pull the squid over the top of the cobia, which slammed it. The fight was on and after wrestling the fish away from the buoy cable, a friend was able to gaff the 35-pounder.
The peak month for cobia is June.
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington), (706) 595-5582 – Brad Carani caught 30 catfish within a mile of the marina on chicken livers. Mark Watson and Betty Percival caught 19 channel catfish on liver and nightcrawlers.
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.crockett rocketstriperfishing.com) – Water temperature is in the low 70s and the lake is slightly stained. Weather has improved and so has the fishing. Each day, I’ve found more fish at each stop. They’re still from the surface to 30 feet down, free-lining as well as on down lines. David Sampson had a great time catching some nicer stripers, hybrids and even some yellow perch, which are becoming more prevalent. The Parksville area is turning on at last and we look forward to good fishing for next few months as fish come off the banks and congregate in the creek channels.
Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – Kirk Daniel and I fished last Tuesday and we caught five largemouths. I caught three and he caught two, all on a Pop-R, and all around Wildwood Park.
Capt. Billy Murphy, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishingguides.com) – Ray Dowdy, of Harlem, and I fished on Wednesday. Water temperature was 64 degrees at 6 a.m., and warmed to only 68 by 11 a.m. We pulled live herring beneath planer boards and free lines over humps and long points. Strong winds white-capped the surface and never quit. He caught five hybrids and a striper with the big fish just 5 pounds. Last Saturday, my son, Jim, and I fished and used the same techniques. Water temperature was 62 at 6 a.m., and warmed to 67 by 11. Winds were light and variable until 7:10 when it started to blow hard. We wound up with 16 fish with Jim catching an 8.5-pound striped bass. Last Thursday, Leo Thomas, of Martinez, and Glenn Gray, of Evans, joined us. They caught 11 stripers and hybrids with Leo hauling in a 6-pounder.
William Sasser’s Guide Service, (Capt. William Sasser, 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) 267-4313 (Bradd), (803) 507-5083 (Andrew) – Surface temperatures are staying in the low to mid 70s. Hybrids and stripers have started moving away from the shallow points and are stacking up in schools in 25 to 35 feet of water. Most of our fish are still coming on live herring fished behind planer boards pulled deep, but as water temperatures rise, we can catch some down-line fish in 25 to 35 feet. Underwater flats and shoals 30 to 35 feet deep in the Parksville, Hamilton Branch, Lloyds Creek and Cherokee Creek areas have been producing good, steady catches of slab hybrids and 6-to-10-pound stripers. Joining us on the lake this week were Linda and James Dunberry and Jeff Hudson, Evans; Jenny and Tom McCorkle, Martinez; Lewis Hargraves, Damion Williams, Steve Looper and Tonya Dunaway, all of Augusta.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – White perch have been plaguing me all this week. There must be thousands of them. I am finding the perch on the bottom in 35 to 40 feet of water. The problem is that striped bass, which feed on them, are hanging out above the perch 20 feet down. I need to find a way to tell the stripers to head to the bottom. My clients have been catching some pretty nice striped bass. We’ll catch two or three from a school and then they’ve gone.
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706) 722-8263 – Plans are being made to hold a bowfishing tournament on the ponds. Anyone who has the knowledge of how to operate such an event is asked to call Gene Kirkland. Our Saturday bass tournament (7 a.m. to noon) will continue. Another bass tournament will be held on the ponds on Fridays from 6‑10 p.m., under the direction of Gene Moyer (803) 270-1580.
Brickyard report: William Milton and James Bonner caught 30 bream and 15 shellcrackers on crickets and pinks in the Shack Pond. Cody Young landed 25 shellcrackers and 20 bream on crickets and pinks in the Garden Pond. Wayne Small and John Floyd caught 20 crappies and 30 catfish on livers and pinks in the Ditch. David Martin and Paul Moore caught 10 bass and 25 crappies in the Expressway Pond on minnows. Gary Clark and Jesse Hayward 15 crappies and 25 bream on minnows and crickets in the Pollard Pond. Lock and dam: Joe and Jan Mathis caught 30 bream on crickets. Bobby Lee caught 30 catfish on cut bait. Jim and Mary Johnson caught 25 bream and 10 shellcrackers on crickets and pinks.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Inshore, the redfish bite is on the upswing. The trout and flounder bites are good, but the sheepshead, whiting and black drum bites are very good. Offshore anglers have been reeling in good bull dolphin, wahoo and black fin tuna. I’ve also had some reports of cobia showing up.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – The 100-foot water around the Savannah Snapper Banks has been producing great catches of vermilion snapper, amberjack, trigger fish, cobia and grouper. Bull dolphin are providing sport for Gulf Stream fishermen along with blackfin tuna and wahoo. Bluefish and Spanish mackerel have arrived in the artificial reef areas, while bottom fishing is producing black sea bass, summer trout, trigger fish and others.