Last weekend was a series of adventures for 53-year-old Renee Price, of Seneca, S.C., during the Walmart Bass Fishing League’s Savannah River Division Super Tournament on Thurmond Lake.
Not only did she fall out of the boat on her first tournament day, after she dried out she managed to win the Co-Angler title. She weighed in a two-day catch of seven bass totaling 18 pounds, 6 ounces and took home a $2,752 check, including the $352 big fish award for a 6-pound largemouth.
The victory pushed her to fourth in the division co-angler standings and she qualified for the Oct. 10-12 Regional Championship on Lake Lanier.
What brought her into the world of competitive bass fishing?
“My son, Bo, has had fishing fever since the age of 5 (he’s now 31). He kept telling me, ‘Mama, you fish better than some men I know.’ So he sort of shamed me into fishing the BFL,” said Price, a registered nurse.
“I was nervous about fishing with men I didn’t know. What if I had to relieve myself? During my first year on the tournament trail three years ago, there were a couple of men who were mean to me. But by last year, I’d gotten over all that and I was able to qualify for the regional championship on Lake Seminole. I am competitive by nature and so I decided to compete again this year.
“I was so fortunate to be able to fish with a 23-year-old biology major on the first day. He said, ‘I’ve never fished with a woman before.’ I said, ‘just pretend I’m your Mom.’ Then I fell out of the boat.
“The lake was a cold 68 degrees. I lost my hat and was so embarrassed. He helped me back into the boat. I told him I had to take off my wet clothes (not all of them) and change into something drier. The boat looked like a clothesline!
“The sun came out a little bit later and I felt better. I fished a (Buckeye Lures) Spot Remover with a green pumpkin finesse worm and caught all but one of my fish on that. The other came on a Zara Spook when the fish came up and schooled.
“So I had four fish weighing nearly 14 pounds and my partner said he’d been having a bit of trouble with his motor and suggested we leave early to get closer to the (Wildwood Park) weigh-in. ‘It would be a shame for you to miss weighing in those fish,’ he said. We had been fishing way up the Savannah River. He also said he’d never been beaten by a woman before.”
Her second day partner was Trent Gober, of Pendergrass, Ga., whose wife, Laura, also competes in the BFL. “We had a great time,” Price said. “He was so nice. I caught three bass weighing about 4.5 pounds, all on the Spot Remover. My husband, Harvey, was there for the weigh-in, but Bo couldn’t make it.
“After I learned that I had won, I jumped up and down and made a bit of a speech.”
• Top anglers from American Fishing Tour divisions in more than 40 states will gather at Wildwood Park on Thurmond Lake on Oct. 19 to compete for the national Angler of the Year title. Following the event is the AFT National Championship on Oct. 23-25, also at Thurmond Lake.
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington), (706) 595-5582 – Dwayne Cunningham caught 13 crappies and Don Ginder caught 20, all on minnows. Bubba Prince and Vance Blanchett, caught three and five bream. On another trip, he caught 20 crappies and five shellcrackers. Best fishing is in the morning. Jean Gordon caught a limit of bream on crickets.
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.crocketrocketstriperfishing.com – Water temp mid to high 70s, clear. Fish seem to have scattered out. We’re seeing a lot of single fish breaking. The large groups of fish that had been around Shriver Creek and Fishing Village. We had some breaking fish at Parksville for a day or so and they’re gone. I’m picking up some single fish around the trees opposite Horseshoe Island. We’re catching a few fish over the oxygen lines in 30 to 40 feet, but they’re tough to come by, too. We need some cool weather and I think the fish will congregate and the white perch will show up in the weeks to come.
Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 831-8756 – Kurt Daniel and I fished last Monday and we caught 15 bass in Lloyds Creek. Seven of them, however, were small. We each lost two big fish which threw the hook. The fish came on Yellow Fellows and crank baits.
Bob Vernoy and I fished the Long Cane Creek area on Tuesday. He caught a 2-pound bass and I caught a 3-pounder. That was it. The water was stained, but there was no hydrilla and we saw no breaking fish.
Bill Speer, The Fishing Coach, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass fishing on Lake Russell (www.thefishingcoach.com) (706) 421-6630 – The lake temperature dropped 10 to 15 degrees last week, but temperature have risen a bit during the warmer days. Air temperatures in the mornings are in the low 50s, so wear layers of clothing you can take off as temperatures rise. Bass are still scattered, but a pattern is emerging. They are holding on the first points into the coves with nearby deep water. They are slowly following schools of bait fish back into the creeks. All the bait I saw this week measured 1½ inches in length, so plan to use lures closer to that size. I’ve caught bass in 10 feet or less crank baits, with some of the fish coming on lipless crank baits worked quickly to get reaction strikes. I’ve also caught bass on a Greenfish Shakey Head paired with a Robo floating worm. On Russell, I always put in at Beaver Dam Marina, where you can have a nice lunchas well as a safe launch.
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) – There’s been a good fall pattern striper and hybrid bit this week. Schools are starting to show up on both the upper and lower ends of the lake along the edges of the main channel. There has been a steady afternoon bite in the Modoc area, fishing 35 to 40 feet deep over the oxygen lines. Those lines more than likely will shut down soon. Crappie fishing also has turned on, with slab hybrids being caught 18 to 20 feet deep over brush piles, using small shiners and tuffie minnows. On the river below the dam, the stripers are running and feeding strongly during power generation in the afternoon. This week, we enjoyed fishing with Joe, Roxie, Joseph, Samantha, Daniel and Nina Rice, Ashley Davis, Macy Knowles, Dan Douglas and Karen Douglas, all of Evans.
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NORTH GEORGIA MOUNTAIN STREAMS
Carter and Hunter Morris, licensed professional guides specializing in fly fishing for rainbow, brook and brown trout. (706) 833-1083 (www.flyfishingnorthgeorgia.com) (facebook.com/flyfishingnorthgeorgia) – The trout are feeding like crazy in the Soque River and we’ve already caught some giant rainbows that the river is famous for. However, the Toccoa River has not fished all that well this week. This is likely due to a rise in water temperature after much of the cold water was generated through the dam at Blue Ridge this summer. Cooler temperatures coming next week should make the Toccoa start fishing really well.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland. (706) 722-8263 – Brickyard report: Sammy Hogan caught 20 crappies on minnows and jigs in the Clayton Pond. James Gilbert caught 15 crappies on minnows in the Expressway Pond. Wayne Wells and Glenn Howard caught 36 crappies, six bass and 14 bream on worms, crickets and minnows in the Ditch. Lonnie Scarboro and Jack Wade caught 46 crappies and two bass in the Garden Pond on minnows. Thomas Bell and Earl Thomas caught 26 crappies, five bass and 13 bream in the Shack Pond on worms and minnows.
Lock & dam report: J.C. Skinner caught 46 bream, 35 crappies and six catfish on minnows, worms and crickets. Earl Scott and Kim Brooks caught 36 mullet and six catfish on worms. Gene Felton and Roland Carter caught a limit of redbellies, six bass and 17 crappies on minnows, worms and crickets. Ed Blount and Wade Phillips caught 46 mullet on worms.
Ralph Goodson, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Fishing is great, but there haven’t been many fisherman. Everybody should keep their eyes on Tropical Storm Karen. We could be impacted by the weekend, depending upon the path it takes. The Owen Perry Memorial Inshore Tournament will be held Oct. 25-26. That will be followed by the Kids’ Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 29.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771– The fall inshore action is cranking up, with redfish, spotted sea trout and even flounder turning on.