The rectangular lakes on either side of Gordon Highway look like great places to fish.
But when Georgia fisheries biologist Ed Bettross checked the public ponds last week, something was noticeably missing: most of the fish.
Using electrofishing gear to stun and capture fish, Bettross and fisheries technician Greg Abercrombie criss-crossed the north lake for more than 20 minutes.
There were a few largemouth bass, including one 4-pounder, but the rest were only a few inches long.
Most surprising was the absence of what is usually the most common species. “There were no bluegill, and no shellcracker,” he said.
Other species detected included one bullhead catfish, one crappie, one redbreast and two warmouths.
None were more than five inches long.
The water quality seemed adequate, so the absence of fish is a mystery.
The pond, he added, was stocked with channel catfish in 2010 and 2011, but none were detected.
Future plans, he said, include adding bream and catfish this fall, followed by bass next spring.
The lake on the south side of Gordon Highway was too overgrown to launch a boat, but samples taken from the shore showed unusually low oxygen levels that might warrant further study.
Bettross checked the ponds, by the way, at the suggestion of The Augusta Chronicle’s fishing editor Bill Baab, who had heard of decreasing success rates among anglers there.
BOAT PARADE: There are plenty of July Fourth events coming up, but one in particular involves a floating parade – a boat parade, actually.
Doug Chalifour of the Thurmond Lake Sail & Power Squadron said participants will gather at the Dorn Boating Facility at 10 a.m., with decorated boats passing the judges’ stand at 10:30 a.m.
The event is followed by a beach party from noon to 4 p.m. at Savannah Lakes Marina beach, where the winning boat parade entries will be announced.
RECIPROCAL LICENSE: Georgia and South Carolina have finalized a new reciprocal license agreement that takes effect today and allows anglers to fish on border waters with a license from either state.
Border waters include the Chattooga River to Lake Hartwell and downstream waters such as lakes Russell and Clarks Hill, and the Savannah River.
“Anglers as well as state officials on both sides wanted to continue the fishing license agreement and keep fishing regulations as similar as possible on
border waters,” explains John Biagi, Georgia’s fisheries management chief.
“To minimize confusion, Georgia sport fishing regulations will largely mirror South Carolina laws on border waters,” he said.
Notable changes to fishing regulations covering border waters include: a limit of 10 striped bass or hybrid bass or combination on Lakes Hartwell and Clarks Hill, of which only three may be over 26 inches; a five-fish trout limit; and a 10-fish limit for white bass.
South Carolina’s new fishing laws for crappie and bream are different than Georgia’s regulations.
You can keep more in Georgia – 30 and 40 respectively.