The biggest fish aren’t always in the sea, as a Tennille, Ga., angler learned last week while dangling a gizzard shad in Lake Oconee.
Wayne Tatum’s 69-pound, 7-ounce blue catfish was certified by Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division and sets a new lake record for a blue catfish, eclipsing a previous record fish by more than 20 pounds. Tatum landed the fish Sept. 16 fishing with shad in 45 feet of water.
Blue catfish are abundant in many Georgia lakes. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the reigning state record is an 80-pound, 4-ounce monster landed in 2010 by Earnest Timpson in Lake Walter F. George.
Thurmond Lake, by the way, produces huge catfish as well, with lake records that include a 64 pound, 3.5-ounce flathead landed by Jake Manly in 2010; a 25-pound, 2-ounce channel catfish landed by James Gunn in 1993; and a 62-pound blue cat landed by Ralph Barbee back in 1979.
YOUTH SHOOTING SPORTS: High school shooting teams from across the state will converge at Augusta’s Pinetucky Gun Club next weekend for a regional qualifier shoot organized by the Georgia Independent School Association.
The Saturday event, hosted locally by Aquinas High School and Westminster Schools of Augusta, marks the first time a major qualifier shoot has been hosted at Pinetucky, which offers trap and skeet fields and sporting clays courses.
“In a regional qualifying event, they get ready for the state shoot,” said Charles Dolan, a Pinetucky board member and volunteer. “They must shoot 300 registered targets to qualify to enter the state competition.”
So far, more than 90 shooters are registered. Each participant will have an opportunity to shoot 50 skeet, 50 trap and 100 sporting clays, he said.
Hosting the event is part of a broader effort at Pinetucky to encourage more younger Georgians to participate in shooting sports.
“The youth side of this is really coming along strong, on a statewide basis, and growing quickly,” he said, adding that Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources is also working to help create more venues for shooting sports, which can lead to scholarships and other opportunities.
“We started a youth program at Pinetucky about three years ago, realizing that many of our shooters were getting to a higher median age,” Dolan said. “If the youth aren’t shooting, the sport will die.”
DROUGHT LOOMING: Water levels continue to fall at all three Savannah River reservoirs, prompting the Army Corps of Engineers to shift into a stricter flow regime mandated by its drought management plan.
The upper river entered Drought Level 2 on Sept. 19, when Thurmond Lake’s pool fell to 323.97 feet above sea level, tripping new rules required when the lake dips below 324.
Consequently, flows through the dams and into the lower Savannah River will be reduced to slow the decline of the reservoirs. Thurmond Dam’s flows, for example, will be limited to 4,000 cubic feet per second.
Corp officials also warn that boaters should be aware of obstacles that are normally under water.
The Savannah River reservoirs last entered Drought Level 2 in August 2011 and last climbed above Level 2 in March 2013.