Baab: Jet skiing can be fun if laws are obeyed

Jet skis are fun to ride, especially during the sultry days of summer for those who obey the boating laws of Georgia and South Carolina on Thurmond and other lakes.


Some are even equipped with running lights, but lights or no lights, the law in each state calls for their operators to be off the water between sunset and sunrise; in other words, no jet-skiing after dark.

Most folks obey the law, but some do not, placing themselves and others at risk, especially from other boats legally on the lake at night.

Greg Davis, of Evans, told of one instance of a bass boat operated by a night fisherman friend almost running over a near-invisible jet ski, avoiding a collision by the skin of his teeth. That near mishap could have been fatal for the jet skier and ruined the personal life of the angler.

Ranger First Class Bobby Timmerman of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division’s Law Enforcement Section knows firsthand of such incidents. Recently, he made a case against a jet skier who was on Thurmond Lake after sunset and who was inebriated.

“We have made many cases against folks who jet ski under the influence of alcohol and who are on the lake when it’s against the law,” he said. “For some reason, we have locked up a few more this year than during the previous year.”

The cases are cited as misdemeanors, he said, and fines vary from county to county and according to situations at the scene.

Those charged with BUI (boating under the influence) generally face a hefty fine and loss of boating privileges, he said. “They have to attend a DUI school and pay a reinstatement fee before they can get into a boat or onto a jet ski again.”

A word to the wise: “Don’t do it!”



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 ( – Water temperatures are in the upper 80s and the lake is clear. Right now, the best time for me is about 4 a.m., to about an hour after daylight. That sort of thins down the crowd. But the folks who have been willing to go early have been having a good catch. That means I’m up at 2 and we’re blasting off at 3:30. Charles Griffin and his group from Greenville, S.C., told me it doesn’t get too early for them. They met me at the time I told them, they caught a cooler full of hybrids and stripers and he got back to Greenville in time to go to work. They also enjoyed a fish fry later. I haven’t seen any breaking fish lately, but someone said the fish are breaking above the 378 bridge about 10 a.m., when they are generating. Check with the Corps to be sure of flowing water before going up because that’s the key to schooling fish. All our fish are being caught on live herring fished over 40-foot-deep humps and most have been hybrids.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 831-8756 —- Fish were schooling around the powerlines in Keg Creek and also off a point near Wildwood. I caught bass, small hybrids and stripers. I caught some good bass (5- and 6-pounders) off a flat near Trade Winds Marina. The water has cooled down a bit and the water level is dropping. I fished the Yellow Fellow and the Pop-R, with the former the best lure..

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), (Bradd) (706) 267-4313, (Andrew) (803) 507-5083 – Bradd: Water temperatures have been dropping a bit into the lower 80s, thanks to cooler nights, but now they’re inching back up. It is the time of year when there is a very good hybrid and striper bite, but it is coming later in the morning and more towards midday. Generation at the dam has been later in the day and that seems to be when the fish want to start feeding. They are scattered over the main river channel in very large groups. When you check your graph’s screen, it looks like every fish in the lake is beneath your boat. Hybrids and stripers are holding between 40 to 60 feet of water with a few smaller fish coming through at 25 to 35 feet down. There is still a pretty good bite shortly after daybreak with the fish stacked up along the sides of humps and ledges in 45 to 55 feet of water. The spoon and umbrella rig bites have really turned on during the midday generation. This is a good time of the year for some nice quality fish, which make you work for them a bit, but their size makes up for it. We’re also seeing a very good bream and perch bite in the river below the dam.

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Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807—-Fishing has been very good. I’m catching my fish later in the morning. Now, all this week in roughly 40 feet of water, suspended 20 to 30 feet, and including the big fish. The latter is a challenge to catch. It’s a funny bite. The bait isn’t living more than one to two minutes where I am fishing. I have been seeing quite a few big dead stripers and I don’t know why that is, considering the oxygenation system near Modoc. The fish in the upper lake are feeding on tiny threadfin shad. We’re still catching lots of largemouth bass and catfish. Overall, I am really happy with fishing the way it is.

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Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, John Byars, (706 722-8263) – Taylor Drennen reports a hiatus in the tournaments. “We are taking a break this week to prepare for the final classic, end-of-the-year tournament on Aug. 11.


Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – The inshore bite remains slow, with whiting, redfish, trout and black drum just fair. Spanish mackerel and a few bluefish are filling the coolers just offshore.

Farther offshore, bottom fishing is producing some vermillion, trigger fish, grunts and black sea bass, while grouper fishing is just fair. The blue water around the Gulf Stream is the place for king mackerel.


Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 ( P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 —- Federal waters are closed to cobia fishing, but you can still fish for them in state waters. There have been a few sightings in the sounds and the best news is that if you catch one, you can keep it. The legal size is 33 inches fork length and the bag limit is two fish.

Tarpon fishing has been hit or miss in our area. Fresh-caught menhaden are the best baits.



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