Cracker Jack whistle saved the day for skipper

Charter Capt. Judy Helmey, our Savannah salt water fishing contact, has been charter boat fishing since she was a kid, acting as her father’s “striker” (now called first mate) on numerous offshore trips. After Capt. Sherman Helmey’s passing, she took over.

 

She files two fishing reports – a long one and a short one. At the end of the former, she usually posts a story pulled from her childhood memories of fishing trips with her dad. She thought readers would enjoy this one:

“I was about seven years old. We had been fishing all day and were returning home at a very slow pace. Top speed of my father’s boat, ‘Miss Jerry,’ was about 12 knots, considered fast back then.

“The Coast Guard stopped us and the officers were checking out our mandatory safety gear. I remember the flares and the great shark repellent located in the old ice box. I was snacking on my box of Cracker Jacks, my favorite snack of the day. Everything seemed to be going well, except Daddy couldn’t find the required manual horn. The button I pushed to blow the electric horn didn’t work either.

“You’ve got to have a noisemaker, or you collect a ticket from the little yellow book. I kept eating my Cracker Jacks and finally got to the prize, a whistle. I started blowing it because that’s what kids do.

“I got everyone’s attention, including the Coast Guard inspector’s. He gave ‘Miss Jerry’ a passing grade!”

THURMOND LAKE

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.crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) – Water temperature was 49 degrees and the lake is clear. We are picking up some scattered fish in the shallows, fishing live herring behind planer boards and on free lines. It’s been a mixed bag, stripers, hybrids and some good largemouth. Jim Jones and his son, Ethan, had a good morning last Saturday. They look forward to coming back when the fish really turn on. It was their first experience catching stripers and they are hooked! We’re also catching some white perch on minnows, but they’re not schooling up enough to catch them on jigging spoons.

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). (William) (706) 589-5468, (Bradd) (706) 267-4313, (Andrew) (803) 507-5083 – Bradd Sasser: Conditions on the lake are about the same as they’ve been in recent times, the level nearly eight feet below full pool of 330 feet above sea level. We have been having a great time catching fish (when the winds haven’t been huffing and puffing), taking advantage of a good down line bite and a good trolling bite. Some schools of fish are moving back into the lower lake as schools of bait fish begin doing the same. The bite remains steady (even during the full moon) if inconsistent. The early morning bite has been on down lines, while later we’re switching to planer boards since many fish are showing up in the shallows. The fish we are catching are holding along creek mouths and at the beginning of ditches going into the creeks. Most consistent depths are 20 to 30 feet, with some fish on the bottom and others suspended. Crappie fishing is starting off strong, with nice slabs being caught on live minnows fished from the banks and over brush piles fished from boats. An occasional white perch is being caught, but the best perch fishing is a few weeks down the road.

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MERRY LAND

BRICKYARD PONDS

Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, (706) 722-8263 – There are multiple ponds offering good fishing for largemouth bass, bream and shellcracker, crappies and catfish.

SAVANNAH, GA.

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Sheepshead just love to bite in cold water. They migrate offshore this time of the year. Fishing for them and catching them are two different things because they are notorious bait stealers.

The one thing most fishermen know is that sheepshead like to eat anything that comes wrapped in a shell. Purple- or black-backed fiddler crabs fill that bill. I think it takes about five fiddlers to catch just one sheepshead.

While they are offshore, so long as they can see your bait they will eat it. There is not a specific time when they eat. It could be 24-7. Sometimes if you add a claw to put extra scent in the water. Sheepshead grab, crush and eat the fiddlers, but if something extra is on the hook, they may turn back and grab it. Give it a try.

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