If thunder is rumbling, it's time to seek shelter

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I try to never knock the rain, having experienced long periods of drought and low levels over the more than 50 years I've been fishing on Thurmond Lake.

This time of the year, thunderstorms are more prevalent than plain old sod-soakers, especially in the afternoons. Thunder isn't the problem -- it's those bolts from the blue that precede it.

Seems to me lightning strikes -- some fatal -- have been in the news more often and that gives me the opportunity to do some preaching.

If you're fishing, or swimming, or jet-skiing, or boating on the lake and rumbles of thunder can be heard in the distance, it's time to seek shelter. The very best place is inside your car or truck. The very worst is beneath trees.

I've sat out thunderstorms in my boat beneath a covered boat dock. Covered picnic shelters or even better, comfort stations also offer safe havens.

Lightning can strike from miles away. The storm doesn't have to be over your head. Storms can move quickly into an area, so it's best to crank up the boat motor and seek shelter the moment thunder is heard.

- Here's wishing a speedy recovery to Ralph Barbee Jr., of Evans, who has been ill.


Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 (www.crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) -- Fishing has been good this week. Surface schooling action has been great, but most of the larger fish are still hanging in the air-conditioned part of the lake known as the thermocline. They're feeding on threadfin shad right now and moving fast. The thermocline is running about 27 to 35 feet. Hammond West and Bettis Hammond fished with Garrett "The Bull" Hammond. Twelve-year-old Garrett, who wears a smile on his face the whole time he's on the lake, caught the first, the biggest and the most, as usual. Mark Barinowski, his brother, Glenn, and Richard Daniel had dominion over the fish, catching a cooler full of stripers and hybrids on an early morning trip. Humidity has been terrible and everybody is glad to get off the lake by 9:30 or 10 o'clock.

Capt. William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass. (706) 589-5468 or (864) 333-2000 -- Leslie Gantt, Austin Lancaster, Bob King, Ted Gantt, all of Aiken, enjoyed a morning of striper-hybrid fishing and caught 36 fish. They fished live herring 30 feet down on the bottom. Check out my Web site at www.williamsasserfishing.com.

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 -- Fishing has still been good, especially for the time of the year. I've caught good fish 25 to 30 feet below the smaller breaking fish. The better fish are 3- to 6-pound hybrids. Jack Cotton, of Lincolnton, Ga., and friends Ricky, Lucia and Kyle had a great first-time experience, keeping 35 nice chunky hybrids. Mr. Rice and sons Donald and Ham, from Spartanburg, S.C., had a real fast morning smoking down-rod fish and catching a 30-fish limit. Visit www.fishlakethurmond.com.

Capt. Mark Crawford, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 373-8347 or (864) 333-2000 -- Jason Cunningham, of Augusta, and Jonathan Harvey, of Augusta, caught a limit of small hybrids and stripers.



Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle, Billy Hambrick), (706) 798-3252 -- Andrew White caught some crappies on pinks upriver. Aaron and Jerry Skinner caught 25 catfish and a 6-pound striper on catalpa worms and cut bait. Russell Payton says everything is hitting on catalpa worms. The store doesn't sell them and advises anglers to look for the trees and grab the worms.



Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) -- J.C. Dicks' 7.33-pound bass is the current Big Fish of the Month. Gene Moyer and Mike Craig won last week's bass tournament with 8.51 pounds and the big fish of 4.35 pounds. Our bass tournaments run from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. each Friday. Entry fee is $20.


Carter and Hunter Morris, licensed professional guides specializing in rainbow, brook and brown trout. (706) 833-1083 www.flyfishingnorthgeorgia.com -- Carter: We took two small stream trips last week. One was great and the other slow. On the first trip, we hiked into a high altitude north-flowing stream that almost never gets fished because access is difficult. We caught some of the biggest wild brook trout in Georgia in dry flies. We also found a big timber rattler, a yellow jacket nest and two black bears. Lots of excitement, beautiful scenery and great fishing. Browns begin to spawn in the fall and they become aggressive and will attack a well-placed dry fly that kooks like a big fat grasshopper.



Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 -- The water is hot, temperature-wise, and so is the fishing. Redfish and trout are tearing it up inshore, while bluefish and Spanish mackerel are schooling just offshore. Fishing is just fair for spadefish, but some nice kings are being caught offshore. Wahoo and dolphin have slowed. Bottom fishing around artificial reefs is producing nice catches of trigger fish, black sea bass and vermilion.

Meanwhile, the 20th Fripp Island Kingfish Tournament will highlight the Labor Day weekend. Awards and prizes include $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second for kings; $750 for the winning Spanish mackerel and $550 for second place. For more information, call Fripp Island Marina at (843) 838-1517.

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