New oxygen system might become anglers' hot spot

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The news that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has cranked up the oxygen injection system near Modoc on Thurmond Lake has fishermen wondering whether that area is the lake's next hot spot.

It's all part of a plan to pump oxygen into the lake during hot weather times when naturally dissolved oxygen content gets too low to sustain aquatic life, notably striped bass and hybrids. A fish kill involving mostly those species occurred on the lake a couple of years ago.

When a similar system was in operation adjacent to the high clay bluff across from the Scotts Ferry ramp years ago, we used to catch a lot of hybrids and other fish in the vicinity on both live and artificial baits.

The Corps recommends that anglers don't anchor in that area for fear that the underwater units could be damaged. But one can drift and fish live herring on downlines in that area, which ought to be productive.

Not everyone is enthused about the system. "I just hope that 99 and 9/10ths of the fishermen gather in that spot so that I can enjoy the rest of the lake by myself," said charter Capt. Tommy Dudley jokingly.

- Congratulations to Ray Fitzgerald for winning Angler of the Year in District 26 of the American Bass Anglers circuit.

- High winds from Wednesday night's storm scattered all kinds of debris on the lake's surface so anglers and boaters must use caution.

THURMOND LAKE

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) -- Water temperature is 85 degrees and the lake is clear. Fishing has been great despite record-breaking heat. The fish are scattered, but consistency pays off and we have been picking them off one at a time with an occasional double en route to a limit. The thermocline is beginning to develop in the 24-to-30-foot range and we should see the fish starting to school and move out over the river channel a couple of days after the full moon. The moon added to the visual effects as we had a scenic ride up the river at 5:30 a.m., with Ron Worley, his father, Ron, Larry Wendt and grandson, Ben Worley. They caught a cooler full of stripers and hybrids in the 3-to-5-pound range. Kevin Lack brought up some of his fishing buddies, Tommy Tanner, Tyrone Parker and Ron Luton. They also caught a nice cooler full of fish with Tommy landing an 8-pound striper. Heather Fillgrove brought her two sons, Ethan, 8, and Noah, 6. They love to fish, but had never caught stripers. We had to hold onto them to prevent them from being pulled over the side. Reginald Nottage brought in a group of Fort Gordon fish killers. They had a blast, catching a cooler full of stripers and hybrids in the 3-to-5-pound class.

Ralph Barbee, professional guide specializing in hybrids, stripers and bass. (706) 860-7373 -- I fished by myself on Monday morning and caught four bass on the Yellow Fellow. I had not been able to catch bass on any top-water lure. The fish weighed 11 to 21 pounds and were caught within an hour of getting on the water at 6 a.m. After 7:30 a.m., it was over. Then, on Thursday morning, I caught five on the top-water Pop-R along the riprap on the downstream side of Little River causeway. I caught two hybrids on the same plug fished around the corners of the rocks. There is a lot of debris from the storm floating on the surface.

William Sasser's Guide Service, (Capt. William Sasser and Capt. Mark Crawford, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, full time professional guides specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass). (706) 589-5468 (William), (706) 373-8347 (Mark) or (864) 333-2000. (Clark Hill Herring Hut) -- Mark: Cutter Mitchell, Hayes Mitchell, John Mitchell and Brent Marquis, all of Aiken, caught a limit of 3-to-7-pound hybrids and stripers. John, Paula, Emory and Davis Watson, all of Martinez, caught a limit of hybrids and stripers. Ryan and Melissa Tripp and Anthony and April Jordan, all of Aiken, caught a limit of fish. Joel Bryan, of Evans; Bruce Reeves, Augusta; Randall Bryan, Evans; Ronnie Hummel, Evans, and Daniel Clement, Martinez, caught a limit of 2-to-6-pound fish. Chase Richardson, Johnny Dobbs, Matt Dobbs and Michael Hawkinberry, all of Grovetown, landed a limit of 2-to-6-pound fish. Margie Murga Menendez and her children, Alex, Jack and Will, of Missouri, caught 35 fish 2 to 6 pounds. Joe Olliff, Gail Olliff and Guy Daniels, all of Augusta, and Dudley Wall, Atlanta, caught 24 fish 2 to 4 pounds. Bill Hill and Bob Wright, Augusta, and Steve Staley, North Augusta, caught limits 32 to 6 pounds. Chandler Swain, Charles Middleton Jr., and Chris Swain, all of Evans; Cameron Lokey, Augusta; Brian Herrington, Martinez, and Matt Maddox, Grovetown, caught 52 hybrids and stripers 2 to 6 pounds.

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 -- My right thumb is raw from lipping 5-7-pound hybrids, pulling out the hooks, baiting them up and dropping the bait back in. Fishing has been fantastic, with fast downline action, multiple hookups and a few stripers up to 15 pounds. They're schooling well. Some days we've had the depthfinder screen blacked out. Where we're catching them has been a mixed bag from 30 to 70 feet down in primary ditches. Nick Hawlett, Lorie Chaisson, Roderick Phillips, Chris Aumen, all of the Augusta area, had an exciting morning when the fish blacked out the graph and the rods went off. Thirty-minutes later, they'd caught a limit of big slab hybrids and stripers up to 12 pounds. Jerry Smith, Walt Buford, Larry Copeland, Buck Bagwell and Dick Farmer, all of Spartanburg, S.C., had to move three times, picking up a few fish at each spot, but the fourth spot was red hot. We caught lots of big slab hybrids. Bill White, of Texas, and his brother, Richard, from Atlanta, fished with me on their annual trip for two days. Most days were fast action with multiple hookups and big fish.

Bradd Sasser, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000 -- Catfish are being caught on cut bait off the bank in the Modoc and Parksville areas. Bryan Connor and David Fernandez caught a limit of hybrids and stripers downlining herring in front of Scotts Ferry.

SAVANNAH RIVER

NEW SAVANNAH BLUFF LOCK & DAM

Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 798-3252 -- Anthony Caruso caught a 12-pound, 3-ounce striper on a bucktail off the dam. Caine Caruso caught two mullet and a redbreast.

MERRY LAND

BRICKYARD PONDS

Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706 722-8263) -- A carp tournament will be held here July 3. Entry fee is $12. Fishing hours are safe light until 4 p.m.

Chris Kelly and Mike Diles won last Friday's bass tournament with 14.37 pounds. Clarence Gay and Lonnie Pope were second with 9.22 pounds. Robert Pope and Chris Davis were third with 7.75. Big fish was caught by Gene Moyer and Mike Craig with a 4.73-pounder.

Butch Treadway caught an 8.2-pound bass on a Far Free Shad in the King Pond, and six others. Marcus Wells caught 30 good catfish in the Stick Pond on liver. Roger Correll caught 53 bream in the Pollard Pond on worms and Crickets. Bobby Harrell caught a 16-pound carp and three more over 10 pounds. He caught them on dough balls in the Ditch. William O'Neal caught 12 crappies, six over 2 pounds each, on big shiners in the Ditch. He also caught several catfish. Lula Mae Jenkins and Hattie Brown caught 65 bream on crickets and worms in the Pollard Pond. Darrell Rogers caught eight bass, one over 7 pounds, on plastic worms in the Expressway Pond. Bruce Stone caught six bass, two over 5 pounds, in the White Elephant on plastic worms. Wyman Childers caught 15 big catfish in the White Elephant Pond on minnows and worms.

NORTH GEORGIA MOUNTAIN STREAMS

Carter and Hunter Morris, licensed professional guides specializing in fly fishing for rainbow, brook and brown trout. (706) 833-1083 (www.flyfishingnorthgeorgia.com) -- Hunter: Several weeks of hot, dry weather has made it necessary to get out on the rivers and streams fairly early in the morning to beat the heat. The fishing has been surprisingly good, however, as I had trips on the Chattahoochee River in Helen, Ga., on three different mornings that saw us catch a lot of nice trout consistently. Almost all the fish were caught on small flashy nymphs or large stonefly nymphs. Many streams still have a couple of weeks of good fishing, but then it will be time to start fishing tailwaters pretty much exclusively. The Toccoa River neat Blue Ridge, Ga., will yield some good fishing pretty much throughout the summer. Our friends, Walker and Ben, at Rivers and Glen have been catching lots of nice fish in the Saluda River in South Carolina.

SAVANNAH

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 -- Spotted sea trout, redfish and the Savannah Snapper Banks were in the news this past week. Charter Capt. Ray Crawley fished the last two hours of the incoming tide in about six feet of water and caught a few large trout. He was pitching and twitching an ice-colored Strike King jerk bait threaded onto red e-ounce jig heads. The redfish can be found in the marsh grass and folks are catching them on weedless jerk baits or float fishing with live menhaden or mullet.

A trip to the snapper banks netted some nice vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grouper, amberjack, trigger fish and dolphin. Small pieces of cut squid and cut cigar minnows were the baits.


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