Originally created 11/14/97

Chilly air can help fishing, but pose threat to anglers

The first "Arctic Express" bringing 20-degree nighttime temperatures is expected to hit the Augusta area over the weekend. What effect will it have on Thurmond Lake's fishing?

It's likely to have a positive effect after the front has moved on by lowering the water temperature from its present low 60s range into the high to mid-50s. Baitfish like threadfin shad will bunch up in tighter schools and so will game fish like largemouth bass, hybrid bass and striped bass.

The thermocline -- the depth at which game and baitfish find the right mix of oxygen and temperature -- is likely to range from 25 to 35 feet or someplace in between. That will make fish easier to find.

Look for schools of baitfish and game fish gathering at those depths in ditch lines, road beds and culverts and drop a three-quarter-ounce Hopkins Spoon or CC Spoon into their midst. You never know what's going to strike the fluttering spoon.

Largemouth bass also may move into the shallows to feed during the daylight hours, particularly in areas in which weeds are prevalent. The bass are not there now, except in scattered quantities -- one here, one there.

High winds are predicted to accompany the frigid weather and anglers are urged to exercise caution over the weekend.

The writer has a personal rule-of-thumb when it comes to fishing the lake on a windy day: If winds are higher than 15 mph from any quarter, he stays home and reads a good book.

High winds can whip Thurmond Lake into a frenzy, with gusts of 20 mph and more causing waves up to four feet high. Add the chill in the air and conditions can become life-threatening, particularly to those unlucky enough to have their boats swamped.

Historically, some of the drownings recorded on the lake came during periods of high winds and cold temperatures. They occurred when anglers displayed a lack of judgment in trying to go from point A to point B over open water.

  • David and Bonnie Annis got into schooling hybrids Wednesday morning at Red Bank Island up Georgia's Little River and each limited out, with Mrs. Annis catching a 61/2-pound hybrid on a Road Runner (beep-beep!). "Birds were diving and fish were breaking all over the place," her husband said.
  • Hybrids are continuing to school near the mouth of Big Hart Creek around the corner from Red Bank Island. Leon Buffington, Bobby Turner and Jim Sigler caught nine during messy Wednesday afternoon. The fish hit both live herring and The Thing Poppers. Most of the schooling is taking place from 4 p.m. until dark.

  • Kevin Johnson and Kurt Evans of Martinez fished Soap Creek last Friday and found a cove where shad were plentiful and so were largemouth bass. "We were due to catch a limit of bass and we did, fishing ShadRaps. All the bass were in the 2-to-3-pound class."

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