Beginning next Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will minimize releases from Strom Thurmond, Richard B. Russell and Hartwell lakes to accommodate spawning largemouth bass, crappies and bream.
A Corps spokesman said lake levels should not fluctuate more than six inches up or down during the next four to six weeks.
Meanwhile, Thurmond Dam releases will be increased from 15,000 cubic feet per second to 24,000 cubic feet beginning today and lasting through next Monday. Thurmond Lake will be lowered from its current elevation of 331.6 feet to 331 feet.
At the same time, water control gates on the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam will be raised to allow spawning American shad to migrate upstream.
Boaters and fishermen are urged to use extreme caution in the river below Thurmond Dam during that period.
-- Minimum size limits for billfish in the Atlantic have been raised from 86 inches to 96 inches for blue marlin and from 62 to 66 inches for white marlin. Sailfish size limit of 57 inches is unchanged. The new limits were set by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Lengths are measured as lower jaw fork length -- from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork in the tail.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga. (Toye & Sue Hill, 1-706-359-3124) -- Diane and Gary Williams of Dearing, Ga., fishing a ShadRap, caught 14 largemouth bass.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) -- Bill and Ella Strickland of Raysville caught 10 largemouth bass on a Zoom pumpkinseed worm with chartreuse tail, fishing points. Largest bass weighed 3 1/2 to 4 pounds. Derran Kennedy and Jerry Walker of Thomson, fishing with Chip Dollar, caught 48 pounds of largemouth bass and stripers on a ShadRap and Rat-L-Trap. One striped bass weighed 15 pounds, 8 ounces. Biggest largemouth was 9 pounds. W.D. Smith and Sheila Smith caught 20 crappies on 1/64th-ounce hot pink grubs.
New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle and Finley Peel), 1-706-793-8053 -- Shad continue to strike in the river, but fishermen should expect higher water levels from today through Monday so that the shad can migrate upstream. Meanwhile, crickets and worms are producing good catches of bream and redbreast sunfish.
Fishermen are reminded striped bass and hybrid bass cannot be lawfully caught and kept from the river's mouth at Savannah to the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam. The moratorium is in effect until at least the year 2000.
MERRY BROTHERS BRICKYARD PONDS
Bill Gibson 1 (706) 722-2980 -- Faye and Chuck Lundy caught 16 bass (he caught four this time) on plastic worms in the Ditch. Mark Jenkins caught two bass -- biggest 4 pounds -- on a BeetleSpin in the membership pond.
Our Friday night tournaments (6 to 10 p.m.) start today. Entry fee is $20 per person, including big fish pot.
FAYE & JOANN'S LAKES (Formerly Sears Lakes)
(706) 722-8263 -- Eddie Shoemaker caught 20 catfish totaling 40 pounds. Lee Hughes caught a 13-pound channel catfish and five blue catfish: 12, 14 and 15 and two 7 each. William D. Nelson caught three 10-pound catfish and four 2-pound catfish. Gary Norris caught a 3 1/2 -pound catfish and a 4-pound bass. Kenny Green caught 25 catfish on liver. Virginia Green caught 40 catfish weighing 1 1/2 to 2 pounds each. Gary Norris caught a 3 1/2 -pound bass. Jason Roesel caught 25 small catfish, one 10-pounder and five weighing 4 pounds each. Lynn Blackwell caught 13 catfish on chicken liver. James Green caught six bass weighing 4 pounds apiece and six crappies. Chris Brinson caught a 12-pound catfish and two bass totaling 6 pounds. Penny Green caught 25 catfish.
ATLANTIC OCEAN, BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(803)(843)-522-9900 -- Fishermen are reporting fine catches of whiting in all the sounds and inlets. Dual bottom rigs with 1/0 nickel-plated hooks baited with cut shrimp is the favorite setup. As opposed to spottail bass and spotted sea trout which are caught over oyster rakes near the shore in shallow water, whiting frequent deep sandy bottoms where tidal fluctuations are minimal. Croaker are taken in employing similar methods, but smaller hooks are preferred. The sea wall at Beaufort's Waterfront Park is often lined with young anglers trying to outsmart the small, tasty fish.
Spottails continue to show up in the surf, but not in the number we'll experience this summer and fall.
Though offshore fishing remains slow, a party with Capt. Eddie Netherland took three small kings on Tuesday trolling 27 miles out. These are the first of the season. No Spanish mackerel as yet, but a few medium-sized blues are being caught and yellowfin tuna are reported just east of the North Hole.