Augustan Billy Murphy and his son, Jim, were about to tie up their boat to a nearly submerged tree in the middle of Cliett Creek and try for crappies last Saturday when Jim spotted a commotion in the water next to Mistletoe State Park's campground.
"Daddy, those are hybrids!" And so they were.
"We probably got on 'em late -- this was about 2:30 p.m. -- and we chased 'em all the way to the flat near the creek mouth before they disappeared into deep water," the elder Murphy said.
"They were hitting the baitfish pretty good and we wound up with four nice fish."
One of Murphy's friends got into another school late Wednesday, Nov. 18, in the mouth of Grays Creek near the shallow water markers on the right side.
All of this goes to prove that hybrids are slowly making their way up Little River toward Rousseau and Germany creeks and beyond. By this time next week, hybrid fishing ought to be excellent from Raysville Bridge up Hart Creek and Little River. The Holiday Park and Washington-Wilkes pumping station areas up Little River ought to be productive.
A longtime Central Florida angler died last Saturday when his boat collided with another during an amateur fishing tournament on Lake Tohopekaliga near Kissimmee, Fla.
Robert Becton, 71, of Orlando had just left the Kissimmee Boat Basin about 6:30 a.m. when he collided with a boat driven by Richard Charles Lange, 51, of St. Cloud, according to the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.
Becton was killed instantly, and Lange was ejected from his boat and picked up by a nearby boater. He was released after treatment at Osceola Regional Medical Center. There were no passengers in either boat.
Witnesses said the running lights, used so boaters can see other vessels in the dark, were working on both boats. It's estimated the boats were traveling between 40 mph and 60 mph when they collided.
Becton was a member of the Orlando Bass Anglers Sportsman Society chapter, where on several occasions he captured top honors for his fishing. He also was a veteran of the BASS national tournament trail.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Jim Ware, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and striped bass, Plum Branch Yacht Club, Plum Branch, S.C. (1 (864) 443-5399) -- Last Saturday, Andy Robinson, Tom Terry and Earl Watson of the Anderson, S.C., area fished with me. We wound up with a good catch. We fished live bait 24 to 30 feet down in 40 to 60 feet of water. We had to show lots of patience. Andy and Sonya Shrimplin of Sarasota, Fla., fished with me on Monday. We had a lot of hits right off the bat, then it slowed, but we wound up with a good catch. All these fish were 5 pounds or less.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) -- Crappie are still biting in our fish house and elsewhere. Small hybrids are being caught around Red Bank, but nothing of any size. Thomas Casteel caught an 8-pound catfish on live herring while fishing for hybrids and striped bass.
David Willard, Little River Marina, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers. (1 (803) 637-6379) -- This is the week to be thankful and I have to say I'm very thankful for this lake and the people I've been fortunate to meet over the last 15 years. A typical example was Bob Keller and Joe Stutts, both of Aiken, who fished with me Monday morning. Bob is the only guy that eats lower on the food chain than I do -- he brought the caribou tongue sandwiches a few weeks back -- so when he offers me something to eat, I tend to be suspicious. They had a great morning -- again cloudy with a light chop. I marked some fish and bait on a 48-foot hump and I couldn't get all the rods out. We boated 30 fish in the 2 1/2 -to-5-pound class in a couple of hours and we must've had 60 hits.
SAVANNAH RIVERNew Savannah BluffLock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle and Finley Peel), 1-706-793-8053 -- Yellow perch are being caught off the platform on live small shiners. Bream and crappies are being caught both above the dam and below.
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 BROTHERSBRICKYARD PONDS
Bill Gibson 1 (706) 722-2980 -- Sam Norman and Fred Norman, Steve Kelly and Joe Kelly, Shirley Lewis and Raymond Gilliard have all been tearing up the crappies, fishing small shiners or artificial lime-green curly-tailed jigs in the Front Ditch from the bank. They're fishing about 2 1/2 feet deep, throwing the lures next to lily pads and slowly retrieving them. Biggest crappie to date is 3 1/4 pounds.
FAY & JOANN'S LAKES(Formerly Sears Lakes)
(706) 722-8263 -- Mickey Burley caught 24 crappies and Charles Burley caught 18 crappies. James Sims caught catfish weighing 12 pounds, 8 1/2 pounds and 20 others a pound or better on chicken liver. Mike Knightly caught catfish weighing 10 and 13 1/2 pounds on large minnows. Nancy Moore caught 21 crappies on small minnows. Willie Williams caught 36 crappies on small minnows. Fay Stringfellow landed 16 crappies on small minnows and 12 catfish a pound or better on liver. Eleanor Turner caught 21 catfish a pound or better on liver. Tris Rosin caught 14 crappies on small minnows and eight catfish a pound or better on liver. Gene Rosin caught 26 crappies on small minnows. Ron Heineman caught a 12 1/2 -pound catfish on liver and 18 crappies on small minnows.
ATLANTIC OCEANBEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITYIncludes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 -- The gigging season for speckled sea trout and spottail bass will end at midnight on Dec. 1. There is no closed season for flounder. Same size and catch limit regulations apply to gigging as to hook and line fishing. Recent calm winds and clear water have combined to produce excellent gigging results.
Speckled trout landings remain extremely encouraging, with limit catches reported being reported from just about all areas. Inshore, spottail populations are holding up well, but they are scarce in the surf. Whiting are plentiful at all inlets and in the surf. Water temperature is 65 degrees and slowly falling.
Offshore, king mackerel continue to be taken, particularly trolling and live-lining around the Betsy Ross wreck and artificial reefs, and to a lesser extent at the North Hole.
Bill Babb covers the outdoors for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at 1 (706) 823-3304.