Originally created 09/17/99

Much-needed rain never came; lake now full of boating hazards

If there was any disappointment connected to Hurricane Floyd's advance up the coast, it was that this area didn't get any of the rainfall associated with the storm.

Strom Thurmond Lake is nearly six feet below normal pool of 330 feet above mean sea level (324.15 feet as of now). This creates a dangerous situation for anybody in a boat.

Little River, Ga., is one area where shallow areas once beneath five or six feet of water are emerging as dangerous obstacles in boaters' paths.

Fishing boats are equipped with depthfinders and smart operators keep wary eyes open for abrupt depth changes. Pleasure boats aren't usually equipped with such electronic aides and their operators don't necessarily watch where they're going. This can lead to serious problems.

Several years ago, the writer headed his boat up Little River toward the pumping station with his mind's eye on fish when he suddenly found himself some 20 feet up on a sand bar. Happily, there were no hull-damaging stumps or rocks on that one and he was able to get out of the boat and laboriously push it into deeper water. The only damage he sustained was a red face -- from both embarrassment and exertions.

As the water level drops, iron-hard treetops will appear in areas usually devoid of such obstacles, as will stump- and rock-filled clay "humps."

Boaters need to exercise extreme caution until future rainfall pushes the lake back to normal levels.

Cooler temperatures predicted for lows and highs over the next week ought to help lower Thurmond Lake's surface temperatures from the mid-80s to the mid-70s.

Like magic, cooler temperatures will turn on the fish -- both the schoolies and the shoreside types.

The last two Mr. Clark Hill bass tournaments were won on Zara Super Spooks and Zoom Super Flukes cast over long points. Since lake waters are nearly gin-clear, long-distance casts are the norm.

Michael Iaconelli, a 27-year-old rookie pro bass fisherman from Woodbury Heights, N.J., caught a five-bass limit weighing 24 pounds from Lake Champlain on Thursday. He leads the Big Kmart-Bassmaster Top 150 by a 3-pound, 5-ounce margin over Randy Fite of Richards, Texas.

Iaconelli's two-day catch totals 43 pounds, 12 ounces, while Fite's weighs 40 pounds, 7 ounces. Ranmdy Dearman of Onalaska, Texas is next at 38-11.

Other "name" anglers include Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., in sixth at 37-2, Zell Rowland of Montgomery, Texas in seventh at 36-6 and Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., eighth at 36-0.

Stanley Mitchell of Fitzgerald, Ga., is tied with David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., for 10th at 35-12.

The field will be narrowed to the top 10 pros who will compete on Saturday. It will be interesting to see if rain and wind from the remnants of Hurricane Floyd have any effect in the New York-Vermont area.

Phillip Jones and his 12-man state team from Michigan have taken commanding leads in the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society Federation Northern Divisional in Green Bay, Wis.

Jones has a two-day catch of 30 pounds, 12 ounces, with his team total a collective 220 pounds, 2 ounces.

At stake are the nine qualifying positions for next spring's Wrangler/BASS National Championship on Tennessee's Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes.

What will fishing be like during the next millenium?

The Fly Fishing Shop in Welches, Ore., is looking for people with creativity to design a cyber-poster featuring an exotic location and species that could entice futuristic anglers to explore the galaxy in search of the ultimate fly-fishing adventure.

Entries can be computer-generated or hand-created and scanned, but all must be submitted via e-mail by Dec. 15. Rules and a list of prizes can be found at the shop's Web site at www.flyfishUSA.com where winning entries will be on display starting Jan. 1, 2000.

The CSRA Fly Fishing Association will conduct a fly-casting clinic on Saturday at The Clubhouse at Brandon Wilde in Evans. There is no charge, but participants need to bring their own fly rod and reel with line. The clinic will run from 9 a.m. through noon. Directions and more information are available from J.T. Rucker Jr., at 863-7356.


Buddy Edge, professional fishing guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, 803-637-3226. We canceled out because of the weather this week.

Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga. (Toye & Sue Hill, (706) 359-3124) -- Water temperature is still quite warm -- we recorded 84 degrees on the surface. But with predictions of mid-50s at night and 70s during the daytime, we can expect fishing to pick up.

Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373 -- I fished on Monday by myself. I had 17 fish on. Productive lures were a white quarter-ounce Tin Can buzzbait, the Zoom Trick Floating Worm (in both white and fluorescent red). The worms had to be fished a foot under the water. I could not find a fish in the grass. I fished windy points from Grays Creek to Lloyds Creek. Every fish came off the sides of point, fronts of points or backs of points. No fish were on the humps. I had to put a heavy swivel on the floating worm with a foot-long leader. The buzzbait had to be running just under water. I also fished a Tru-Track spinnerbait, white body with white skirt and a No. 5 Colorado gold blade. I boated 10 bass. The biggest fish weighed about 5 or 6 pounds and didn't take the baits like the little ones, just spitting them out, despite my having attached trailer hooks on the buzzbaits and spinnerbaits. I also never caught a fish along the riprap around Little River Bridge.


New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam

Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 -- The river is in good shape. Darnell Ivey and a friend from Thomson caught 60 nice bream and redbellies on Tuesday. Steve Owens and I caught about 25, just piddling along the bank on windy Wednesday. People from Wrightsville, Milledgeville and Sandersville are catching big mullet both down river and at the mouth of Butler Creek.

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.


(706) 722-8263 -- Kenneth McBride caught 11 1/2 - and 9-pound catfish on liver and 14 bream on red worms. Tim Cox caught catfish weighing 2, 4, 5 ,6 and 7 pounds on liver and 15 smaller ones on worms. James Green caught 21 bream on red worms. Carl Smith caught two bass toting 9 3/4 pounds on a Mepps Spinner. Winston Perridgin caught 32 catfish on liver. Johnny Bauserman landed 19 catfish on liver. Robert Bates caught 26 bream on red worms. Rhonda Dubose caught 14 bream on red worms. Erna Smith caught two bass totaling 10 3/4 pounds on a Mepps Spinner and 14 catfish on liver. Kay Powell caught 28 catfish on liver.


Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, (843)-522-9900 -- We had to evacuate under mandatory orders from the governor. I fished the surf on Monday and caught some nice spottail bass on mullet and cut shrimp and lots of black drum on cut shrimp, even though seas were getting rougher at the time. The rest of the week we spent getting prepared to get out. My family and I went to Sylvania, Ga. The weather is beautiful down here now and we'll reopen the store this (Friday) morning.


Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921. Before Floyd: Lots of trout, bass and flounder were hitting live shrimp on the drops of all the creeks. I visited the Back River at Tybee the other night and was astounded by all the surface action in one area, mainly jumping mullet and leaping shrimp. The traditional popping float rig using live shrimp works best. Besides, I love watching the float disappear.

The yellow butterflies are beginning to show up, a sure sign king mackerel have arrived.

It's best to wait a few days to allow the storm surge to subside and things to get back to normal. I'm going to wait until Sunday before I go out. Give me a ring for more information.


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