Originally created 12/03/99

Winter fishing can be exciting on Thurmond Lake



Arrival of cool weather signals the start of some of the best fishing imaginable on Strom Thurmond Lake.

Surface schools of hybrids and striped bass can be found by watching the antics of flocks of terns and gulls, as was the case on Wednesday below Holiday Park in the Wilkes County, Ga., section of Little River.

About 50 sea gulls were hovering over a wide area of the river in depths that did not succeed 15 feet. Dropping a CC Spoon to the bottom and then yo-yoing it up and down hooked a variety of fish ranging from white perch to largemouth bass.

The writer hooked and landed a black bass he estimated to weigh 9 to 10 pounds as Raysville guide Bobby Turner watched from his pontoon boat nearby. The fish was released unharmed to grow bigger.

The white perch ranged mostly smallish in size with some hitting the three-quarter-pound mark. Small white bass and smaller hybrids completed the picture.

Spoon-jigging will get even better as temperatures fall.

Upper Little River from Germany Creek to the Holiday Park area (No. 1 on the hotspots map) usually is excellent this time of year and again in early spring. Water condition is mostly murky, but it can quickly become clay-red after a rain.

Fishermen must remember that the lake is nearly eight feet down and drive their boats cautiously. The visible iron-hard tree stumps aren't the problem in upper Little River -- the ones you can't see can rip a hole in your boat hull, or damage your outboard's lower unit.

Meanwhile, Kemp Creek (No. 2 on the map) is producing some schooling hybrids in an on-again, off-again situation: one day they're there, another day they're not. Keep reading.

George Cochran of Hot Springs, Ark., caught five bass weighing 12 pounds, 2 ounces on Thursday to take the lead in the $213,000 BASSMASTER Eastern Invitational on Alabama's Lake Logan Martin.

Jimmy Millsaps of Canton, Ga., is second with five fish and 10 pounds, 9 ounces and Carl Maxfield of Summerville, S.C., is third with 10 pounds.

Royce Railey of Thomson, Ga., is tied for 15th with five bass and 8 pounds. Danny Kirk of Bartow, Ga., is tied for 97th with four bass and 5 pounds. Jordan Dozier of Thomson had a bad day and did not weigh in a fish.

Bonnie and David Annis marked all kinds of fish around Horseshoe Island early Wednesday afternoon, but it was too windy for them to maneuver their boat. So they went back to Kemp Creek where they'd caught fish the week before.

They caught 14 hybrids, six over 5 pounds -- eight on live bait and six of them while schooling from 4 p.m. to dark. They fished jigging spoons and Zoom's Super Fluke in the Smokin' Shad color.

"We got 'em when the birds were diving, but not when the fish were breaking," David Annis said.

Kemp Creek is located on the Georgia side across from Dordon Creek.

Basics of salt water fishing is the subject of the final Just Angling Seminar of the year on Dec. 11 at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. The session starts at 10 a.m., and lasts until 4.

Pier, surf, inlet and small-boat fishing, inshore and offshore, will be emphasized, with a cast-net-throwing demonstration. Capt. Chip Berry, innovator of the Maps Unique fishing maps, will cover the use of LORAN and Global Positioning System (GPS) maps to find inshore and offshore fishing maps.

Don Millus, author of Fishing the Southeast Coast, will demonstrate light tackle fishing with live bait and artificial lures for spottail bass, spotted sea trout, Spanish and king mackerel.

Cost is $30 for adults, $10 for students under 21. Reservations are mandatory and can be made by calling (843) 248-2845.

Steve DeBord's father, Ralph, visiting from Ashland, Ky., decided to join his son in fishing the Saturday Morning Open Team Tournament last week. The elder DeBord caught a 4-pound, 2-ounce "kicker" fish that helped them win the event by four ounces.

Check out the adventures of Roy Overton in the Merry Brothers Brickyard Ponds report below. No, he did not catch over the limit. Bill Gibson, the ponds' lessee, holds a special license from the Georgia DNR that allows people to catch all the fish they want.

STROM THURMOND LAKE

Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga., Toye & Sue Hill, (706) 359-3124 -- Jim and Lynn Griffin of Lancaster, S.C., fishing with Henry Staples of Lincolnton. They limited out on hybrids and stripers last Friday. Biggest fish was a 9-pound striper. They fished live herring 30 feet down on the main (Savannah River) channel. Sharon and Daniel Frohberg of McDonough, Ga., caught 12 real nice hybrids and stripers weighing from 3 to 7 pounds. Alec Willingham and Bob Guillebeau, both of Lincolnton, caught 15 to 20 real nice crappies in the three-quarters of a pound range on minnows. David and Elizabeth Duffy and Danny Mondy, all of Augusta, fished minnows mostly under the bridges (220 and 378) caught 32 crappies. They fished about 15 feet down in 20 feet of water.

Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga., Doug Pentecost and Leon Buffington (706) 595-5582 -- John Whitten of Grovetown caught 20 crappies and a 2-pound catfish in our fish house on small minnows. Largest crappie weighed 1 3/4 pounds. Jeffrey Pitchford of Grovetown caught seven hybrids 3 to 5 pounds and one catfish 25 pounds on herring. Mike Berry of Thomson, fishing with Bobby Turner, caught a limit of hybrids. They found them schooling and caught them on mid-sized Lil' Fishies about an hour before dark.

MERRY BROTHERS BRICKYARD PONDS

Bill Gibson 1 (706) 722-2980 -- Herman Kietzman and Rick Asplaugh caught 24 crappies on minnows in the White Elephant Pond. Bobby Herron and Larry Chambers caught more than 100 crappies in the sloughs of the Front Ditch. Roy Overton caught 55 crappies, six bass and 93 bream on Friday, all on Roostertails; 172 fish on Saturday on Roostertails, BeetleSpins and crappie jigs, and more than 100 crappies on Sunday, mostly on minnows. All came out of the sloughs of the Front Ditch. My brother, Jim, and I went out on Tuesday and caught 59 crappies -- he used jigs, I used minnows. He caught more than I did, but mine were bigger. Mike Murchinson caught a 2 1/2 -pound bass from the bank, fishing minnows in the Front Ditch.

SEARS' LAKES

(706) 722-8263 -- Bob Best caught 12 crappies, Mickey Burley caught 25, Billy Gay landed 18, Albert Prescott 21 and Chuck Miller 14, all fishing with small minnows. Tim Cox caught six catfish totaling 20 pounds and a 39-pound channel catfish on blueback herring. Willie Williams caught catfish weighing 12 1/2 and 10 pounds on liver and 10 crappies on minnows. Mike Miller caught a 21-pound catfish on cut bait and 28 crappies on minnows.

ATLANTIC OCEANBEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier

Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, (843)-522-9900 -- Last week, we experienced the most extreme tides of the year. The average difference between high and low is about 6 1/2 feet, but last week it was more than 10 feet. Fishing opportunities were severely curtailed. Water clarity was at its worst. Despite the difficulties, some anglers caught speckled trout at slack low tide and spottail bass over submerged marsh grass at slack high. This weekend, tides return to normal. Offshore, kings are being taken trolling Drone spoons and live-lining small fish. One 60-foot boat fishing 60 miles off Hilton Head found large schools of baitfish and caught yellow fin tuna, a wahoo, several dolphin and kings. Water temperatures at launch sites are in the low 60s, so it's time to break out the hip waders. Safety-minded anglers remove waders while in the boat because it's almost impossible to remove them if you fall overboard.

SAVANNAH AREA

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921. Inshore fishing remains great, with live shrimp fished beneath the traditional popping float still the best bait for trout and bass.

Near-shore artificial reefs are holding lots of bottom-feeding species like black sea bass, croakers, summer trout, black drum, sheepshead, bluefish and spottail bass. Cut fish, squid and dead shrimp, while fiddler crabs remain the No. 1 baits for sheepshead.

King mackerel are out there and you can catch them on just about anything, including empty beer cans. I didn't see this, but was told about a party trolling the empty cans behind the boat and getting strikes.

Reach Bill Babb at (706) 823-3304