Striped bass and hybrids are moving into the backs of creeks on Strom Thurmond Lake, with fishermen casting pearl Zoom Super Flukes on bare hook rigs having a ball.
Thread the fluke onto a 3/0 or 4/0 worm hook equipped with barbs and have the point emerge in the middle of the lure's back so the hook shank is covered with fluke. Push the lure over the hook's eye and knot.
Tie the hook to a three-foot-long leader of the same pound test as the line on your reel and tie the leader to a barrel swivel. This helps minimize line twist.
Cast the rig into the shallows and "twitch" your rod tip so that the lure zigs and zags on the retrieve. The fish will either hit it on the zig or on the zag. Strike back and have fun.
Querin Hurlik had a grand time last weekend, catching a 33-pound striped bass while free-lining live herring on 10-pound-test line in the "Bait Cove" on Thurmond Lake, according to his friend, Bob Pitt.
Bonnie Annis caught two white bass on a Gotcha bait (paddle-tailed soft shad body on lead-head jig). David Annis caught a 10-pound hybrid and Bonnie landed a 5-pounder on weightless flukes. The last came off a point opposite West Dam Overlook on the Georgia side of the dam from 5:15 p.m., until dark on Wednesday. "The fish didn't school -- we just cast the flukes and they were there," said Bonnie Annis, who had two fish break off.
Anglers feel that a stretch of nights with air temperatures in the 40s and 50s are all that's needed to really turn on the fish at the lake. Maybe next week.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Buddy Edge, professional fishing guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, (803) 637-3226. My buddy, Buddy McCracken of Greenwood, fished with me last Saturday. We caught 15 fish, keeping 10 out of the catch of 3 to 5 pounds. We missed a lot of fish by not paying attention. The hybrids are schooling along the riprap on the Georgia side of the dam, with most anglers freelining live herring.
Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga., Toye & Sue Hill, (706) 359-3124 -- Crappie fishing has been excellent, although we're not seeing a lot of fishermen. Successful fishermen search for schools of the fish. Harry Embry of Augusta caught 25 fish on Wednesday, fishing minnows over shallow brush 10 to 12 feet deep. Danny Monday of Augusta and Elizabeth and David Duffy caught 46 crappies last Saturday. Bass are being caught in the shallows and it's easy to catch a limit, according to Claude Butler of McCormick. He's fishing with green Finesse worms. Jerry Osborne of Greenville, S.C., says he can catch a limit of small bass around the banks anytime. He's been fishing the pig and jig in eight to 16 feet, just on dropoffs. He's averaging four to six bass over 4 pounds.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga., Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, (706) 595-5582 -- Danny Norris of Hartsville, S.C., limited out on crappie on Feb. 24 and caught 29 the next day. He fished jigs in Germany Creek in eight feet of water, with the best bite in early morning. Chris Moon of Augusta caught three stripers, including a 10-pounder, and seven small crappies. He was fishing in Germany Creek with Hal-Flies tipped with minnows. Josh Stephens of Thomson, fishing with his dad, Jimmy, caught a 6-pound largemouth bass on a jerk bait. Jerry Walker and Bobby Knox of Thomson caught 36 crappies trolling with jigs tipped with small minnows on the Raysville area. Leon Buffington of Thomson caught 25 crappies using an orange jig. Tom Sellers of Macon, Ga., fishing around the pumping station on Little River, caught a 16 1/4 -pound striped bass. He was fishing three feet deep with a Hal-Fly on 4-pound-test line.
David Willard, Little River Marina, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers. (803) 637-6379 -- I found some 60-degree water temperatures this week and it looks as though I'll be back to "work" a month early. I have my first charter of the 2000 season this weekend. I've been doing some scouting and caught a variety of fish from catfish and largemouths in the shallows to hybrids and stripers 45 to 60 feet deep in front of the dam. The trick this time of the year is catching them in the same place two days in a row. I fished the Georgia Flats across from Parksville and all I could catch was catfish.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373: Last Monday, James DeHart of Martinez fished with me. We caught seven bass -- he caught all the big ones, including bass weighing 6' and 5 pounds. He lost the biggest bass of his life, an estimated 9-pounder, when the bass plunged beneath the boat and snagged the line on the outboard motor. All came on the Little Earl crank bait in the GGG finish cast in pockets and along points in Grays Creek and Lloyds Creek. Paschal Owen of Martinez fished with me on Tuesday. We caught 10 bass on the same plug, with Paschal catching a 4-pounder. We caught them in Cherokee and Moseley creeks in pockets along grass patches. He lost one of about 6 pounds later in the day. The bass were not hitting on the straight retrieve. Reel it in slowly and stop it -- the bass will just nip it when it starts again. Water temperature is still on the coolish side in the high 50s. I fished by myself this morning and caught bass in the back of the Fort Gordon cove. The bass were schooling behind the power lines and hit the GGG Little Earl on a stop-and-go retrieve. The bass are sluggish so a slower retrieve is necessary.
New Savannah Bluff
Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 -- Mac Peeler of Wrens, Ga., and Gene Clements of Thomson, Ga., caught 85 mullet on Thursday at the mouth of Butler Creek. They caught 15 on Wednesday. The fish hit bits of red worms. Steve Owens limited out on shad on Wednesday and Thursday. Gil Smith caught 15 bream and shellcrackers down river on red worms and Andrew Wilcox caught a pair of 12-pound blue catfish and one 5-pounder on cut shad off the dam. Robert Piazzi and Celeste Piazzi caught three big bream, a 4-pound catfish, a 1'-pound largemouth and a 6-pound hybrid bass, which they released. They also caught two big redhorse suckers and three big shellcrackers. Successful shad fishermen are using multi-hook Piscator (Sabiki) rigs.
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 2001.
Bill Gibson (706) 722-2980 -- Linda and Orrin Fennell caught a 10-pound bass on a plastic lizard in the Warren Pond. Actually, Orrin caught the fish. James and Cheryl Griggs have been catching lots of crappies and bass in the membership ponds. Tony Grier caught 10 bass in the membership pond on plastic worms last Sunday morning. Mike Mooney has been on leave from the service and since last Friday through Wednesday, he's caught 63 bass in different ponds. He's fishing the pig and jig, plastic worm and spinnerbait. He caught 24 more in the membership pond today (Thursday). Gene Kirkland has been catching crappies on jigs, casting from the membership pond's banks. Guy and Jeanne Scoggins were fishing in the White Elephant pond. The wind blew the boat against the bank and Guy shoved a paddle down to push them off. A 4'-pound bass jumped into their boat. Guy threw a net over the fish, but Jeanne claims she "caught" it.
(706) 722-8263 -- Our lake was freshly stocked with 3,000 channel catfish on Thursday. Chris Moore caught 20 catfish weighing 38 pounds on worms. Mike Miller caught two bass totaling 10' pounds on a Mepps Spinner. Willie Brown caught 14 crappies on small minnows. Mike Knightly landed an 8' and 10-pound catfish and 12 smaller ones on liver. Teresa Prather caught 12 crappies on small minnows and an 8'-pound catfish on liver. Bobby Boone caught 27 crappies on small minnows. Eleanor Turner caught a 4'-pound bass on a spinnerbait and 16 crappies on small minnows. Willie Lee Brown caught catfish weighing 9 3/4 and 8' pounds on herring and 12 crappies on small minnows. Carl Smith landed bass weighing 7' and 4' pounds on a Mepps Spinner. Erna Bauserman caught 18 crappies on small minnows.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, (843) 522-9900 -- Mild weather allowed bottom-fishing boats offshore. One party caught their limit of black sea bass averaging 3 pounds, along with several groupers and red snappers, one of the latter measuring 24 inches. All were caught in 110 feet of water in the North Hole area, using squid. Another group fishing with Wally Phinney returned from 15 miles out at the Betsy Ross Reef with a limit of black sea bass, several spottail bass and sheepshead. Medium 3-to-5-pound black drum are being caught at most near-shore wrecks and artificial reefs. More and more sheepshead anglers are switching from using single hooks to Nos. 2 and 4 extra-strong trebles. Each point is baited with a fiddler crab. Sheepshead are notorious bait-stealers and this technique gives the angler three chances at catching the same fish. We weighed in an 11-pound, 2-ounce sheepshead caught using that setup. The only minor drawback is that treble hooks snag more frequently on pilings. Inshore charter captains continue to report good catches of spottails, but only moderate landings of speckled trout. Dogfish are beginning to show up in the sounds and cobia can't be far away.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921. Speckled trout and spottail bass are still attacking plastic grubs with gusto, but live shrimp remain the No. 1 bait. This time of year with the water still cool, cast the grubs and let them sink, but keep them moving. Adjust your float and let live shrimp hang 12 to 18 inches off the bottom for best results. It's a guessing game, but the fish are out there. You have to move more to catch more.
Offshore, the artificial reefs continue to hold a host of bottom fish. Fishing should continue to be good until water temperatures rise more than 75 degrees. A few spiny dogfish (sharks) are being caught in artificial and live bottom areas. These three-to-four-foot fish are members of the shark family that has cusps, not teeth. I have nicknamed them the "Grandpa Fish." They don't bite, but they may gum you to death. Before picking up the shark, check for spines that may or may not be around the dorsal fin and tail areas. There are two species that visit us -- the spiny and the smooth.
The Savannah Snapper Banks continue to be active with large black sea bass, vermilion, porgy, red snapper, flounder and occasional large grouper present in 95 to 105 feet of water.
Reach Bill Babb at (706) 823-3304.