Bluegill have joined their red-ear sunfish (shellcracker) cousins on their first spawning trips of the year on Strom Thurmond Lake.
Look for reruns just before, during and after the full moon phases in June and July, too.
The lake is so clear and low (about three feet down at 327.1) that bream beds are easy to spot.
David and Bonnie Annis have a favorite technique and that's to ease their boat down a bank and cast Louisiana pin worms into the shallows. If a bream is there, he (or she) will gobble up the worm.
The Trenton, S.C., couple was doing just that on Wednesday near Bass Alley when they heard a commotion behind their boat and glanced back in time to see baitfish jumping out of the water trying to escape the jaws of a big fish. David heaved a Zara Spook and hooked and landed a 3-pound hybrid. Bonnie cast a Spook and had another fish play volleyball with it, but was never hooked.
Bonnie outfished David on the bluegill pattern, catching the bulk of 30 nice ones.
The Georgia Christian Bass Association has added a Youth Division to its weekend bass tournaments, with Taylor Battles winning the first one. Youth programs are mandatory for clubs affiliated with the Georgia BASS Chapter Federation.
The Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, which begins operation in 2001, has taken over the title sponsorship of the nation's largest bass fishing tournament series for weekend angler -- the 119-event Red Man Tournament Trail, according to Irwin L. Jacobs, chairman of Operation Bass.
Red Man, a brand of Swedish Match, became the title sponsor of Operation Bass' popular tournament series -- dubbed the working man's tournament trail, in 1983. It is widely credited with opening competitive bass fishing to the masses with low entry fee, close-to-home weekend tournaments.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Buddy Edge, professional fishing guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, (803) 637-3226. Austin Pruitt of Washington, Ga., Norm Herbie of Anderson, S.C., caught eight fish from 5 to 16 pounds, fishing with me last Friday. All the fish were stripers and came from 7 to 24 feet. I took out Carl Jennard of Greenwood, S.C., and his two sons, but we caught only six fish weighing 3 to 8 pounds last Saturday.
Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga. (Toye & Sue Hill, (706) 359-3124 -- Most people fish from daybreak until it gets hot and it's like somebody has turned off the faucet -- the fish quit biting and the fishermen go home. It picks up again about 6 p.n., until dark. Ron and Frances Clark of Piedmont, S.C., have been bass fishing. He caught a 7-pound, 4-ounce bass on a Zoom plastic worm. Adam and Johnny Terry from Greer, S.C., went striper fishing with shad and herring, catching a limit. Biggest was 12 pounds, 3 ounces. Ed Phillips of Royston, Ga., caught a 5-pound catfish and 12 crappies while fishing shiners. Everett and June McIntyre of Atlanta have been averaging 10 to 15 good-sized crappies per day.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga., Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, (706) 595-5582 -- Rebba and Earl Thigpen and Gregory and Sherrie Sharpless, friends from Evans, caught 264 shellcrackers over a seven-day period in Grays Creek on pink worms. Keith Hawkins and Cary Cranford caught 129 shellcrackers on a two-day fishing trip. They caught 58 on the first day and 71 on the second on hybrid red worms. Shellcrackers weighed between three-quarters to 1 3/4 pounds each. Dave Ridgeway of Thomson caught an 11'-pound striper on live herring suspended beneath a balloon. Helen Dorsey of Harlem caught 25 crappies. Largest weighed 2 pounds and came from our fish house on small minnows.
David Willard, Little River Marina, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers. (803) 637-6379 -- Fishing hit its spring peak this past week as far as I am concerned. The largemouths are off the beds and almost jumping in the boat and the stripers and hybrids really turned on. I rally enjoyed fishing with the following: Mike and Dee Stratton of St. Louis, Debbie Sutton from Atlanta and Jimmy Lea from Augusta. They were with me for several trips. All were the guests of Dr. Roy Altman and Buckeye Lure Company. Bob Heisman of Augusta and friend Pee Wee Halterman from Virginia fished with me on Wednesday and Skip Arend't and Charles McDaniel from Fayetteville, Ga., fished with me on Thursday. Most days, it was a blood bath, with huge hybrids (6 to 8 pounds), largemouths to 7' (we threw back 3- and 4-pounders), catfish both channel and flathead in the 6-to-8-pound class and stripers up to 18 pounds. Big fish went to Charles McDaniel. Several mornings when the dust cleared, we were down to one or two rods that were still operational.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373: I fished by myself on Monday and did not catch a fish, throwing everything. I went with Pascal Owens on Tuesday and I caught a bass and he caught a bass, both on the small side. We threw the Super Fluke Super Spook, Pop-R and others. Owens caught his on a Roostertail and mine hit a jerk-bait. Paul Davis of Channel 12 showed up at 9:15 a.m., on Wednesday -- early for him -- and I'd caught a 7-pound bass. I told him to focus the camera on the next spot I cast to and a 6-pounder nailed it. He caught the first jump, but the bass spit out the buzzbait on the second. That was it. I never had another strike the rest of the violently windy day.
New Savannah Bluff
Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 -- John Morris and Mack Peeler of Wrens caught close to 300 mullet on two fishing trips this week. Tannie Zeigler of Wrens also caught some mullet. Steve Owens caught some nice stripers off the dam, releasing them. Shad are still being caught off the dam. The wooden fishing dock that's been under repair is now open for business.
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 -- David and Alania Geter caught a 6-pound, 7-ounce bass in the Back Ditch on a white spinnerbait. David Scott has been catching lots of bream in the Back Ditch, fishing from the bank -- way too many to count.
Jay and Joe Dilorenzo caught heavy stringer of 8 pounds, 8 ounces and Tony Greer and James Free weighed in the big fish of 6 pounds, 7 ounces in last Friday's tournament. Sixteen fishermen competed and caught a total of 14 bass.
Bass tournament hours are 6 p.m., to 10 p.m., each Friday and entry fee is $20 per person. Check out our Web site: www.merrybrothers.com.
(706) 722-8263 -- Johnny Bauserman caught 19 catfish on liver. Erna Bauserman caught 15 catfish on liver. Honey Sears caught eight catfish on liver and worms. Cliff Millner caught 28 catfish on shrimp. Tim Cox caught 10', 9 and 8 3/4 -pound catfish on shrimp. Christy Price caught 18 catfish totaling 41 pounds on shrimp. Johnny Coffee caught 30 catfish totaling 74' pounds on worms. John Kim caught 16 catfish weighing 37 pounds. Jonny Mosley caught eight catfish toting 26 pounds. Frank Legrand caught three 8-pound catfish on shrimp. Tommy Harman caught 10 small catfish on worms. Jeremy Risinger caught six catfish weighing 3 to 7 pounds. Donnie Skinner caught eight bass weighing 2 to 4 pounds on plastic worms. Mark Albright Jr., caught a 4 3/4 -pound catfish on shrimp and Jennifer Albright caught a 2 3/4 -pounder. Becky Racioppo caught a 14 3/4 -pound catfish and 16 smaller ones on liver and nightcrawlers. Jason Holland caught a 6-pound bass on a red spinnerbait. Dexter Smith and Darrell Smith caught eight catfish on chicken liver.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, (843)-522-9900 -- Last Saturday, 52 boats were counted at the Broad River, Highway 170 bridge, their occupants fishing for cobia. Four cobia were landed by fishermen in one boat in less than an hour.
Charter captain Doug Gertis boated 13 over a period of several days. While fishing for speckled trout near Parris Island, Capt. Trevor Strever spotted several cobia tailing on the surface and had only spinning rods handy. But his party still caught two, casting Electric Chicken grubs.
Last weekend, two boats working the ledge, which drops off from 140 to 250 feet about 65 miles offshore, caught a total of 26 dolphin up to 40 pounds and nine wahoo. The ledge can be found taking a 140-degree course out of Fripp Inlet and is marked on most charts as "The Deli." It's affectionately called the Sow Pen by many local anglers. Dolphin, wahoo and yellow fin tuna are also being taken at the edge of the Gulf Stream. Most are trolling ballyhoo. Closer in, Spanish mackerel and blues continue to school between the Gen. Gordon wreck and the Bay Point bars.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921. When it comes to fishing, we are among the luckiest people in the world. Fishing in our area is great because it's not just all fishing -- we can also call it "catching." There are lots of spots along the bank you can catch fish from and endless areas you can get to from your boat. You can catch your own shrimp for bait and boil any leftovers for supper. Our fish don't have to have the real thing to hit the bait -- you can use a wide selection of plastic grubs, screw tails and crank baits. Really, the only thing you need to catch fish in our area is a little time.
Inshore fishing is very good, especially if you want to catch a rod-bender. Trout, flounder, whiting, croaker and sharks are getting settled into their spring and summer spots. Always take dead shrimp because almost all fish will hit that bait. Live shrimp are excellent, but not always available. Take a few grubs and screw tails along just in case you get into a school of fish in a feeding frenzy. Catch a few pollywogs (mud minnows), fish them on the bottom and the flat fish (flounder) will come.
Offshore, artificial reefs are still holding a few bottom fish such as black sea bass. It's unusual for the time of year when most bottom fish head for deeper water. Squid is the prime bait.
We've also been catching a few Spanish mackerel and school (snapper) blues around the artificial reefs. They are holding around the buoys and over the structure. I've been trolling Clark Spoons behind No. 3 planers.
Gulf Stream fishing is wide open, with schools of bull dolphin holding in 155 to 300 feet of water. Look for the trips that are holding the reeds and the dolphin will be there. Bottom fishing is great, too.
Reach Bill Babb at (706) 823-3304.