One of the most exciting fishing adventures on Strom Thurmond Lake comes when hybrids and striped bass start chasing baitfish to the lake's surface.
The surface literally boils and most of the time, fishermen can cast just about any lure into the maelstrom and catch the excited fish. There are sometimes exceptions when baitfish such as threadfin shad are at their tiniest. That's when the game fish ignore all offerings except small doll flies or spoons that are close to the size of the baitfish.
However, that wasn't the case in Bass Alley cove off the Savannah River about 4 p.m., Wednesday when David and Bonnie Annis had their bream-fishing routine interrupted by the sudden appearance of a hybrid school.
"We put five fish in the boat, but it all ended in about 20 minutes," David Annis said. "We also caught more than 30 bluegills from their spawning beds on Louisiana pink worms."
The Annises caught their fish on clear plastic Heddon Super Spooks. Thing Poppers (small, cork "bugs" tied on three-foot leaders behind popping floats like the kinds used by coastal trout fishermen) will soon become the rage as the No. 1 lure to catch the hybrids.
One technique is to cast the combo just beyond schooling fish and retrieve it steadily, letting the "bug" create a small, vee-shaped wake on the surface. That mimics fleeing shad. Hang on for vicious strikes.
Reports of schooling fish have come from the Raysville Marina area, too, so anglers need to keep an eye peeled for surface "explosions."
Twelve-year-old Trey Becton teamed with his father, Bob -- a former Mr. Clark Hill champion -- to place fifth in last Saturday's Easter Seals tournament. They split the $500 cash prize "and Trey wore an ear-to-ear grin when he came up for his check," said Jay Jennings, who reported the results.
Jeff Coble, 37, of Henderson, N.C., won the 17th annual Red Man All-American Bass Championship last Saturday on Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs, Ark. He edged Keith Green of Arkadelphia, Ark., with five bass weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces to five bass weighing 11 pounds, 1 ounce. Coble won $100,000. Green took home $20,000.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Buddy Edge, professional fishing guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, (803) 637-3226. .
Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga., Toye & Sue Hill, (706) 359-3124 -- Shirley and Donnie Cadden of Lincolnton caught 20 nice crappies on Tuesday in the middle of the day. We haven't talked with many others this week.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga., Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, (706) 595-5582 -- Lisa Boyette of Thomson caught a 1-1/2-pound crappie, fishing with Leon Buffington. They caught 14 others, too. J.R. and Madge Crowe and Mack Walker of Thomson had a good day's fishing, catching 33 crappies and four hybrids. Largest hybrid was 3 pounds. Willie and James Walker of Thomson caught 22 crappies in our fish house. Largest fish was 2 pounds. Nate Rainwater of Grovetown, fishing with Bobby Turner of Thomson, caught 16 crappies from 1 1/4 to 2 pounds and 16 hybrids -- largest 3 pounds. The crappies bit medium minnows and the hybrids on medium Lil' Fishies. They got into five schools of hybrids on Wednesday afternoon.
David Willard, Little River Marina, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers. (803) 637-6379 -- Fishing has really been good this week despite a few hot windless days. Jimmy Lea and his father-in-law, Bob Andrews from Marietta, Ga., caught 26 hybrids and stripers, releasing six and keeping their 20-fish limit on Monday. Charles and Kim Hammershime from Savannah caught a limit of stripers and hybrids up to 4 pounds. I expect the fishing to slow down a little bit on this full moon and especially the unseasonably hot weather, but it should be better next week. The lake is dropping quite a bit and some places that you could run over with your boat are now close to the surface. Everybody, please be careful.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373: It's been a slow week. Paschal Owens fished with me on Tuesday, as usual. We arrived at the lake at 6:30 a.m., and left about 3:30 p.m. He caught three bass -- 2' pounds biggest -- and I caught three bass. It was slow. All the bass were skinny and found along points. I caught three more bass on Wednesday on the pearl white Super Fluke and had another blow up on a Hub's Chub. The bass I caught were not big.
New Savannah Bluff
Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 -- Tommy Swindol and Ray Wilson caught 37 bream and three bass down river. They were fishing crickets and worms. Gil Smith and his wife caught a nice mess of redbellies and bream. The shad have slowed up a bit, but they're still catching a good many off the dam. Sgt.-Maj. Mike Mooney caught a nice 9-pound catfish down river. The mullet are still running big time.
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 -- Steven Parry caught a 9-pound, 5-ounce bass in the Warren Pond. He fished a Big A crankbait on 6-pound-test line. Harold Wilkerson and Mark Slade caught 28' pounds of bream from the Middle Ditch on BeetleSpins and crickets, fishing six feet deep. Wilkerson caught a 5-pound bass on a white buzz bait and 25 bluegills, almost. When he pulled up his stringer, a huge snapping turtle was on the other end, having enjoyed a free feast of bluegills. Michael King and Diana Reeves caught a 5-1/2-pound bass on a Tiny Torpedo and five large bream in the Tank Pond.
Mike Dilorenzo and Steve Eberoth won the Friday tournament with 7 pounds, 4 ounces and big fish of 3 pounds, 7 ounces. Ten fishermen competed.
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 -- Brandon and Corey Barton caught 20 catfish on liver. Yvonne Sanders caught 15 catfish on liver. Terry Morrell caught a 3-pound bass on a spinnerbait. Bill Jones caught an 8-pound catfish on chicken liver. Nathan Nails caught a 26-pound catfish on liver. Alice Nails caught catfish weighing 10 pounds on red worms. Mike, Tim and Esther Stembridge caught 35 catfish on liver. Gary Baker caught 23 catfish on Louisiana pinks. John Kim caught 18' pounds of catfish on liver. Willie Williams caught 16 bream on red worms. Tim Teuill caught 21 catfish on liver.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, (843)-522-9900 -- Sixty-five miles offshore, the Deli's 250-foot ledge continues to yield fine catches of dolphin and wahoo. The Gulf Stream occasionally spins off large weedlines, which can drift closer to shore, bringing schooling dolphin with it. On Saturday, fishermen in a small boat encountered such a weedline 25 miles out and caught 24 large dolphin up to 35 pounds trolling ballyhoo.
Following large jellyfish balls, spadefish have migrated back and are being taken at nearshore wrecks and artificial reefs, using small pieces of the balls on small hooks. Spanish mackerel and blues can be found schooling off the Bay Point bars. Broad River cobia reports remain outstanding. The season lasts for about only seven weeks and may peak this weekend. Sharks are also plentiful wherever cobia are caught. Most local anglers are concentrating on cobia, so we have no reports on spottails or trout. With inshore water temperatures climbing to 75 degrees, fishing should be good.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921. Try trolling in the tidal creeks and rivers for trout. You'll cover more territory quicker and once you locate a school, you can cast to them, or watch your float duck beneath the surface.
Large sharks, rays, trout and bull whiting are being caught around the barrier islands and near Cabbage Island.
Bottom fishing around the artificial reefs continues to be good, with large triggerfish and big black fish coming from the L Buoy. I've been using small (2/0) hooks laced with squid. Triggerfish jab at the bait so let them take it a couple of times before setting the hook. The black fish are below the triggerfish. Anchor your boat and decide which ones you want for supper.
The Savannah Snapper Banks are holding some large red snapper and grouper. You have to fish live bait such as ruby redlips, bank sea bass and vermillion. Otherwise, cut bait will get sucked off the hooks before reaching the depth where the big fish hang out. Give circle hooks a try -- they can increase your catch ratio..
Reach Bill Babb at (706) 823-3304.