Originally created 11/17/00

Turnover time getting close



One day in the near future, Strom Thurmond Lake will turn over.

Don't be alarmed. It won't turn upside-down with you in your boat on it.

"Fishing's good from 30 to 70 feet right now, so I don't think turnover has occurred," said professional fishing guide Capt. David Willard of Clarks Hill, S.C.

"You usually see floating weeds, the water turns dark and it has a smell to it. My wife, Shirley, has been on the lake nearly every day on board the Corps of Engineers boat. She has a good nose and she hasn't smelled turnover yet.

"When it takes place, it can do so in 24 hours."

What happens, generally speaking, is that the top and bottom layers of the lake swap places and that's good for fishermen who use artificial lures in their pursuit of hybrids and striped bass.

Baitfish like threadfin shad and blueback herring are hanging out close to the bottom in 30 to 40 feet of water and turnover will move them closer to the surface.

You'll know turnover has taken place when the lake's birds of autumn -- gulls and terns -- start feeding on the displaced baitfish. The latter are being helped in their move toward the surface by marauding schools of game fish.

That's fun time for artificial bait fishermen, who scan the lake's distant surface with field glasses for signs of diving birds.

Those fishing live herring will still be able to catch fish, too.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has stocked some 400,000 bluegill in the Santee Cooper Diversion Canal. The fish were produced at the Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau and were stocked on Oct. 30.

A group called the Coalition for the Preservation of Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie had asked the DNR for help.

"Santee Cooper lakes have experienced changes in the shallow water habitat, such as removal of most of the vegetation and low lake levels that are unfavorable to spawning of some fish species," said Miller White, the DNR's district fisheries biologist based at the Dennis Wildlife Center.

"Low water this summer has made fishing difficult, fishing participation has declined and that factor has produced a hardship for fishing-related enterprises such as fishing camps."

White said largemouth bass, redear sunfish (shellcrackers) and possibly crappie will be stocked at locations in both lakes during the next year.

When Jimmy Jacobs isn't editing Game and Fish Publications including Georgia Sportsman, he's probably fishing. The Smyrna, Ga., man has just authored Fly-Fishing the South Atlantic Coast.

As usual, he's done a thorough job describing fly-fishing opportunities for salt water species from North Carolina to Florida. He's been able to do most of it personally.

"When we knew we were going to come out with this book, I spent most of my spare time fishing spots from North Carolina to Key West," he said Thursday.

The writer told him the book included several "secret" hotspots.

"Oh, sorry! I meant to leave those out!" he said jokingly.

Targeted are fish species commonly sought during each season -- how they school, where they feed and what gear to use to catch them. Detailed maps of each area make trip planning easy.

Jacobs makes it a point to list areas where fly-fishermen can wade; otherwise, a boat is a necessity to reach areas where creeks are.

Readers of The Chronicle will particularly enjoy reading about -- then trying out -- the areas listed in Georgia and South Carolina, particularly the Savannah and Brunswick areas in the former and the Beaufort area in the latter.

Of particular interest is the lagoon on Hunting Island State Park and here's a tip from Jacobs:

"Most folks usually fish the upper end of the lagoon, but my favorite place is its mouth. When the tide changes, you'll catch a bunch of fish there."

The 352-page, well-illustrated book is available from bookstores for $18.95 or from Backcountry Guides/The Countryman Press at 1 800-245-4151.

STROM THURMOND LAKE

Buddy Edge, full time professional fishing guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, fishing out of the Plum Branch Yacht Club, 803-637-3226. -- Last Friday, Savannah Lakes Village visitors fished with me. They were Bobby Strazier, Lithonia, Ga., and Larry Dricks, Stockbridge, Ga., who caught limits of stripers and hybrids from 2 to 4 pounds. Ken Kaltz of Edgefield and his son, Jeff, from Greenwood caught limits of 2-to-5-pound hybrids and striped bass. Stephanie and Lee Huffarn of Greenwood fished with me last Monday. They caught limits of fish weighing 3 to 7 pounds. Nine employees from Augusta's Con-Agra Feed Co., went out with me and guides Richard Butler and Lonnie Edmunds on Thursday. Everybody limited out on hybrids and striped bass 3 to 8 pounds. We also caught two largemouth bass in the 8-pound class fishing live herring on the bottom in 55 feet of water.

Mike Patrick, Strom Thurmond Lake, professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, 1-864-333-2513. -- Mary Wright of Clarks Hill and Fred Parkman of Columbia fished with me last Friday. They caught limits of 2 to 7-pound hybrids and stripers, fishing live herring in 30 feet of water. Arnold McGahee of Hephzibah and Robert Tanner of Martinez caught limits of 2 to 5-pound fish last Saturday at the same depth. Josh Johnson of Clarks Hill and Christopher Ledbetter and Mack Ledbetter from Edgefield County caught limits of fish on Sunday, weighing 3 to 8 pounds. They missed two good fish free-lining and the fish we caught were at 30 feet.

Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga. (Toye & Sue Hill, 1-706-359-3124) -- David and Elizabeth Duffy of Augusta continue to have good luck on crappies, averaging 20 to 25 per day. Everett and June McIntyre of Atlanta have been averaging 15 to 20 nice ones, culling the smaller fish. The crappies are being caught both shallow and deep.

Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) -- Red Betsill of Jonesboro, Ga., caught seven hybrids trolling in the Raysville area. Largest was 2' pounds.

Capt. David Willard, Little River Marina, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. (1 (803) 637-6379) -- We've had to dodge a couple of cold fronts this week, especially the real windy days. Fishing is so good that I feel we could have caught fish on those days, but it wouldn't have been enjoyable. Raymond Rosier and his son, Trey, 11, caught a limit of hybrids and stripers in just a few hours. John McGowan an Augustan who fished with me several years ago and whose job moved him to Chicago, returned this week. He brought a friend, Jim Depa, and Augusta State University basketball legend Keenan Mann. John and Jim had a great time trying to outfish Keenan, who started out setting the book like he was slam-dunking a basketball -- too much power. Keenan came on in the last quarter, however, and by the end of the day the score was tied -- a limit for each. Richard and Betty McDonald of Evans and fishing friends Claude Spires and Jim Bryant limited out on really nice hybrids and stripers and bronze-colored largemouths. Everyone had a blast, especially Jim, who stated that his "fun meter" was pegged out. All our fish in 36 to 40 feet of water on live herring in water temperature 67 degrees.

SAVANNAH RIVER

New Savannah Bluff

Lock & Dam

Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 -- Brad Harris and I fished down river today and Wednesday. We caught some 40-odd bluegills, five slab crappies and one bass on crickets, worms and minnows. On Thursday, we caught 28 bream and two big slab crappies, as well as a channel catfish. Mike Dearman and his wife went Saturday and limited out on bluegills and crappies and she caught a 9-pound catfish.

We have had the river almost to ourselves. We enjoy seeing deer along the banks and swimming the river. You know, one of those deer hollered, "They bitin'?" And I hollered back, "Of course, you dummy! You think I'd just be sittin' here if they weren't?"

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.

MERRY BROTHERS

BRICKYARD PONDS

Bill Gibson 1 (706) 722-2980 -- Crappies are biting big time, with 90 percent of everything coming from the Front Ditch. They're fishing around the lily pads from the bank on minnows. They're losing some tackle to the pads, but everybody is catching a bunch of fish. We had one man catch one weighing 4 pounds, 8 ounces.

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.

SEARS' LAKES

Harrison and Honey Sears, (706) 722-8263 -- Herbert Taylor caught nine crappies on minnows. Jerome Sessions caught 30 channel catfish that weighed 58 pounds. They bit nightcrawlers and shrimp. Mike Knightly caught 13 shellcrackers and a 2-pound blue catfish on pinks. Rosa Lee LaFavor caught two bass weighing 3 pounds on minnows, eight large bream on worms, two crappies and three catfish weighing 4 pounds each. Honey Sears caught six catfish on liver and 10 crappies on minnows. James Jewell caught 14 crappies on minnows. James Green caught 19 crappies on minnows.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY

Includes Paradise Pier

Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 -- The 60-day shrimp baiting season ended last Tuesday and the S.C. DNR estimates that catch results were about 50 percent below past seasons. The native factor was most probably caused by prolonged drought and associated reduction in nutrients necessary for shrimp growth.

The annual Norfolk Spot run has started along South Carolina's Grand Stand and should be showing up in numbers in the Hunting Island Lagoon in about two weeks.

Inshore, charter captains report plentiful catches of speckled trout, many measuring just beneath the 13-inch length limit. Tailing spottail bass are being caught in the Hazzard Creek area west of Highway 170 Broad River Bridge and along the shores of St. Helena Sound. Black drum landings remain encouraging and small blues are still in the creeks. Spanish mackerel are migrating South.

Offshore, windy conditions prevail.

SAVANNAH AREA

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 or www.missjudycharters.com. -- I know I've been sounding like a broken record for the last few weeks, but I can't help it. The inshore bite has been great. Trout, spottail bass, flounder and sheepshead have been plentiful. You can start at the Savannah River tide gates, go to the jetties and back south to the sound areas of Ossabaw Island or almost any place in between. Live shrimp gets the bite action started and fishermen then switch to plastic grubs.

Offshore, fishing's also been wonderful. King mackerel are close in and so are some of the bottom fish that we usually have to travel 30 miles out to catch.

The kings are holding at most of the artificial reefs located in 60 feet of water. Best places to try off Savannah is the L Buoy, J Buoy, CCA Buoy, Gray's Reef and any live bottom areas you can find.

You can catch the fish by fast trolling with artificial lures, slow trolling with live bait or live-lining with light tackle.

The blue water bite has been slow for this time of year, but things are looking up. Capt. Emerson Waters made it to the Gulf Stream, but found no action. So he moved back into 120 feet where he raised two sailfish and landed a 60-pound wahoo.