David and Bonnie Annis of Trenton, S.C., were looking for a change of scenery so they heeded friends' advice to try Lake Murray where striped bass have been schooling in a big way.
They were accompanied by friends Bill Harvey and Albert Moody on the Wednesday trip.
"There were thousands of birds (gulls) diving in the area where Little River and Saluda River come together," David Annis said. "We fished nothing but artificials. I caught only two fish, including an 8-pound striper, while Bonnie boated seven fish, but had two 6-pounders as keepers. We cast the Gotcha! Shad.
"There is a 21-inch minimum size limit and a five-fish limit on Murray stripers. Bill boated 20 fish casting a Lucky Craft Pointer lure an d wound up with just two keepers, while Albert wound up with no keepers."
David Annis said the temperatures were below freezing, causing ice to form in their fishing rods' guide-eyes. "We'd dip 'em into the water so we could cast."
There were 30 other boats on the scene, but there were enough birds diving in different places so everyone had his own school of fish.
"I understand weekends may be horrible times to go because of so many boats," he added.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff at the Strom Thurmond Lake project office reports that the rocky "humps" at the mouth of Keg Creek exposed by falling lake levels will soon be buoyed.
"We are currently looking at extending a few courtesy docks where there is adequate water and if lake levels continue to drop, further work on courtesy docks will be prioritized considered on a case-by-case basis," said M. Keith Crowe, the park operations manager.
Joey Zielinski of North Augusta, who competed in the Angler's Choice Mercury National Team Championship on Lake Granbury, Texas last week, had bad luck on the road and on the lake.
But Johnnie Davis, president and chief executive officer of Angler's Choice, "treated me very well. He used his truck to launch my boat every day during the practice period and tournament," Zielinski said. "He even loaned his truck to me so that I could drive to Monroe, La., where my vehicle was being fixed."
The Northwest Alabama team of Tony Baker and Gene Roberts, who finished eighth in the Southeastern Regional on Thurmond Lake, won the tournament by a squeaker of a margin over a team from Indiana.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Mike Patrick, Strom Thurmond Lake, professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, 1-864-333-2513. - I had parties cancel out this week because of the inclement weather. We'll just have to play it by ear from here on out.
Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga. (Toye & Sue Hill, 1-706-359-3124) - A lot of hybrids and stripers are being caught around the Highway 220 Bridge. Fishermen are scoring on both live herring and trolling deep-diving lures.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - Richard Gibson and Melvin Cloninger of Dallas, N.C., fishing with live herring around Red Bank Island, caught 15 stripers and hybrids. One was a 24-pound striper and three 10-pound hybrids. Glenn Davis of Lincolnton and Rabbit Davis of Appling, fishing from Nov. 27 to Dec. 9, caught 80 hybrids and striped bass weighing between 2 and 8 pounds in the Raysville area.
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) - It's been a tough week not only weatherwise, but the fish are moving a lot, getting into their winter pattern. Ricky Powell from North Augusta fished with me last weekend. It took us several hours to find the fish and then they were very finicky. We had a lot of hits, but with a strong northwest wind, we missed a lot, putting only five fish in the cooler and throwing the smaller fish back. Monday, I fished Chris Harchick and Cal Weiss of Greenbrier Nursery in Augusta. Again, the fish had moved and it was a cold couple of hours riding and looking. Finally, we got into a school of fish at 40 feet and they had a blast catching a cooler full of stripers and hybrids in the 5 to 7-pound class and largemouths in the 4 to 5-pound class. The rest of this week I've been in the rescheduling mode, hoping we will have some warmer days coming soon.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373): I went fishing for the first time in 30 days. I launched at Trade Winds and went out on the riprap near the dam. I cast a Little Earl with the GGG finish. Biggest fish I caught weighed 5 pounds. I caught them from 7:30 a.m., to 11. I also caught some fish jigging a white CC spoon and then added red dots on either end for "eyes" in 28 to 30 feet. Biggest was 3 pounds. I wound up with seven fish.
New Savannah BluffLock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Fishermen who don't mind the cool weather are catching crappies and bream down river. The crappies can be caught on live minnows fished around structure in the so-called "dead lakes." The bream are hitting crickets and wax worms. It's time for the big yellow perch to move close to the dam's fishing platform.
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 BROTHERSBRICKYARD PONDS
Bill Gibson 1 (706) 722-2980 - Crappies are being caught in the Tank Pond and elsewhere. We are out of shiners for the rest of this week, so anglers are advised to bring their own.
Check out our Web site: www.merrybrothers.com.
Harrison and Honey Sears, (706) 722-8263 - Bobby and Genevieve Willis caught 32 crappies on small minnows and two catfish weighing more than 4 pounds on liver. Willie Meyers caught 14 crappies on small minnows and four catfish on liver. Johnny Coffie caught 19 crappies on small minnows and two catfish on liver. Erna Bauserman caught 11 crappies on small minnows and two catfish on liver. Eddie Smith caught 27 crappies on small minnows. Jerry Bowers caught 15 crappies on small minnows. Jack Hayes caught six catfish on liver.
ATLANTIC OCEANBEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 - Last weekend, weather conditions allowed two companion boats to venture out to the eastern edge of the North Hole. The party in one boat only bottom-fished and brought back a pair of 48-quart coolers full of a variety of fish including three red snappers over the 20-inch minimum legal size, vermilion snappers, lesser amberjacks, trigger fish and a 36-pound greater amberjack. They also released numerous red snappers just under the size limit. The party in the other boat trolled skirted ballyhoo and caught two medium-sized king mackerel and five little tuny. Surface water temperature was 70 degrees 40 miles east of Edisto Island, while creek and sound temperatures are in the mid-50s. Inshore, speckled trout landings are holding up with most being taken using plastic grubs slowly bounced along sandy bottoms and live shrimp fished beneath corks over live shell rakes. Both spottail bass and trout have schooled up for the winter so change your locations until fish are found. Sheepshead reports from all wrecks, reefs and bridge pilings remain excellent.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 or www.missjudycharters.com. - Inshore fishing remains great and it's far from over. If your choice is to troll, pitch or watching a cork, just remember to move every now and then if nothing happens on your first try.
Offshore, bottom fishing is at an all-time high. That statement covers a lot of ground, but it's true. The buildup of large black sea bass at our local artificial reefs is unbelievable. We caught our creel limit (20 fish) in a very short time, using squid and cut fish for bait. As we drifted, I noticed a large buildup of baitfish just off the bottom. I told my customers to reel up five turns and let me know if they got a strike. As soon as that happened, everybody got a hit. I knew it was time to bring out the artificial jigs and light tackle.
I am sure almost any jig would have worked, but I fished a small Hopkins spoon on 20 pound line, dropping the lure down, jerked it a few times and quickly hooked up with a large humpback green head. That's what we call male black sea bass this time of year.
There is another fish that's formed a good dark shadow over the artificial reefs. The sheepshead has arrived and is hanging around structure located in 30 to 40 feet. I call them "the 10-to-1 fish," because it usually takes 10 fiddler crabs to catch one sheepshead. It's not the setting of the hook that's the trick, it's the rod-lifting before they strike that makes the difference.
They are so fast they can suck the insides out of a fiddler without removing it from the hook. This task is done so quickly that the fisherman holding the rod doesn't even get a tingle. It leaves you fishing only with a mere crab skeleton, which has no food value in the sheepshead world. All you can do is reload and give it another try.