Think shallows. That's where the bulk of the fish are to be found in Strom Thurmond Lake these days: shellcrackers, bream, largemouth bass, crappies, all kinds of catfish, even some stripers and hybrids.
Super Flukes and Super Spooks are the main artificial lures for bass and shallow-water hybrids, but crank baits, spinnerbaits, buzz baits and plastic worms also will produce good catches.
A 12-inch minimum size limit for largemouth bass is now in place for Santee Cooper Lakes. There was an attempt to put a larger (14 to 16 inches) size limit on the fish, but anglers didn't support it. Daily creel limit remains at 10 per person daily.
Bill Dance of Colliersville, Tenn., called "America's bestknown fisherman," is now editorin-chief of the new Bill Dance's Fishing magazine, which hit the newsstands on April 24. Taylor Wilson, editor of Mid-South Hunting & Fishing News, will edit the publication. Four issues will be published this year.
A reminder: If you catch an American shad below the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam and the fish is "wearing" a bright orange tag with a toll-free 800 number on it, you don't have to call the number to earn the reward of a neat shad cap.
"Just bring me the tag and I'll issue the cap," said Bob Baurle of Lock & Dam Bait and Tackle. "The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has made my store an official tag collection station."
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Fred Moir, Savannah Lakes Village Marina, 1 (864) 391-3477. - Fishing was brisk this week. Stan Sexton of Plum Branch, S.C., caught 12 catfish from 8 to 12 pounds fishing above the 378 bridge on the Carolina side. The catfish are on the beds and so are the shellcrackers. Bass fishing was excellent Monday through Wednesday. Most fishermen caught limits of bass in shallow water.
Buddy Edge, full time professional fishing guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, fishing out of Plum Branch Yacht Club, 803-637-3226. - .
Mike Patrick, Strom Thurmond Lake, professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, 1-864-333-2513. - Small fish are scattered from Broad River to Red Bank Island. Numbers of fish are plentiful, but finding some to take home is another story. Tommy and Phillip Warner of Evans caught and released numerous fish, taking home 13 3-to-5-pound fish. Todd Schelvan of Evans and his father-in-law, Andy Guncker from Michigan, caught 20 good fish in the 4-to-6-pound class and released 40 little fish.
Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga. (Paul Banks and Jeremy Dawkins, 1-706-359-3124) - Harry Embry of Augusta has 15 crappies before lunch today and now he's out again. David and Elizabeth Duffy caught limits of crappies on Sunday, but Saturday was a bit slow. John Crain of Lincolnton and Steve Greer from Athens limited on hybrids and stripers, with the biggest fish 16 pounds. Don Morrison fished for largemouth bass on Sunday and caught a limit including a 6-pounder. Most fish were caught on jerk baits fished shallow. Tommy Holloway fished with him and also limited out, with a 4-pound, 2-ounce bass his biggest.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - Robert Judy and Tom Fear of Warren County caught four hybrids, one weighing 7 pounds. They fished with minnows in Germany Creek and chartreuse and green Hal-Flies. They caught a yellow perch weighing Ü of a pound, fishing along the banks in two feet of water. William Hawkins of Raysville caught a limit of crappies on pink-and-white Mr. Wobbly Eyes jigs in the shallows. Rabbit Davis of Appling and Stan Schultz from Wisconsin caught 17 hybrids and stripers. The largest weighed 13 pounds. They fished beneath Raysville B4ridge and Germany Creek, slow-trolling live herring in 10 feet of water. Chloe and James Ledford, Larry Cannon, Bill Conners, Kenny Keanu, all of Clayton, Ga., caught 17 largemouth bass and one crappie. They fished plastic worms and spinnerbaits in the shallows. Newton and Diane Parker of North Augusta caught four hybrids trolling ShadRaps in the Raysville area. The fish weighed 2 to 3 pounds. Mr. and Mrs. Ira Reed caught 25 crappies cast black-and-green jigs to the bank and slowly retrieving them. Thomas Casteel of Raysville and Dale White of Conyers, Ga., caught 15 hybrids and stripers and 10 largemouth bass on tequila green curly tailed worms and a 21/2-inch gold Yoziuri Mag Minnow.
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) (crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) - I was blessed this week with some good weather and some hard-fishing people. Mike and Dee Stratton from St. Louis made their annual trip to the South for the 13th year. They'll be back next year, too, they say. They fished with me all week and we really had a blast. They claimed to be descended from the same people who wiped out the buffalo during the 19th century and several times during the week, I had to pull them off the fish, they were doing so much damage. They were joined on different days by Jimmy Lea of Augusta, Debbie Sutton of Atlanta and the top-ranked amateur bass fisherman on the EverStart Tournament, Dr. Roy Altman. We tried to bribe Roy into showing us where all his big largemouths were, but he declined, saying he was out there to striper fish. We ate a lot of fried chicken and caught a lot of fish, hybrids in the 31/2 to 6-pound class, stripers in the 8-to-11-pound class, largemouths in the 3-to-5-pound class and channel and flathead catfish up to 25 pounds. We fished live herring in 5 to 30 feet of water.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373): Dan Wilkins of Roswell, Ga., fished with me on Wednesday. He was pre-fishing for a tournament. The last hole I showed him, he caught a 10-pound, 1-ounce bass. He also caught five others, with all of them coming on the Little Earl R.B. Special and GGG Finish and the 08 (gold color). We caught seven bass - actually, he caught six bass, including a 10-pound, 1-ounce fish. My fish came on a Pop-R.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, Mike's Marina (706-733-0124) : .
Tony Penland, professional guide, Elberton, Ga., 1-706-283-8760 - .
Mary "Groovie Granny" Delage, Chapin, S.C. - U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in striped bass. (1-803-345-2401) - .
New Savannah BluffLock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Billy and Elsa Church caught a 15-pound blue catfish, a 7-pounder and some smaller ones and some bream down river. Walter Chavous caught 40 redbreasts and bream off the dam on crickets and wax worms. Sid Smith caught 15 crappies and one nice jack on the South Carolina side of Dead River. Brad Harris caught a nice mess of bream and redbellies down river on crickets and worms. Rabun Padgett caught and released two 10-pound stripers casting off the dam. He also caught and released some 20 shad. Oscar Roberson limited out on shad twice this week.
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 2002.
Upper Savannah River (From Riverfront Marina to Thurmond Dam)
Broadway Bait & Tackle (Larry Lesser), 1-(706)-738-8848 - .
MERRY BROTHERS BRICKYARD PONDS
Bill Gibson 1 (706) 722-2980 - James Free and Tony Grier caught heavy stringer of 7 pounds, 2 ounces. Bobby Belew and Brendan Johns caught the big fish of nearly 3 pounds. Joseph Mayor and David Allred fished the Willow Pond and Mayor caught a 6-pound, 15-ounce bass on a small white BeetleSpin. David Scott, fishing the White Elephant Pond from the bank, caught three bass on a plastic worm. Biggest weighed about 4 pounds. Johnny Amerson caught more than 50 bream in the Middle Ditch, caught with a fly rod and popping bug. Mark Bailey used a spinnerbait in the Membership Pond and limited out on bass. James Smith caught three bass on plastic worms in the Middle Ditch. Buzz baits, spinner baits and crank baits are catching bass in our ponds. 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 - Richard Williams, 25 catfish on pinks and nightcrawlers; Bobby Harper, five catfish, liver; Jesse Churchwell, three bass, minnows; 39 catfish, worms and liver; Charley Boswell, 30 catfish, worms; The Bausermans, 17 catfish on liver; Helen Hayes, 25 catfish, liver; Mike Knightly, 10 catfish, liver; Jeff Retherford, 30 catfish, liver; Janette Rosenberg, 30 catfish on liver; Johnny Lambert, 12 catfish, worms.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 - Fishing with charter captain Jack Brown last Sunday, Augustan attorney Sam McGuire caught a 9-pound spottail bass on a fly. On Monday, another Augusta attorney - John Thompson - boated five on flies. All were taken on shallow mud flats.
The season's first Spanish mackerel were caught last weekend at rips just south of Hilton Head Island and Bay Point bars should come into play this weekend. Small snapper blues also have shown up in Port Royal Sound, feeding on herring and glass minnows.
By the way, live herring make excellent cobia bait and can be taken jigging Sabiki Rigs at the Broad River Bridge and Port Royal Sound rips. Cobia landings are increasing and should peak in mid-May. Largest so far weighed in at 51 pounds. Cobia will strike any live bait, including eels, de-finned catfish, mullet, whiting, etc.
Speckled sea trout catches are disappointing and we are beginning to become that severe winter conditions may have impacted local populations. A significant trout kill was reported north of Charleston during the cold weather.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 or www.missjudycharters.com. - Large trout are being caught, but fishing has been a bit slow. If you want to catch one of those big fish, live mud minnows are your best bet. Shrimp will work, but they're hard to find this time of year. Plastic grubs and screwtails trolled in the creeks is another sure-fire way to find fish. Once you do, anchor up current from the spot and let the tide deliver your bait for you.
Georgia regulations for salt water fish: spotted sea trout, 15 per day, minimum size 13 inches total length; spottail bass, 5 per day, 14 inches total length (none longer than 27 inches); flounder, 15 per day, 12 inches total length; black drum, 15 per day, 10 inches total length; whiting 35 per day, 10 inches total length; black sea bass, 20 per day, 10 inches total length; vermilion snapper, 10 per day, 11 inches total length, and red snapper, 2 per day, 20 inches total length.
Black sea bass remain the top species caught around reefs in 40 to 60 feet of water. I've been using cut squid and cut fish for bait. Black sea bass aren't holding on the deeper reefs in 60 feet, but red snapper, flounder, triggerfish and grouper are being caught there.
It's yellow fin tuna time at the Gulf Stream. Several large catches were reported caught about 70 miles southeast of Savannah, with bull dolphin and wahoo thrown in. Billfish also have been seen, caught and released off Savannah, with the blue water season only a few weeks old.