School's out for most kids, except those attending summer school, but it's coming on for striped bass, hybrid bass and largemouth bass on Strom Thurmond Lake.
Problem is, the quality schooling fish 2 pounds and up have been playing hooky for most fishermen who don't use live blueback herring as bait. The few fish that have been seen schooling in Dordon Creek and other places have been on the small side.
The full moon phase has placed an extra-added attraction in sight for many other anglers. Bream and shellcrackers once again have hit the spawning beds.
Congratulations to Ron Brown of Thomson, Ga., who has carried his Saturday Morning Open Team Bass Tournament to the highest level in the 34-year history of area fishing events held on Thurmond Lake. His "SMOT Classic" now offers a guaranteed $10,000 purse. Previous high was $5,000.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is being asked to consider reserving the three parking spaces below the new comfort station at Lake Springs boat ramp for handicapped anglers. "We just can't get up and down that hill as easily as ablebodied fishermen," said one angler, who asked to remain anonymous.
The Corps also is being asked to extend the courtesy dock at Lake Springs farther into the lake. As water levels approach six feet below normal pool (330 feet), it has become difficult to use the dock.
The Angler's Choice Georgia Team Tournament Trail is coming to Thurmond Lake Sunday out of Little River Marina. Tournament director Danny Davis said 35 teams have pre-registered so far. He can be reached at 770-760-1200 for more information.
Thurston Hall of Martinez finished 14th and won $2,250 in the EverStart Series Eastern Division bass tournament on Kerr Lake near Henderson, N.C., last week. Winner was Arlie Napier of Middlesboro, Ky., who caught 14 pounds, 7 ounces of bass on the final day to net $50,000 in cash and prizes.
Winners of Mayor Bob Young's Fishing Rodeo last Saturday were:
4-6-year-olds: Catch of the day, Shane Meehan, first; Rasheed Hammond, second. Most fish caught: Hammond. Smallest fish: Ty Britt.
7-9-year-olds: Catch of the day, Ryan Arthur, first; Benito Nelson, second. Most fish caught: Shane Davenport, first; Brian Edwards, second. Smallest fish: Vince Morris.
10-12-year-olds: Catch of the day, Stanley Walker, first. Most fish caught: Joey Todd, first. Smallest fish: Nick Morris and Marcus White (tie).
13-17-year-olds: Catch of the day, Bertram Kettles. Most fish caught: Savannah McManus.
Youngest participant: 3-year-old Ainsley Stephens, overall catch of the day, 1-pound catfish.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Fred Moir, Savannah Lakes Village Marina, 1 (864) 391-3477. - Donnie and Linda Jackson of Thomson, Ga., caught nine stripers and three largemouth bass trolling with jigs. The fish weighed about 2 1/2 pounds each. They also caught two catfish weighing 5 1/2 pounds on nightcrawlers. They fished in South Carolina's Little River from 5:30 p.m., until dark. Shellcrackers are to be found on the beds during this full moon period, the Jacksons said.
Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga. (Paul Banks and Jeremy Dawkins, 1-706-359-3124) - People have been doing well catching crappies, although we don't have any names to give you.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - Tom Kaester of Raleigh, N.C., and Chris Britt from Lawrenceville, Ga., caught four bass 2 to 3 pounds each. They fished plastic worms in the Raysville area. Mike and Pam Arrington of Raysville caught 35 crappies, one hybrid and one 5-pound catfish. They fished small minnows.
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) - We have been in the danger zone all week, with fish practically jumping into the boat. I even got to introduce Channel 12's Paul Davis to a fish-cleaning station, as he and his son, Shane and brother J.J., caught a limit of hybrids and stripers. Lisa Perdue had guests Drs. Phillip and Denise Kennedy and their friends, Dennis and April Scott, up to the lake for a Saturday afternoon. They caught 26 fish with Denise having the hot rod, catching the first, the biggest and the most. On one occasion, I was asked how deep to put the bait. My reply was to ask Denise! Reggie and Brian Wilson of Milledgeville, Ga., and their daughters, 11-year-old Casey and 9-year-old Cassandra, smoked the fish, catching 40 hybrids 4 1/2 to 8 pounds and stripers up to 12 in three hours. Bob Dennis and grandson Will King caught a limit of hybrids and stripers and a 4 1/2 -pound largemouth. My 8-year-old daughter, Sarah, was my first mate on that trip and did an excellent job. She actually cut up the bait for chum. John and Paul Young caught 17 hybrids and stripers on Wednesday morning. They do a lot of shark fishing offshore. Wednesday afternoon, I dodged thunderstorms with some veteran fish killers - Spiro Papadopoulos, Richard Pendarvis, Fred Sims and Tom Banks. They butchered the fish, boating 40 hybrids and stripers in the 4 1/2 -pound class. A special thanks to Reid Carter from the Greater Augusta Sportsman's Council, who was my first mate on the Paul Davis trip. He did a great job keeping the rods baited. We're chasing schooling fish as well as picking up fish off 30-foot-deep humps, depending upon the time of day.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373): Paschal Owen and I just killed the big bass today. Out of 10 fish, six stayed on and the rest spit out the Hub's Chub. They all weighed about 4 pounds each - hitting the big bluebacks. The fish would not hit a Spook or a Super Fluke. I fished by myself on Tuesday morning and caught six nice bass near the submerged bridge in Cherokee Creek. Biggest Tuesday bass was 4 pounds. I'll be on TV with Buzz Hankinson, whose "Next Level" show will be telecast on June 19 at 7 p.m., on Comcast Channel 4.
New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Tommy Lanham and Pete Caruso caught 48 big redbreasts down river Saturday on crickets. Teri Bromley caught a nice mess of crappies and redbreasts down river on crickets and worms. Willard Smith of Wrightsville, Ga., caught a cooler full of mullet. Mack Peeler and his buddy, John, caught a cooler full of mullet on red worms. Fishermen are catching some 2 1/2 -pound catfish in the Mayor's Fish Pond. Some crappies are being caught on minnows.
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.
MERRY BROTHERS BRICKYARD PONDS
Bill Gibson 1 (706) 722-2980 - . 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.
ATLANTIC OCEAN BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 - Dr. Charles Wenner of the S.C. DNR confirms our belief that the prolonged harsh winter all but decimated speckled sea trout along South Carolina's coastline, particularly north of Beaufort where divers found thousands of dead fish on inlet and sound bottoms. He estimates that it will take two to three years for populations to rebuild. Spottail bass, flounder and whiting survived the cold. Brown shrimp, which winter offshore, also were unaffected and now are beginning to show up in the creeks. However, white shrimp, which account for 80 percent of our annual crop, were hard hit, but enough survived to reproduce. The predicted the fall commercial yield will fall well below normal levels.
On the brighter side, both spottails and black drum are back in the surf. One party caught 13 last Thursday. Cobia are fast migrating out of our sounds after a great spring run. The first tarpon - an 80-pounder - was caught last Saturday. Offshore, dolphin, wahoo, spadefish reports remain strong. King mackerel catches are slowly building.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 or www.missjudycharters.com. - Roe trout are hitting artificial lures and live shrimp. The fish are to be found in shallow areas, especially those that have oyster beds lining the bottom. Sheepshead also have moved in and can be found around dock pilings or rocky areas. Flounder also are being caught on live shrimp and mud minnows.
Jack crevalle are schooling in the Savannah River area from the Coast Guard dock to the ocean. They'll hit a fast-moving surface lure. Clark Spoons trolled deep (behind planers) in the Savannah River channel or the Wassaw channel will catch Spanish mackerel.
Artificial reefs are holding everything that bites, while the Savannah Snapper Banks have been producing great catches of red snappers and other bottom fish.
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