Ralph Barbee Jr., phoned the writer late Monday, all excited.
"Bill, the hybrids have turned on, acres of 'em," he said. That's not a Thurmond Lake fish tale.
Early mornings have proven to be the best times - from about 7 until 10 - although David and Bonnie Annis of Trenton, S.C., found fish from 7 p.m., until dark on Wednesday.
Best areas: Mouth of Grays Creek to the Highway 104 riprap. Fort Gordon Recreation Area across from its marina and in Little River adjacent to the swimming beach. Mouth of Cherokee Creek. The area around the shallow water markers (barrels on posts) near the entrance to Cherokee Public Launching Area.
Striped bass are schooling with the hybrids - after all, they're kissing cousins - and fishermen need to bear in mind that the daily creel limit is 10 fish, either 10 hybrids, 10 stripers, or any combination of both species adding up to 10.
Best baits are quarter-ounce white Roostertail spinners, white Hal-Flies tied on foot-long leaders behind popping corks, Thing Poppers, Zara Pups and small Pop-Rs and Chug Bugs.
Fred Moir of Savannah Lakes Village also reports schooling fish in Murry Creek.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Fred Moir, Savannah Lakes Village Marina, 1 (864) 391-3477. - Hybrids and stripers are schooling at the mouth of Murry Creek from 10 a.m. to noon. John Reynolds of Savannah trolled a white jig and caught eight fish between 4 1/2 and 5 pounds. He also caught five white perch. Fishermen in other boats also reported good luck. Crappie fishing with small minnows under Highway 378 bridge at night is excellent. Next week, just prior to the full moon, the hybrid and striper fishing should be best.
Capt. Mike Patrick, Strom Thurmond Lake, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, 1-864-333-2513. - The last time fishing was this good on Thurmond Lake was in 1987 when the lake was 17 feet low. I am catching fish in places now that haven't produced in years. Maybe it's because of the declining blueback herring population. I have friends who commercially catch bait who are having to go to Lake Murray to catch herring. With the water temperature almost 90 degrees, it's tough to keep good bait in the water. But thankfully, with the numbers of fish that have come under my boat lately, they don't have to stay long. I had three 10-pound fish on at one time several times last Sunday. With only two clients on board - Mike Maendele and Rick Pharris from Hephzibah - they had their hands full and their limit in 45 minutes. The only problems I'm having right now are the potlickers (fishermen who look for someone else catching fish and then circles around him. They either anchors out or just keep circling). But that's just something I have to put up with. Night fishing is probably the best time to fish because of the heat. Try fishing both live and cut bait up the river channel in shallow water for hot action. Fred and Daniel Matthews from Plano, Texas fish Lake Texoma all the time, so they were old hands at striper fishing. They caught a limit on Friday, even though we had to keep moving to get away from the "potlickers." Jason Derrick, Casey McCarthy and Brad Smith from Prosperity, S.C., teamed up on the hybrids Saturday. Jason's cousin is a fishing guide on Murray, but was tired of catching small fish. He went home happy with some 4 to 10-pound fish.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - Mike Arrington caught 11 catfish weighing a total of 45 pounds. He fished off the rocks at the Raysville Bridge. Doug Brown of Augusta caught 20 crappies on minnows in our fish house. Tim Perry, T.J. Perry, Donna Radford and Robert Withrow caught nine catfish on worms in the Raysville area. Joe Moore of Hephzibah, fishing during the early morning hours over a two-day period, caught 47 crappies on minnows. Herbert and Pat Hunter of Augusta caught a limit of crappies on each of four days. They fished minnows three to four feet deep in 17 feet of water over brushpiles.
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) - The Dog Days of Summer have descended with an awesome growl. I've been struggling to catch fish since the full moon, hot weather and Fourth of July boat traffic. Some days, the small hybrids are breaking and when we get into them, we'll have every rod down. But just as fast, they're gone. The larger fish have become harder to come by and have come mostly at night. Lee Prather, Mike Brock, Jason Vann and Patrick Crumpton, all of Augusta, caught a dozen nice fish on a windless afternoon. Brad Mosley and his son, Brad Jr., from Spartanburg, S.C., caught 14 nice fish and released some smaller fish. The breaking fish seem to be wanting to stay up a little bit longer this week and by the end of July and August, the surface fishing ought to be really good.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373): Pete Glabas fished with me last Monday. We caught three largemouths 2 1/2 to 3 pounds on the Do-Hickey merthiolate floating worms along rocky banks in the back of Grays Creek. We saw O.T. in the mouth of Cherokee. He was surrounded by schooling hybrids. I cast a Pop-R and a 6-pounder slammed into it. We put on a white quarter-ounce Roostertail and caught 10 more. We left the lake at 10:30 a.m.
Paschal "Roostertail King" Owens fished with me on Tuesday. We caught two limits of small hybrids and stripers on the white Roostertail. Biggest fish weighed about 3 pounds.
The ComCast crew accompanied me on Wednesday and all of us caught fish. We had three limits of hybrids before it was over, which was about 9 a.m. My TV show, "Fishing with Ralph Barbee," will air on ComCast Channel 6 and Channel 4 on July 31. Time and other details of the 30-minute show are to be announced.
Kenneth Word of Evans had me take out his wife, Janet, and her father, Freddy Woods, 72, of Jacksonborough, S.C. He ended up with bass weighing 4 and 5 pounds on the floating worm and threw too smaller ones back. A warmouth hit the floating worm next to the riprap, but spit it out. She caught two big gar fish. We also caught three stripers about 2 pounds apiece in the back of Grays Creek.
New Savannah Bluff
Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Steve Roberts carried Lee Burns of Greenwood Specialty Company and fished for bass all the way to the Jackson boat ramp. Roberts and Red Richards caught 35 nice shellcrackers and redbreasts on double crickets down river around the points and pilings. Eddie Hannah caught four nice catfish 4 1/2 pounds each at the mouth of Butler Creek on worms. The Mayor's Pond is producing some nice catfish around the edges in the back of the pond on worms, wax worms and chicken liver. Visitors are doing a good job cleaning up before they leave. Aluminum boats - the kind one can lift bodily - and canoes can be put in above the dam, but there are no launching facilities for larger boats just yet.
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 July 1, 2006.
Bill Gibson 1 (706) 722-2980 - Derrick and Ricky Cain caught the heavy stringer of two bass weighing a total of 7 pounds, 14 ounces and the big fish of 5 pounds, 6 ounces. Twenty-one fishermen competed. Plastic lizards caught the bass in the Front Ditch.
Last Tuesday, Jason DiLorenzo fished the White Elephant Pond by himself and caught a 6-pound, 9-ounce bass, a 3-pound, 6-ounce bass and two smaller fish, all on plastic worms. He turned the big ones loose.
We're planning to hold a tournament this Sunday from 5 a.m., to 11 a.m., and it will become a fixture if enough people show up to compete. Friday night rules apply.
Bass tournament hours are 6 p.m., to 10 p.m., each Friday and entry fee is $20 per person.
(706) 722-8263 - Dorothy Samuels caught two catfish and two bream on red worms and chicken liver. Brad Spicer caught 14 catfish on liver. Ray Byce caught 18 catfish on liver on No. 2 gold hooks. Matthew Cooper caught six bream on red worms. Michal Riatheone caught eight catfish on liver. Billy Matlow caught 16 bream on red worms. Betty Matlow caught eight bream on red worms and 10 catfish on liver. Johnny Coffee caught 18 catfish on liver. Johnny Beard caught 18 catfish on liver. Willie Williams caught 14 bream on red worms.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 - July is coastal South Carolina's favorite time. Decent weather allows many anglers the opportunity of tying into that offshore big one. Last weekend, a party in one boat landed seven king mackerel, four dolphin and a 40-pound wahoo trolling skirted ballyhoo in the area of the North Hole. Although surface trolling was effective, they had their best results on downriggers set at 30-foot depths. Practically all the fish were caught on a No. 4, extra-strong treble trailer hook. A party in another boat took four limits of red snappers, a 29-inch grouper and an 80-quart cooler full of bottom fish in the same area on bait squid at 90 to 100-foot depths over coral structure. Closer in, tarpon are being taken around the Bay Point bars. Because action is slow until one is hooked, tarpon anglers set out additional white tackle rods for whiting, using small hooks and cut shrimp. A party fishing with charter captain Billy Fulcher caught 31 whiting while fishing for tarpon last weekend. Surf fishing for spottail bass and black drum continues to improve. A few late cobia were boated last week. Speckled trout are scarce.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 or www.missjudycharters.com. - All the fish in our area are biting. Surf fishing is great for spottail bass, sharks, whiting and blues. Best bass tide is the incoming. Flounder fishing has picked up and the best bait is mud minnows. Using a wire basket trap, throw in a bunch of saltines and a piece of raw chicken and place the basket in one of the numerous coastal streams. Be sure to anchor it to the bank. After the tide comes and goes, check it out and go flounder fishing.
Spanish mackerel are schooling on or near the surface. Carry a pair of quality field glasses and scan the horizon for diving birds. The birds are feeding on baitfish driven to the surface by the fish. The Savannah Snapper Banks have been hot and cold.