With no rain in sight over the next week, Strom Thurmond Lake will have fallen to 10 feet below normal by this weekend, and that bodes ill for careless boaters and fishermen.
Those who follow the green channel buoys won't have any problems, but those who cut close to shore need to slow down and keep an eagle eye on their depthfinders.
One doesn't have much time to adjust when a boat running at close to 40 mph moves out of 60 feet of water into five feet or less in just seconds. Even veteran boaters have been startled to see "land" where water covered it the week before.
Lake users are hoping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will take advantage of the situation by marking the shallow sites with permanent buoys.
Schooling fish have been non-existent during the last few days, with high winds making it even more difficult to spot them. Flocks of terns and gulls also have been scarce.
Congratulations to Mike Seawright, Kings Mountain, N.C., and Greg Lovelace, Bostic, N.C., who won the Superbass 2001 Classic on Grand Lake o' the Cherokees, with a two-day catch of 22.94 pounds, 1.77 pounds better than the No. 2 team. There were 283 teams competing, with two South Carolina teams and seven from Georgia. The winners fish in District 4 directed by Bill Harvey of Martinez. They won a $38,000 Triton bass boat rig.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Capt. Mike Patrick, Strom Thurmond Lake, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, 1-864-333-2513. - The weather is great and the fish have been hitting right through the middle of the day. The fish are being stacked up by all the wind and their need to feed in large schools in order to prepare for the winter months. Robert O'Neil and his wife, Michelle, from Aiken took their 6-year-old-son, Patrick, out with me last Friday. We all had a great time watching Patrick fight with his first hybrids. They went home with 26. Linton Neal from Thomson, Ga., and watch his dad, Dr. Tom, and his 10-year-old son, Mat, catch fish as often as he wants on the video tape he made of their trip. Mat put on a fishing clinic for his dad and granddaddy. All their fish were caught on live bait in 40 feet of water.
Soap Creek Lodge, Lincolnton, Ga. (Paul Banks and Jeremy Dawkins, 1-706-359-3124) - David and Elizabeth Duffy of Augusta have been averaging 20 to 30 crappies per day. Everett and June McEntire of Atlanta have been averaging about 20 fish per day, culling the smaller ones. Bob Guilebeau of Lincolnton and friends have been averaging 20-25 fish per trip. Lincolnton's Toye Hill and George Leverett caught as many trout per day on their annual trip to Colorado.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - Floyd Bessing and Franklin Jones caught 45 crappies 18 to 30 feet deep over brush on small minnows. Mike Arrington, Fred Walker and Mike Sexton caught 58 crappies and 30 catfish on minnows and liver. Ray Farrell of Watkinsville, Ga., caught four hybrids 3 to 4 pounds and a 3-pound bass on minnows. Rudy Cook and his wife caught 36 crappies fishing eight feet down over deeper trees.
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 had a couple of super days with cool temperatures and a good chop. We boated more than 100 hybrids and stripers during those two days. Then it got hot, the wind stopped and fishing slowed down. One morning we couldn't get out because of the fog, and it was almost noon before we could get upriver. I'm looking forward to return of cool weather this weekend. Reggie Wilson and Devon Kennedy caught their limits of fish up to 15 pounds. Lee Muns brought his dad, Richard, son Chad and secretary and cowgirl Jennifer Blankenship. They boated more than 60 fish in just a couple of hours, keeping 40. This was Jennifer's first trip, but she held her own with the guys. Then there were three generations of Gelinas: father Greg, son Josh and grandfather Marcel from East Hartland, Conn. Marcel gave the other two generations a fishing lesson while smoking Muniemaker cigars which he claimed was vital to his strategy. All the fish were caught from 36 to 40 feet on live herring.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373): . A new segment of "Fishing with Ralph Barbee" is now being telecast on Comcast Channel 4 on Tuesdays at 10 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m.
New Savannah Bluff
Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Gregory Kist and Mike Tessler caught 36 bream on crickets and wax worms down river. Patrick Frankmann caught 11 bream and a 2-pound bass. Minnie Griffin caught 12 extra large shellcrackers on red worms at the mouth of Butler's Creek.
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 - The crappies are hitting during the first hour after daylight and the last 60 to 90 minutes before dark. I'm fishing live shiners 12 inches to 18 inches down below floats from the bank in the Ditch. There were six or eight of us catching decent fish. One man caught one about 2 1/2 pounds.
(706) 722-8263 - Steven Boatwright caught a 7-pound bass on a red bud plastic worm., Ralph Sego caught six catfish and three crappies on worms. Frank Thigpen caught eight crappies and a 4 1/2 -pound catfish on minnows. Jim Rivers caught eight catfish on liver. Jim Jewell caught 10 crappies on minnows. Honey Sears caught seven catfish on liver.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 - With water temperatures dropping into the mid-60s, charter captains are scoring nice catches of spottail bass of mixed sizes. Capt. Jack Brown reports seeing bass schools tailing over Harbor River flats. Capt. Doug Gertis prefers creek mouths from Parris Island west to Hazzard Creek. Live shrimp is the best bait. Speckled sea trout remain scarce. Shrimp baiters are catching limits of jumbo white shrimp. Ideal weather conditions allowed offshore trolling and bottom-fishing boats to go all the way to the edge of the Gulf Stream. Wahoo, dolphin and a few tuna were taken 55 miles east of Charleston on surface-trolled ballyhoo in water at least 300 feet deep. This time of the year, king mackerel move closer to shore to feed on menhaden migrating south, but catches have been disappointing so far.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 or www.missjudycharters.com. - The spottail, bass, speckled trout, sheepshead and whiting feeding frenzy is on. Small pieces of peeled shrimp on a small hook is just the thing for whiting. Keep the heads and tails of the shrimp in a small bucket. Then, when the tide is slack, dump all of it into the water, and the whiting ought to really turn on.
High winds have kept us ashore for four out of the seven-day week. However, when winds moderate, the bottom fish bite is spectacular. The fall-winter king mackerel run is due, but I can't yet confirm any multiple catches. The bait (menhaden) can be found around artificial reefs in 50 to 60 feet of water.
High winds also have kept me from venturing out to the Gulf Stream.