Fishermen who frequent Strom Thurmond Lake usually leave the boat ramp they launch from far behind in their never-ending quest for a catch.
This writer, his wife and Yorkshire terrier "Princess Augusta Tickletummy" decided to fish the Lake Springs area on Wednesday since thick fog prevented long runs to other sections of the lake.
Actually, the dog had nothing to do with the decision. She was just along for the ride.
Casting Zoom's new pearl white Super Fluke with a chartreuse tail, the writer hooked, landed and released a 6-pound hybrid from waters he rarely fishes.
Then, spotting a surface commotion in the back of a cove across from a Lake Springs picnic area, he cast a Gotcha Shad and caught 3 1/2 largemouth bass. The "half" came when a 3-pounder spit out the lure. The fish were schooling after large threadfin shad.
So, despite the fog, the outing on waters rarely fished by the writer turned out to be successful.
Signs that schooling fish will once again be common included some hybrids breaking off a point late in the afternoon. Early mornings and late afternoons will be the key times.
Check out Ralph Barbee's report below.
Jim Austin, host of Angler's Paradise on Fox Sports Net South, will appear at Sportsman's Link off Bobby Jones Expressway from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Saturday.
He'll be promoting the Angler's Paradise bass tournament to be held at Savannah Lakes Resort on Thurmond Lake Feb. 23. Anglers will launch from the Dorn Boating and Fishing Complex on Hawe Creek.
The tournament is open to the public, but participants must be members of Angler's Paradise Club (annual fee $25). Tournament entry fee is $275 for professional anglers and $125 for co-anglers (amateurs).
Austin founded the Sportsman Association of Black Bass Anglers in 1985 so African American fishermen would have more opportunities to compete in bass tournaments.
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. - I having to fish right up on the banks to find any fish. The problem with that is the hydrilla is in the way. It's just about everywhere you go now. With the fish being so shallow, I'm having to move around a lot to come up with any numbers of fish. The quality kind of makes up for the low numbers. This early winter pattern should continue until the next new moon. Surface temperatures are hanging around the low 50s and the water level continues to drop although we've had some rain. Free-lining herring around the Baker Creek area has produced some 20 and 30-pounders. Just look out for the hydrilla.
Soap Creek Lodge (Lincolnton Marine), Lincolnton, Ga. (Paul Banks and Jeremy Dawkins, 1-706-359-3124) - Pete and Lee Merrow of Warner Robins, Ga., have been catching crappies around fresh trees, fishing around eight feet deep. The Merrows have a home on the Soap Creek road.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - Floyd Bessinger and Claude Rhodes caught 17 crappies fishing minnows about 20 feet deep. Leon Buffington caught an 8-pound, 4-ounce stripers and seven white perch on medium minnows. John Whitten of Grovetown, fishing at night in our fish house, caught a 3 1/2 -pound bass on minnows fished eight to 10 feet deep. Jerry Acord caught 18 crappies fishing 10 feet deep. Jerry Walker, Tommy Mask and Kay Howard, fishing with herring, caught six stripers totaling 30 pounds, including fish of 8 and 10 pounds. Kay caught the 8-pounder, her very first.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373): Pete Glabas and I fished out of Pete's boat on Thursday morning, and immediately ran into fish and diving sea gulls in Lake Springs just out from the ramp. The fish schooled from the first point out on the right all the way back to the back of the cove past the old Boating Club of Augusta ramp. We fished the Little Earl crankbaits and caught 20 fish, 15 of which were largemouth bass. The biggest bass of 6 pounds came on a Buckeye pig and jig (brown head, crawdad finish) and was caught by Pete. We didn't catch a fish after 10 a.m. I'll be at Barry Frazier's Augusta Marine Boat Show in front of Sam's off Bobby Jones today from 10 a.m., until. I'll be glad to answer questions about fishing.
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. A year-end recap of all of our shows will be telecast on Jan. 1.
Ron Figueroa, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, hybrid bass, (706) 832-7230 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Last Saturday, I fished my club tournament and caught two bass weighing 4 pounds, 6 ounces, both coming on the lead-head fluke. Last Sunday, I caught six bass in Keg Creek, all coming on the Buckeye pig and jig, and the biggest bass was 6 pounds. The rest were in the 3-to-4-pound class and all came in two feet of water. I fished Shriver Creek on Tuesday and caught 30 hybrids and stripers - the biggest 21 pounds - on the lead-headed fluke. I fished Lake Murray on Thursday, but my outboard motor's drive shaft broke and I was forced to come back to the Little River boat ramp against a strong wind with my trolling motor. I caught five bass during the 2 1/2 -hour run, all coming on the Buckeye pig and jig. Biggest bass weighed about 5 pounds.
SAVANNAH RIVER New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Catfish and crappies are hitting at the Mayor's Fishing Hole, which is open until Jan. 31. It will be reopened on March 23 for Kids' Day and then to the public thereafter.
Patty and Buddy Williams caught eight bream, including a 17-ounce fish, on waxworms, fishing in the lock area off the dam.
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.
MERRY BROTHERS BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears, with Bill Gibson 1 (706) 722-2980 - Fishing for crappies is on the upswing, with a few fish weighing more than 2 pounds among those caught in the Ditch.
ATLANTIC OCEAN BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 - Unseasonably warm weather has allowed fiddler crabs to climb out of their burrows and sheepshead anglers can easily gather them on the surface - at least until the next cold spell. Nice catches of sheepshead are being made at the Port Royal docks and the center spans of the McTeer and Broad River bridges and at the offshore Gen. Gordon wreck.
Spottail bass remained schooled up and charter captains report plenty of action using mud minnows when a school is located. For protection from large, hungry porpoises, spottail tend to gather around dock pilings and shallow marsh grass at high tide and deep creek holes which are cut off by sand bars or oyster rakes at low tide. With winter water clarity at its peak, schools are easily spooked and must be approached carefully. Best catches are being made at the Hazzard Creek area around the tip of Parris Island and the Harbor River flats.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) - Cooler water temperatures have scattered the fish holding around artificial reefs in less than 50 feet of water. The fish are still there, but you have to move around a lot to catch good numbers of black sea bass. Cut fish and squid remain the baits of choice.
These reefs also are home to large numbers of sheepshead. The latest warming trend has brought fiddler crabs out of their burrows on shallow mud flats, which means bait is easy and plentiful.
The Savannah Snapper Banks in deeper water are holding red and vermilion snappers, triggerfish, large black sea bass and a few grouper and local anglers