You'd think hybrids and striped bass would school like crazy under optimum conditions, but not much happened late Wednesday afternoon along the flats just west of the mouth of Thurmond Lake's Grays Creek.
Winds were near calm and baitfish could be seen dimpling the lake surface, but game fish were few and far between.
On Tuesday night when a strong northwest wind was blowing, hybrids in the 4-pound class schooled like crazy and struck a Zoom Super Fluke (with chartreuse tail).
The cold fronts moving through the Augusta area have been blamed for the slow-down in fishing action this week. Be that as it may, schools of hybrids have been reported to be surfacing in Bass Alley Cove just north of Bussey Point. A small (three or four fish) school chased shad on the northeast side of Horseshoe Island and one struck a Gotcha Shad but escaped.
Shad are still hitting in the Savannah River, while salt water fishing has attracted the attention of many Augusta area anglers (see Joe Mix's Beaufort report below).
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Fred Moir, Savannah Lakes Village Marina, 1 (864) 391-3477. - .
Capt. Buddy Edge, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, fishing out of Plum Branch Yacht Club, 803-637-3226. - .
Capt. Mike Patrick, Strom Thurmond Lake, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, 1-864-333-2513. - I know what the flagman at Daytona feels like after having 487 bass boats blow by me on either side last Saturday morning. I was passing out the life jackets just in case. The fish are moving around a lot and it's tough to catch a limit of quality fish. The "tater chips" (little hybrids) are everywhere, which is normal for this time of year. But the good fish will not stay in one place long enough to catch any numbers. The better fish are still coming from the mouths of the bigger creeks on cut bait and should stay on that pattern for a few more weeks. If that doesn't work for you, try and stay in the creek channels drifting live herring about 25 feet below the boat and use your trolling motor to keep your drift straight.
Soap Creek Lodge (Lincolnton Marine), Lincolnton, Ga. (Paul Banks and Jeremy Dawkins, 1-706-359-3124) - Robert Giffin and his son, Alex, of Augusta had his rod hanging over side and a 7-to-8-pound striper hit the lure and yanked it in. His son was reeling in his lure at the time and hooked up with his father's rod. Alex reeled that in and then proceeded to land the striper. There was a witness to this extraordinary event. David and Elizabeth Duffy of Augusta caught a nice mess of crappies. Last Sunday, Jeremy Dawkins and Dr. Robert Williams caught five largemouth and five striped bass on the clear Super Spook and the clear Super Fluke on a red hook.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - Jerry Walker caught a limit of hybrids - largest 7 pounds - on live herring near Red Bank Island. Mack and Janet Griffith of Swainsboro, Ga., caught 36 nice crappies on jigs and minnows in the Raysville area. Jerry Acord caught five largemouths totaling 16.6 pounds - largest weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces - on the Super Fluke. Mike Arrington caught nine catfish, including an 18-pound flathead, at Raysville Bridge. The shellcrackers continue to bite.
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 fished Mike and Dee Stratton from St. Louis all week. Dr. Roy Altman fished with them one day and Jimmy Lea fished with them on another. They caught and released probably 200 stripers and hybrids, keeping 140. Largest striper weighed 9 pounds and the largest hybrid weighed 6. Mike caught a 4-pound hybrid on an ultralight outfit. This was their 14th year fishing with me. They hold a fish fry for up to 100 people when they return home. All our fish were caught on live and cut herring, anywhere from 24 to 30 feet deep.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373): A new segment of "Fishing with Ralph Barbee" is now being shown on Comcast Channel 4. It features Roy and Jeremy Altman and Barbee fishing the fabulous Black Mingo Ranch's trophy bass lake near Andrews, S.C. They went out with guide Mike Foxworth and caught 45 bass. They fished Buckeye Lure's white buzzbait, spinnerbait with a white skirt and a large Pop-R. It didn't matter what was used - a bass struck on nearly every cast. The show is now being shown on Comcast Channel 4 on Tuesdays at 10 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Ron Figueroa, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, hybrid bass, (706) 832-7230 (firstname.lastname@example.org). I fished with Todd Scott of Fort Gordon on Tuesday. We caught two bass in the 1 1/2 -pound range and three hybrids about 3 pounds each. The bass came on Texas-rigged plastic worms and the hybrids hit the quarter-ounce Buckeye spinnerbait. It was tough. We fished six hours. Jim Langston fished with me on Lake Murray on Thursday. He caught four bass in the 3-to-4-pound range on Carolina rig and I caught one bass on a Carolina-rigged green pumpkin worm.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, Mike's Marina (706-733-0124) : My sons have been taking out parties. Jim took out Amanda and Anthony Brown of North Augusta and limited out on hybrids. Brad took Wade Holland of Cornelia, Ga., and Doug Holland of Augusta and they also limited out on hybrids and stripers. They're fishing about 15 feet. Small hybrids may be schooling late in the evening on the South Carolina side near the dam.
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) - .
SAVANNAH RIVER New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Bobby Gilbert and Joe Thuan caught some of those "Mom-In-Law" bream up river on crickets. Those are tiny fish. Jamie Pittman caught and released a 51-pound striped bass. The fish hit cut shad off the dam. Don Gilbert of Fyffe, Ala., joined Bobby Gilbert on a trip down the river. A 18-pound striper was caught on a Pencil Popper by Don Gilbert and released. They also caught 28 fat shellcrackers. Steve Owens of Wrens, Ga., caught catfish weighing from 3 1/2 to 8 pounds. I apologize for misspelling Robert Gastiaburo's last name in last week's fishing report. Shad continue to be caught on the Sabiki rig.
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.
Upper Savannah River (From Riverfront Marina to Thurmond Dam)
Broadway Bait & Tackle (Larry Lesser), 1-(706)-738-8848 - .
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears 1 (706) 722-8263 - Jeff Rodriguez's 5 1/2 -pound bass leads this month's Big Bass of the Month contest.
The nighttime brickyard bass tournament continues today, weather permitting. Entry fee is $20 per person. Payback is one-third for big fish and two-thirds for heavy stringer (5-fish limit). No gasoline engines allowed. Tournament hours 6 p.m., to 10 p.m. More information: Harrison Sears at 722-8263, or Tony Grier at 798-4342.
ATLANTIC OCEAN BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY Includes Paradise Pier
__Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 - Five Augusta area residents registered a memorable catch while fishing the Edisto Ledge last Saturday. Modal Mason boated a 65-pound wahoo. Others in the party were Monty Bates, Mike Moscall, Andy Anderson and Steve Riley. Trolling ballyhoo, they also landed several barracuda, amberjacks and lost a large dolphin at the boat. Tiring of trolling, they tried bottom fishing and caught a cooler full of red snapper, grouper and triggerfish.
Also trolling "bally," another boat ventured 70 miles out to the edge of the Gulf Stream and brought back 24 dolphin, largest weighing just over 35 pounds.
Inshore, charter parties fishing the Broad River with Capt. Doug Gertis boated three cobia on Saturday and four more on Sunday. We also are getting good cobia reports from the St. Helena Sound at the mouth of the Combahee River. Sharks seem to favor the same locations where cobia are found.
Speckled trout action is slow, but spottail bass and whiting catches remain strong.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) - The top-water bite went from "not so good" to SCREAMING! All the fish that will hit top-water baits have arrived and artificial reefs are holding lots of king mackerel, as well as Spanish mackerel. The latter are being caught from the near-shore areas to artificial reefs located in less than 50 feet of water.
All you need to do is pull a Clark Spoon and you'll be in luck. Live fish are best for kings and used a Sabiki rig to catch cigar minnows.
The Tybee Fishing Pier has been productive, with sheepshead, whiting, perch, spottail bass and even a starfish being among those caught. According to "Pier Rat Bob," the starfish swallowed the whole hook.