Years ago, as an informational assistant with the old Georgia Game and Fish Department, this writer broadcast a statewide fishing report on the radio. In one part, he said:
"Crappie fishing is excellent on Clarks Hill Lake." The remark drew telephone calls from incredulous, non-fishermen listeners, who thought it was a spoof. "You mean there is a fish called a crappie?" one asked.
Well, there is such a fish, and fishing for them re mains excellent, particularly at the Merry Ponds off Augusta's East Boundary, and more than likely on Strom Thurmond Lake. Live golden shiners remain the No. 1 bait, but the fish also will strike small jigs fished a foot or two beneath plastic floats.
Fishing for largemouth bass and hybrids on Thurmond Lake has been tough, although Ron Figueroa has been catching the latter schooling on the Lincoln County side near Little River Bridge during the mid-morning hours.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
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. - Last Thursday, Jerry Smith of Greenville, S.C., Walt Beauford of Greenwood, S.C., and Anthony Hester of Greenville limited out on a trip with me. David Jambers and John Conway of Greenwood also limited out last Friday. John Collins and his son, Alex, from Augusta, and Walt Turner of Augusta caught fish on last Saturday's trip. Savannah Lakes Village residents Carl Dearman, Don Lewis, Roger Samon, David Vananry, John Kadau and Bob Galbraith fished with me this past Tuesday and wound up with 44 fish. Sherman Culler and Lynn Brower of Aiken and Scott Snider of Orlando, Fla., limited out on Wednesday. Fran Gregory and Elliott Botzis of Greenville, and Joshua Campbell of Landrum, S.C., and Rick Fowler of Campobello, S.C., limited out on Thursday.
Capt. Mike Patrick, Strom Thurmond Lake, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids, 1-864-333-2513. - All the fresh water from the rain has the lake on the rise and muddy up in Little River where I have been fishing. Last weekend, Ken Faircloth of North Augusta took his two fish-killers - Robert, 15, and Cody, 12 - as Robert's birthday present. They fished up seven dozen herring, keeping 30 2-to-6-pound stripers. Cody won big fish and "the most" awards. Derrick Weidenaar and his buddy, Tim Price, a pair of Michiganites stationed at Fort Gordon, went out on Sunday. They caught and released fish all morning. The fish were all small stripers 1 1/2 to 3 pounds everywhere I went. I'm still catching fish on free-line and down rods, fishing 25 to 30 feet, but the key is good live bait.
Soap Creek Lodge (Lincolnton Marine), Lincolnton, Ga. (Paul Banks and Jeremy Dawkins, 1-706-359-3124) - Anglers trolling doll flies for crappies have been catching a few fish in Soap Creek. We saw a school of hybrids surface opposite the marina today (Thursday) and a bass fisherman catch one before going back to trying for bass. The folks we've talked to this week say that fishing has been on the tough side.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - Carol Acord and Matt Amerson from Thomson caught 13 stripers - largest 8 1/2 pounds - slow-trolling herring in the Raysville area. Sammy Lee of Kite, Ga., and Gerrell Jackson of Washington County caught 13 hybrids - largest 5 pounds, one striper and two white perch on live herring. Bill Massey and Jerry Acord caught six stripers weighing 2 to 4 pounds, trolling minnows in 9 1/2 feet of water in the Raysville area.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373): "Fishing with Ralph Barbee" features local auto salesman Kyle Evans fishing for bass with the floating worm and the Buckeye firecracker quarter-ounce spinnerbait. The John de la Howe kids' fishing contest put on by Belvedere Marine's David and Bonnie Annis also will be featured. The segment is being shown on Comcast Channel 4 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 (email@example.com or his web site at buckeyelures.com/figs). I found good schooling fish by Little River Bridge on Lincoln County side. I'm catching 3-pound hybrids on Super Flukes during the morning hours from 9 until 11. I'm keeping the boat in 20 feet of water, casting onto points in 10 feet, working it out and letting it drop. I'm fishing the deep lake points and caught two 2-pounders on Thursday morning.
We're going to hold another "Take A Soldier Fishing" tournament on Nov. 23. I'm still looking for 15 more boaters so contact me as soon as possible. We'll have lots of "goodies" for participants and the event also will be shown on TV.
Figueroa also has a TV show called Fishing Success, which features a one-minute hot tip on fishing Thurmond Lake, along with a fishing report Monday through Friday on Comcast cable channels CNN twice between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and ESPN and ESPN2 between 8 p.m., and 9 p.m., and 11 p.m. and midnight, and during the Bill Dance show on TNN Saturdays.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, Little River Marina (706-733-0124) (with twins Brad and Jim). Brad: Bass fishing is excellent, but big fish are hard to find. I fished last Saturday in the Individual tournament and placed seventh with a five-fish limit of 7.48 pounds. Last Sunday, I took out my sons, Johnathan and Nicholas, and caught nine bass on the grass (hydrilla) beds, burning a No. 4 across the beds.
SAVANNAH RIVER New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Jimmy (Truck Muffler) Corley caught 11 crappies, one warmouth and 12 bream on minnows and crickets. Marty and Andrew Thompson caught 14 crappies on minnows down river. Joe Thuan and Russell Peyton caught eight nice crappies and limited out on bream on worms and minnows. On another trip, Corley caught five crappies and three bream off the dam on minnows and worms. Mike Glover and Junior Warren caught 15 bream and shellcrackers - two weighed 1 1/2 pounds each - and five catfish weighing 3 pounds apiece. Corley again caught 20 bream, four crappies and two perch off the wooden bridge at the dam. Norman and Matthew Hutchinson caught 52 nice bream and crappies fishing off the side of 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 the year July 1, 2006.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears 1 (706) 722-8263 - Wes and Ed Ables caught 70 crappies weighing 31 pounds from the bank in the King Pond on minnows. Freddie and Steven Parry caught five bass and 10 crappies. Biggest bass weighed 3 1/4 pounds. They fished worms in the Willow Pond. Bill Shaw, Mr. Lynn, Wes and Ed Ables caught 139 crappies in the Ditch fishing live minnows from the bank. Bill Gibson and Terry Cromer kept 36 crappies weighing 14 pounds, 12 ounces on mostly minnows in the King Pond from the bank. Mark "Stumpy" Jenkins caught 36 crappies in the King Pond on minnows. Gibson, his granddaughter, Kelsey, 5, and Ed Ables caught 16 crappies in the King Pond.
ATLANTIC OCEAN BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY Includes Paradise Pier
__Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 - The official shrimp-baiting results are not yet available, but a S.C. DNR biologist said initial reports indicate the season was fair to poor, with Beaufort among the worst areas. Some baiters blamed the drought, others the heavy rains in October. There is little doubt that black gill shrimp disease also took a heavy toll. Spottail bass catches remain outstanding. Last week's extreme tides offered flats anglers chances to fish areas rarely covered by water. Speckled trout landings continue to build with limit catches being made around Daws, Morgan and Parris islands. Archers Creek was particularly productive. Inshore water temperatures are in the mid-60s. On Saturday, a party in an offshore boat found a massive weedline 30 miles out at the North Hole. Five medium-sized dolphin, a 12-pound king mackerel and a 65-pound amberjack were caught trolling ballyhoo. They also caught limits of vermilion snappers bottom-fishing with cigar minnows. Charter captain Wally Phinney reports taking kings trolling near the Betsy Ross wreck. Offshore water temperatures are in the mid-70s.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) - Earl McIver of Savannah, who's been fishing inshore waters for many years, has been catching "summer trout" on Electric Chicken grubs. He's fishing the grubs on black, white or red-colored lead-heads and bumping the bottom in live and dead oyster shell waters. He said the Electric Chicken grubs that are darker are better than the lighter-colored ones.
Fly-fishing for channel bass also has been excellent, as charter captain Scott Wagoner's parties can attest. His groups caught 20 redfish sight-fishing last week. He's fishing areas that hold about a foot of water after low tide. He prefers to fish popper-type baits which resemble shrimp skipping over the water.
Cobia, generally considered a spring and early summer fish, are being caught from the artificial reefs out to the Savannah Snapper Banks. I've heard reports of eight ranging from 45 to 75 pounds being caught.
King mackerel are schooling around the CCA Reef 13 miles off the Warsaw Sea Buoy.