After two weeks of false starts, surface temperatures on Strom Thurmond Lake have climbed into the upper 50s, triggering a big bite from hybrid and striped bass and crappies.
Bonnie and David Annis of Trenton, S.C., and Albert Moody of Augusta almost got cited for disturbing the peace with whoops of "yeee-haaaw!" That's what they'd holler after getting strikes from hybrids on their soft plastic Gotcha!Shad baits cast into the shallows of Parksville, S.C., cove on Wednesday afternoon.
The Annises wound up with 10 nice hybrids and Moody also had a nice catch.
Meanwhile, a fisherman testing the waters of upper Cherokee Creek caught a mess of "slab" crappies on a yellow Hal-Fly doll fly. See Billy Murphy's report.
Most of the lake's water is discolored after all the rain, but Ralph Barbee Jr., and Enon Hopkins caught eight nice bass on white-skirted spinnerbaits, also in the back of Cherokee Creek on the flats near the power lines.
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 tried to fish on high and muddy Lake Thurmond last weekend. The fish were scattered. The fish I caught were in the shallows. The key is to catch the weather right. If the sun comes out and the water warms above 50, you can catch fish. But if it's cold and overcast, it makes fish catching tough. Try free-lining baits in the Parksville area during the afternoons.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - John Whitten of Grovetown caught two hybrids (one weighing 5 1/2 pounds),a catfish, and several crappies in our fish house on live shiners. We had a report that hybrids and stripers are schooling on the flats near the Lloyds Creek mouth early the morning.
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 fish turned on big time this week as water temperatures hit 57 degrees by Wednesday afternoon. We pulled planer boards loaded with live herring into the shallows and had rods pulled down so hard we could barely get them out of the rod holders. Other anglers also were having a great time. I could hear Bonnie Annis and Albert Moody a good mile away as hybrids and stripers slammed into their Gotcha!Shads. Hottest areas are the secondary points, especially those with flooded grass beds. On one such point, we couldn't get the bait away from the boat without getting a strike. I eased away from there, leaving those fish undisturbed for this weekend. I'm planning to start my season on Saturday morning.
Captain Daniel LaDow, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional fishing guide specializing in striped bass and hybrid bass. (706) 364-2944. (acestriperguide.com)Fishing really picked up this past week. Rising water temperatures are moving bait fish and game fish to shallower waters. While high winds and heavy rain kept us off the lake part of the week, we found fish when we returned. We are catching hybrids and stripers four to 16 pounds on live herring slow-trolled beneath planer boards. This month offers the best opportunity to catch large numbers of larger fish.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373): Enon Hopkins fished with me on Tuesday and we caught eight bass. All came on a Buckeye spinnerbait with small silver Colorado blade and white skirt. Enon caught a 3 1/2 pounder, the biggest bass of the day. We fished in the back of Cherokee Creek.
Ron Figueroa, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, hybrid bass, (706) 832-7230 (firstname.lastname@example.org or his web site at buckeyelures.com/figs). I've had a pretty good tournament season so far, finishing in the money in three Forrest L. Woods, one Everstart and one Bass Fishing League event. I fished on Thurmond Lake last Sunday and had a great day. My best five bass would have gone 18 pounds. I caught one on Buckeye jig and pig and the others on a white Fat Albert grub threaded onto a quarter-ounce Buckeye Jig head. I fished ditches in clear water 15 feet deep.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, Little River Marina (706-733-0124) (with twins Brad and Jim). I've heard that the slab crappies have turned on, hitting trolled yellow Hal-Fly doll flies in the back of Cherokee Creek. Slab crappies usually weigh a pound or better.
SAVANNAH RIVER New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Shad are still striking green grubs and Sabiki Rigs. The water iws muddy, but people are still catching fish. Lots of crappies are being caught on little green Roadrunners with red heads, pitching them around wooden piers. Red Owens was reunited with his son, Joe, after 30 years and went shad fishing. Russell Payton pitched shad jigs around the wooden piers at the dam to catch the fish.
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 - Ricky Cain caught a couple of bass weighing 2 1/2 pounds apiece. He caught them in the Middle Ditch on a plastic worm. He caught a 1-pound, 15-ounce crappie on a six-inch plastic worm on another trip. Tom Marshall and Stan Hoskins went fishing and Hoskins caught an 8-pound, 5-ounce and 3-pound, 7-ounce bass and three others on spinnerbaits in the Middle Ditch. Jason Clinard caught a 5-pound, 5-ounce bass on a chartreuse spinnerbait in the Middle Ditch. He was fishing with Raymond Stowe and Amy Gilpin. All are from Aiken. Keith Ladun and his son, Patrick, caught a 3-pound, 6-ounce bass and missed several others on plastic worms in Middle Ditch. Payton Davis caught 10 buck bass and two jacks in the Shack Pond. Steve Ebenroth caught the big bass for February, a 6-pound, 9-ounce fish from the Willow Pond, and won $50.
We now have a site on the Internet at www.brickyardponds.com.
ATLANTIC OCEAN BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY Includes Paradise Pier
__Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1-(843)-522-9900 - At a recent local fishing club meeting, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources biologists reported a strong upward spike in South Carolina's spottail bass populations last year. Many factors contributed to this good news. A string of three mild winters increased the survival rate, particularly the 2000 year class (born July through September). Of course, size and catch limits helped, but an aggressive restocking program is producing remarkable results. Over the past several years, in three rivers in the Charleston area with a known long-term data base, stocked spottails accounted for 75 percent of last year's total catch, while the number of wild fish remained constant. About 2 million fingerling bass were distributed along the south coast in 2002, of which 680,000 were released in Beaufort County. Biologists also predicted spotted seatrout populations would recover to normal levels after the 2002 winter freeze, which killed 65 to 80 percent of resident trout when water temperatures dropped below 45 degrees for about three weeks. We are now past any danger of a winter kill this year.
Inshore charter captains continue to report nice catches of schooling spottails, while offshore bottom action is slow except for black sea bass.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) - It's been hit or miss in fishing down here lately, with some fishermen telling me they can't keep the redfish off their hooks. Others find the redfish, also known as spottail bass, but can't do anything with them. Sheepshead continue to bite, with the best time at dead low tide. This makes for a short window of opportunity inshore, but you also can catch them around nearshore wrecks and reefs where they aren't so picky.
Last week, I fished in 80 feet of water at the edge of the Savannah Snapper Banks. The current was almost too strong to keep the bait on the bottom, even with 16-ounce sinkers. We caught some of the biggest black sea bass I've seen in years, all on cut squid.