Fishermen who prefer to use live herring for bait are doing well on their quests for striped bass and hybrids, but largemouth bass fishermen using artificial lures are finding it mostly t-o-u-g-h.
Part of the problem may be the influx of fresh water from the almost daily thunderstorms drenching the area. Carolina-rigged plastic worms fished along primary and secondary points appears to be catching the most fish, although small ones.
"I haven't caught a bass during three separate trips," groaned Ralph Barbee, who doesn't like to drag plastic worms. He fishes top-water plugs like the Pop-R and Hub's Chub, but hasn't been able to attract the bigmouths' attention.
Crappie fishing 18 to 20 feet down around bridges or over deeper brush has been rewarding, while shellcracker and bream fishing with Louisiana pink worms and crickets also has been paying off.
Wesley Strader of Dayton, Tenn., won the Angler Division, pocketing $10,000 and a new Ranger bass boat. Tony Couch of Buckhead, Ga., finished 10th and won $4,000. Mickey Phipps of Leesville, S.C., finished out of the money.
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. - George Bush and Robert Robinson of Beech Island started off last weekend on Friday the 13th with a cooler full of 6-to-10-pound stripers. The fish were caught on live herring in 40 feet of water. Dickey Hunt sent three of his friends out with me on Saturday. Wayne Jackson, Jamie Jones and Terry Story, all of Aiken, put 30 fish into the boat so big that they all would not fit in my 120-quart cooler. Biggest fish was a 14-pound striper. All of the fish were stripers caught on live herring in 40 feet of water. Sunday, Travis Childs and Mark Thurmon caught their limits in less than an hour, using the same tactics. One of their stripers had a Georgia Department of Natural Resources tag in it. It will be returned with all the proper information to help with the department's striped bass study.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - Chris Elliott of Evans caught seven nice crappies in our fish house. The charge is $3 per person for 12 hours of fishing. The marina is open from 6 a.m., until 8:30 p.m., and anglers can call ahead if they arrive after closing. An envelope in which to put the money will be left and they can shove it beneath the tackle shop door. Thomas Casteel of Raysville caught 13 crappies and two stripers, fishing with small minnows around the Raysville Bridge. Clarence T. Lindsey and Rodney from Harlem caught 30 crappies and Marcus Dorsey of Harlem caught 19 crappies, all coming from the fish house.
Capt. David Willard, 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 are starting to stack up and we've had a good week despite the thunderstorms. George Fuller and I had been trying to get out since Masters Week. We finally did and he brought along some of fish-killing friends - Scott Anderson, Kevin Hefner, Tommy Battle and Don Corbitt. Don was the tournament winner with a 9-pound striper. I think we had close to a total of 40 fish, with Capt. Daniel LaDow manning the second boat. Rick Walker and 8-year-old Tucker Allen Neely caught 13 hybrids on the slowest day of the week. We had no wind and the fish were real spooky. Tucker said it was the best trip of his life and he caught the biggest fish of his life. Pastor Bobby Smith of Stevens Creek Community Church gave his dad, Bob Sr., a fishing trip for Father's Day. One of my goals in life is to become as good a fisherman as Bobby is a youth pastor. Bobby's brother, Chris, came along, too. It was pretty much a blood bath with fish trying to eat the bottom out of the boat. We had a nice westerly chop and they caught 30 fish in a little over an hour, with dad giving the boys a fishing lesson. Fred Cooper and Jack London of Augusta looked at me sort of funnily when I told them we'd have a beautiful afternoon on the water. Thunderstorms were all around. When we finally got out, they must have though I was running a fishing boot camp. Fishing was very intense with four rods going down constantly. I kept hollering, "Move faster!" They limited in an hour and also caught striper fever. All our fish were caught on 30-foot humps on live bluebacks. They were definitely open for business.
Captain Daniel LaDow, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional fishing guide specializing in striped bass and hybrid bass. (706) 364-2944. (acestriperguide.com)-Our fishing has picked up. Last Thursday, we were well on the way to a limit, boating 17 mostly 5-to-7-pound stripers caught 30 to 50 feet down on live herring. But a storm rolled in and blew us off the lake. Last Saturday, we caught a limits of 20 2-to-5-pound stripers and hybrids. Rain has forced us to cancel some trips, but we expect to boat 15 to 30 2-to-10-pound fish per trip when we resume. The warmer weather and nearly stable water level have helped turn on the fish.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706-733-0124) (with twins Brad and Jim). I had more activity on Wednesday morning than I've had in a while. Not more fish action. I had my three grandchildren aboard and there was plenty of action on the boat. We did wind up with five fish, with the biggest about 5 pounds. We were fishing live herring 30 feet down over trees in 80 feet of water.
SAVANNAH RIVER New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Daily thunderstorms have muddied the river, but anglers are still catching redbreasts off the dam and in Butler Creek. Mac Peeler of Wrens caught a number of mullet on a trip earlier this week.
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 July 1, 2006.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears 1 (706) 722-8263 - Johnny Amerson caught two bass weighing 9 3/4 pounds on a Devil Horse in the Ditch Pond. Honey Sears caught two nice messes of bream from the Membership Pond on crickets and worms. Neal Peace caught a 5 1/2 -pound bass on a large shiner fished from the bank in the Ditch. Bill Gibson caught bass weighing 6, 5 3/4 , two 5-pounders and a bunch of others too numerous to count. They bit large shiners.
Amerson caught the big bass, which anchored his overall heavy stringer, to win last Friday's tournament. Tom Reiffenberger and his brother-in-law, Bob Springer, fished big shiners from the Ditch's bank. Bob caught the first fish, but Tom caught the biggest of 3 3/4 pounds. Jimmy Wong caught a 5-pound, 14-ounce bass on a plastic worm in the Ditch.
"I took out Marty Pearson and showed him how I caught some big bass," Gibson. "All he could catch was one catfish. I knew I took out the wrong Pearson. I should have taken out Debbie, who is probably easier to teach."
The ponds are full and mostly clear, although the water covers the road between the Ditch and the Shack Pond.
Our bass tournament is scheduled again today, weather permitting, with a $20 per person entry fee and 75 percent payback. Hours are 6 p.m., until. Call the ponds for more information.
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 - As cobia migrate out of our sounds, tarpon move in, chasing schools of menhaden and mullet. Though tarpon fishing requires considerable patience, anglers can be rewarded with periods of intense action, punctuated by long runs and spectacular leaps when a fish is hooked. Because tarpon possess bony mouthplates, most successful anglers employ large, sharpened circle hooks which are better able to penetrate hard substances than conventional hooks. Live mullet and particularly live menhaden are the preferred baits used with little or no sinkers to slow the bait fish, giving it the appearance of an injured target.
The near-shore bars and deep sloughs off Bay Point long with the southern ocean mouths of Trenchard's and Fripp inlets, are favorite tarpon locations. Some also are taken at the Highway 170 Broad River Bridge when schools of baitfish are present. Tarpon have poor food value and should be released to fight another day. The S.C. state record stands at 154-10.
Inshore fishing for spottails, whiting and flounder remain good. Offshore, Spanish mackerel are being caught and the Betsy Ross and Eagles Nest reefs. A few kings are being taken trolling near the Ross.
South Carolina fishing licenses expire June 30 and new licenses are available at some stores, or expected any day.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) - Large roe trout are showing to appear in the rivers and sounds. There are several ways to get hookups with the big girls. They didn't reach that size because they are stupid, so you've got to use a bit more finesse. Sometimes it takes a lighter sinker than you'd normally use. You can also use the fantastic Cajun Popper, a small float rig that has its own bells and whistles. It works well when you add a short leader and your favorite hook. Best bait to use is live shrimp, mud minnow or plastic grub. Don't forget the net!
The Spanish mackerel bite ought to last until the fall season and look for schools of hard-fighting jack crevalle, too. I have been seeing a few tarpon in Wassaw Sound during the early morning hours as I head off shore. These fish roll on the surface and are easily spotted.
Action has been good around our artificial reefs (located in less than 50 feet of water) as well as the Savannah Snapper Banks. With water temperatures nearing 80 degrees, the bite has been a little picky, but you can still catch some good fish.