The red-hot hybrid-striper school fishing on Strom Thurmond Lake has cooled off. In fact, it's gotten downright frigid.
After last weekend when the fish were schooling in Lake Springs, Mims Branch (Fort Gordon Recreation Area marina cove) and off the Little River Bridge causeway riprap, it's been hard to find a school.
The fish broke the surface briefly in Lake Springs on Wednesday morning and also in the cove opposite the observation tower around the corner from Trade Winds Marina and Yacht Club.
No schools have been reported or observed in the Parksville, Hamilton Branch, Owl Branch (Modoc Shores), Church Cove or Clark Hill Park areas on the South Carolina side. They've also been scarce on the Georgia Flats, Bass Alley Cove, Little River and Keg Creek on the Georgia side.
Professional fishing guides like Daniel LaDow and David Willard also are hard-put to find catchable numbers of stripers and hybrids on live bait. LaDow has been taking parties over to Lake Murray near Lexington, S.C.
Veteran anglers still believe school fishing will get a jump start later this month. Strong southwest winds also have made it difficult for anglers to spot schooling fish.
"We're paying tribute to the man who created the sport of professional bass fishing, the founder of BASS and the inspiration behind the BASS Masters Classic,' said Dean Kessel. He is general manager for the Montgomery, Alabama-based, 600,000-member, worldwide organization, now a part of ESPN Outdoors.
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. - Catching numbers of good fish got a little easier this week. However, I'm still having to work hard to put 20 or 30 fish in the boat. The fish haven't gathered together yet, so I'm still having to move around a lot. My parties have been using up to seven dozen herring per trip to catch their limits. We have been catching a couple of largemouths mixed in with the stripers. One of the larger bass had three big crawfish in him when he bit a live herring.
Soap Creek Lodge (Lincolnton Marine), Lincolnton, Ga. (Paul Banks and Jeremy Dawkins, 1-706-359-3124) - Robert Brucksou of Savannah Lakes Village caught a 27-pound striped bass at the mouth of South Carolina's Little River. Bob Powell of the Raysville area limited out on largemouth bass and caught three stripers over 10 pounds, all coming on Thing Poppers. J.C. Murdaugh and Donnie Smith caught 48 crappies in the Soap Creek area this morning. David and Elizabeth Duffy of Augusta have been averaging 20 to 40 crappies per day, fishing live shiners 10 to 12 feet down. John Morrison and Greg Honeycut of Bath, S.C., have been fishing with the Duffys.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582) - Jimmy and Edna Hinton of Thomson caught 45 bluegills and shellcrackers on hybrid pink worms fished in the Raysville area. Mark Stilenbauer and Montez McCladdie caught 25 crappies and bream in the fish house on minnows and worms. Mack Walker and Cliff Crowe caught limits of crappies in the Raysville area on small minnows. Gerry Williams and Walker Hyatt and Vann Grimes caught limits of crappies on small minnows. Mike Arrington also caught a limit of crappies.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373)-I'll be at the Golden Corral Restaurant on Bobby Jones Expressway today from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m. I'll have some stuff for the kids and talk about fishing on the lake.
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 found some schooling fish on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings busting bait fish near the swimming area at Fort Gordon Recreation Area. I'm catching them on lead-head-rigged flukes and Baby Spooks. This is where the fish started schooling last year.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706-733-0124) (with twins Brad and Jim). Jim: Last Sunday morning, I took out Ricky Winter of Hephzibah and we limited out on hybrids and stripers. We caught them in the Fort Gordon Recreation Area and off the riprap of the Little River Bridge causeway on the down river side. All were caught on The Thing Popper and CC Spoons. We caught just six on Monday morning in the Fort Gordon Recreation Area and in Lake Springs.
SAVANNAH RIVER New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053 - Sandy Holiday and Red Owens caught a nice mess of redbellies and bream down river. James Howell and Russell Payton caught 15 to 18 big shellcrackers upriver on worms and a few bream on crickets. Bill Horton and Mark Hall limited out on bream and redbreasts upriver. Dwayne and Claudia Radcliff limited out on redbreasts twice this week. Drew Wikander and Ricky Sizemore of North Augusta limited out on bluegills and redbreasts on Sunday. Mack Peeler and Gene Clements caught 35 nice mullet and suckers. The Mayor's Pond has slowed down a bit, with a few catfish, crappies and bream being caught. Lots of stripers are being caught on bucktails cast off the dam....those fish are being released.
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 BROS. BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears 1 (706) 722-8263 - No bass tournament was held last week because only four people showed up.
Meanwhile, Willie Williams caught 36 crappies in the White Elephant Pond on minnows on one trip and 14 on another trip.
Our bass tournament is scheduled again today, 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 - Anglers who enjoy fishing for spottail bass over mud flats are looking forward to this weekend when we'll experience high afternoon tides. Offshore charter parties fishing with Capt. Billy Fulcher are scoring limit catches of king mackerel trolling Drone Spoons on No. 4 planers along the 85-foot ledge near the Betsy Ross reef complex. He avoids trolling within 100 yards of the buoy marking the wreck itself because any hooked fish is invariably taken by amberjack or barracuda before it can be boated. He also reports many little tunny. Spadefish are also biting jelly balls at the wreck site.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) - Here's the fishing scoop for our area: You can catch trout on live shrimp, or trolling plastic grubs in rivers and creeks. You can catch spottail bass in the surf on finger mullet. You can catch tarpon on live menhaden or mullet.
Offshore, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, little tunny are hitting Clark Spoons trolled deep, or cast into surface schools. King mackerel can be caught on slow-trolled live bait or fast-trolled artificial baits. Stay as far away as possible from structures like wrecks and reefs, or barracuda will literally eat the fish while it is hooked.
Bottom fishing for black sea bass is good in 30 to 100 feet of water. Secret is to find a spot that's isolated rom well-mapped areas. Groupers are beginning to show up at wrecks and on live bottoms. For vermilion snappers, use small hooks and small pieces of cut squid in 100 feet of water.