A preview of better fishing soon to come revealed itself Wednesday afternoon on Strom Thurmond Lake when hybrid and striped bass chased blueback herring to the surface beneath diving gulls and terns.
The action lasted only a few minutes in the "big water" opposite the mouths of Little River and Keg Creek in the Savannah River arm.
Albert Moody's friend Pat Foster had good luck by being the only angler in the vicinity to catch a fish - a 4-pound hybrid on a Thing Popper.
Moody and Pat fished sponge-rubber Schumann crickets behind in-line spinners and caught a bunch of plump bream around the banks.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington, 1-706-595-5582)-William Hopkins of Raysville caught a limit of crappies on small minnows. Heath and Billy Claxton of Wrightsville, Ga., also caught their limit of crappies. Stan Howell and Linda Davis caught a 48-pound striped bass on live herring.
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)
Fishing continues to improve as springtime temperatures warm the lake surface into the low 60s. We were waiting out a thunderstorm Thursday afternoon with Bob Keiffer of Aiken, who landed an 8-pound striper who hit a freelined herring at the edge of a weed bed in two or three feet. He stripped off 50 yards of line as he headed toward the river channel. He was a male fish full of milt and very aggressive. Bait fish are moving into the shallows to spawn and the game fish are close behind. We're catching some nice stripers in the teens as well as some far 5-6-pound hybrids. Most of the fish are being caught on free lines, but I did get into a school of fish that went from the surface to 40 feet. They hit everything we dropped down there.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373) - I took out three Masters visitors on Tuesday and all we caught were chain pickerel. I fished by myself on Thursday morning and caught two small bass along the Highway 104 riprap. They hit the Little Earl. I'm not sure what's going on, but it's tough.
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). Want to catch some Thurmond Lake bass: Try casting the No. 7 ShadRap in two to five feet of water around straw grass beds and also cast floating worms. On Lake Murray, the fish are on the beds and can be caught by having patience and casting plastic lizards and plastic worms. Chad Medlin of Augusta caught one over 7 pounds on Thursday on a green pumpkin Buckeye jig and pig. He had four bass weighing about 13 pounds altogether.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706-733-0124) (with twins Brad and Jim). Jim Bisher of Daytona Beach, Fla., and Jim Jr., from Atlanta fished with me on April 2. We caught 26 crappies trolling Hal-Flies over trees around Mistletoe State Park. The fish hit Hal-Flies in red-white-red, orange-green-orange, white, ted head-white and yellow, despite 30-mph winds. Dick Habbinga, Don Frisher, Jack Furgate, Al Greene and Claus Friese, all of Atlanta, fished with me on April 3. We trolled yellow, white and red-white-red-colored Hal-Flies over threes in 20 feet of water and caught 52 crappies. My son, Brad, helped by taking out some of the group and those on his boat caught the most fish. Thanks, too, to Ricky Peace for helping me with another group, the Bishers again. This time they caught 28 crappies fishing Tennessee Popeyes tipped with small shiners in two to 10 feet of water.
Jim: I fished on Sunday by trolling Hal-Flies over trees in 15 to 25 feet of water and caught 28 crappies, keeping only the biggest. I took out Dennis Worman of Hephzibah, his brother, Rick, and the latter's, Chris, and wound up with 27 stripers and hybrids. Biggest was a 10-pound striper caught by Dennis and the smallest fish was 5 pounds. All were caught on live herring trolled beneath planer boards in front of the dam.
New Savannah Bluff
Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), 1-706-793-8053-Mike Murphy caught 13 redbreasts and five crappies off the dam last Tuesday morning. He fished crickets and minnows. Murdie Steen caught 23 crappies 2 to 2 pounds down river on minnows and worms. The Mayor's Fishin' Hole has been producing good catches of bass and crappies. Shellcrackers are starting to hit around the grass beds.
The American shad run is in full swing at the lock and dam and anglers aren't having any problem catching an eight-fish daily limit. The best lures are the new Ahi Rig with gold and silver hooks, the Sabiki Rig and 1/32nd-ounce lead-headed grubs in hot pink, chartreuse and yellow.
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.
Harrison Sears 1 (706) 722-826www.brickyardponds.com)-Ricky Caine caught six bass - largest 4.53 - with a total weight of 13.5 pounds on plastic worms in the Ditch. Randy Burns and Mike Thomas caught six nice bass, but Mike needs to take lessons on how to lip bass (or take a net). He lost six nice bass at the boat. Ricky Ellis caught about 300 bream from the Beaver Dam Ditch over the last three days en route to a fish fry.
Our bass tournaments will resume today. There is 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.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Includes Paradise Pier
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, 1843)-522-9900-A review of fishing records kept over the last 26 years indicates the following: The first cobia began to appear in the Broad River during the last week of April, although a few are caught offshore. The cobia run usually peaks the third week in May and slowly tapers off in mid-June. The largest cobia seem to be caught at the season's start.
Brown shrimp begin to show up in our creeks the first week in May and small white shrimp the first week in July.
In the creeks, spottail bass seem to prefer feeding on mud minnows through May. Whiting migrate in numbers to ocean inlets the first week in April and are now being caught on cut shrimp. The first tarpon are usually caught in early June. Due to a very large increase in spottail populations, the dynamics of surf fishing have changed. In the 1980s, bass would not appear along the barrier island beaches until June when schools of mullet leave the creeks for the oxygen-rich surf. Now spottails can be caught on finger and cut mullet in April. Severe population fluctuations since the late 1970s when speckled trout were plentiful render any predictions speculative. Flounder are caught or speared all year, but the best catches are recorded in late May.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, 912-897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.)-Capt. Jack McGowan of our charter company offered this report: Strong winds and slow drifts made fishing difficult in waters north of Savannah, Warsaw and Ossabaw sounds. When the weather finally improved, fishing remained challenging. We had a couple of reports of redfish schools 500 or more strong, but slow-moving water has made catching these fish tough. We've had little rain over the last week or so and these fish seek less salty water. Whiting are showing up in the sounds. Sheepshead fishing inshore is good. A few flounder have been caught.
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