Largemouth bass fishing on Strom Thurmond Lake has been tough, but is expected to improve steadily as the dreaded (by some) aquatic weed hydrilla makes itself known.
The weed was knocked back by a combination of chemical spraying by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and winter's cold temperatures, but as summer's heat increases, the weed will grow and spread again.
Successful bass fishermen on the lake are finding that Carolina-rigged worms fished on humps (submerged hills) on which the weeds are growing are most productive. Crank baits, such as the Little Earl, retrieved over the beds of weeds also will catch fish.
Quality hybrids and striped bass appear to be moving off secondary points and are gathering around primary points along the Savannah and its tributaries. Fishing live blueback herring in depths ranging from 26 to 35 feet ought to do the trick.
Trolling Gotcha Shad and Super Flukes on lead-head jigs also will pay off in areas such as Clark Hill Park and Lake Springs. You can troll with big outboards, but the speed shouldn't exceed 2.5 mph.
l Former Beaufort, S.C., guide David Murray is now the resident river pro at Oldfield, a 3-year-old residential community 10 miles west of Hilton Head Island. Murray, who guided for spottail bass in the Beaufort area for several years, now turns his talents into helping community residents find fish on the Okatie River.
l One of the latest all-tackle records to be certified by the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis., is Cody Mullenix's 121-pound, 8-ounce blue catfish caught on 20-pound-test line in Lake Texoma on Jan. 16.
Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. (803) 637-6379 (crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) - I've had an enjoyable week. Fishing has been good and I've gotten to see the sun come up with some really nice people. Jane Jacobson and Melinda Hershberger didn't blink an eye when I suggested we blast off at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday. They caught a limit of hybrids and stripers. They were accompanied later in the morning by Rob Pavey, who we taught to jerk perch. He also caught some hybrids when my clients were busy on other rods and I enjoyed fishing with him again. Mark and Jay Weinberger took time out from setting up their big tent and brought Jay's son, 11-year-old Saul, and a friend, Joey Korn. Saul was all over the boat catching fish and everyone had a blast. An added bonus to fishing these guys is they always bring the best sandwiches. Bill Foster gave his wife, Lori, a surprise fishing trip for her 39th birthday. He also invited a few of her closest friends as well fixing all the food. They were Vicki Kerr, Kaye Jackson and Mary Whittle. Bill's youngest son, Jesse, also came along and put on a perch-jerking clinic that was really impressive. They caught more than 40 fish not counting the LDRs (long-distance releases) and I guarantee they were the best-looking crew on the lake. However, they put the nix on the 4:30 a.m., blastoff time, but agreed on 6 a.m.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373 - I caught three bass on the GGF finish Little Earl crank bait, fishing it over the grass (hydrilla) near the Cherokee ramp. I wasn't able to get a bite on top water.
I'll be at Hooters at 10 a.m., to 1 p.m., today with my boat and truck. I'll have some gifts for kids plus a game they can play to win prizes. David Whyte of Augusta Marine Superstore will have a boat on display, too.
My 30-minute television show will get its first airing on July 1. It will appear on Knology Channel 6 every evening at 10:30 p.m., just before the news. Our first show features Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle, roofing magnate Enon Hopkins and guide Jim Murphy.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706) 733-0124 (with twins Brad and Jim) - Billy: Ricky Peace fished with me last Friday for stripers and hybrids. After moving out to main Savannah River points in the dam area, we are catching bigger fish on live herring in 15 to 31 feet of water. We limited out on 3-to-8-pound fish, fishing from 5:45 a.m., to 8 a.m. Jim: Last Thursday, Phil and Chip Proctor from Martinez and the Paul Rosenzweigs (Senior and Junior editions) fished with me and caught a limit of hybrids and stripers on live herring in 38 feet of water. I took out Richey Allen, Jason Morris, Ralph Barbee Jr., and Mike Tyler on Wednesday afternoon. We wound up with 23 hybrids and stripers in the 4-to-6-pound range caught on live herring in 26 feet of water. Richey had the hot rod and also caught the 6-pounder. My dad, Billy, is scheduled to appear at Hooters on Washington Road this morning and I'll be there at 4 p.m. We'll talk about fishing, of course.
New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 - Preston Crews and Timmy Steflik caught and released striped bass weighing 30 and 26 pounds. Carlos Delgado caught a limit of bream on crickets and worms fishing off the dam. Jim Dearman and Beeson Dendil caught 50 catfish in the to 1-pound range on hybrid pinks down river. Marty Miller caught and released two stripers weighing 18 and 25 pounds on SPRO bucktails. Mack Peeler and John Norris caught 25 carp and one mullet. Bill Horton and H. Thigpen limited on redbreasts and bream fishing downriver before the storm on Thursday. A few shad are still being caught. Mullet are still hitting around Butler Creek. Richard and Mike Grubbs caught a bunch of mullet on the South Carolina side. Steve Owens caught some carp and mullet around Bob Baurle Boat Ramp.
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 (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) - Johnny Amerson and Pat won the tournament with big fish of 3.45-pounds and heavy stringer of 5.18 pounds. Michael Gott and Michael Wombles were runners-up with a 2.77-pound big fish.
Bill Gibson leads the big fish of the month with a 5.27-pounder caught in the Front Ditch on minnows.
Our bass tournament will take place today. There is a $20 per person entry fee and 75 percent payback. Hours start at 6 p.m.
Joe Mix, Island Outfitters, Ladys Island, (843) 522-9900 - The cobia run just won't quit. Last weekend, two 63-pounders were weighed in. Under slick, calm water conditions, last Thursday, charter captain Doug Gertis spotted at least 12 cobias cruising just beneath the surface and boated three. The Waddell Mariculture Center is attempting to raise cobia for restocking and released the first batch of 1,000 fingerlings around Daws Island last Tuesday. The fast-growing fish were spawned May 9 and weighed about 3.3 ounces each when set free. More are being kept in the center's pond to be tagged and released in October. About 8,000 others will be shipped to participating coastal research centers. After a two-week slow period, spottail bass has picked back up, particularly in the surf along the barrier island beaches. Offshore, bottom anglers report nice catches of red and vermilion snappers, triggerfish and black sea bass at the North Hole areas. Recent and continuing heavy rains have improved the outlook of our fall white shrimp crop.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771) - Large roe trout are starting show up in our rivers and sounds. There are several ways to get a hookup with one of the big girls. They didn't get big because they were stupid, so you've got to use a bit more fishing finesse to catch one. They have keen eyesight so sometimes it takes a lighter leader than you usually use.
One way to get their attention is use the Cajun Popper, a small float rig complete with its own bells and whistles. This rig works best when you add a short leader and your favorite hook baited with live shrimp, live mud minnow or even a plastic grub of the Bass Assassin type. The Gotcha Shad also works, as well as Tsunami Pro lures. I'm using a holographic swim bait (STM4-3) called mullet with black back.
For those of you who like to see the sinking of the cork, go with the traditional float rig and live bait. Use the type where you can adjust the float to place the bait at various depths.