The spawn may soon be over for blueback herring, and when the bait fish quit the shallows for Thurmond Lake's deeper water, most game fish will follow.
Threadfin shad - inhabitants of the lake's shallower layers - will become the next target of hybrid, striped and largemouth bass, and that means one thing.
Surface water temperatures reached 81 degrees by mid-Wednesday afternoon, while staying in the 70s during the morning. Anglers venturing onto the lake during the pre-dawn hours should keep an eye out for schooling activity. Stripers, hybrids and largemouth are still pursuing baitfish on long, tapering points, but schooling takes place in deep water areas.
Among good areas to check out are waters opposite Horseshoe Island just inside Catfish Creek (Parksville, S.C., cove) and the general vicinity on both sides of the Savannah River. Waters adjacent to Hamilton Branch State Park one cove downstream from Parksville; the Church Cove on the South Carolina side of the lake; the mouth of Little River, Ga., and Bass Alley Cove on the Lincoln County, Ga., side are other hotspots.
- The full moon is scheduled to rise Monday, and anglers who love to fish bream and shellcracker beds are looking forward to it, since that phase stimulates the fish into spawning. The best times are the first two or three days before it and the two or three days afterward.
- Check out the May issue of Georgia Outdoor News for a good story about Lincoln County Sheriff's Department's Mike Arrington, whose expertise at catching big catfish is well known in this area.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington) (706) 595-5582 - David and Cherry Powlen of Martinez caught 30 crappies in our fish house on minnows. David Reville and Keith Ashley of Thomson caught 30 crappies on chartreuse jigs. Bill Braddy and Billy Powell caught 27 shellcrackers on hybrid pink worms.
Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. Box 131, Clarks Hill, SC 29821 (803) 637-6379 (crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) - I can't remember the last time we had any westerly wind and most of the days the lake surface has been slick. Despite that, with the exception of one morning, the fish have really eaten us up. Surface temperature reached 75 degrees in the morning. I got to fish with some of my favorite regulars as well as some new characters and some really fun kids. Jimmy Lea and his father-in-law, Bob Andrews, limited out on some nice hybrids in just a couple of hours. Alan and Debbie Muehlfeld gave their son, Matthew, a fishing trip for his 15th birthday. His little sister, Rachel, 10, also came along and matched her brother fish for fish. They had 20 fish in the 5-to-7-pound class on an afternoon trip. Bill Mills bought his Mom, Norma, and friend Asmara Lewright, 9. The latter was the star of the show, catching the first, the biggest and the most. Billy Dakuras and son Dino and friend, pro hockey player Trevor Gilles from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, blistered the fish, catching a limit in two hours. Hammond West gave his friend, Bettis Hammond, and Jimmy Locklear a fishing lesson en route to a limit of hybrids Thursday morning.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373, 957 Windmill Lane, Evans, GA. 30809 - Last Tuesday, Jim Murphy and I started taping next month's TV show and caught stripers weighing 8, 6 and 4 pounds. I hooked a huge striper on a Pencil Popper and fought it for several minutes. I believe it was the biggest fish I'd ever hooked. The 40-pound class fish darted beneath my boat, breaking one hook and bending another out. The big fish always gets away, but I felt like crying. On Wednesday, Pete Glabas joined me and we caught four fish and lost two. Pete caught a largemouth on a Super Fluke and an 8-pound hybrid. I caught two more, one small one, and then an 8-pound bass. Early Thursday, fishing by myself, I caught only three hybrids.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706) 733-0124 (double troublefishingguides.com) with twins Brad and Jim) - Last Saturday, Jim and I pulled planer boards around blow-throughs and points and caught two largemouth bass, one weighing 8 pounds, the other 6. We started throwing a Super Spook and caught stripers weighing 10 and 6 pounds. Then our trolling motor cable broke and we were forced to leave.
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 - The river is producing some of the finest redbreast fishing I've ever seen and I've been fishing it for more than 60 years. Here are just a few of the many fishermen having success: Lee Miller has been catching 25 to 30 reds with crickets off the dam nearly every day. Miller also caught 25 redbreasts and bluegills on another trip to the lock and dam. Brad Harris and a friend caught 42 bream and catfish down river on crickets and Louisiana pinks. Wayne Glascock limited out on reds using crickets. Robert Stampley limited on reds. Sgt.-Maj. Mike Mooney and his mother, Sue, from North Georgia caught 31 crappies and eight bass on minnows and artificial baits. Mike Grubbs and his son, Mike Jr., also have been tearing up the reds on both sides of the river near the dam. Mack Peeler and his friend, John, from Wrens, Ga., caught a ton of mullet downriver. Mary Brown has been catching mullet at the mouth of Butler Creek. The Mayor's Fishin' Hole has been producing good catches of bass and big bream on artificials and crickets. Sonny Moog has been catching limits of reds down river.
MERRY BROS. BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) - Bream have been on the beds in the Garden Pond and elsewhere. Ricky Cain is still the big fish holder for the month with a 6.3-pound bass. Winners of last Friday's bass tournament were Mike Diles and Chris Kelley with five bass weighing 13.34 pounds. They also had big fish of 5.08 pounds. Scott and Betty Collins were second with 9.57 pounds, while Mike Adkins and Eddie Kuglar were third with 8.11 pounds. Forty-three fishermen in the field caught 82 pounds of bass. Our bass tournament will be held today, weather permitting, starting at 6 p.m., with a $20 entry fee. Weigh-in is at 10 p.m.
Beaufort, S.C. & Vicinity
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530, and Doug Gertis, professional guide, (843) 524-5250) - Goodison: Fishing remains red hot, with good catches of whiting, flounder and speckled trout being recorded. Winner of the Beaufort tournament weighed in a 12-pound sheepshead. Redfish continue to feed, while offshore, large vermilion snappers, black sea bass and red snappers are biting. Schools of bluefish are out there and can be a lot of fun on Clark Spoons. Thirty miles out to the Gulf Stream fishermen are trolling for wahoo, bull dolphin, king mackerel and yellow fin tuna. The Fripp Island Memorial Day Fishing Tournament will be held Saturday, May 28. A captains' meeting and dinner will be held Friday night at 7 p.m., with fishing getting started at sunrise, with weigh-ins starting at 4 p.m., and closing at 6. Prizes will be given for the best catches of dolphin, wahoo, kingfish and Spanish mackerel. More information: Fripp Island Marina, (843) 838-1517. Gertis: Cobia action is red-hot in the Broad River, while redfish are eating everything in sight. Offshore wrecks are producing good catches of black sea bass, while Spanish mackerel and some blues are schooling off the Bay Point bars.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, GA 31410-0771 - The Savannah River channel, also known as Tybee Road, is holding the first run of the year of Spanish mackerel. Fishermen must stay out of the way of the ships that move in and out and stay along the channel's outer boundary. If you're not familiar with the area, go with someone who is. The buoys that line the shipping channel also are great places to cast live eels for cobia. The fish hide in the buoy shade.
This may be one of the best years for trout, if early catches of summer trout and spotted sea trout are any indication. The fish are being caught around artificial reefs, but will move into tidal creeks in the fall.