Originally created 09/23/05

School's been tough on anglers this week



For the first time in the 20-plus year history of this report, it's going to be tough to write one because the unseasonably warm (make that hot) weather, joined by east winds, high surface temperatures and a full moon, has kept many anglers from catching fish.

No fish, no report. Almost, but not quite.

"The fish were schooling pretty good before the full moon," noted Capt. Dave Willard, a professional striped bass-hybrid bass guide from Clarks Hill, S.C. "It's been tough for me to catch fish this week."

Some schooling hybrids were spotted surfacing early Thursday morning in the Savannah River arm of Strom Thurmond Lake opposite Bass Alley, but these were express elevator fish - up and down very quickly. Few got a shot at them and even fewer were caught. Thick fog delayed many fishermen from getting to favorite schooling sites until well after daybreak.

Surface temperatures ranged from 78 in the big water to 81 in Hamilton Branch and Parksville coves. Before the heat wave, surface temperatures had dipped into the mid-70s and schooling and other fish were active. There is no relief in sight until the middle of next week.

- The Savannah River, from below Thurmond Dam to its mouth, will be op en to catch-and-keep striped and hybrid bass fishing starting Saturday, Oct. 1, for the first time in 16 years. Depletion of striped bass brood stock forced state fish and wildlife agencies to close the river from New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam to the mouth in 1989. Please note the new rules open it from Thurmond Dam south. Under the regulations, fishermen can keep two striped bass 27 inches or larger per day. Smaller fish must be released.

- The Fort Gordon Sportsman's Club's annual Kids' Fishing Rodeo (for youths 3-15 years of age) will be held Saturday at Claypits II and III. Registration starts at 7 a.m., and competition runs from 8 to 11 a.m. It's free. Youngsters also will be able to participate in riflery, skeet and archery at the new complex off Range Road. Call 791-5078 for the details. It's all a part of National Hunting and Fishing Day.

STROM THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina, near Thomson. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington) (706) 595-5582 - No report.

Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. 410 Sprouse Road, Clarks Hill, SC 29821 (803) 637-6379 (crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) - No report.

Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373, 957 Windmill Lane, Evans, GA. 30809 - No report.

My fishing show is a two-parter, one this month and the next in October. Its title is "Take Me to the River" and this month's segment features Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle and Chief Magistrate Judge Wade Padgett starting at Clarks Hill Lake and fishing with a Snoopy rod. The second part is on the Savannah River with my friend, Gary Lanzone. The show runs each Saturday at 11 a.m., on UPN Augusta and each Sunday at 2 p.m. on UPN Augusta, including Knology Ch. 7, Comcast Ch. 21, Charter Ch. 9 (Fort Gordon), G Force (Aiken) Ch. 7, Northland (Burke County, Statesboro, Swainsboro) Ch. 9 on Sundays from 2 to 2:30 p.m.

Ron Figueroa, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, hybrid bass, (706) 832-7230 (ronfig@comcast.net or his web site at buckeyelures.com/figs) - No report.

Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706-733-0124) (web site doubletroublefishingguides.com) with twins Brad and Jim - No report.

Craig Johnson, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, hybrid bass, striped bass. (706) 364-6437 - The hot weather has put the brakes on bass fishing, while I haven't seen a hybrid school in more than a week. My Outdoor Destinations show, which features Jeremy Altman and myself catching awesome sting rays and blacktip sharks off Hilton Head Island, S.C., will continue to be shown Sunday at 1:30 p.m., on UPN Augusta.

SAVANNAH RIVER

New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam

Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053. - Bryan Harris and Tompkins Harris caught 20 nice crappies on jigs and 11 nice bass on plastic worms down the river. Mullet are plentiful and are biting on catfish bait and little red worms. Shellcrackers, redbellies and bream are biting in Butler's Creek.

MERRY BROS.

BRICKYARD PONDS

Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) - Charlie Baggett caught six bass in the Shack Pond on a buzz bait and plastic worms. Total weight was 14 pounds. J.C. Dicks and J.J. Dixon won the tournament with 3.4 pounds. Greg and Mike Leaptrotte had the big fish 2.8 pounds. Four boats in the field. Larry Williams so far has the big fish of the month, a 6.37-pound bass, from the Shack Pond. 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.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530, and Doug Gertis, professional guide, (843) 524-5250) - Gertis: The full moon, abnormally high tides (9.75 feet) and dirty water have halted most inshore fishing. The grass has been flooded and outgoing tides are just about as bad as incoming. Water temperature is 81 degrees, so we have lots of nuisance fish, like pinfish, which can steal your bait quickly. Tides are heading back to normal later this week so fishing ought to be good by the weekend. I'm heading out to the creeks with my cast net to get some bait for tomorrow.

SAVANNAH

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 - Spotted sea trout is one of the most targeted inshore species this time of the year. Most trout being caught lack an inch or two of making the legal size, but bigger trout are out there. Instead of fishing live shrimp and other bait beneath a popping float, which will be more effective during the cooler months , I suggest you fish on the bottom. I use a slip sinker above a swivel, a 16-to-18-inch leader. It's just a basic Carolina Rig. Spanish mackerel continue to school along the beachfronts in 30 to 40 feet of water and close to near-shore artificial reefs. Many of the fish aren't on the surface, so I use a No. 3 Sea Striker planer. I troll small ClarkSpoons on three feet of 20-pound-test monofilament leader behind the planer, looking for tidal rips and trolling near them. I'm pulling them at 5 or 6 knots. Our artificial reefs are holding some nice bottom fish, with the best bite yet to come from large sea bass, black drum, triggerfish, sheepshead and blues. Cut squid remains the bait of choice.

Just a reminder: Our inshore and offshore fishing schools did well this year and we're planning more.

The inshore session will be held Dec. 3 and 10 and again Jan. 21 and 28 from 8 a.m., until 2 p.m. at Tubby's Tank House, 2909 River Drive, Thunderbolt, Ga. The offshore school will be held Feb. 287 from 8 a.m., until 2 p.m. at the same site. Cost is $80 per session and includes breakfast and lunch. Call a (912) 897-4921 to make reservations.