"There weren't just hundreds of fish schooling, there were thousands!" declared Bonnie Annis of Trenton, S.C.
She got into the hybrids and stripers with her husband, David, and 4-year-old grandson, Matthew McDavid, on Wednesday in Strom Thurmond Lake's Cherokee Creek.
Matthew's grandfather cast the lure, struck when the fish hit and handed Matthew the rod, holding onto it as his grandson turned the reel handle. He did that with 14 hybrids weighing up to 5 pounds and more. When the action ceased, that was one worn-out little boy.
It's a fact that hybrid and striped bass schools used to be measured by the acres during fall and spring of years gone by, when threadfin shad were the main forage fish. Threadfin stay in relatively shallow water and move to the top of the water column when lake waters cool.
Blueback herring, stocked into the lake about 10 years ago, are deep-water food fishes and, except for the spring of the year, stay at depths up to 40 feet and more.
Hybrids and stripers prefer the bluebacks over threadfin, so the game fish don't surface to school as much as they used to.
Hybrids also have been schooling in Keg and Chigoe creeks, but not in the numbers the Annisses found at 4 p.m., Wednesday.
- The triple launching ramps at Thurmond Lake's Amity Day Use Area in Lincoln County adjacent to the Raysville Bridge have been closed for resurfacing. They'll reopen to the public on Nov. 18 if all goes well, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported.
- Professional bass fisherman Craig Johnson of Martinez gambled that he could get into the Wal-Mart EverStart Championship on Pickwick Lake near Florence, Ala., even though he wasn't in the field.
"Because of the high gasoline prices, I felt there probably would be some no-shows," Johnson said, and he was correct. He finished in 26th place and won $5,000. He also won $1,500 in Ranger bass boat bonus money and had some bad luck, too, losing two fish that would have put him into the top 10. The winner was Sam Newby of Pocola, Okla., who earned a new Ranger and $100,000 cash.
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) - The fish are very challenging right now. The cooler days have definitely been better for me. It's hard to catch fish in the same locale for more than a couple of days, and sometimes just one day. That's pretty typical for this time of the year, when fish start their fall migration and haven't settled on any particular spot. Van Davis gave his fishing partner, Stuart Cooley, a fishing lesson on Wednesday. That's not easy to do because Stuart, also known as "Alligator Stu," is quite an accomplished angler and has a pending line class record: a 3-foot alligator on four-pound test. I also enjoyed fishing with several other groups, including Donna Howard on her first-ever striper trip. She caught her limit of hybrids plus one jack. Fishing should steadily improve as temperatures cool this weekend.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373, 957 Windmill Lane, Evans, GA. 30809 - Last Tuesday afternoon, I fished with John Holden and outfished him 3-0, I fished the Bill Lewis pumpkinseed Rat-L-Trap on grassy points. Gary Lanzone went with me Wednesday from 7-11 a.m., and both of us struck out. On Thursday, I went to Raysville and into Kemp Creek, threw the Rat-L-Trap in Smokey Joe and Pumpkinseed colors around brush and laydowns, and caught six bass. Most were in the 2-pound range, but just before I left, caught a 6-pound largemouth bass. On my fishing show, Pete Glabas joins me on the Savannah River with Ben Ballard and Gabe Gaddis of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. We're catching huge stripers on the river and helping the Richmond Hill-based biologists tag the fish. This is the first of two parts on electro-fishing, a technique used by the biologists to stun the fish and send them to the surface where they are netted, weighed, measured and tagged and then released. The show runs each Saturday at 11 a.m. and each Sunday at 2 p.m. on UPN Augusta.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706) 733-0124 (doubletroublefishingguides.com, with twins Brad and Jim) - No report.
Craig Johnson, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, hybrid bass, striped bass. (706) 364-6437 - No report.
New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053. - Fishermen are making good catches of crappies and jacks upriver around the grass beds. They're catching some nice bluegills, too, on hybrid pinks and red worms. Down river, they're catching some catfish as well as some bream. A few yellow perch are being caught off the dam.
MERRY BROS. BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) - Darrell Graham caught so many bream in the Hidden Pond he didn't count them. He used worms. Jim Gibson caught 40 crappies and two bass on minnows in the Front Ditch. Jimmy Wong, one of our dedicated bass fishermen, has the biggest of the month with a 5.21-pounder. He also caught seven more with a total weight of 26 pounds. Little Joey Circo and his dad caught 10 to 15 crappies on minnows in the Front Ditch. Patty Grantham and her fishing partner, Wendell Smith, caught 50 to 60 crappies and 10 nice catfish in the White Elephant and King ponds on minnows and liver. David Scott, 89, one of our oldest fishermen, caught a nice mess of crappies on minnows in the Front Ditch. Lindsey Fielding has been catching 30 or more crappies every night for the past two weeks on minnows in the Front Ditch. Gene Fallaw, who won last month's big fish award, has caught a few keeper bass, but nothing to brag about. Maurice Freeman caught 20 crappies - some 11- to 2 pounds - on minnows in the Shack Pond. John Springer caught two catfish and a mess of crappies on minnows in the Front Ditch. The crappies weighed 11 to 2 pounds each. DeWayne Gordon caught more than 50 crappies weighing more than 30 pounds on minnows in Front Ditch. Honey Sears caught 12 crappies on minnows and 18 crappies, three bream and two jacks on Thursday, all on minnows in the Ditch. Joan Carter caught four catfish, five bream and three-quarters of a 5-pound bucket full of crappies on minnows in the Ditch. Our bass tournament has been postponed until further notice.
Beaufort, S.C. & Vicinity
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530, and Doug Gertis, professional guide, (843) 524-5250 - Goodison: I fished with my friend, Capt. Don Kohlmayer, on Wednesday and caught some nice flounder and black sea bass. We also caught and released several 35- to 40-pound redfish at the tire reef. I had a ball using light tackle and landing a redfish estimated to weigh 40 pounds. Speckled trout and sheepshead fishing is good and whiting is fair. Yellowtail along with grouper, red snapper and vermilion snapper are among offshore catches. The Fripp Island Marina and Fripp Island Yacht Club will play host to the 7th annual Kids' Turkey Fishing Tournament on Friday, Nov. 25. Youngsters aged 5 to 15 can participate for free. All entrants must provide their own tackle and life preservers, plus have an adult along to supervise. Fishing will be held on the marina docks, or from moored boats from 8:30 a.m., to 3 p.m. More information: (843) 838-1517.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 - Redfish and speckled trout are on the top of our customers' catch lists and so far, we've not disappointed them.
I have been taking out parties for more than 40 years. My father founded the guide service in 1948 and it is now mine. Back in the old days, when I first started fishing, it was about only catching fish. Recreational, charter and commercial anglers fished with no regard for the species. We all assumed there was an unlimited supply of fish, but when stocks became depleted and limits installed and enforced, fishermen went crazy! As time went on, things got better. We finally got used to the idea that we had to protect our fish resources. If we hadn't made changes, we'd have little to catch today. Unfortunately, we still have fishermen who think the way we all did during the early years. It's time for all of us to step up to the plate and do our part.
There are still openings in our inshore and offshore fishing schools scheduled later this year and early next year. 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. 28 from 8 a.m., until 2 p.m. at the same site. Cost is $80 per session and includes breakfast and lunch. Call (912) 897-4921.