Originally created 12/02/05

Anglers hope program stays



Reports that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources was considering to close the hybrid stocking program for Strom Thurmond Lake has upset many Augusta area anglers.

The Augusta Chronicle outdoors editor Rob Pavey reported the story in Sunday's paper.

The fish was developed more than 40 years ago by South Carolina fisheries biologists and first stocked into the lake in 1965-66. The Georgia department began its program a few years later and has become one of the most popular with anglers.

The fish are easy and fun to catch, grow to respectable weights and taste good when properly cooked.

The state plan hasn't moved out of the proposal stage, so the public has a chance to comment, but remarks should be made before the Georgia Legislature convenes in January. Local state representatives, senators and Gov. Sonny Perdue should be contacted, since they are the ones who must vote on the proposal. Objections also can be sent to the Fisheries Section, Georgia Game and Fish Division, Georgia DNR, 2070 U.S. Highway 278 SE, Social Circle, GA, 30025.

Historically speaking, sportsmen don't mind paying for popular programs. One plan is to suggest the DNR seek increases in fishing license fees; another would be to establish a special stamp, similar to South Carolina's striped bass stamp, and earmark funds for the hybrid program.

- The triple launching ramps at Thurmond Lake's Amity Day Use Area in Lincoln County, adjacent to the Raysville Bridge, have reopened.

- Hybrids are schooling in the back of Keg Creek - go under the bridge and back into the left fork - late in the afternoon. Hybrids and stripers are beginning to school in the Raysville area, moving into the Hart Creek and Little River shallows during late afternoons. Anglers need to keep their eyes peeled for gulls and terns feeding on emerging baitfish.

STROM THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington) (706) 595-5582 - Faye Matthews, of Lawrenceville, Ga., caught 20 crappies in our fish house on minnows. Amanda Story, of Martinez, and Faye Matthews caught 40 crappies on another trip to the same place. Nice white perch are being caught on white, -ounce Berry's Flex-It Spoons. Sea gulls and terns are in place, diving on schools of baitfish.

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, S.C. 29821 (803) 637-6379 (crockett rocketstriperfishing.com) - Birds are here, and we're waiting for the afternoon bite. We've had a good week catching our limit most every day. Steve Little brought his family up: wife, Connie; son, Stephen; and daughters Aaron and Kelsey. They caught 20 fish for a fish fry and then started throwing all the others back. They had a great time and the college-age "kids" were fun to fish with. While delivering some fishing tackle to my door, Steve Huff, my UPS man, decided we were going to do some fishing together. He brought friends James Cook, Calvin Owens and Mike Cannon, who's from Birmingham, Ala. They had 30 stripers and hybrids up to 8 pounds and a couple of largemouths in the 5- to 6-pound range. Most of my fish are coming in 30 to 40 feet of water and in the shallows early and late.

Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373, 957 Windmill Lane, Evans, Ga. 30809 - Last Tuesday, John Holden and I fished in the Keg Creek area. We spent an hour in the back of the creek. It was so cold, my hands and feet were freezing. We decided to move out on the creek proper and cast the pumpkinseed Rat-L-Trap around main channel points and into small pockets. The wind was blowing strongly. I caught bass weighing 6, 4 and 2 pounds and asked John, who had been using a bleeding Rat-L-Trap with red hooks, if he wanted to switch. He hadn't had a strike. After about 10 casts, he hooked and landed an 8-pound largemouth, the largest fish of that species he'd ever caught, and added a 7-pounder a few minutes later. I caught two more 2-pound fish and that was it. I went out Wednesday and wound up with five hybrids in the 2-pound range, fishing in the back of Keg Creek. They were finicky feeders and I caught one on the Rat-L-Trap, one on a No. 5 ShadRap and the rest on a white ice Super Fluke on a quarter-ounce jig head.

My show runs each Saturday at 11 a.m. and each Sunday at 2 p.m.

Craig Johnson, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, hybrid bass, striped bass. (706) 364-6437 - I fished the Holiday Park section of upper Little River, Ga., on Wednesday. The baitfish were stacked up in the backs of ditch-lined pockets and nine largemouth bass in the 2- to 2-pound range and three stripers (largest 18 pounds) were caught. I used a r-ounce chartreuse and white Buckeye spinnerbait with oversized No. 5 willow leaf blades. The trick was to cast it out, let it sink to the bottom before slow-rolling it back to the boat. The fish were caught in water less than 8 feet deep.

SAVANNAH RIVER

New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam

Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 - Bream, crappies and yellow perch are being caught off the fishing platform, while largemouth bass and jacks (chain pickerel) are hitting up and down the river.

MERRY BROS. BRICKYARD PONDS

Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) - Jimmy Wong won big fish of the month with a 5.21 pound catch, smallest of all our entries, but still worth $50. Ricky Cain caught nine bass in the Ditch on buzz baits and spinnerbaits. Wendell Smith and Patty caught a mess of crappies and catfish in the King, Shack and Membership ponds. Tommy Dove caught more than 20 catfish in the King Pond on minnows and liver and a few crappies, too. Ted Hatchell caught a 3-pound bass in the Shack Pond with a plastic worm. Don Rice and wife caught 16 pounds of crappies, catfish and bass, all dressed out, in the Shack and the Ditch on minnows and liver. David Scott has caught bream, crappies and bass in all of our ponds as he likes to move around.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

Beaufort, S.C. & Vicinity

Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530, and Doug Gertis, professional guide, (843) 524-5250) - Goodison: Fishing has been on the slow side, but speckled trout and redfish are beginning to bite again. A few flounder are being caught. High winds have kept most charter boats inshore.

SAVANNAH

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 - Lots of fish, including striped bass, redfish and trout, were caught last week and the bite is expected to remain good through this weekend. High northeast winds have prevented us from leaving the sound. Here's one for the books:

One of our local charter captains saw a customer break off a 30-inch redfish. After a few words of dismay from the skipper and other kinds of words from the customer, they went back fishing. Some 20 minutes later, they spotted a cork bobbing in the current. Corks are expensive so the skipper moved the boat to grab the float, which started moving away. The redfish was still on the hook and the slipknot on the line was doing its job.

They followed the fish-powered float for awhile until the fish found an opening in the marsh grass and moved up the slough, the incoming tide helping. The closer the fishermen got to the float, the faster the fish swam, so the skipper decided to hang back and see what happened. He checked out the area, and the first thing he noticed was that it was a great area for reds. There was a substantial grass buildup offering cover for small fish and other marine creatures. He also noted that a 30-inch redfish could still move effectively without spooking. They finally caught up with the fish, released it and the skipper vowed he'd come back to what he believes is a great redfish holding and feeding area.

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 the first two Saturdays in December 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 a (912) 897-4921 to make reservations.