Take a kid fishing. How many times have you heard that? Well, the Fort Gordon Sportsman's Club will give you a chance to do just that Saturday.
The annual Kids' Fishing Derby will be held at the post's Claypits I, II and III. The best news is that Claypit I will be open after being closed for three years, according to Fred Perry.
"It was stocked back then and last January, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources stocked each of the ponds with 1,000 catfish," he said.
The event is open to the public, who can enter the fort at any gate. Directional signs will be posted. There are four age groups, up to 15 years old, and the top three winners by weight of their catch will get trophies.
The first 300 children registering will get a free T-shirt, while other prizes will be handed out. Hot dogs and soft drinks will be served after the awards session.
Registration starts at 8 a.m., and the tournament ends at 11.
- Few schools of surfacing hybrids and stripers are being observed because the fish are on their express elevator mode: Quickly up, even more quickly down. Slow-trolling Gotcha Shad soft plastic baits threaded onto quarter-ounce jig heads at least 50 feet behind the boat has been effective.
- Largemouth bass are being caught off points on soft plastic baits (mostly plastic worms) in 5 to 8 feet or more. Try floating worms early in the day around bankside cover.
- On a trip to Scott's Ferry boat ramp on the South Carolina side of Thurmond Lake earlier this week, I saw smoke rising from a nearby wooded area. Thinking someone might be camping, I boated over to find a small section of the woods ablaze. Smokey Bear would not have been pleased. Someone had been careless over the Memorial Day weekend, either with a campfire or cigarette. I reported it to the Corps of Engineers, and a firebreak was bulldozed, keeping it contained to that one area. The woods are tinder-dry, so please be careful with fire of any kind.
- Capt. Judy Helmey, our fishing guide in Savannah, Ga., was featured in the current issue of Georgia Outdoor News. A color photo showing five Augusta area anglers complemented the story. They are Thomas Langford Sr., of Grovetown; Chris Langford and Bryon Reynolds of Martinez; Thomas Langford Jr., of Appling, and Roy English of Evans.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington) (706) 595-5582 - Ed Cope caught 40 crappies and Mike Berry caught 15 large crappies, all on jigs and minnows in our fish house.
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 water is clear and 83 degrees on the surface. The morning bite has been good, but fairly short. Most of our fish are being caught before 9 a.m. Afternoon fishing has really been tough, with very little wind, high temperatures; and I don't recommend it right now. Dr. Jim Wilde and his dad, Jack, caught a limit on their first trip. They do a lot of saltwater fishing, but enjoyed freshwater striper fishing tremendously. Dr. Chris Johnson and his wife, Judy, were forced to make an afternoon trip. It's hard to get a babysitter at 5 a.m. Judy is the real fisherman of the family and is on Lake Oconee crappie fishing as we speak. They landed 11 hybrids and released some smaller ones. I'm looking for the fish to stack up really good during this hot weather, and I hope we'll have a good summer as the fish move onto the river ledges.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373, 957 Windmill Lane, Evans GA 30809 - My TV show runs each Saturday at 11 a.m., 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.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706) 733-0124 (doubletroublefishingguides.com) with twins Brad and Jim) - Jim: On Saturday, Larry Freeman, my dad, Billy, and I fished planer boards on the flats in Little River. We caught nine striped bass on live herring free-lined about 20 feet back. We had one 8-pounder and the rest 4- to 6-pounders. On Sunday, I took out Jamie Collier of Evans and Gary Tott of Americus, Ga. They caught 23 stripers and hybrids using the same method, and an 8-pounder was their biggest. On Memorial Day, Freeman, Doug Holland and dad caught 25 pulling planer boards and also on the Pencil Popper. A 9-pounder was our biggest.
Craig Johnson, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, hybrid bass, striped bass. (706) 364-6437 (www.professionalangler.com/CraigJohnson.htm.) - No report.
William Sasser, professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass (706) 589-5468. - Grant Sutton, Bill Manning and Mark Branum, all of Augusta, and Charlie Honaker, of Thomson, fished with me on Memorial Day. Even with all the happy boaters on the lake, we kept 45 of the bigger fish that we caught. Robert and Drew Rollins, of Martinez, and Drew's sons, John and David, from Baton Rouge, La., fished with me on Thursday. It was a hot, muggy, windless day, but we caught some good-sized fish. We're fishing live shiners 15 feet deep over brush in 30 feet. The younger boys were in a neck-and-neck race as to who would catch the biggest. By 3 p.m., we'd caught 50 fish, and saved 40 in the ice chest. My VHF radio handle is Crappie Master, and I can be reached on the lake on Channel 68.
New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 - The river's been pretty low but is starting to come up a bit. That might help the striped bass scenario, because fishermen around the lock and dam haven't been able to hook any. The river below the Jackson Boat Club landing is in much better shape. John Andrews, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources creel checker, saw a 22-pound striper caught last week. "There were three boats full of striper fishermen, and between them they'd caught and released 10," he said. The redbreast sunfish bite has slowed, but shellcrackers and bream are still being caught, many still full of eggs. Catfish and mullet also are being caught, but the shad run is over. The Mayor's Fishin' Hole up the road is producing good catches of bass, catfish and crappies, generally during the hour just before dark.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) - Jimmy Wong won our big fish of the month contest and $50 with a 7.08-pound bass. Milik Austin caught a total of 30 pounds of bass on plastic worms in the Garden Pond. Jonathon Watkins caught 17 bass in the Garden Pond on crank baits. Scott Collins and Warren Collins won our bass tournament with a 13.62-pound catch. Lonnie Pope and Clarence Gay were second with 9.75 pounds, and third were Gregg and Michael Leaptrot with 9.43 pounds. The latter also won the big fish contest with 6.56 pounds. Our weekly bass tournament, which continues today, runs from 6-10 p.m. Cost is $20 per person.
Beaufort, S.C. & Vicinity
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530, and Doug Gertis, professional guide, (843) 524-5250 - Gertis: Fishing has been great for everything except cobia. Lots of small fish are being caught, but the amount of keeper fish has been terrible. The weird spring weather probably can be blamed. The good thing is that the trout and redfish bite has been good. We had a number of great days fishing for the reds with some 34-inch-long fish being caught, along with some 27-inch fish. Big mud minnows below a Cajun Thunder cork have been producing some nice trout. We had a surprise fish hit Tuesday, a 7-pound Spanish mackerel bit a mud minnow in 3 feet of water!
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 - King mackerel are being caught around the naval towers, but barracuda are lurking there, too, looking for a free lunch (or supper, or breakfast) via the fish you hook. So if you get a mackerel on, speed up the boat and get away from the tower to have a chance to bring in a whole fish. The Savannah Snapper Banks have been producing great catches of red snapper, grouper and amberjack. I've found the bigger fish like live bait rather than the same old cut squid.