Fishing is lots of fun, but often it can be frustrating, particularly during the dog days of summer.
The best time to fish Thurmond Lake and other places is during the early morning hours until about 10 a.m., and then after dark. This way, you avoid the worst of the summer heat.
Fishing also is a matter of luck, and it helps to have a horseshoe in your sight, too. Like Horseshoe Island, located at the mouth of Catfish Creek near Parksville, S.C. Fishing that area early Wednesday, I came across schooling hybrids chasing threadfin shad off the flats and points on the Parksville side of the island.
The shad hatched a few weeks ago and, because of their tiny size, the schooling fish ignored artificial lures that were larger. But now the shad, which feed on a diet of microscopic organisms, nearly have reached their maximum size of nearly 4 inches.
As a result, hybrids and stripers schooling on the bait fish are hitting Thing Poppers, Roostertails and other lures.
Schooling fish also could be found at the mouth of Chigoe Creek and just inside Shriver Creek. They'll likely to be busting the surface in other areas of the lake, so stay alert as you ride up the Little and Savannah rivers.
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington) (706) 595-5582 - John Smith, of Augusta, caught 12 crappies in our fish house on shiners. David Duffy caught a limit of crappies on small minnows in our area. George and Garnet Stewart and James Wood caught 35 shellcrackers on pink worms.
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) - Fishing is super right now, but the window of opportunity is short. Most of my fish are being caught from 5 to 10 a.m. We've been getting a southwest chop on most mornings, and that really helps. It also helps to keep the temperature down. Steve Newman, his son, Michael, and friend, Bobby Wright, caught 24 stripers and hybrids. The trip was a Christmas gift from Steve's wife, but Michael has a busy schedule playing baseball and is a record-setting pitcher for Georgia College and State University.
Dr. Skip Arent, Charlie McDaniel and his brothers, Leo and James, from Atlanta, caught 71 stripers and hybrids in two days. Mark Chambers entertained clients and friends from New York City: Greg Richards, Alex Piligian, Catherine Quinn and Chris Gaeta. These guys are big off-shore striper fishermen and really enjoyed some inland fishing. They boated a limit of 50. They had a great fish fry at Mark's home overlooking Cliett Creek. All our fish are coming off live herring fishing the thermocline 24 to 30 feet down.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373, 957 Windmill Lane, Evans GA 30809 - My August TV show features Enon Hopkins fishing on the Savannah River. He's catching all his stripers on the large Pencil Popper. Daniel Jackson is featured on another part of the show. The show airs 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 (double troublefishingguides.com) with twins Brad and Jim) - Last Saturday, my sons, grandson Johnathan and brother-in-law Alex Cleghorn, of Raleigh, N.C., and I trolled the umbrella rig and caught 20 hybrids and stripers. We trolled it in Clark Hill Park, Church Cove and Lake Springs. We had four fish weighing more than 10 pounds and the others 2 to 8 pounds. On Sunday, we trolled the same area with the same people and caught 15 fish. Biggest fish was a 7-pound largemouth bass. The hybrids and stripers weighed 2 to 5 pounds.
Capt. William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass. (706) 589-5468 - Jeffrey Harris, of Augusta, fished with me this week along Little River from Ridge Road Campground to Lloyds Creek. A front had passed through the area the night before, and fish were biting everywhere. He limited out on big crappies and caught some nice white perch and channel catfish, too. Robert Rhodes, of Augusta, and William Reynolds, of North Augusta, fished with Donna and I later in the week. The bite was a bit slower, but they were good fishermen, even if they did oversleep. They caught 50 big crappies plus catfish and white perch on live minnows, fishing in 45 feet of water, but the big fish (probably a flathead catfish) got away during our trip.
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 - Mack Peeler of Wrens, Ga., and a friend caught a cooler full of mullet down river on Thursday. Mullet also can be caught off the Bob Baurle Boat Ramp on bits of red worms fished beneath a float. There's no action at the Mayor's Fishin' Hole because it's been just so hot.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) - Emmett Loudis is the $50 winner of our big fish contest with a 6.7-pound bass. He also caught a 6.5-pounder on a plastic worm in the Warren Pond. Keith Maltsberger caught a 5.23-pound bass in the Shack Pond on a plastic worm and is the current big fish contest leader for this month. Jonathon Campbell and Trey Skeens won the tournament with 4.8 pounds and the big fish of 2.9 pounds. Greg and Mike Leaptrotte were second with 3.53 pounds. Thirty-nine fishermen competed.
Our weekly bass tournament continues today and runs from 6 p.m., until 10 p.m. Cost is $20.
Beaufort, S.C. & Vicinity
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530, and Doug Gertis, professional guide, (843) 524-5250 - Goodison: Lots of flounder, trout and redfish are being caught, but fishing is slow for Spanish mackerel and kings. Cobia are still being caught in the Port Royal shipping channel, while tarpon sightings are common in Fripp and Trenchard's inlets. The Gulf Stream is producing hookups with wahoo, dolphin and billfish.
Gertis: In-shore fishing has been excellent with lots of trout and redfish being caught on finger mullet and live shrimp. We have caught 60 trout a day this week and some small-to-large redfish, too.
Winds have been moderate and the baits of choice are shrimp and finger mullet. There are plenty of shrimp in the creeks and trout are getting bigger every week. High water temperatures make getting out early imperative because as the day heats up, the fish bite slows down. Some nice tarpon have been caught, but fishing for silver kings has been slow overall. Lots of Spanish mackerel and blues are showing up at the near-shore wrecks and some nice kingfish have been caught near the Port Royal sea buoy.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah GA 31410-0771 - Huge schools of menhaden showed up in the Warsaw area this week. These are great baitfish that are loved by Spanish and king mackerel, among others. Both species of mackerel and the dreaded barracuda are showing up at our artificial reefs. I'm catching plenty of Spanish mackerel pulling a No. 3 planer trailed by a small to medium Clark Spoon tied to 15 to 20 feet of 20-pound monofilament test line. Please make sure to tie on a 90- to 100-pound-test swivel on the stern of the planer.
You're going to lose a few lures to the sharp teeth of the mackerel by using that type of line instead of a wire leader, but monofilament allows the spoon to do its job. All you have to do is put your thumb and forefinger on the leader and pull it through them. If you feel any nicks or cuts, change the leader and avoid losing too many spoons. The area of the line most sliced and diced from mackerel teeth is from the knot on the spoon up the first four inches of the line.