Veteran Thurmond Lake fisherman Tommy Shaw of Leah, Ga., admits the next few weeks are his favorite times of year to go fishing. "It's Spook and fluke time," he says.
The main reason is that blueback herring are moving into the shallows to spawn and whither they go, so go largemouth bass, striped bass and hybrid bass, not to mention flathead and channel catfish.
While bluebacks are the No. 1 live baits of choice, fishermen casting artificial lures like the Heddon Super Spook, Pencil Popper and Zoom Super Fluke (weightless) around river points can do almost as well.
The early morning bite might be best, but late afternoons also can be good.
- Condolences to the family of Amos M. Gay, who died April 20 at his Columbia County home. His claim to fishing fame was the world record, 5-pound, 7.5-ounce shellcracker he caught at Santee Cooper in 1998. If you don't know what a 5-pound "bream" looks like, check the photo of fish and fisherman on this page.
- Congratulations to 61-year-old Kurt Glass of Grovetown for winning the Central Florida Paralyzed Veterans Association bass tournament on the Harris Chain of Lakes. He weighed in bass totaling 10.61 pounds to edge his closest competitor by an ounce and win his sixth bass boat. Glass plans to give the boat to his son, Shaun.
- Eleven Augusta area fishermen did themselves proud in last week's Pride of Georgia Elite Series bass tournament. Pro Jason Williamson of Aiken finished 25th and won $10,250. Sean Ravenscroft of North Augusta almost won the Co-Anglers Division, finishing second and earning $25,500.
Check out the Co-Anglers list in today's tournament report. The tournament will air on ESPN2 Saturday at 9 a.m.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Raysville Marina, near Thomson. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington) (706) 595-5582 - Michael Platts and Gary Edge caught 45 crappies, 30 between a pound and two pounds.
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 (crockettrocketstriperfishing. com) - Water temperatures have rebounded into the low 70s. The fish are eating us up. Bluebacks are spawning and the game fish are taking advantage of the situation. We're catching nice hybrids, stripers and largemouths free-lining live herring around spawning bait fish. Butch Dobos, Brian Workman and Terry Ruskin are putting a dent in the fish population. Any fish that comes within 100 yards of them winds up in the cooler. They blistered the hybrids and stripers, catching a 30-fish limit. Hammond West, Bettis Hammond and Jerry Locklear racked up on stripers and hybrids, catching their limit in just a few hours. It was very fortunate because they were looking forward to a fish fry and they got it. David Samson and his wife, Joanna, from Aiken, had a great trip. David is still a practicing lawyer, but has taken up fishing and skeet shooting in recent years and wonders how he lived without either. They always catch a lot of fish, but keep just enough for a couple of meals for two.
Dale Gibbs, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass (706) 288-7510 - The fishing is as good as it will ever be. Rhedd Crosby of Evans spent the day with me last Monday, catching largemouths, hybrids and stripers. We caught 10 largemouth bass weighing 12- to 8 pounds and eight to 10 hybrids and stripers from 3 to 8 pounds. All came on the Buckeye Glimmer blue Super Spook, chrome and blue Pencil Popper and Buckeyes half-ounce brown mop jig. The latter produced our better fish. Tuesday was an even better day. I had five fish for my club tournament that weighed 19 pounds, 11 ounces. My big fish weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces. I actually boated 15 largemouths from a pound up and losing two bass that were as large or larger than my biggest bass. I also boated 22 hybrids and stripers from 2 to 20 pounds. Almost every fish was caught on the Spook or the Pencil Popper with a few biting the mop jig and Zoom's pearl Super Fluke.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids (706) 833-4807. - Except for a couple of slow mornings, it's been great this week. Water temperatures have been in the low 70s and bait has been abundant. I've seen a fair amount of surface activity, particularly in Wells and Landrum creeks. Most of my fish are coming on live herring slow-trolled beneath planer boards and a few on cut bait. Michael Carter and Lee Frazier, of Hendersonville, N.C., last Friday got a lesson in fast fishing. We found a huge school of hybrids gorging themselves. We pulled boards through the school and the men caught two limits really fast. Last Saturday, Joel Britton and David Byers of North Augusta decided to do an afternoon trip after the bass tournament fishermen had left the water. We had a good steady bite and a few fast times, keeping two limits. My VHF radio handle is Boat Racer and I can be reached on Channel 68. My Web site is www.fishlake thurmond.com.
Albert Moody, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000 - Bream and shellcracker are bedding below the dam in the Savannah River. Lots of white perch also are being caught. Some bank fishermen around West Dam are getting their hooks straightened by big catfish and striped bass biting their cut bait. Pat Satcher of North Augusta caught a 23-pound striped bass. I went out Wednesday looking for bedding shellcrackers and only caught one. Fishermen trolling with planer boards a few hundred yards out from the off-limits buoy line are catching some nice stripers and hybrids.
New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 - Shad are still hitting both below the dam and above it. Wallace Cassell of Aiken has been wearing out the shad, fishing a deep hole on the south side of the railroad trestle below Sand Bar Ferry Road. A 27-pound striper was caught downriver. Shellcracker fishing is red hot. They've been wearing out the redbellies on crickets and wax worms down river. The mullet bite also has improved. Some nice catfish have been coming out of the Mayor's Fishing Hole late in the afternoon. Warning: You cannot launch a boat into that pond.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) - Chris Kelly and Brian Smith won our bass tournament last Friday with 15.88 pounds. Dennis Sidener and Raymond Klaus were second with 14.47 pounds and had big fish with 7.13 pounds. Todd Smith and Paul Grubbs were third with 7.66 pounds. George Driver is still big fish leader with a 6.76-pounder. Joe Turner caught five bass, biggest 5.22 pounds, in the Bradford Pond on plastic worms. Emmett Laudis caught four bass in the Warren Pond weighing 7.55 pounds on plastic worms. Our bass tournament will be held again today. Entry fee is $20 per fisherman. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Teams consisting of one to three fishermen in a boat can weigh in five bass and the payout includes heavy stringer and big fish. The team with the most weight will receive 10 points toward a $400 prize to be awarded after the Aug. 31 tournament. A fishing license is not required to fish in our ponds. Tournament hours are 6 p.m., to 10 p.m.
BEAUFORT, S.C., AND VICINITY
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, S.C. 1 (843) 838-2530, and Doug Gertis, professional guide, (843) 524-5250 - Goodison: Inshore fishing remains on the slow side, but cobia are starting to show up. Black sea bass fishing on near-shore wrecks and reefs remains good, while a few Spanish mackerel are beginning to show up. Offshore in the Gulf Stream, good catches of dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna are being made, with a few king mackerel starting to show. Bottom fishing offshore around live bottoms and artificial reefs is yielding some nice grouper, larger black sea bass and plenty of trigger fish.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 - The Tybee Island Fishing Pier has been producing some good catches of black drum, croakers, summer trout, sheepshead, red drum and whiting. Cut shrimp remains the bait of choice. Perhaps the weather will finally moderate and inshore fishing once again will be good.