A little bit of finesse doesn't hurt

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How many times have you been fishing and disregarded subtle and not so subtle "tips" that fish are present?

Here's an example: Three weeks ago, I ran my boat through the gap from Little River into Keg Creek and found a flock of gulls diving on breaking fish on the flats. Naturally, action ceased as I pulled up, my outboard's exhaust apparently spooking the fish out of 10 to 15 feet of water.

A week later, I approached the same area. Gulls were there, but just sitting on the surface. There were enough birds to suggest something had taken place and they wouldn't be just sitting there for the fun of it. Several casts of a jig-headed Zoom Super Fluke produced no fish, so I left.

Last Monday afternoon, after fishless pursuits around the Modoc area, I rode back to the same area to find birds sitting on the water. This time, I cut off my outboard, cast a pearl-colored Super Fluke about 30 feet behind the boat and turned on my 90-pound thrust trolling motor. As we moved slowly over 15 feet of water, a 12-pound striped bass slammed the fluke and made my day.

By not cutting off the big motor and scaring the fish out of the shallows where they had been feeding, I had been guilty of being dumb. Flats fishing this time of the year requires a bit of finesse. Try it.

THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), 1 (706) 595-5582 -- Dennis White, of Augusta, caught 10 crappies in our fish house.

David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. (Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 (crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) -- Water temperature has gradually increased to 54 degrees and the fish bite picked up accordingly. It's all about water temperature right now and every degree is critical. We're picking up some nice stripers from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., on free-lined herring. We then move to deeper water and down-line for smaller hybrids and largemouths. The area around Red Bank Island above Raysville Marina really turned on this week and it depends on the amount of water from this week's rain as to how muddy it gets. It's looking good for this weekend. Big Hart and Little River split.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide, (706-860-7373) -- It was a beautiful Tuesday morning as Danny Sheehan and I went up to the Washington-Wilkes pumping station on upper Little River. Danny caught a 15-pound striped bass on a Yellow Fellow dead on the bank. Thirty minutes later, he caught a 31/2-pound largemouth and a few minutes later, a 12-pound striped bass also hit in the shallows. He caught another largemouth of 4 pounds. I knew there was something wrong. I was using a sinking plug, while he used a floating type, so I switched. I caught a 15-pound striper and later hung a 6-pound largemouth that threw the plug. I caught one more largemouth of 3 pounds. Danny had left his cell phone at home and wasn't able to constantly talk as he usually does while on the lake. He fished from the back of my boat and caught four fish to my two. I miss my partner, Bill Shaw, who is now recuperating from surgery. I'll take him out fishing as soon as he is able.

Capt. William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass. (706) 589-5468. -- Curtis Mathis, Reggie Reynolds, William Reynolds, all of Augusta, and Robert Rhodes. of Evans fished with me last Saturday. We caught good-sized largemouths and nice stripers 12 to 15 pounds on downlines and planer board. My VHF radio handle is Crappie Master and I can be reached on the lake on Channel 68. Check out my Web site at www.williamsasserfishing.com.

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807. -- I have seen the bite improve, but the fish are hitting short. Water temperature was 48 degrees. I am finding schools of fish stacking up 30 feet down in 60 feet of water. Once the water warms, watch the bite improve. My VHF radio handle is Boat Racer and I can be reached on Channel 68. My Web site is www.fishlakethurmond.com.

Albert Moody, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000. -- Jim Enfinger caught several large hybrids on live herring behind planer boards in Hamilton Branch. Big fish was an 11-pound hybrid. James Meyer, of Clarks Hill, S.C., caught several fish below the dam on jig-headed flukes and spoons. Only one fish -- a hybrid -- measured 28 inches. Twenty-seven inches is the legal minimum size. Tres, Tara and Molly Pack have been trolling white X-Raps in Landrum Creek in shallow water and catching hybrids and stripers. Gilbert Sheppard, of Hephzibah, has been fishing down the river and caught several shellcrackers and two yellow perch in the pound and a half to two-pound range.

SAVANNAH RIVER

New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053. -- The river is low, but some shad are being caught on Sabiki Rigs off the dam, off the bank and around the mouth of Butler Creek. Ethel Green caught a 5-pound buck shad at the creek mouth. The larger female (roe) shad will come up the river a bit later. They can reach up to 8 pounds. Crappies and catfish continue to bite.

MERRY LAND

BRICKYARD PONDS

Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) -- Ronnie Pope and Clarence Gay caught 4-pound and 3.58-pound bass on plastic worms in the King Pond. Billy Gilbert caught a 3.12-pound bass on a plastic worm in the Garden Pond and caught bass weighing a total of 7.59 pounds in the Shack Pond. A fishing license is not required to fish in our ponds.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY

Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 -- Goodison: Fishing is slow for redfish and trout, but anglers showing lots of patience can find the reds on the flats where they are schooling. Sheepshead fishing remains excellent around piers and bridges. Black sea bass are hitting around near-shore reefs and wrecks, as well as around the 6-HI marker, Betsy Ross wreck and tire reef. We have had a few reports of wahoo and dolphin farther out.

SAVANNAH

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudy charters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 -- Inshore fishing for trout and reds has been on the slow side this week, but the bite should pick up as temperatures warm. Striped bass continue to be caught on live mullet and shrimp, as well as working jigs in deep water. Sheepshead are biting around offshore reefs and wrecks. Black bass, sheepshead, flounder and black drum are hitting small pieces of cut squid. The Savannah Snapper Banks are producing a few red snapper on frozen cigar minnows.


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