Thurmond Lake activity should please competitors

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Everything in Thurmond Lake, from newly hatched mosquitoes to striped bass, is biting.

Check out Dale Gibbs' report below to see how you, too, (and me, too) can catch largemouth bass, stripers and hybrids on artificial lures cast into shallow water.

The Bassmaster Elite folks -- more than 100 boats -- are on the lake this week. Local fishermen should be courteous and not crowd the pros making a living bass fishing.

I found a small school of hybrids blowing up on herring around the islands separating Little River, Ga., and Keg Creek. They pulled their usual magic act by disappearing once I pulled my boat within casting range, never to return. Surface temperature was 70 degrees and, as soon as it gets a few degrees warmer, schooling fish ought to stay up longer.

- Hero and heroine of the day on the lake: David Annis and stepdaughter Melissa Britt found a shellcracker bed Wednesday afternoon and took home 22. While there, they found a loon struggling to free itself from the hook of a jug. Somehow, they brought jug and loon aboard and Melissa got the hook out of the bird's back.

- Details of the inaugural Tommy Shaw Memorial Open Team Bass Tournament on June 14 at Wildwood Park can be found at the top of the tournament report.

- The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources needs help from cobia fishermen to collect DNA samples and to donate racks of fish caught this year. Interested anglers are encouraged to contact Karl Brenkert for more information at (843) 953-9838 or BrenkertK@dnr.sc.gov. Free collection kits can be picked up and dropped off once full at Lowcountry Marine Supply on Robert Smalls Parkway in Beaufort, Glidden Paint on New Orleans Road in Hilton Head Island, S.C., or the Waddell Mariculture Center on Sawmill Creek Road in Bluffton, S.C. Participating fishermen will be sent caps or T-shirts as rewards.

STROM THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 -- Mike Wilson and Gloria Pierce caught 15 nice crappies in the fish house. They fished with jigs and minnows.

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, crockett rocket@bellsouth.net -- We must be caught in a perpetual spring. That's fine with me because it makes the fishing easy. Water temperature was in the mid-60s earlier this week and has crept into the low 70s. My clients have been having a blast catching a cooler full of fish within a few hours and going after larger striped bass later in the morning. I've seen some breaking fish, but the real action has been in 20 to 30 feet of water on live herring fished straight below the boat. These fish are in the 3- to 5-pound range. "Flats" fishing is producing fish in the 12- to 24-pound class. (For more information, go to my home page, www.crockettrocketstriper fishing.com; click on articles; then on "Fish Tales"; then on "Mastering the Flats"). Some of the great people I had out this week were Joe Olson from Savannah and his brothers John (from Arkansas), Pat (Oregon) and Jim (Indiana). They get together every year somewhere but had such a great time, they are coming back next year. Bob Tarrant brought friends Lee Rhodes of Al Ellis of Aiken. These guys are fish magnets and caught fish everywhere we went.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide, (706) 860-7373 -- Footage of the 2007 Bassmasters Elite tournament out of Wildwood Park will be shown on Fishing with Ralph Barbee, which airs Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Stations are Comcast Ch. 21, Knology Ch. 7, G-Force, Ch. 7 (Aiken), Northland Ch. 9 (Statesboro-Swainsboro) and Fort Gordon Ch. 9. You must have a special box from Comcast to view my show. The box is free.

Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706) 733-0124, doubletrouble fishingguides.com (with twins Brad and Jim) -- Larry Freeman of Evans fished with me Thursday morning. We caught 11 hybrids and stripers 3 to 5 pounds. Ricky Cleghorn of Sycamore, Ga., fished with me and my son, Jim, last Friday. We pulled planer boards and caught one 12-pounder near the dam.

Dale Gibbs, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, (706) 288-7510 -- Largemouth bass fishing is on the upswing as blueback herring move into the shallows to spawn. I went to the lake Tuesday, thinking the cold front had knocked them down, only to find they had just gotten fired up! By 10:30 a.m., I had about 22 pounds of bass and several stripers. All of my fish came on the blue-backed, chrome-sided small Pencil Popper and the clear plastic Zara Spook from less than eight feet of water. The bite will get only better as the weekend approaches because of Monday's new moon.

Capt. Mark Crawford, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in hybrid and striped bass, www.teamsaveonemore.com, (706) 373-8347 -- Fishing is as good as it gets. I took out Doug Simon, Jason Danilovich, Nate Pascarella, Bea Owens and Nick Smith and had a great day, catching nice hybrids and stripers. William Alwin, Jeremy Alwin and Chris Graham caught a limit of fish. Mark Rawlins of Lincolnton, Ga., and Tony, Jennifer and Amber Johnson of Savannah caught 32 nice hybrids and stripers. Jennifer caught the most, and all the fish were caught on downlines 20 to 30 feet deep. Some of the bigger stripers were caught on freelines behind planer boards.

William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass, (706) 589-5468, williamsasserfishing.com -- David Mode Sr. and Jr. and Kim West, all of Augusta, went out with me and David Sr., caught a 241/2-pound striped bass, his biggest fish ever, among the 15 fish we caught downlining and using cut bait. Keith Powell, Ken Coleman and Butch Powell, all of Augusta; and Ronnie McBryde of Florence, S.C., caught 33 downlined fish and a few nice crappies. Biggest crappie weighed 2 pounds. Tarver and Sally Bailey, with son Daniel, of Wyoming caught and released about 30 fish downlining in upper Little River near Raysville. Charles Boyce, Lincolnton; David Vaughn, Martinez; Sam Reid, Aiken; John Lynch, Evans; Steve Sipes, Wrens; Rodney Lastinger, Statesboro; Bob Lynk, Evans; and Roger Erb, Martinez, went out with Capt. Dave Willard and I on a joint trip Wednesday. We caught a minimum of 75 fish overall. Jimmy and Jeannine Mills of Jackson, S.C.; Gene Redd of Aiken; and Joel Stapleton of Williston, S.C., fished with me Thursday. Jeannine put it on them badly. They had a limit by 9:30 after starting to fish at 7. My VHF radio handle is Crappie Master and I can be reached on the lake on Channel 68.

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807, fishlakethurmond.com -- We've been catching lots of 8- to 12-pound fish on humps and major points. We've had lines broken and fish pull loose and have had more big fish on the last week than we had all year. The problem is getting the fish into the boat. We're fishing timber lines where the big fish are hanging out and sometimes they'll run into the trees and hang up. Jack Alfredson of Savannah Lakes and his grandson, James Bartley and the latter's girlfriend, Whitney Perry, fished with me. Jack caught a 24-pound striper and James an 11-pounder. Curt and Mike Altman of Santee, S.C., caught a limit of 5-to-10-pound fish and had a couple of big ones pull free. Lee Frazier and Jodie Bailey of North Carolina limited out with the biggest fish, 12 pounds. Billy Murphy of Augusta and Danny Newton of Hiltonia, Ga., fished with me Wednesday, and Billy caught a 15-pounder. My VHF radio handle is Boat Racer and I can be reached on Channel 68.

Albert Moody, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C., (864) 333-2000. -- Ron and Sandra Lazenby of North Augusta caught 10 hybrids on live herring. Sandra's 12-pounder was the big fish. Rusty Guye of Martinez has been catching a limit of shellcrackers every day for the past three. Tim Weathersbee of Aiken and John Williamson of Leesville, S.C., caught a limit of huge shellcrackers and catfish.

SAVANNAH RIVER

New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam

Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053. -- Bream and redbellies are biting up a storm. Crickets and wax worms are the baits of choice. Everything is looking good. Dylan Anderson, 12, and Trevor Murtaugh also limited out on shad, each using the Sabiki Rig. Dallas Fowler and Marcus Williams caught some crappies, bream and shad. Two stripers over 50 pounds each were weighed at the store, along with many others in the 30-to-40-pound range. Live bluebacks caught the big ones and others were taken on bucktails and Pencil Poppers in Striper Alley down river. Mullet are starting to bite.

MERRY LAND

BRICKYARD PONDS

www.brickyardponds.com">style="bold">www.brickyardponds.com -- Adam Beckum and Adam Suarez won last Friday's bass tournament with 11.39 pounds. Austin and Bobby Young were second with 7.13 pounds. P.C. Tyler and Joe Thompson had the big fish of 3.68 pounds. Shellcrackers are biting in the King and Pollard ponds. Joshua Bratcher and Robert Etterlee won the Sunday bass tournament with 8.16 pounds. Jamie Hodges had big fish, with 3.60 pounds. Jimmy Wong won our Big Fish of the Month contest with his 6.27-pound bass. Our bass tournaments are now in progress every Friday. Entry fee is $20 and tournament hours are 6 to 10 p.m. Our Sunday bass tournament runs from 7 a.m., to 2 p.m. Entry fee is $30 per boat. A fishing license is not required for our ponds.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY

Ralph Goodison , Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 -- Things have picked up the past few days, with limit catches of redfish. Near the shore, big blues are hanging around the wrecks, while blue fin tuna have been spotted in deeper water 25 miles out chasing the blues. Schools of Spanish mackerel are surfacing from the Betsy Ross to the wreck of the Savannah. Bottom fishing is good, while good quantities of wahoos, dolphins and kings are plentiful in the Gulf Stream. A cobia tournament will be held on the Broad River on Saturday. Entry fee is $50. More information: Low Country Marine, (843) 524-4600.

SAVANNAH

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921; P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771; www.missjudycharters.com -- Live shrimp fished below popping corks and traditional float rigs have been catching some of the biggest trout I've ever seen. Artificial reefs are holding schools of blues and Spanish mackerel. Bottom fishing is excellent. Gulf Stream fishing is just wonderful for dolphin, wahoos and other species.


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