Deteriorating facilities need Congress' help

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High winds and frigid temperatures continue to move into our area, keeping many anglers off Thurmond Lake.

Fishing is a fun thing, but not when cold, high winds and massive waves are affecting you and your boat.

A few weeks ago, it was mentioned that the Savannah District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to send all of the user fee money collected at Thurmond, Russell and Hartwell lakes to the U.S. Treasury Department. The Corps is not a member of a group of other federal agencies which, under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, are authorized to retain 80 percent of the fees.

During fiscal year 2007, the Corps sent $1,084,000 to the U.S. Treasury, according to Corps spokesman Billy Birdwell in Savannah, Ga.

There is legislation pending in both houses of Congress that would include the Corps under the law and allow it to retain user fees collected locally. Then, the money could be used to upgrade recreational facilities such as boat ramps and courtesy docks that are deteriorating as Thurmond and other Corps lakes grow older.

What is needed are appeals to members of the House and Senate who represent our areas in Washington.

THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 -- J. Lawson caught a limit of crappies on jigs in our fish house. We are beginning to see gulls up our way, and there are many anglers fishing live bait for stripers and hybrids.

Capt. 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 (crockettrocket@bellsouth.net) -- It was 59 degrees on the surface and the lake remains clear. It might be that the lake has come up a foot or so, but maybe that's just wishful thinking. I've had to reschedule most of my parties because of the rain or the wind. I've been out scouting and found fish in the creeks 24 to 30 feet. I did see breaking fish in the shallows after threadfin shad, but nothing big. I caught a couple of fish on live herring and one on a Berry's Flex-It Spoon.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide, (706) 860-7373 -- My new show features catching huge striped bass on the Savannah River. This is Part 2 with Daniel Jackson and Enon Hopkins. It airs Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Stations are Comcast Ch. 21, Knology Ch. 7, Atlantic Broadband, Ch. 7 (Aiken), Northland Ch. 9 (Statesboro-Swainsboro) and Ft. Gordon Ch. 9. You must have a special box from Comcast to view my show. The box is free.

Dale Gibbs, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass (706) 288-7510 -- Fishing the lake has been a bit of a challenge this week. Last Saturday, 18-year-old Blake Boyd, of Evans, fished with me. We decided to spend time in the backwaters to get out of the 30 mph winds, so we fished in Big Hart and Big creeks from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We caught only two keeper largemouths on shallow-running crank baits. One weighed about 61 pounds, and the other was much smaller. Jim Huffman, of Evans, fished with me on Wednesday from daylight until 10 p.m. We boated seven bass, two yellow perch and one crappie. All but one of the fish came on a ShadRap. A r-ounce Buckeye spinnerbait caught the other. Three fish struck the Buckeye Mop Jig, but we couldn't get a hook into them.

Capt. Mark Crawford, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in hybrid and striped bass. www.teamsaveonemore.com (706) 373-8347 -- We fished last Saturday during the rain and wind, and it was tough. We started out pulling planer boards in shallow water with bait that most people would consider a treat to catch -- rainbow trout weighing 1 to 2 pounds. One of the larger trout attracted the attention of a whopper striper, and after all the excitement was over, Carlos Jerosz was the proud captor of a fish that weighed just shy of 26 pounds. It was tough the rest of the day, although Jerosz and his friends, Matt Eidson and Rob McKeen, also enjoyed catching 14 smaller stripers. We weighed in the larger fish in the Clark Hill Striper Club tournament and won second place and big fish. This is the time of year when it's possible to catch bigger fish. My son, Matthew, also helped out on this outing.

Capt. William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass. (706) 589-5468 -- The fish cooperated, but the weather didn't. The crappie bite was great over brush piles between Lloyds Creek and Amity, with most fish coming on jigs in 15 to 25 feet of water. Larger stripers have moved to the backs of shallow tributaries. Charlie Dickens and Charlie Anderson fished for stripers with my son, Austin, and I on an afternoon trip. Together, we caught a limit of fish in 2 hours, despite 30 mph winds. There aren't many days when we take waves over our pontoon boat's bow, but that was one of them. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone from my family. 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 haven't fished much since the hard cold front came in. I'm still downlining to catch 99 percent of my fish. I'm catching better fish freelining the live herring, but the numbers of 16 to 20 per day are coming on downlines. My VHF radio handle is Boat Racer, and I can be reached on Channel 68. My Web site is www.fishlakethurmond.com.

MERRY LAND

BRICKYARD PONDS

Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) -- Billy Gilbert caught five bass weighing 14.47 pounds on plastic worms in the Expressway Pond. Joel Hatcher caught 16 crappies on minnows in the King Pond. Ted Elliott caught 13 crappies in the Back Ditch on minnows. Gilbert currently leads the big fish of the month with a 5.78-pounder caught on a top-water popper in the Expressway 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 -- It's c-o-o-o-ld, but the fishing is g-o-o-o-o-d! The spotted sea trout and channel bass (redfish) bite is red-hot. Larger redfish are hitting cut mullet along offshore rips and sandbars. Gray trout also are hitting. The ninth annual Kids Fishing Tournament will be held at Fripp Island Marina on Friday, Nov. 28. Last year's event featured 140 children. The tournament, sponsored by the Fripp Island Yacht Club, is free to youngsters aged 4 to 15, but each must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call (843) 838-1517.

SAVANNAH

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 -- The bite is red-hot and the redfish bite is strong. Schools of reds were spotted close to the sounds and barrier islands. Sea trout also are on the move, fattening up before winter. Sea trout, redfish and black drum, sheepshead and occasional flounder are feeding, but look for a bite in the live bait supplies before too long.

Once that happens, try trolling soft plastic grubs threaded onto quarter-ounce jig heads and either cast or trolled in tidal creeks.


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