Ethanol-gas blend can harm outboard motors

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While waiting on Thurmond Lake waters to warm and the outflow into the Savannah River to slow down, I have been holding conversations with my friend, David Annis, of Augusta Marine, about miscellaneous subjects pertaining to boating.

Today's gasoline at many service stations contains a 10 percent blend of ethanol and 90 percent of gasoline. There are many negative aspects of using the ethanol-gasoline blend in your outboard motor. One is that fiberglass gas tanks built into many boats can deteriorate from E-10 fuel. Another is that E-10 fuel can break down over a period of months.

Annis said marine industry sources report that outboard fuel systems can be affected by water, dissolved gum, varnish, corrosion particles and dissolved resins that E-10 fuel has cleaned from the distribution system and a boat's fuel tanks.

Now there are rumors of a push to raise the ethanol percentage in gasoline to 15 percent.

"If that happens, it will put the marine business out of business," Annis said. "E-15 will eat up gaskets, pumps, fuel lines and even plastic carburetor floats. Nothing manufactured before 2000 can tolerate E-15. It won't hurt just the marine industry, but the automotive industry, too."

Given today's state of the nation's economy, I can't see E-15 happening anytime soon, but our representatives in state governments and Congress need to be made aware of its dangers.

"The best advice I can give is to stay away from service stations which offer fuel with E-10," Annis said. "Shop around. There are several stations in the Augusta-North Augusta area that don't use ethanol-blended gasoline."

- Clark Hill Committee bass clubs will sponsor the third annual Tommy Shaw Memorial Open Team Bass Tournament on March 6 out of Wildwood Park. Details are to be announced.

- Volunteer boat captains participating in the Paralyzed Veterans Association bass tournament in late March can register online at www.PVA.org for the event, according to the PVA's Kurt Glass, of Grovetown.

THURMOND LAKE

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 (crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) -- Water temperature is 49 degrees and stained to muddy, depending upon your location. Jim Taylor, of Greenville, S.C., and I picked up some icebox stripers on Monday. Jim's got a new pontoon boat and wanted my input in rigging it out. Weather was nice, the water cold and the fish hit medium minnows better than they did the herring. We also caught a few crappies over some trees and stripers also came from the tops of trees. The fish bit at 30 feet and the crappies at 22.

Dale Gibbs, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass (706) 288-7510 -- I went fishing on Tuesday, casting a crank bait, jigging a spoon, fishing a jig and pig from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and never had a strike. The surface temperature on the lower end of the lake was 48 degrees and about 2 or 3 p.m., in upper Little River, I found some 52-degree water. It didn't do me any good.

Capt. William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass. (706) 589-5468 -- Fishing this week after last week's Arctic blast was just what I expected. The fish felt like ice cubes when I took them off the hook. Surface temperature was in the mid-40s and in the upper 30s 15-feet down. Dan Keever, of Elberton, Ga., his son, Dan, from Newborn, Ga., and nephew Burt Clotfelter, of Dacula, Ga., fished for crappies with Cap. Mark Crawford and I. Mark performed the duties of my first mate and anchor boy. The fish bite started slowly, but around lunchtime they turned on. My clients put 41 fish into the ice chest before the scaly ones suffered from a case of lockjaw. There was a lot of good-natured bantering on the boat throughout the trip. 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 -- My plan for the next month is to go out just enough to remind myself I don't need to go. It's tough to get a bite going. I just don't think that much will be going on for the next month. My VHF radio handle is Boat Racer and I can be reached on Channel 68. My Web site is www.fishlakethurmond.com.

SAVANNAH

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 -- During this time of the year, we have what I call wintertime cold water redfish bite. It's a great time to sight cast and blind cast with artificial baits. Once you see a school, all you need to do is cast your lure in front of it. When planning to do some blind casting, head for areas where fish are to be found staging and try to be there when the tide is low and incoming. That's when redfish are staging to go into marsh grass pockets. The first half of outgoing tides is when they start leaving the grass.

If you're fishing an unfamiliar area, try to do so at the tail end of the outgoing tide. Reason is that if you get stuck in the mud, you won't have to wait long to get refloated.

As for the lure, I'd suggest you use a golden bream fluke rigged weedless on a 2/0 worm hook. You can cast it into marsh grass pockets and over oyster rakes without getting it hung. Be sure to retrieve it as slowly as possible.


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