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From the Editor 26 June, 2006

John and Charlie's Excellent Adventure

Editor's note: In early April of 2006, John (SumterShoalieFan at GRF) and Charlie (Shoalieseeker) took a week off from work and played around in some of middle Georgia's best shoal bass rivers and creeks. John wrote an excellent blow-by-blow account and they both did us all a favor by taking tons of pictures and by releasing every fish they caught. Be sure to check out all of Charlie's pictures down at the bottom!

Last week, Shoalieseeker and I took the whole week off for fishing. We had this trip planned since the beginning of the year. I did a similar trip this time last year and plan to make it a yearly thing.

As I had to teach an ACLS class on Saturday, we couldn't begin until Sunday.

Day 1: We started the trip on Sunday, but we didn't get to the campground until after lunch. By the time we got our base camp set up it was around 2:30pm so instead of doing a float, we just did a little paddle up. We only managed a couple of 1-2lb largemouths. After a couple of hours we called it quits so we would be well rested for our first real float the next day.

Pic of the basecamp

Day 2: We decided to do a float on a small flow for the first day. The weather was sunny but a bit chilly, so we both started the day in our waders. The bite was really slow for the first half of the float. I don't think we caught anything before lunch.

While we were enjoying a lunch of cold canned goods we started talking about what we were doing wrong. After talking for a while, we really couldn't think of anything. So, still pondering what to do, I asked myself, "What would Shoalieman do?". The answer popped into my head, "Shoalieman would throw the buzzbait".

After lunch we continued down the river. I started throwing my newly tied on buzzbait. On about the 4th cast, something sucked it under and I yelled out, "Fish on!". A few seconds later I landed about a 2lb shoalie. That was enough to convince Sholieseeker, and he soon followed suit. About 10 minutes later I cast the buzzbait into a shallow pool that followed a small set of rapids and a good fish took a swipe at it but missed. It was pretty cool as I watched it come up and miss. The water was really clear. I cast back in the same spot to see if she would come back and...blam, she hit it again and this time I landed her. It was a 2-15 shoalie that culled 1oz for me. About 5 minutes later another one sucked down the buzzbait. This one was a 3-2 shoalie. Great, I thought, just culled off the 2-15 and 2 cullfish in 10 minutes is not bad action. The bite continued to be pretty good the rest of the day, all on the buzzbait for both of us but no more cullfish for day 1. Charlie and I both caught around 12 fish but Shoalieseeker caught more than I did, a trend that would continue all week. Not a bad day considering we didn't catch anything before lunch. Shoalieseeker has all of the photos for day 1 and will add them after this post.

Day 3: For our second float we decided to head over to the Flint. The weather was a little warmer so we didn't bother with the waders and started the day off in shorts. Again the day started off pretty slow, but I think that was due more to the 2 guys that were really hammering the shoals we were looking to fish. Charlie had already caught 4 fish before I caught my first. Sometimes fishing with Shoalieseeker can make you doubt your fishing abilities. I finally landed my first fish around 11:00am and it was a 3-6 shoalie, another cullfish! Man, I was pumped.

Here's a pic of Charlie after lunch on Day 3

The fishing picked up as the day went on and we both caught lots of quality 2-3lb shoalies, almost all on the stick bait but I did manage 4 on the buzzbait. We ended up catching close to 30 fish between us. Again, Shoalieseeker will have to post the pics from Day 2.

Day 4: As we were pretty tired after 2 days on the river, we decided to take it easy for day 3. We slept in to around 8 and had a nice breakfast and we both took showers. We put in on the river after lunch for a leisurely half day float. We both threw buzzbaits for most of the day, but the bite was pretty slow. We managed a few small redeyes and a few smaller shoalies until we got towards the end of the float. Shoalieseeker was about 50 yards downstream from me when I heard him yell that he had a nice fish. I paddled towards him just in time to see him heft this nice 3-15 cullfish out of the water.

After we weighed, photographed and released the fish, I debated about paddling back up to where I had been, but decided just to stay where I was instead. Boy, was that the right decision. About 2 cast later I landed this beauty.

4-1 shoalie

Two cullfish, back to back. Man, that was an exciting 5 minutes!

Day 5: For Thursday we decided to try a stretch of river that no one was doing. "No one is doing that, there's got to be some good fish there"! Wrong, that stretch of river was awful and we caught mostly small redeyes, but I did catch about a 2 1/2 lb shoalie.

Just thought I'd take a pause here to show ya'll some photos of some of the redeyes that we caught throughout the week. They were really aggressive and beautiful as well.

Day 6: For Friday we decided to hit the Ocmulgee. We wanted to hit it all week, but the gauge at Jackson didn't really cooperate. Turned out, we should have stayed away from the Ocmulgee as the fishing was terrible. Kind of funny because the river really looked great and the weather was absolutely beautiful with temps around 90. I think we caught 7 fish between us all day.

Here's a pic of us cooling off

I can't remember what we had for dinner Friday night but we had hot dogs several nights. That Shoalieseeker loves hotdogs almost as much as he loves shoalies

Day 7: Saturday. As we were both really tired by this point, we decided to just do a half day float and then pack it in so we could have a day of rest before returning to work. Again we both threw the buzzbait a good bit, at least until we saw some bedding fish. We saw several 3-4lb shoalies on the bed, but we couldn't catch any of them. Some of the smaller ones were easier. Before some of ya'll become alarmed, don't worry as we didn't harrass them very much and the ones we did catch off the bed were quickly released without photography and they returned straight back to the bed.

Both of us also were standing up and fishing out of the yak this week. I'm sure Drew will be proud. Here's a pic of Shoalieseeker standing.

After the float was about 3/4 of the way done, I decided to throw only the buzzbait, even though I hadn't caught a single fish on the buzzbait all day. All of my fish so far that day had come on the J-11 and the worm. Just after a small set of rapids, I cast my buzzbait into shallow water and started reeling. The hit came only about 4 feet from the bank. She barely sucked it under, the hit was very slight. After I saw it get sucked under and I felt a slight tug, I set the hook hard. As my rod bent over I shouted, "Fish on!, looks like a good fish....maybe a cullfish!". As I battled the fish it got closer and I got a good look at it....."definitely a cullfish". I horsed her a little, so when she got close to the yak she dove under it and I got pretty nervous but I quickly brought her up and then lipped her after only one attempt. As soon as I lifted her out of the water I said to Shoalieseeker that she looked 5lbs, but she was only 4-11.

Here I am doing my best Dennis-the-Fish-Menace imitation

Just a short while later, as I was still flying high with my heads in the clouds and not really fishing, Charlie cast toward me and to my right. I heard his buzzbait churning the water and then I heard what sounded like a bowling ball hitting the water. I turned to look and could see that Charlie had a good fish on. I got pretty exited as I thought, "Could we cull back to back again?" Turns out it wasn't a cullfish for Shoalieseeker but it was a very respectable 3-6 shoalie that turned out to be the last fish of the week.

It was one great week and I can't wait to do it again next year. Shoalieseeker has already said he is in. I gotta tell ya'll that you couldn't ask for a better fishing partner than Shoalieseeker if you don't mind being out-fished because he is one heck of a fisherman and a great guy to hang around the camp with and have a few cold beverages with.

P.S. Shoalieseeker will be adding his pics and comments soon so make sure you check back to see that because he has more pics than me (see below).



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