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Fishing at Whistle Buoy in another world
Liberty lore
Margie Love
Margie Love is a former Hinesville resident who writes about the history of the area. - photo by File photo

Rummaging through old newspapers, I came across an article written almost 41 years old, Sept. 30, 1976, by then Liberty County Herald Editor Nicky Clark.

I don’t think he would mind it being reprinted as everyone knows fish tales are told over and over, and each time it usually gets bigger:

"When we left out of Arthur Goodman’s Yellow Bluff Fishing Camp Saturday afternoon at 12:30, I’d have never thought we were going to catch any fish. Of course, I know nothing at all about fishing, so it just goes to prove how good fishing is off the Georgia coast.

Larry Rozier, Rex Droit and myself were headed for the Whistle Buoy, there, with a little luck, to run into some amberjack or barracuda or whatever else was lurking beneath… But first, we had to get there. And those clouds coming up the Georgia coast looked menacing. In fact, we looked into one bad cloud as we were entering the ocean out of Sapelo Sound and saw what looked like a mini-tornado within it, what I guess coastal fishermen call a water spout.

… The water was rough and as Larry assured me, it would get smoother as we got on out into deeper ocean waters. I still had a longing in my eyes as the Georgia coast turned a hazy blue and fell from sight. But, Larry was right. We got on out into the ocean and sure enough, it did get smoother. The water got very calm as we got on out past the shrimp boats. The menacing cloud was gone.

Now, it was time to think about fishing. Larry brought us right in on top of the Whistle Buoy. It was all alone out there, except for the small buoy which sits adjacent to it. We were the only people fishing the Whistle Buoy that afternoon and it was nothing short of sensational. Time we pulled up and made a run by the buoy, we spotted some fish underneath. We put the line out and just on the first troll by, I had a king mackerel on the line and in the boat. Larry pulled the mackerel in just in time as barracuda followed it up to the edge of the boat and Larry hustled it on in. To me, this was a big fish, six or seven pounds. We hadn’t been out 10 minutes, so boy I thought this was going to be the day.

Right after this a large school of porpoise came up all around the boat. They’d come up alongside and run just in front of the boat. Then, off on the horizon, some kind of big fish jumped incredibly high out of the water twisting and turning as it fell back into the Atlantic… The beauty of the ocean and the fish playing around is enough to make for an enjoyable outing but we were really after amberjack, so it was back to fishing.

Rex and I had our lines out. We had cut bait and a spoon on the line (so much for the king mackerel I had landed). It didn’t take long and Rex had a bite. It wasn’t one of those little nudges you might get off a dock. It was one of those when you know you’d better hang on. This was the first real fish battle I’d ever witnessed and Rex came out on top, pulling in a 43½ pound amberjack. That fish was really fighting. I couldn’t believe it. Only an hour or so from Yellow Bluff and we were in another world!

We fished hard from then on, trolling round and round. Larry landed a mean looking barracuda weighing about 15 or 20 pounds. The day was getting short and it was beginning to look like I would have to settle for that king I had caught earlier. Deciding to make just a couple of more spins around the buoys for my sake, Larry and Rex seemed determined to get me a fish fight going. And they succeeded. I got hold of something on the last pull through. Make that something got hold of my line and took off. It was what I’d been waiting for but as it was going, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I’d fight and hold on. Larry would coach me and show me what to do with the rod and reel. My shoulders started burning. It seemed to be getting darker and darker. But, I wanted that fish on board.

It finally came up after a good little struggle and it was a 40½ pound amberjack. What a thrill it was and I owe it all to Larry and Rex for putting up with a novice like me.

Rozier, one of the most fearless fishermen on the coast and one of the best friends had been telling me about fishing on the Whistle Buoy and everything he says about fishing out there is true. If this writer can catch an amberjack, just about anybody else can. I’m just glad I got an opportunity to go fishing before the amberjack move on out to the Gulf Stream…"

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