Check the 'ditches' when it's cold

Tom Kelly shows off a 38.3-pound striped bass he caught in the Soap Creek area of Thurmond Lake. He and fishing partner, Ted Boileau, caught several other stripers during their recent trip. Kelly is one of the members of the Clark Hill Striper Club.

Rain, high winds and colder temperatures have forced fishermen off Thurmond Lake and most are hoping for a warming trend to bring on better fishing. Right? To the contrary, said veteran bass fisherman Craig Johnson of Martinez.


"The lake water temperature needs to drop to 48 degrees and then we'd have some great fishing," Johnson said. "Temperatures have been in the mid- to high 50s and, as a result, the fish are scattered. Colder temperatures will bring them closer together. Even so, most bass are cruising the shallows or can be found in ditches. I'm still catching 30 to 35 bass a day and caught two 6-pounders and a 5-pounder last week in less than a foot of water."

Johnson suggests fishermen hit the lake about daybreak and fish the ditches (road beds, creek channels, culverts) with a Buckeye Ditch Witch and grub.

"I position the boat in 15 feet of water and cast the rig as far as I can into the shallows," Johnson said.

"I let it hit the bottom, hop it up to get out of the grass (hydrilla) and slowly reel it back. The fish have been killing it."

He said the bass will move up into the shallows around midday and can be found cruising inside the grass lines. He also fishes the Buckeye Mop Jig for the bigger bass.

"You can hit 30 places and maybe catch fish in six of them, then go back the next day and catch fish in places there weren't any," he said.


Raysville Marina, near Thomson. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington) (706) 595-5582 - Tonja Cannon and Casey and Thomas Lockhart of Eastman, Ga., caught 40 crappies in this area. Largest was 22 pounds and the fish bit minnows and jigs.

Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. 410 Sprouse Road, Clarks Hill, S.C. 29821 (803) 637-6379 ( - Water temperature was 55 degrees last Saturday and clear on the lower end of the lake. Dr. John Walsh and his son Joey, from Columbia, fished with me. We caught mainly largemouth bass, some pretty nice fish at that, and had a couple of hits I believe were stripers but we didn't get them. We trolled live bluebacks beneath planer boards.

Ralph Barbee, professional guide specializing in hybrids, stripers and largemouth bass, (706) 860-7373, 957 Windmill Lane, Evans, 30809 (Check out my web site at - No report. My TV show will be about a 30-pound striper and lots of other fish caught in the Raysville area. Also discussed is what line to use and techniques in shallow-water fishing with artificial lures. The show will air each Saturday at 11 a.m., and each Sunday at 2 p.m. on My12TV, including Knology Ch. 7, Comcast Ch. 21, Charter Ch. 9 (Fort Gordon), G Force (Aiken) Ch. 7, Northland (Burke County, Statesboro, Ga., Swainsboro, Ga.) Ch. 9. Comcast viewers must have a special box in order to watch the show on Channel 21; otherwise, it can't be seen. The box is free.

Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishing with twins Brad and Jim - No report.

Craig Johnson, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, hybrid bass, striped bass. (706) 364-6437 - No report. Check out my Web site:

Capt. William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass. (706) 589-5468 - Earlier this week, water temperature reached 60 degrees in the Georgia Flats section of the lake during the afternoon. We didn't catch a cooler full of fish, but enjoyed a great warm winter afternoon. I saw a lot of shellcrackers and largemouth bass in the shallows, but I expect that's changed since the cold front has moved into the area. Now is a good time to catch crappies beneath the different marina docks. 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 - The prime factor affecting fishermen is the weather. You must fish on mild days preceding the cold fronts to have good luck. I have been fishing in the Plum Branch Yacht Club area where the water temperature was 52 degrees. I'm finding fish backed up along rocky points and islands near creek channel mouths in five to 20 feet of water. More fish 20 pounds and larger are being caught on live herring trolled beneath planer boards. Gull activity on this part of the lake can help locate fish. Baitfish and game fish also are being found in the blow-throughs on windy days, but hydrilla makes fishing difficult.

My VHF radio handle is Boat Racer and I can be reached on Channel 68. My Web site is



Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053. - The yellow perch bite, expected to continue through February, might have been slowed by rain, high winds and cold temperatures. Only way to find out is to go fishing on the next mild day.


Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 ( - Evans Johnson caught a 5.8-pound bass in the Ditch on a shiner and leads the Big Fish of the Month contest. Emmett Loudis caught 36 bass weighing 48 pounds in the Garden Pond on a black plastic worm. Greg Childs and Brandon Headrick caught 11 bass in the Membership Pond on plastic worms. Largest bass was 2.5 pounds. Larry Webber caught five bass in the Garden Pond on plastic worms. Largest was a 3-pounder. Jimmy Wong caught 10.62 pounds of bass in the Garden Pond on a black plastic worm. The Mike Grubbs, senior and junior, caught 18 pounds of bass in the Membership Pond. Ben Marshall caught 7.62 pounds of bass out of the Bradford Pond on a black plastic worm.



Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, S.C.,1 (843) 838-2530, and Doug Gertis, professional guide, 1 (843) 524-5250) - Goodison: Colder weather has put the brakes on Beaufort area fishing. I fished south of Pritchard's Island last Monday and found the bite to be s-l-o-w: one redfish, two trout, two whiting, one Norfolk spot and nine crabs. Inshore, redfish and trout fishing is just fair. Offshore, black sea bass are still biting around reefs and wrecks, but there have been no reports from the Gulf Stream.


Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 ( P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 - No report.



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