Most visitors to Augusta during Masters Week realize that hotels and motels in the area are filled to capacity, so there is a group of folks who for years have been camping out or staying in rental cottages at state parks like Mistletoe and Elijah Clark overlooking Thurmond Lake.
Most all bring their fishing tackle so that they can try their luck during the early hours of the day, then head for Augusta National and, when the day’s golf is finished, take advantage of the waning daylight hours to try their luck again.
I recall one year when a nationally known outdoor writer stayed at Mistletoe, hunted wild turkey gobblers during the morning, watched tournament action during the day and then went fishing later. How he did it I can’t imagine. I would have pooped out after the golf.
• Check out my feature on Merry Land Brickyard Ponds in the April issue of Georgia Outdoor News. Five Augusta area fishermen, most of whom have been fishing the ponds since childhood, contributed to the story.
• Ken Boswell, a former Chronicle colleague now retired and living in Hiawassee, Ga., emailed this gem: “When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.”
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Trevor Vassel caught plenty of crappies, bream and catfish out of our fish house. He used minnows and hybrids pinks. Cliff Crowe caught 30 shellcrackers and seven white perch. Danny Johnson and Lester Strotter caught 14 shellcrackers, four crappies and two catfish. Raymond Swan, Scott Hodges and Mark Watson went fishing. Swan caught a 3-pound bass and all caught limits of crappies, using minnows. William Hawkins caught two flathead catfish and two channel catfish, weighing a total of 25 pounds. The fish bit nightcrawlers. He also caught nine shellcrackers. We’re having an egg hunt on Easter Sunday starting at 3 p.m.
Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, fulltime professional guide specializing in hybrids and striped bass and trophy largemouth bass. (Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 (www.crockettrocketstriper fishingcom) – Water temperature is in the low 70s and the lake is clear. It’s been a good week for fishing. We are still free-lining and catching slab hybrids, 7- to 12-pound stripers, 3-to-5-pound largemouths and flathead catfish up to 18 pounds. The Bradshaw family from Chicago had a great time, catching limits of stripers and hybrids in their day’s first two hours. Larry Wendt, his son, Kevin, and daughter-in-law, Naomi, and grandson, Tanner, had a good morning, catching stripers, hybrids, catfish and crappies. Chris Shadday and his daughter, Reagan, from Charlotte, N.C., caught a cooler full of stripers and hybrids on an early morning trip. Phillip Kennedy and his wife, Denise, daughter Reagan and son Gran had a great morning, catching nice stipers, slab hybrids and big largemouth. We are starting to see some schooling action including some big schools of largemouths.
William Sasser’s Guide Service, (Capt. William Sasser and Capt. Mark Crawford, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, full time professional guides specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass). (706) 589-5468 (William), (706) 373-8347 (Mark) or (864) 333-2000. (Clark Hill Herring Hut) – Mark: Don and Kaye Nathan and Lawson Berg, of Atlanta, caught a nice mess of hybrids and stripers. Patrick, Melissa, Connor, Jacob and Ean Strickland, all of Evans, caught 17 fish 3 to 9 pounds. John Pirkle and Logan Pirkle, Augusta, and Kevin Daniels, of Vokesville, Va., caught a nice stringer of hybrids and stripers. Bob Clardy, Laura Clardy and Michael Clardy, all of Eastman, Ga., also had a nice catch. Andy Pye and Kathy Pye, North Augusta, and Drew Pye and Zack Pye, Evans, caught a good mess. Al Blue, Camille Jenson and Doug Chalifour, all of Savannah Lakes Village; Tina Collin and Deryl Lybarger, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and Alex , Mark and Doug Mann, all of Evans, caught 22 stripers hybrids. Largest was a 25-pounder. William: Tyler Thom, Augusta; Nelson Poe, Grassville, Md., and Lucas Poe, Grassville, caught limits of hybrids and stripers. Don Siller, St. Louis; Mike Logan, Grovetown, and Michael Logan, Grovetown, caught a limit. Chet Jacobs, Waynesville, Ga.; John Brown, Brunswick, Ga.; Harold and Rhonda Smith, Waynesville; Christopher, Brinkley, Brunswick and Blake Brown, Brunswick, caught 26 stripers 3 to 10 pounds. Nathan Jones, Lee Jones and Jimmy Jones, all of Carlton, Ga., and Jim Higgins of Leesburg, Mo., caught 31 fish. Mike Langevin, McCormick, S.C., and Chris Driskell, Indianapolis, Ind., caught 13 stripers and hybrids. Mike Morgan, Deerfield, Ill., caught 10 stripers including a 28-pounder. Dr. Andy Allgood, Martinez; former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker, Atlanta, and Martin Poole, Ogden, Utah, caught a limit of fish. Traci Duffie, Jeff Miller, Zach Duffie, Andrew Duffie, Jake Miller and Wesley Miller, all of Evans, caught a nice mess.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – Fishing has been great for me this week. I’m still pulling planer boards. I’ve had fish blow the bait out of the water, which makes for some excitement. I’m fishing secondary points and around islands in the shallows up to 30 feet of water. I’m catching stripers in the 8 to 12-pound range and some nicer slab hybrids. Aubrey Reynolds, North Augusta; his brother, Mark, from Caledonia, Miss.; friends Kevin Gallop, Caledonia, and Nick Kanaly, Aiken, had a great morning catching breaking hybrids up to 8 pounds early, then hard-hitting stripers up to 12 pounds. They kept 21 big hybrids and stripers. Robert Newton, visiting from Screven County, caught and released slab hybrids and stripers 3 to 8 pounds.
NORTH GEORGIA MOUNTAIN STREAMS
Carter and Hunter Morris, licensed professional guides specializing in fly fishing for rainbow, brook and brown trout. (706) 833-1083 (www.flyfishingnorthgeorgia.com) (facebook.com/flyfishingnorthgeorgia) – The warm weather has meant that many insect hatches are occurring much earlier than usual. We have seen significant caddis fly hatches on pretty much all of north Georgia’s trout streams and now we’re seeing mayfly hatches about a month ahead of schedule. Especially noteworthy are the sulfur hatches already happening late in the evenings on the Toccoa River. The Soque and Chestatee rivers also are fishing well.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706 722-8263) – Gene Moyer and Mike Craig won last Friday’s bass tournament with 14.7 pounds. James West and Bobby Williams caught 53 shellcrackers on worms in the Shack Pond. Kevin Shaw and Brad Lee caught 25 carp on dough balls in the Ditch. Lonnie Newman caught nine bass in the Shack Pond on plastic frogs. Harry Parker caught 43 crappies in the Ditch. Norman Walls caught 51 catfish on liver in the White Elephant Pond. Freddie and Joy Perkins caught 42 crappies in the Membership Pond on minnows. John Wooten caught 40 crappies in the same place and the same stuff. Ben Davis caught 30 crappies over 1 pound each in the Ditch. Mike Leaptrotte caught five bass out of the Shack Pond, the biggest 6.4 pounds. Lock and Dam: Mollie Estillette ,9, caught catfish weighing 20 and 17 pounds. Mickey Howard caught a 5.40-pound bass on a Super Fluke down river. Jason Bannel caught a 38-pound striper and Bernard Pedro caught a limit of stripers on cut bait down river. Terry Jackson caught 22 catfish on cut bait.
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Fishing could not be better in the Fripp area. Inshore, the bite is on for redfish, spadefish and whiting. Offshore, when weather conditions permit, head for the Gulf Stream. Trollers are catching nice bull dolphin and wahoo, while also picking up black fin tuna.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Latest artificial bait that’s red hot for spotted sea trout is the Berkeley Gulp 3-inch molting shrimp threaded onto a quarter-ounce chartreuse jig head. The technique is to cast it into places where trout hang out. If the lure doesn’t get bit while it’s on the fall, it surely will once you start to retrieve it.
Another great artificial lure that’s deadly on trout is Salt Water Assassin’s 4-inch chartreuse screwtail threaded onto a ⅛-ounce red jig head. Fish it on 8-pound-test braided line with a 3-foot-long fluorocarbon leader.