What can I tell you? The fish bite is on high, from the bank and from the boat. Now’s the time to go. The bite is early morning and the bite is late afternoon. It also might be strong after dark.
My friend, Ralph Barbee, tells of the man casting doll flies from the bank near Holiday Park on Thurmond Lake. “He made 30 casts and caught 30 fish,” Barbee said. And check out the report from my friend, Brantley Toomer, on what’s happening at Merry Land Brickyard Ponds. This definitely has been the Year of the Crappie.
Bass fishermen have been doing sight fishing on Thurmond Lake. In other words, they’re easing their boat close to the shoreline, looking for the larger female bass on the beds, and then they try to entice them into biting. Sometimes, that could take an hour or more, but quite often the irritated fish will strike sooner than that.
Stripers and hybrids can be caught in the shallows during the pre-dawn hours and again late in the afternoon until dark. Artificial lures like Gotcha Shad and weightless Zoom Super Flukes will work almost as well as live herring this time of the year.
• Good luck to Augusta State’s fishing team on Lake Seminole this weekend.
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Royce Bufford, of Clay Hill, caught 22 catfish. William Hawkins and Mark Watson limited out on crappies. Hawkins and Mark and Bonnie Watson caught 67 crappies. The fish are going crazy. We’re having a fish fry (crappies) on Saturday, starting about 11:30 a.m., and it’s open to the public.
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.crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) – Water temperature is in the upper 60s and the lake is clear. My clients have had a great time this week, chasing the elusive striper. There are a lot of 8- to 10-pound stripers right now but they are very scattered. The smaller stripers and hybrids are in close one day and gone the next. That makes fishing very unpredictable, but then again, it’s still March. Ken Knapp, Don Mara, Bill Craft and Tom Rashavy caught some nice fish last Monday. It was an early bite (5:30 a.m.), but we were there. Don Goth brought oldtime fishing buddy Ed Gerbitz from Stevens Point, Wis., to try out our striper fishery. They also had some nice fish early. Ed loves to fish for walleye and muskie, but said it’s still a bit icy on the Wisconsin River. Tom Allgood brought his fishing partner, daughter Courtney, and Andy Tisdale brought his fishing buddy, son, William, on a recent trip. It was not, repeat, not, fast and furious, but a lot of fun. Eleven-year-old William was the day’s top fisherman. He just acts like he’s not paying attention, but just let a rod bend and he’s on it. They caught some nice stripers.
Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – Kirk Daniel and I fished on Wednesday and caught 12 fish in two hours. We caught four bass and eight stripers, catching them on the Bandit crank bait with red eyes. The fish are schooling in the Holiday Park section above Raysville Bridge. The crappie bite is also strong. We saw one man make 30 casts from the bank with a doll fly and catch 30 fish! By the way, I’m taking my specially wrapped truck and boat to the Wild Game and Fish Cookoff for Kids Saturday at Daniel Field.
My new show features The Bassmasters. Fishing with Ralph Barbee airs Saturdays at 11 a.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. on Comcast Channel 21, WRDW-My12, Knology Ch. 7, Atlantic Broadband (Aiken) Ch. 7 and Charter Ch. 9 (Fort Gordon).
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: Ellen Reed, Rusty Garner, Gray Court, S.C., Rob DeGregorio, Port Washington, Pa., and Debbie McAlary, Levittown, Pa., caught nine stripers and hybrids 3 to 10 pounds., Clark Sharpe and Steve Carlyle, Savannah Lakes Village, caught 17 hybrid stripers 2 to 10 pounds. All were caught on live herring pulled behind planer boards.
Bradd Sasser, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000 – Anglers are catching hybrids and stripers, fishing live herring 25 to 30 feet down, while tied up to the off-limits cable behind the dam.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – It’s been an up and down week. We’ve had some really good days, but it’s frustrating because we’re missing a lot of fish we should be catching. People aren’t used to fishing planer boards. We’re catching good 5- to 10-pound hybrids in the shallows early. I’ve been pulling boards in creek channels at the junction with the main channel and catching some decent fish in the deeper water. Avid fisherman Kevin Tumblin, visiting from Atlanta, had a blast catching a limit of big slab hybrids. Brothers Terry and Randy Cato of North Augusta enjoyed fast action, catching a cooler full of 6- to 10-pound hybnds for a fish fry tonight. The Stanley party from Spartanburg, S.C., fished with Capt. Buddy Edge and I. We had to work for a good cooler of fish, including stripers, hybrids, largemouths and white perch. Buddy’s boat took the big fish prize with a 10-pound striper. Check out my Web site: www.fishlakethurmond.com.
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) – Many insect hatches understandably are ahead of schedule, due to warmer than normal temperatures. The heavy caddis hatches on the Toccoa River have subsided and we’re already seeing a lot of mayflies. The Soque River has been having heavier (and earlier) mayfly hatches as well. Try a PMD or an Adams if you start to see trout rising to eat mayflies. We’ve also caught a lot of nice trout on pheasant tail nymphs dropped off 18 to 24 inches below a dry fly. Fern Valley on the Soque River and Frog Hollow on the Chestatee River continue to fish incredibly well and the Toccoa River is fishing much better now that water conditions have stabilized following the heavy release schedule the river experienced while emergency repairs were being done on Blue Ridge Dam.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706) 722-8263 – Mike Chapman and Chase Harmon caught 14.52 pounds to win last Friday’s bass tournament. Preston Crews and Raymond Klaus were second with 12.04 pounds and Mike Johnson (by himself) was third with 10.92 pounds. Big fish winner was Clay Andrite with a 6.14-pounder. Brickyards: Paul Wolfe caught eight bass on plastic worms in the Membership Pond, John Mayfield caught 41 crappies on minnows in the Membership Pond. Sonny Graves caught 38 crappies in the Membership Pond on minnows. Larry Jones caught 46 crappies in the Ditch on minnows. Harry Dicks caught 43 crappies, several 2 to 2½ pounds, on minnows. Lou and Jeane Bates caught 38 catfish in the Pollard Pond on liver and worms. Thelma Williams caught nine carp, including an 18-pounder, in the Ditch on dough balls. Bobby Mann and son caught eight bream over ¾ pounds and four bass in the Stick Pond on worms. Lock and dam: Maurice Williams, 10, caught 12 one-pound bream down river. Terry Lambert caught 30 bream on crickets up river. Leonard Haynes caught eight shad on Sabiki Rigs several days in a row. William Boatwright caught five stripers, one 14 pounds, down river on wild herring.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – The weather has been great and the fishing is GOOD! Redfish are hungry and so are sheepshead. Many boat owners are working on their boats, getting them ready for this season. No offshore reports yet.