Rain, blessed rain, splashed Thurmond Lake this week and extended weather forecasts show more will be on the way next week.
It's not so important that it rains on the lake, but above it so that the precipitation eventually trickles down the many tributaries into the main lake. Fishing around the mouths of the smaller creeks as the "new water" enters ought to result in good catches of largemouth bass because new fish food is coming into the lake at those points.
One of my favorite areas during the fall and winter months, especially late in the day, is Big Branch, which winds off Keg Creek past Wildwood Park. Also known as the "Pollard Branch" because of it bordering then property of that Columbia County family, baitfish move into that section this time of the year.
Once sea gulls and terns start flocking to the lake to feed on the bait fish chased top the surface by hybrids and striped bass, that area gets to be red hot. I can hardly wait. White ice Zoom Super Flukes and pearl-colored Gotcha Shad baits threaded onto quarter-ounce lead-head jigs are effective.
Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. (Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 (www.crockettrocketstriperfishing.com ) -- Fishing is good, with water temperatures in the low 70s and the lake is very clear. I've just been riding until I spot the baitfish and then put down some herring. I'm not marking a whole lot of fish where I stop, the fish seem to be scattered, but they keep on coming. Jason Frea, his dad, Steve, and brother, Bud, of Charleston, S.C., caught limit of stripers and hybrids fishing live herring 30 to 40 feet down. Fishing should get better as the weather cools.
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 -- William: Sandra Norris, Sammy Norris and J.D. Norris, of Beech Island, with Shannon Bowers, of Graniteville, did a bit of crappie and striper fishing. Shannon caught most of the 36 fish landed. Amanda Townsend, of Martinez; Alan Rankin, of Evans; Pete Gavalas, of Evans, caught a quick limit of fish. Mark and I, with help from Tommy Dudley, took out 16 people from Savage Heating & Air Conditioning. They wound up with 152 stripers and hybrids. Harley Porter, Guyton, Ga.; Rick McClary, Statesboro, and Gary Stevenson, Savannah, caught 40 crappies, about half of which were slabs. Mark: John Wolford, Emery Wolford, Zachary Harris, all of North Augusta, caught 30 fish 2 to 6 pounds with Zachary catching the most. Bobby Hathaway, Larry Hathaway and Steven Robinson, all of Atlanta, caught 26 fish 2 to 5 pounds. Jim Free, Sarasota, Fla.; T.J. Hester, Michael Hester and Dan Hester, all of Evans, caught 35 fish. Adam Johnson, D.J. Johnson, Darryl Johnson, Laura Catherine Johnson and Shannon Johnson, all of Augusta, caught limits of stripers and hybrids 2 to 6 pounds. David and Alton Petsch, Martinez; Chad, Carson and Trey McCrickard, Martinez, also caught a limit of fish. Check out my Web site at www.williamsasserfishing.com.
Dale Gibbs, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass (706) 288-7510 -- Recent rains may slow the falling lake levels. Recent trips to the lake have produced quantities of bass, but not much in the way of quality. Gene Williams, of Grovetown, and I spent Wednesday on the lake. We had about 30 bites and boated about 20 of those. Largest fish may have weighed 13/4 pounds. All our fish were caught on chrome-and-blue Rat-L-Traps and Zoom worms in natural colors. The fish were scattered from three to 12 feet deep around hydrilla. I've been spending some time on Lake Murray, too. The bite has been pretty good. Pat Ellis, of North Augusta, is one of the state's best bass fishermen. He gave me a tip that the Murray bass were schooling on points and humps in 20 feet of water or less. Jim Huffman, of Evans, and I caught 14 fish, with nine of those weighing from a pound to 41/2 pounds. The Sammy and Gunfish accounted for the larger fish, while the e-ounce Buckeye Spot Remover and watermelon candy finesse worms caught the rest. Best bite comes after lunch.
NEW SAVANNAH BLUFF LOCK & DAM
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 798-3252 -- Samuel Smith, 11, caught a largemouth bass, a bream and two snapping turtles in the Mayor's Fishin' Hole, on nightcrawlers.
Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) -- J.C. Dicks' 5.63-pound bass is still leading the big fish of the month contest. Paul and Jonathan Wolfe caught 70 crappies in the Membership Pond one day and 70 more in the same place on another, using minnows. Jeremy Storey caught 17 crappies in the same pond. Bubba Johnson caught seven crappies and six catfish in the Ditch.
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) -- Carter: Not much fishing taking place this past week because of inclement weather, including high winds, heavy rain and strong lightning strikes. There's great news for fishermen starting Monday. The Georgia DNR is heavily stocking delayed harvest streams -- Smith Creek at Unicoi State Park, Amicolola River near Dawsonville, the Chattooga River above Highway 28, the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta and the Toccoa River above Lake Blue Ridge. The state also has started a restocking program for the Toccoa below Blue Ridge Lake. All seasonal trout streams close on Sunday.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 -- Fishing for channel bass (redfish) has been on the fantastic side. It just couldn't be better. At the same trout, spotted sea trout fishing is slow, but it should pick up after cooler weather comes along. An occasional flounder is being caught. High winds have kept the boats from going offshore.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 -- The bite is right for redfish, spotted sea trout, flounder, whiting, black drum and sheepshead. Once you get a bite going with live shrimp, switch to soft plastic baits such as the D.O.A, or Berkley Gulp baits. You'll be pleasantly surprised. There's a whole lot of catchin' going on.