Fishermen compete with cormorants for catch

Fishermen aren’t the only ones having a great time catching loads of crappies and other fish from The Ditch at Merry Land Brickyard Ponds. They’ve got some competition – cormorants.


“I’d estimate there are more than 1,000 of those birds diving and catching fish,” said Brantley Toomer, a partner with Gene Kirkland in leasing the ponds. “And each of them can eat its weight in fish every day.”

Based on the number of crappies and other fish being caught by anglers, the birds have not become a serious problem ... yet.

The birds also are to be found on Thurmond Lake, along with loons and anhingas. All those birds are protected by federal law.

Speaking of cormorants, an article in The Augusta Chronicle of May 27, 1887, may be of interest. Under the headline, “A Human Cormorant,” the story is about Wallace Bailey, “who dives below the surface in Moore’s Lagoon and reappears with a fish in his mouth and in each hand.” The lagoon is located off Lovers’ Lane a short distance from the brickyard ponds.

He put on a public exhibition of his piscatorial prowess and made believers out of a number of onlookers who had doubted the veracity of the story. He caught eight or 10 fish including trout (bass), perch, bream and catfish, staying under water for two or three minutes, according to the newspaper story’s writer.

Sounds like a candidate for Ripley’s Believe It or Not.



Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Jack Owens caught 25 crappies. Not much has been going on because of the extreme cold weather.

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) – William: We did a show on Thurmond Lake with the “Bob Redfern Outdoor Magazine.” The Neilsen Ratings show the program attracts 485,000 viewers per episode on Fox Sports South and Versa. Our show will air at the end of February. We caught 10- to 15-pound stripers on live herring fished beneath planer boards. Mark: Andrew Wright, Beech Island; O’Neal Jackson, Aiken, and Joe Odom, Aiken, caught eight fish 2 to 14 pounds. Jonathan Bullard and Judah Johnson, both of Augusta; Cecil Bullard, Appling, and Chris Cosper, Augusta, caught a bunch of good stripers, the largest 13 pounds. Carl Zoellner and Nat Justice, Dillard, Ga., and Kelly Littlejohn, Otto, N.C., caught a nice bunch of stripers including a 14-pounder. We caught the fish on downlines and pulling herring beneath planer boards. Check out my Web site at

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – Because of family issues, I won’t be making any guided trips for a while. I’ll let everyone know when I am able to be active again. Check out my Web site:


Carter and Hunter Morris, licensed professional guides specializing in fly fishing for rainbow, brook and brown trout. (706) 833-1083 ( – Hunter: With the exception of a few really cold days, it’s shaping up to be a pretty mild winter. We’ve had only two to three trips per week, but we’ve seen very little decline in the feeding activity of the trout on Noontootla Creek and only a slight lull in the fishing on the Toccoa River tailrace. And I can’t say enough good things about the fishing at Fern Valley on the Soque River. Both my trips there this week yielded a lot of trout in a fairly short midday window of opportunity – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706 722-8263) – The Ditch has been producing some whopper crappie catches. Robert Dasher and David Buckley caught 60 crappies. Jay Robinson and Hammond Merriwether caught 146 big crappies on minnows and jigs. Nick Butler and Rick Smith caught 300 crappies on Saturday and 300 on Sunday, on minnows and jigs. Jay Robinson and Brandy Ito caught 200 big crappies on jigs and minnows. Stella Bush caught 30 catfish and 18 bream in the Pollard Pond on worms. Larry Gordon caught 89 crappies in the Membership Pond on minnows. Steve Williams caught 120 in the same place on minnows. Harry Parker caught seven bass in the Garden Pond on plastic worms. One weighed 6 pounds, another 5.


Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – The redfish are stacked up in deep holes in the tidal creeks. Mud minnows are the best baits. Sheepshead fishing has been good. Everything else slowed down. I’ve been watching from my deck schools of fish of some kind just off Fripp, with birds diving on them.


Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 ( P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – During the cold water season, the spotted sea trout fishing can be good. However, before expecting serious catches, I suggest trying to fish after a few days of a warming trend. Best bait is always going to be live shrimp fished beneath a small, adjustable float. For those who can fish a weedless Super Fluke, that will be your go-to bait.

As far as inshore fishing goes, you may make a good catch one day and have not so good results the next. The secret is to pick sunny days when the tide is low during noon time. Then I suggest fishing the last half of the outgoing and first half of the incoming tides. If that doesn’t work, then I suggest stopping by the fish market on the way home!