Largemouth bass in feeding mode

Largemouth bass on Thurmond Lake and elsewhere are in a super feeding mode before the big females go onto the beds.


If you get a chance to go this weekend, try crank baits like the No. 5 ShadRap around the banks early. The Buckeye brown Mop Jig with crawdad trailer also ought to produce some good catches. Check out the results of the Columbia County River Rats Bass Club in today’s tournament section.

Each of the top three had five-bass, 15-pound catches, the second- and third-place finishers separated by only fractions.

Of course, bass aren’t the only fish making their way into the shallows.

Crappies also are on the move, with the Clark Hill Herring Hut reporting great catches.

It’s best to take a landing net.

Crappies, sometimes known as “papermouths,” can tear free if you try to lift them out of the water sans net, especially the bigger ones.

• Do you know what is special about April 27, 1962?

That’s when the Hartwell Power Plant first generated. The plant and lake celebrate their 50th anniversary this year and the Corps of Engineers and local groups are planning several events to commemorate that first jolt of electricity.



Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Clifford Crowe and Henry Millard caught 36 crappies on minnows and jigs around treetops. Jack Owens and Billy Englett caught 30 crappies. Our fish house has been doing well, with most crappies being caught on yellow jigs.

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 ( – We’re warming up early. Water temperature is in the upper 60s and the lake is clear. We’ve had a four-hour window before it has become too windy to fish the shallows where we’re catching most of our fish. Gary North and his group from St. Louis had a good morning on Thursday, catching stripers, hybrids and largemouths. We also jigged a few white perch, but couldn’t find the big schools. If we had been fishing the Keys, the weather couldn’t have been warmer or the water much clearer. A couple of the baits were hit so close to the boat, we saw the flash of the fish before the strike. I don’t usually get too excited this early in the season, but this year may be different.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – Kirk Daniel and I fished the Deep Step potion of the Savannah River on Wednesday afternoon. I caught a 6-pound largemouth on the Yellow Fellow. We ended up with five bass and six stripers. I must have caught six huge jacks. We caught the fish on windy banks. The stripers were schooling at the mouth of Stevens Creek.

My new show features Legends of the South, with Bill Baab, the late Tommy Shaw, William Sasser, Capt. David Willard and myself. Fishing with Ralph Barbee airs Saturdays at 11 a.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. on Comcast Channel 21, My12TV, 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: Wally Coward, Beech Island; Jerry Cofer and Chip Sargent, both of Louisville, Ga., caught 20 hybrids 3 to 8 pounds, two perch and one largemouth. William: Cally Galloway and Shaun Murphy, of Powdersville, S.C., caught 10 fish including stripers weighing 16, 13, 12 and 11 pounds, and a 10.4-ounce hybrid.

Bradd Sasser, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000 – Derrell Freeman, of Clarks Hill, caught a huge stringer of slab crappies, fishing small minnows and black and chartreuse jigs beneath bobbers.

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 awhile. 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 ( ( – This week has seemed like the first (albeit unseasonably early) week of spring trout fishing: significant hatches, active trout and very little fishing pressure. With trips on the Soque River, Toccoa River and Nonntootla Creek all producing a lot of nice trout, it’s been fun to observe the differences in each stream. The caddis fly hatch on the Toccoa the last few days has been as plentiful as we can remember in recent years. The trout at Fern Valley on the Soque have been really locked in on several varieties of mayfly nymphs. And Noontootla’s trout are all hanging along the undercut banks, waiting to chase a well-placed streamer back out into the riffles.



Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706) 722-8263 – Willie Barnes caught 36 big crappies in the Ditch. Thomas Helman caught 43 crappies in the Membership Pond on minnows. Matt Painter caught eight bass, three over 6 pounds each, on spinnerbaits in the Expressway Pond. Harvey Simmons caught 39 crappies in the Ditch. Winston Lee caught nine bream over a pound each on pink worms in the Cornell Pond. Linda Longwell caught 54 catfish on worms in the Ditch. Kevin Mason caught nine carp, including a 14-pounder, in the Ditch on doughballs. Paul McLain caught seven bass, two over 5 pounds each, in the Membership Pond on plastic worms. Leon Bush caught 47 crappies in the Ditch on minnows and jigs. Shianne and Hanna Cartin, 8 and 10 years old, respectively, and Gene’s granddaughters, caught 60 small catfish in the Ditch on worms. Children 16 and under fish the ponds for free with a paid adult. Lock and Dam: Buford Dobson caught eight shad and two stripers on live herring and Sabiki Rigs. Tim Howard caught two stripers on live herring down river, one over 12 pounds. Sam Overton caught 10 shellcrackers 1.5 to 2 pounds each on pink worms fished above the locks.



Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 ( P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Longtime friend Bob Paschal, who can make some of the best mullet gizzard gravy I have ever tasted, is looking for 15 Purple Heart recipients who’d like to go hunting. There is no cost to them.

The event is funded by Americans Helping Wounded Veterans. Give Bob a ring at (478) 836-5816. Bob Paschal is retired from the military, having served in Korea, Vietnam and Laos. Check him out via Google.