It had been more than 25 years since I’d last visited what is now called Merry Land Brickyard Ponds, and just checking them out a few weeks ago brought on bouts of nostalgia.
The 21 ponds open to fishing for a fee are located just off Doug Barnard Parkway (Highway 56 Loop). I was sort of raised on those ponds during the early 1950s when the late Homer Garrison was the lessee of the area.
He was succeeded by Albert Redfern. Garrison had an employee whose name I don’t recall teach me how to paddle on one side of the boat so I didn’t wet down the back of someone sitting in the front every time I changed sides.
Redfern, who had retired as an engineer from the old Charleston and Western Carolina Railroad, had help from another ex-railroader named “Dap” Hoops. Hoops was a wizard with a fly rod and a homemade popping bug. I used to paddle him and watch him cast the “bug” beneath low-hanging bushes and other places most fishermen avoided. “Look at that, Snake (my nickname),” he’d say time and again. “Wasn’t that a great cast?”
I got that nickname because I and others as teenagers collected snakes during weekend trips to the ponds. Some hobby, huh?
Fast forward to the present. My wife, Bea, and I purchased a 14-foot-long Ghenoe, a stable little boat which is now being equipped with an electric trolling motor, depthfinder (and two paddles, just in case). We are looking forward to trying our luck on most of those ponds this summer.
Given the price of gasoline ($4-plus per gallon at some pumps around Thurmond Lake), it makes sense to own an electric motor-powered boat which we can use not only at the brickyard ponds, but on Augusta’s Lake Olmstead or Dearing’s McDuffie Public Fishing Area.
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Danny Johnson, Thomson, caught 15 shellcrackers and 10 white perch on minnows and worms. On another day, he caught 17 shellcrackers and 12 white perch. William Hawkins and Greg Reeves caught 12 bass on Zoom trick worms on the points. Jack Owens caught a limit of crappies on minnows. Anglers have been catching some nice fish in our fish house.
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 temperatures are in the low 70s and the lake is clear. We’re having some good days and slow days, but even on the good days, the fish are being hard to find. They’re in a different place every day and have been scattered. Some people think we’re in a post spawn lull, but that would be unusual for mid-April, but due to the warm winter, biologists claim the spawn was four to six weeks earlier this year. Anyway, the fish are starting to school up and hopefully by the weekend, we’ll be able to catch some limits. We’re also catching a lot of white perch, which is unusual for this time of the year. I told one of my clients, James Taylor, that a lot of time when we’re jigging white perch, we wind up catching some big flatheads. About that time, his rod bent double and he said, “I think I’m hung.” He was – into an 18-pound flathead on light tackle.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishingguides.com) – Last Saturday, I took out my twins, Brad and Jim, and grandson James scouting for stripers and hybrids. We pulled live herring behind planer boards and on freelines over points, starting in shallow water early. Later in the day, we moved from 6 feet of water into 20 feet. We caught four stripers (biggest 5 pounds) and six largemouths (biggest 4 pounds). Last Monday, I took out Wanda White and Judd Wynn, of Waynesboro, Ga. We fished the humps and points with planer boards. Wanda caught an 8-pound striper and we wound up with 10 striper bass.
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: Robert Hale, Samuel Robinson, Alan Simmorson and Tatsuo Howard, all of Columbia, had a great outing, catching a cooler full of hybrids and stripers 3 to 10 pounds. All came on planer boards. Paul Eppenbrock, Appling, Ga.; Jack McCoy, Aiken; Wayne Gheesling, Thomson; Tracy Faglier, Evans; Brian Dowless, Evans, and Russell McHatton, Grovetown, caught 25 hybrids and stripers 3 to 11 pounds and 35 crappies.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – Fishing has been red hot or stone cold. The weather fronts.coming through don’t help. My friend, Buddy Edge, went upriver today, but reports the water temperature is too cold. That area will turn on as the water warms. The McGraw party, fishing from Pennsylvania, had a slow start and had to wait on some wind. They kept 15 nice hybrids from a late morning bite. The Harper party from North Carolina had a good morning. They put a mixture of 34 hybrids and stripers into the boat. Check out my Web site: www.fishlakethurmond.com.
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) – Hunter: After some excellent fishing in March and early April, due to unusually early mayfly hatches, the fishing was a little unpredictable for the last couple of weeks. Last week, however, saw the trout hungry and active once again. I had trips on the Chattahoochee, Soque, Chestatee, and Toccoa rivers this week and did very well every day. Try fishing a dry dropper rig with a caddis or parachute Adams as the dry fly and a size 16 or 18 beadless pheasant tail as the dropper.
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706) 722-8263 – Mike Chapman and Chase Harmon won last Friday night’s bass tournament with 14.5 pounds. Second were Bobby Young and Mike Turner with 7.1 pounds, while third were Bubba and Dana Koss with 6.02 pounds. Big fish was caught by Chapman and Harmon, weighing 4.25 pounds. Brickyard report: Donnie Lewis caught 36 bream in the Membership Pond on worms and crickets. Bill Young caught 31 crappies in the Ditch. Jack Bryan caught 34 crappies in the Membership Pond. Lynn Thompson caught 34 catfish in the White Elephant Pond on liver. William Brown caught seven bass (two 6-pounders) on plastic worms. J.D. Hudson caught nine bass (one 7 pounds) on plastic worms in the Expressway Pond. Tom Barnwell caught 21 bream in the Shack Pond on crickets and worms. Paul Harris and sons caught 17 carp (one 23 pounds) in the Ditch on dough balls. Lock and dam: John and Dudley Baird caught three stripers down river on live herring. Van Tram caught eight shad on Sabiki Rigs. Shirley Jackson caught 26 bream on crickets in Butler Creek. Marty Smith caught six bass and one smallmouth on the Rat-L-Trap upriver.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – I was sick last week, but the Easter Bunny was out fishing and caught a boatload of dolphin. The bite is on for redfish, whiting and sheepshead inshore. Offshore, spadefish and Spanish mackerel are showing, with the trigger fish bite good. Dolphin, wahoo, kingfish and black fin tuna are active in the Gulf Stream.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Triple tail season is upon us. These fish love to eat the larger shrimp called prawns, fished beneath the traditional red-and-white adjustable floats. Look for the fish to hang out around range markers, channel buoys and crab traps near beach fronts. Sometimes, you’ll even see them cruising just below the surface and you can cast to them.
Spotted sea trout bite is on, too, and we’re catching lots of back sea bass and weak fish. Some nice-sized bluefish also are being caught around bottom structure. Be sure and check your line and leader because blues have sharp teeth and can leave nicks on those lines.