What is the most popular live fishing bait used by millions of fishermen since fishing became a pastime?
Enter the lowly earthworm and all of its numerous cousins. Consider the slimy critters come in a wide variety of colors. There are red worms, pink worms, green worms, flat-tail worms, mullet worms, Canadian nightcrawlers, swamp wigglers, blue-tailed worms and their fish bait cousins wax worms, golden grubs, meal worms, catalpa worms and the larvae (young) of yellow jackets.
If you don’t want to mess with worms, there’s the option of using crickets, shrimp, rooster liver, live blueback herring, shad and even chunks off bars of soap like Ivory and Octagon. All of these baits have one thing in common: they catch fish.
Brantley Toomer, of Merry Land Brickyard Ponds, says chunks of soap affixed to bush hooks along the Savannah River will catch catfish. He also says so-called Louisiana pink worms don’t come from that state, but live in soil around banana trees in Florida. Rooster liver is tougher than the same stuff from hens, he says. And you can’t find a striped bass bait better than live eels.
When plastic worms were introduced to bass fishermen shortly after the end of World War II, they were not meant to mimic worms, but the young of lamprey eels.
While living in Thomasville, Ga., during the early 1960s, I used to fish Miccosukee Lake just below the Florida line. One day I was out there when I noticed a commotion all over one end of the lake. There had been a hatch of eels and the little black wigglers were being attacked by hundreds of largemouth bass.
I was fishing a black plastic worm at the time and was rewarded with a good fish on every cast. Those were exciting times.
• My friend Greg Davis last week reported that he and friends had just returned from their 26th annual trip to north Georgia trout streams. The crowd, called “Davis Trout Busters,” included 40 or 50 kids including 16-year-old Cody Storey, a rising junior at Greenbrier High School. He was the envy of his friends after hooking and landing a 231/2-inch, 4-pound, 6-ounce rainbow trout from Rock Creek. He is having it mounted, Davis said.
“We’ve been making that trip for so long that some of the original kids are now in their 30s,” Davis said, “but I don’t have trouble keeping them in line. We take up hog meat and deer meat and fry a lot of trout, nearly living off the land.”
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Cliff Crowe, of Raysville, caught 45 white perch, 12 shellcrackers, two bluegills and four catfish. He fished with worms. Jesse Dawson, of Warrenton, Ga., caught 20 crappies on jigs. He added 25 shellcrackers on nightcrawlers. Jack Owens and Billy Englett, from Grovetown, caught 33 crappies. Danny Johnson, of Thomson, caught four shellcrackers, 34 white perch and six catfish. Mark Watson, of Thomson, caught a limit of bream on night crawlers and also an 8-pound catfish.
Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, fulltime professional guide specializing in hybrids, striped bass and trophy largemouth bass. (Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 (www.crockettrocketstriperfishing. com) – Water temperature is in the lower 80s. The lake is clear and continuing to fall. I’m thankful for the hot weather that has pushed the fish deep and the schoolers are getting bigger. Fred Kota and his group ran into one of the largest schools of fish I’ve seen this year. It was all we could do to keep the rods baited. They put 40 nice fish in the box in 45 minutes. Lake Longley and his wife, Zina, and two daughters, Leigh, 14 (called “Goose”), and Lyn, 11 (called “Boo”). They are a hunting and fishing family. They had a great time catching a cooler full of nicer stripers and hybrids.
Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – I caught four bass on the Pop R on humps before 10 a.m. My biggest bass weighed 4 pounds and all came from humps in Little River, Ga. You have to make repeated casts to the deeper sides of the humps and aquatic vegetation must be present. The technique is to cast the lure, let it sit, pop it, let it sit and brace yourself.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishingguides.com) – Fishing has slowed down for us. We are catching nice fish, but not getting the numbers as before. We are fishing live bluebacks on downlines in 24 to 32 feet of water. Last Friday, Jo Ann and Mike Hopkins fished with me. My first mate was my grandson Johnathan. Jo Ann caught a 3½-pound crappie on a herring in 32 feet of water. That was a surprise. The Hopkinses also caught 12 nice striped bass. My grandson and I scouted for fish on Saturday and caught only 10 nice stripers. I’m not finding a lot of fish stacked up. When I do find them, by the time I stop the boat they have moved. My parties will catch a couple of fish before I am forced to go looking again.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – We’ve had a great week with great catches and the fish are stacking up. Almost everything we’re catching is 3 to 12 pounds, with a mix of hybrids and stripers. Deep water, junctions of primary ditches in the river channel are prime spots for the fish. Most of the fish I am catching are from suspended schools. U.S. Navy personnel from Augusta did their annual trip with us. They had a really great day on the lake, especially some of the ones new to the lake. We cleaned 45 quality fish. The Redd party from North Augusta got on some big fat hybrids and caught a cooler full of 3- to 5-pound hybrids. The McKinney family from Aiken enjoyed a nice day on my pontoon bat. We missed a lot, but we wound up with a nice catch.
Check out my Web site: www.acestriperguide.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) – Hunter: Fishing on smaller trout streams of north Georgia is becoming increasingly difficult as temperatures continue to rise. However, some of the best fishing of the year is yet to come as dry fly fishing in some of the larger rivers is just getting started. Try fishing Stimulators and Hoppers on the Toccoa, Tallulah and Chattooga rivers. Try dropping a pheasant tail nymph off the back of the fly to imitate whatever mayflies are emerging and about to hatch.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706 722-8263) – Last day of our customer appreciation week is today. Customers get a free cup of bait with their paid daily permit during that time. Our annual free fishing day last Monday was rained out so we’ve rescheduled it for July 6. Everybody needs to check in at the tackle shop off Doug Barnard Parkway before going fishing.
Winners of last Friday’s bass tournament were Mike and Greg Leaptrotte with 11.04 pounds. Second were Bubba and Dana Koss with 6.28 pounds. Mike Chapman and Chase Harmon were third with 3.98 pounds. Big fish was a 6.71-pounder caught by one of the Leaptrottes. Brickyard report: Ryan Kirsch caught bass weighing 6 and 5 pounds on a Zoom Super Fluke in the Stick Pond. Harold King and Gerald Thomas caught 47 bream in the Expressway Pond on worms. Richard Ferguson caught 32 catfish in the White Elephant Pond on liver. Herbert Woods caught 26 big crappies in the Membership Pond on minnows. Janet and Susie Jones caught 15 carp in the Ditch on dough balls and bread. Two weighed more than 15 pounds each. Lawrence Lewis caught 27 crappies and 15 catfish in the Ditch on minnows. George Pitts caught nine bass, one 6½ and two over 5 pounds from the Membership Pond on a crank bait. Herb Griffin and Solomon Henry caught 46 bream and 16 catfish in the Cornell Pond on crickets and worms. Lock and dam: David Castle caught a 26-pound striper on live herring down river. Bruce Douglas limited out on bream upriver on crickets. Donald Powell caught and released 12 stripers and hybrids upriver on herring. Fred and Jacquelyn Atwood caught 14 catfish, two over 20 pounds each, down river on cut herring. Tyrone and Tauwanda Parks caught 85 big mullet on mullet worms. Larry and Tina Wooten limited out on bream and caught 15 catfish down river on worms.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Live shrimp are plentiful at most bait shops in this area. Or, if you’re proficient with cast nets, you can catch your own. Black sea bass remain the most plentiful fish on live bottoms and around artificial reefs. Offshore, bull dolphin and wahoo are active, as well as some billfish around the Gulf Stream.