Young, old enjoy winter fishing at Thurmond Lake

Seth Cook, 14, of Evans, shows off the 30-pound striped bass he hooked on a jigging spoon in Georgia's Little River and landed after a 30-minute battle. He was fishing with his grandfather, Rudy Cook, of Aiken.

Winter fishing on Thurmond Lake is known for producing big fish. Just ask 14-year-old Seth Cook, of Evans. Just ask 60-something Ralph Barbee Jr., also of Evans.


Seth was fishing with his grandfather, Rudy Cook, of Aiken, in Georgia’s Little River, jigging a Hopkins Spoon on 8-pound-test line. After a struggle lasting more than 30 minutes, they were able to boat the 30-pound striped bass. One doesn’t try to “horse” the fish of that size on light line. Thanks to Seth’s other grandfather, David Hopkins, for reporting the catch.

On the other hand, Barbee and his friend, Bob Vernoy, found the fish in the shallows near Red Bank Island just above the Goose Farm in Georgia’s Little River.

“The fish showed up at 4 p.m. on the dot in 2 feet of water or less,” Barbee said. “They were not there five minutes earlier. You could see the swirls in the water made by the fish as they chased the bait. I cast my favorite lure, the Yellow Fellow, and a 35-pound striper tried to take it away. It did not succeed. We also caught six largemouth bass in the same area, nothing more than 2 pounds, but they were all fat.”

Conversely, Vernoy returned to the area, but netted only one bass, proving that fishing is unpredictable.


Fishing Report


Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – Last Saturday, about 4 p.m., I caught a 35-pound striped bass on the Yellow Fellow near Red Bank Island. Bob Vernoy and I caught six largemouth bass. On Sunday we caught four bass apiece, nothing over 2 pounds. The fish were right on the banks, not over 2 feet deep. Bob’s also fishing a quarter-ounce yellow Rat-L-Trap.

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, G-Force (Aiken) Ch. 7 and Northland Ch. 9 (Fort Gordon).

William Sasser’s Guide Service, (Capt. William Sasser, Capt. Mark Crawford, Capt. Bradd Sasser, Capt. Andrew Tubbs, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, full time professional guides specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass). (706) 589-5468 (William), (706) 373-8347 (Mark), (Bradd) (706) 267-4313, (Andrew) (803) 507-5083 – Sixty-degree January days have made for some wonderful winter fishing trips. Hybrids and stripers are still hanging around in the mouths of creeks and a few of the larger stripers are working their ways back into the creeks. There is still plenty of bird action giving away the fishes’ location to fishermen. Some nice fish are being caught pulling large herring behind planer boards in Grays, Dordon, Wells, Baker and Dry Forks creeks. As we move toward February, crappie fishing is getting better with nice sized ones caught on small shiners fished 20 feet down over treetops in deeper water. Jigging spoons dropped in 40 to 50 feet of water are catching white perch and nice hybrids. This week, Jason Cunningham fished with us in Lake Russell and caught stripers weighing 27 and 39 pounds. The fish hit rainbow trout pulled behind planer boards. Brandon White, of Elberton, Ga., caught an 18.5-pound striper and Melissa Tripp, of Aiken, landed a 19-pound striper. We also enjoyed fishing with Robert Rhodes, Tom Sherman and Heath Johnson, all of Evans; Chris White, of Elberton, and Ryan Tripp, of Aiken.


Carter and Hunter Morris, licensed professional guides specializing in fly fishing for rainbow, brook and brown trout. (706) 833-1083 ( ( – Bigger trout are feeding during the midday hours, especially on the private trophy streams. This is due to the lack of fishing pressure that they typically see in January, and it’s due to a smaller, more predictable window of time when the air is warmer and the fish get more active. Fern Valley on the Soque River has been especially good from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., daily, with most of the bigger trout eating big stonefly nymphs.


Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706) 722-8263 – The brickyard bass tournament will be cranking up in the near future. Check with Gene at the tackle shop for details.

Brickyard report: Jerry Skinner caught 28 crappies and four bass (largest 7.9 pounds) on minnows in the Ditch. Jimmy Shores caught 68 crappies, two bass, six catfish on minnows and worms in the Expressway Pond. Tommy Pitts caught 34 crappies, two catfish and one bass in the King Pond. Brandon Prickett caught 78 crappies, two bass and five eels on large and small minnows in the Membership Pond. Harry Price and Joan Sears caught 12 crappies, eight bream and nine catfish in the Ditch. Randy Taylor landed 32 crappies, three bass and seven catfish in the Membership Pond on worms and minnows.

Lock and dam: John Bagwell caught two bass, six yellow perch, eight crappies and one shellcracker. Cliff Mills caught five bass and three jacks. Sammy Hogan caught two crappies, six yellow perch and three bass. James Connell caught six shellcrackers, eight crappies and 12 yellow perch. Shorty and Amanda Hutto brought in seven bass, one striper, two yellow perch and one jack on minnows, worms and crank baits. Tyrone Jackson caught 13 channel catfish, one blue catfish and one carp on nightcrawlers.


Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Few have been fishing, but those who have are having good luck catching spotted sea trout and redfish. With springlike weather predicted for this weekend, I expect to see more of my friends from the Augusta area.


Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 ( P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Just a reminder that I am getting ready to teach at my inshore and offshore fishing clinics. There are nine of us charter captains with many years’ experience doing what we all love. Cost for each school at Tubby’s Tank House, 2909 River Drive, in Thunderbolt, Ga., is $90, including breakfast and lunch in addition to the class. Inshore schools are scheduled Feb. 9 and Feb. 23. Offshore school is March 9. Time is 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call the number included with this report to reserve your places.

All licensed Georgia salt water fishermen need to obtain a “SIP” (Saltwater Information Permit). It’s free. Check it out at



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