Full pool presents challenge to anglers

Remember the days not so long when Thurmond Lake users were crying for water? The lake was nearly 15 feet down.


Billy Murphy, of Augusta, was not among those shedding tears. He was fishing umbrella rigs over 20-foot-deep humps and catching a bunch of stripers and hybrids.

Now that the lake is a shade over full pool, Murphy, a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed fishing guide, is crying a different tune: too much water.

“Those 20-foot humps are now under 40 feet of water,” he explained. “I can’t get my rigs down that deep. Oh, I could by adding more weight, but I am afraid of snagging my rigs on trees or stumps. They’re expensive, about $35 each.”

During one trip, Murphy lost four rigs, not a good day.

So Murphy has joined the rest of the lake’s guides by fishing live herring on downlines, down 40 feet and more. He hasn’t given up on the rigs, just “retired” them for now.

(bullet) The SKISH (skill in fishing) contest turned out to attract few in number, but the winners not only collected fishing tackle from Broadway Tackle owner Larry Lesser, they got to see an exciting game between the Augusta GreenJackets and Charleston RiverDogs, won by the former 6-5.

My friend, Sammy Lee, marketing and promotions manager for color-changing SmartBaits, provided a generous supply to give all the winners.

Bill Levy, of the GreenJackets, plus some of his staff, were on hand to help out. It is likely that a variation of the contest will be held next year.

The August issue of Georgia Outdoor News features U.S. Coast Guard-licensed fishing guide Mark Crawford, of Lincolnton, Ga., sharing his summer striper talents on Thurmond Lake. Check it out.


Fishing report


Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington), (706) 595-5582 – William Hawkins, of Thomson, caught 25 shellcrackers. Clifford Crowe caught five bream and a catfish. Don Ginder caught four 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 – Water temperature is in the mid 80s and the lake is clear. Fishing continues to be good on the lower end of the lake, with most of the fish hitting live herring 30 to 40 feet down. We’ve been doing most of the catching in early morning and have been off the water most days by 9 a.m. Larry McKenzie and his group from Charlotte, N.C., had a great morning catching hybrids and stripers up to 12 pounds. Hammond West and Bettis Hammond and his grandson, Bull, had a great morning catching fish. Good fishing should continue for the next two months.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – We put in at Amity and fished the Raysville area. I caught the first fish and two others and Bob Vernoy had one. We were on the lake about 6:30 a.m. I caught my fish on a Pop-R and his came on a rattling bait. The bass weighed about the same – 2-1/2 pounds. After the sun came up, the fishing slowed down.

Fishing with Ralph Barbee airs Saturdays at 11 a.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. on Comcast Channel 21, WRDW-My12, WOW Ch. 7, Atlantic Broadband (Aiken) Ch. 7 and Charter Ch. 9 (Fort Gordon).

Bill Speer, The Fishing Coach, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass fishing on Lake Russell (www.thefishingcoach.com) (706) 421-6630 – The lake has stabilized at near normal pool with water temperature still in the low 80s. However, I didn’t fish the lake this week, opting instead to fish with Bradd Sasser on Clarks Hill for stripers. First Lieutenant Chris Castagno and his wife, Amanda, from Fort Hood, Texas and Sgt.-Maj. Jim Timmerman (retired), of Martinez, joined me for a great morning. I have known Chris since he was 12 years old so it was good to see and fish with him again. I’ll leave Bradd to explain how we did in his report. No guide I have ever fished with was as much fun as was Bradd. We had a great time, caught a lot of fish out of a great boat. I’ll return to Russell this week and then take two weeks off for vacation. On Russell, I always put in at Beaver Dam Marina where you can have a nice lunch as well as a safe launch. If you’d like to book a trip to Russell in the coming weeks, give me a call, or find me on Facebook @ Lake Russell Bass Fishing with the Fishing Coach, or check out my Web site.

Capt. Billy Murphy, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishingguides.com) – We are finding fish stacked up on humps in 60 to 80 feet of water. Fishing with me last Saturday were my son, Jim; 8-year-old grandson, James and 15-year-old Bryce Worley, of Hephzibah. This was the first time Bryce had been striper fishing and he had a blast, catching the biggest fish of 12 pounds. James caught an 8-pounder and we caught 10 in all, fishing live herring on downlines. On Thursday, Jeff Coleman, of Augusta, and Larry Freeman, of Grovetown, fished with me. We limited out (30 fish), fishing 40 feet down in 80 to 90 feet of water. Jeff caught the biggest fish of 22 pounds.

William Sasser’s Guide Service, (Capt. William Sasser, 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), (Bradd) (706) 267-4313, (Andrew) (803) 507-5083 – A strong, early morning bite was the trend this week, with coolers full of hybrids and stripers being caught in 40 to 45 feet along the sides of shoals, humps and points in the Modoc and Parksville areas. The bite lasts from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and live herring fished on the bottom is the best way. The lake is over full pool and surface temperatures are in the mid 80s. Typically, this time of year we’re catching mostly hybrids with a few stripers, but this week we were surprised after half the fish we caught were stripers weighing 8 to 15 pounds. During the evenings, there is another good window of catching from 5 to 8 p.m. Majority of those fish are coming around Lake Springs and the Augusta Sailing Club. Enjoying the sport this week were Keith Powell, Augusta; Ken Coleman, Harlem, Ga.; Albert Moody, Porter and Elizabeth Fleming, Clarks Hill, S.C.; Jim Powell, Augusta, and Sarah and Alex Chaney, Evans.

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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: Doesn’t look like there will be much of a summer offseason this year. We’ve had almost daily rainfall and very mild temperatures in the north Georgia mountains for this time of the year, so every stream is still fishing extremely well. Golden stonefly nymphs and pheasant tail nymphs have been catching fish on the Toccoa River and the many smaller streams. We’ve also caught a lot of trout on Stimulators and Hopper patterns on the surface.




Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706 722-8263) – Plans are being made to hold a bowfishing tournament on the ponds on Sept. 7, from 9 p.m., until 6 a.m. More information can be obtained from Gene Kirkland. Carp, gar, catfish and mudfish can be shot legally with bow and arrow. Kirkland said the daily fee to fish will be lowered from $8 to $5 as of Sept. 1.

Brickyard report: Walter Lane and Abigail Butcher caught two crappies of 2 pounds apiece and five bass weighing 7.5 pounds in the Pollard Pond. They fished plastic worms and buzz baits. Brandon Prickett caught six bass, including a 7-pounder, on plastic worms in the Farm Pond. Bubba Moyer and Brandon Moore caught seven bass, including a 5-pounder, on plastic worms and lizards in the Farm Pond. Keith and Darlene Bass caught 70 catfish on liver in the Ditch. Gary Skinner and Roland Kirkland caught 96 bream in the Cornell on worms. Jimmy Sloan caught eight catfish, 11 bream and a bass in the Stick Pond on worms and crickets.

Lock and dam report: While the park remains closed, fishermen can go downriver. John Bagley caught 18 bream, two bass and 22 catfish on worms and crickets. Jerry Edge and Ally Bolton caught 50 bream on worms and crickets. Dwight Belger caught 18 catfish, 14 bream and three bass on worms and rooster livers.


Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – The King mackerel season has started, with a few of the fish caught last week at the Savannah Snapper Banks and naval towers. Best bait is something live, shiny and fast. Bottom fishing at the banks also is red hot.