Lake Olmstead is Augusta’s nearly forgotten recreational jewel. More than 100 years old, it catches Rae’s Creek on its way to the Augusta Canal.
From the late 19th century until the 1950s, the lake was a recreational magnet. From Julian Smith Casino atop the hill, you could watch people swimming, boat racing, boating and fishing. Then the polio epidemic struck during the ’50s, scaring away many.
Still, water skiers headed by the late Jimmy Spears, of Augusta, organized shows during the summer months of the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Then Augusta City Council passed regulations banning motor-powered boats except at certain times and the lake became a mecca for electric motor- and paddle-powered craft.
But rarely does one see a boat on the lake these days, with most anglers fishing from the bank.
Last May 1, the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division’s Fisheries Section conducted a fish population study on the lake. Biologist Ed Bettross reported the lake is “in really good shape. The fish are plump and the sizes are dominated by larger, catchable-sized fish.”
Bettross reported that 77 percent of the largemouth bass are over the minimum size of 12 inches. The biggest fish caught during the study was 20 inches long and 4.9 pounds. Bream, too, are well, with 50 percent of those taken over six inches, with the largest nine inches and 0.6 pounds.
Ninety-four percent of the shellcracker (red-eared sunfish) in the sample were over six inches in length, with the largest 11 inches and 1.2 pounds. The bigger fish were generally found on the residential side of the lake, Bettross said.
So, what are you waiting for?
• Tryouts for the inaugural Columbia County Youth Fishing Team will be held Saturday at Wildwood Park from 3-7 p.m. Organizer Rosie DeAnnuntis said the tryouts are open to middle school-age girls and boys (11-14) and high schoolers 15-18 as of Aug. 1 who live in Columbia County. Participants must have the approval of parents, bring their own tackle and be ready to go fishing during the skills assessments to be conducted.
DeAnnuntis is hoping to get help from local bass clubs. “I need four to six more adult volunteers to help out during the session,” she said.
Rosie can be contacted at (803) 624-0463 or by e-mailing columbia county firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington), (706) 595-5582 – Melba and David Ramirez caught 16 crappies, two hybrids, two largemouths (the biggest 4½ pounds). They fished a top-water lure and small shiners. Clifford Crowe caught nine catfish on
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 mid 70s and the lake is clear in some places, stained in others. The lake is also up a couple of feet and there are some major trees floating. We’re still catching fish right at daylight. I ran into the first schooling fish I’ve seen this year in the back of Church Cove and there was an acre of fish. They turned out to be small fish and we caught a few on ice flies. I think we’re about to get into our breaking fish season. I’ve done a lot of rescheduling because of inclement weather, but I’m planning to start back next week.
Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – Bob Vernoy and I fished Raysville and Amity areas on Wednesday and out of the former Little River Marina on Thursday. Bob caught the first two fish on four casts on his rattling bait on the first day. I caught just one small bass, while his were about 2½ pounds apiece. We ran out of gas on the way back to Amity so we had to make our way back using the boat’s trolling motor. He’d forgotten to put gas in the 3-gallon tank. On Thursday, while up Grays Creek, Bob fished a D-22 and caught a little white perch. I fished a Deep Baby N and caught a yellow perch. That was it. We never saw a breaking fish.
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).
Capt. Billy Murphy, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishingguides.com) – Inclement weather forced us to cancel fishing parties last week. Jeff Coleman, of Augusta, and I decided to go out Wednesday. About 6:15 a.m., you could see a cloud of rain approaching. It rained on us 15 minutes, then skies cleared. We caught no fish while it was raining. We were fishing live herring on downlines over humps in 40 feet of water and caught 10 stripers and hybrids weighing 5 to 11 pounds. Jeff caught the 11-pound striper. Last week, the surface temperature was in the high 80s. This week, it cooled to the high 70s.
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), (706) 267-4313 (Bradd), (803) 507-5083 (Andrew) – A good early morning bite was the pattern this week and our clients caught limits of fish over humps and the sides of shoals in 40 to 50 feet of water. The lake is a shade over full pool and we found surface temperatures in the low 80s. The best of the evening bite has been 5-8 p.m., in Keg Creek and the Cherokee Creek area. Fishing with us this week were Bill, Shane and Mark Jackson, Columbia; Robert, Cindy and Pete Evans, Thomson; Ryan, Susan and Keith Robertson, Waynesboro, Ga., and Grant, Steve, Nancy and Brice Barfield, Savannah, Ga.
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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) – We have seen some of the best dry fly fishing of the year right now. With lots of hoppers and stoneflies buzzing around, bigger terrestrial patters like PMXs have been working really well in the riffles of smaller streams. Certain sections of the Toccoa River have been experiencing heavy caddis fly hatches in the afternoons, with bigger trout often being most willing to come up and eat.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706) 722-8263 – Plans are being made to hold a bowfishing tournament on the ponds from 9 p.m. on Sept. 7 until 6 a.m. on Sept. 8. 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.
We’re also planning to have a bass tournament today from 6‑10 p.m. Entry fee is $20 per angler.
Brickyard report: Keith Jones caught 80 catfish in the Ditch on liver and worms. John Talbert caught 46 bream, 22 catfish and five crappies on crickets, minnows and worms in the Garden Pond. Ernie Flakes caught 17 crappies, 46 bream, six catfish and two bass (largest 6 pounds, 2 ounces) on crickets, minnows and worms in the Expressway Pond., J.C. Skinner and Ed Weaver fished the Cornell Pond and caught 45 bream, 7 catfish, 17 crappies and one 7.5-pound bass on crickets, minnows and worms. Willie Stone caught seven bass and two crappies caught in the Farm Pond on artificial lures.
Lock and dam report: J.C. and Aaron Skinner caught 52 bream, 17 catfish and three bass on crickets, minnows and worms. Wayne Willis caught 28 redbellies on crickets. Wade and Linda Sapp caught 52 reds and 13 catfish on worms and crickets. Paul Wolfe and Robbie Hendrick caught 46 bream
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Fishing is good around Fripp, but fishermen have been few and far between. Inshore, big redfish are being caught, along with tarpon and whiting. Spanish mackerel fishing is good, with big ones being caught. Bottom fishing for black sea bass also is good. Offshore, black sea bass, kingfish and in deeper water the larger kings are keeping anglers busy. Night fishing for sword fish also is good, while the Gulf Stream is producing some good wahoo catches, with a few dolphin still around.
Coming up is the 23rd annual Fripp Island Kingfish Invitational Tournament on Aug. 29-31 at the Fripp Island Marina. The event starts on Thursday, Aug. 29, with registration and a captain’s meeting from 6-7 p.m., followed by a Lowcountry cookout. The two-day fishing starts at 6 a.m., both Friday and Saturday, with weigh-ins at 5 p.m. each day. The heaviest kingfish will net $2,000, with $1,000 going to the runner-up. The first-place Spanish mackerel gets $750, with $550 awarded to second place. The top aggregate weight of kingfish earns $700. Proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the “Fripp for a Cure” program. For more information, call the marina at (843) 838-1517.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Hurricane season has just started, but so far there isn’t anything to worry about. So come on down and enjoy some great fishing.