Thurmond Lake's largemouth bass are doing fine

If anyone was wondering about the overall health of Thurmond Lake’s largemouth bass population, they needn’t have been.


Check out the photos on this page. John-Christian Whyte caught a 10-pound, 4-ounce bass a week ago during the Wednesday Night Shootout bass tournament. A week later, his dad, David, landed a 9-pound, 5-ounce bass during the same event.

Looks like you need to night fish to catch the big ones.

John-Christian’s whopper anchored a five-bass, 26-pound, 1-ounce catch, which might be a tournament record. His dad’s lunker, caught on a Zoom green pumpkin red plastic worm, came from a 23-foot-deep hump up the Savannah River. It anchored a 17-pound, 8-ounce catch which also was a winner. The son’s fish came on the same kind of plastic worm in 16 feet of water around hydrilla in a different section of the lake.

It has always been amazing to me that bass can detect plastic worms in deep water near dark.


Fishing Report


Raysville Marina, (706) 595-5582–William Hawkins caught a 62-pound flathead catfish on a live bream.

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 85 degrees and the lake is clear. It has been a beautiful pre-dawn ride up Little River each morning with a super moon giving us much light. Fishing has been superb and we’ve caught limits of hybrids and stripers early in the day. We are also catching largemouths, channel and flathead catfish and white perch. Jeff Broadbent fished with Dwayne and Lorell Bryson from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Utah. They had fished with me before and I’ve always enjoyed hearing about the huge lake trout fishery. Terry Willoner, Kurt and his son Kyle Kaufelds, fished with Mike, Scott and Todd Metz. Jeff Sanderlin brought his dad, “Mr. Dave,” fishing for his 73rd birthday present. He also brought his daughter Katie and brother Bryan. We’re catching most of our fish on the 30- and 40-foot humps along the main river channels. The fish are traveling in huge schools and very aggressive.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 831-8756 – Ronnie Fuller and I went out Tuesday morning. We caught some nice bass on a Hub’s Chub. I caught a 5-pounder, he a 4-pounder. We fished the back of Keg Creek. The bite was early, nothing after 10. My new TV show, which comes on this weekend, features Tony Shepherd of Little River Guide Service. We caught 50 fish in 45 minutes. This weekend, I’ll have my specially wrapped boat and truck at Diamond Lakes Recreation Area on behalf of Ronald McDonald House. I’ll also be at the Outdoor Expo in Booth 83 with Tony Shepherd Saturday afternoon.

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).

Billy Murphy, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed guide specializing in striped bass and hybrid bass. (706) 733-0124 – We are still downlining live herring in 25 to 40 feet of water. The fish have been in a feeding frenzy for us this past week. Fishing with me last Friday were two couples from Sycamore, Ga. – Terry and Kathy Pilkinton and Ricky and Juanita Cleghorn. The wives were catching fish so fast that their husbands were taking care of baiting the hook, while I took off the fish. It was chaos until they limited out. Since they didn’t catch many fish, Ricky and Terry opted to fish with me on Saturday without their wives. They limited out by 7:30. I always update my Web site with photos and a fishing log. Check it out at

Bill Speer, The Fishing Coach, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass fishing on Lake Russell ( (706) 421-6630 – I was able to get back onto the lake last weekend one more time before rotator cuff surgery next Wednesday. I will be off the water for a good while so I am putting up my tackle and boat for sale. Call me if interested. Water temperature was in the mid 80s and the lake has good color. I caught some small keeper bass on a DT-16 (parrot color). After the sun came up, I went shallow. Why? In the middle of summer, the deeper water loses oxygen and the wave action boosts it in the shallows. I was able to catch keeper fish on a buzzbait, but make sure you use a stinger hook. I prefer a treble stinger because there isn’t much cover on Russell to hang it up. I also caught a few keepers on a Greenfish shakeyhead jig and a floating worm. Remember to fish slowly and you will be amazed at watch you can catch in the summer shallows. On Russell I always put in at Beaver Dam Marina where you can have a nice lunch and a safe launch.

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). (William) (706) 589-5468, (Bradd) (706) 267-4313, (Andrew) (803) 507-5083 – Bradd: Hybrid and striper fishing is about as fast and furious are you could ever want. Surface temperatures are hanging in the mid 80s and the fish are hungry. Dowlining live herring in 35 to 40 feet off main channel points has been most productive. Fishing off secondary points along the lower end of the lake also has produced nice catches. There also is some good cut bait fishing on the upper end of the lake around Russell Creek and South Carolina Little River that’s resulted in good catches of nice stripers and catfish. Dordon Creek, the Georgia Flats, Parksville and Modoc areas also are good places to try. Among the folks who have had good times pulling in the fish this week were Clint, Kathy and Wyatt Colley, Metter, Ga.; Sandy Sanders, Graniteville; David Fields, David Fields Jr., and Andrew Fields, Augusta; Casey Thompson, Justin Thompson and Robert Thompson, North Augusta; Glenn Rowland, Augusta; Jim Shipp, Augusta; Sam Sherrill, Grovetown; Doug Hoover, Grovetown; Jay Broome, Martinez; Joe Prichard, Augusta; Bruce, Luke and Caleb Johnson, Augusta, and Jody, Ashley, Evan and Jonah Burns, Newington, Ga.

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Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – I’ve been fishin’, fishin’, fishin’. Fishin’ so much I’ve gotten tendinitis in my elbow and wearing a brace. I’ve been catching more hybrids than stripers. The fish are feeding like crazy. If they keep on eating the way they are, I don’t know how much they’ll weigh this time next year. Water temperature is right at 85 degrees. We’ve had a good wind every morning, losing it in the afternoons. I’ve seen some good schooling activity in the river channel around the Soap Creek Bridge. Larry Snyder, Bill Essex and Skip Kask, Savannah Lakes Village, had a great morning catching fast-feeding hybrids. Three generations of Henezes from Greenville, S.C. – Parrish, son Jake, dad Mike and brothers Chris and Joshua – all seasoned offshore fishermen got hooked on hybrids. John Etheridge, daughter Kathryn and nephew Andrew, from Atlanta, enjoyed a beautiful sunrise as they limited out on hybrids. Shelly and Garson Hedrick, of Evans, had a great day on the lake with sons Griffin, Garrett and Garson.

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Carter and Hunter Morris, licensed professional guides specializing in fly fishing for rainbow, brook and brown trout. (706) 833-1083 ( ( georgia) Carter – Temperatures plummeted into the 50s at night to help keep water temperatures in the Toccoa River and elsewhere suitable for trout. North-flowing trout streams above 2,000 feet are fishing the best with wild trout feeding on ants, hoppers and large stone flies. Water releases on the Toccoa have returned to normal and the river is full of freshly stocked rainbows and brown trout that are being caught on dry-dropper rigs with a hopper (dry) and a pink San Juan (dropper). I have noticed lots of hornets’ nests along the river this year and they can be dangerous so be careful.



Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, John Byars, (706 722-8263) – Our bass tournament continues tonight. Hours are 6-10. Entry fee is $20 per man. Last week’s winners were Raymond Klaus and Preston Crews with 12.48 pounds. Klaus caught the big fish of 8.20 pounds. Robert Williamson and Josh Bradshaw were second with 8.16 pounds. Keith Bass caught a 5½-pound bass in the White Elephant Pond on a trick worm. Robert Pope caught a 7.78-pound bass on a plastic worm in the Membership Pond.



Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Crazy weather and not many fishermen have been out. Those who have are catching flounder around the rocks with mud minnows. The redfish bite has been hot and cold. Spanish mackerel are schooling just offshore. Black sea bass, trigger fish and grouper are biting on the bottom. Bull dolphin (mahi-mahi) and wahoo are still out in deep water.



Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 ( P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Our inshore fishing is good, but you’d better have live shrimp aboard. If they die, use the dead ones, or switch to artificial baits in shrimp patterns. If you have a cast net aboard, you can catch live peanut menhaden and finger mullet, both excellent baits.

Whiting fishing has been hit and miss in less than 10 feet of water and more than 25. Spanish mackerel and king mackerel are hanging around the artificial reefs. Trolling the Nos. 0 and 00 Clark Spoons is the way to catch ’em.

The Savannah Snapper Banks are loaded with bottom fish so now is the time to go.



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