This must be one of the coldest times on record, as far as length of the snap. I have lived in Augusta since 1940 and can't recall it ever staying so cold for so long.
Be that as it may, some fish are still being caught. Check out the reports of Ralph Barbee and William Sasser below. Sasser found 48-degree surface temperature last Sunday, but Barbee saw the gauge at 41-degrees-plus Thursday morning.
Thurmond Lake has soared past full pool and is likely to get another shot of fresh water from today's snow-sleet-rain. That's delaying work on the dam until the water level can be lowered to 328 feet, or two feet below normal pool.
- Fishermen who check the Butler Creek station gauge have been wondering what they've been seeing. Last Dec. 21, the readings were changed from feet to mean sea level, according to Aaron P. Wahus, park operations manager at Thurmond Lake.
"Our power plant control room converts data each day prior to posting data on their phone message for Butler Creek," he said. "They subtract 95.58 from the river gauge reading (and 110.58) for the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam upper pool."
Wahus said the public can call toll-free at 1-800-533-3478 and then select "4" to hear the Butler Creek elevation. Or, go to www.sas.usace.army.mil/lakes/thurmond and then click on the "Lake Levels and Hydrologic Data" link on the top right of the page. Click on Butler Creek on the right schematic of the Savannah River to get river gauge information and more, he said.
- The Wateree River public boat ramp off U.S. Highway 1 in Kershaw County, S.C., has reopened following a period of high water. South Carolina's public boat ramp information can be obtained from www.dnr.sc.gov.
- Volunteer boat captains participating in the Paralyzed Veterans Association bass tournament in late March can register online at www.PVA.org for the event, according to the Southeastern PVA's Kurt Glass, of Grovetown.
Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 (www.crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) -- Water temperature was 48 degrees on Monday, the lake level was two feet over normal pool of 330 and is very stained. I scouted on Monday afternoon to find some fish for a Toronto couple in the area visiting family for a few days. We were scheduled to go out Wednesday, but it was a little bit choppy. I found some fish in 30 feet of water and hopefully they'll hold for a couple more days. We're scheduled to go out Saturday.
Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide, (706) 860-7373 -- I caught four nice bass down near the dam on a 3/4-ounce Berry's Flex-It Spoon on Thursday morning. The fish were hanging out 42 feet down. They hardly had any fight left by the time I reeled 'em.
Capt. William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass. (706) 589-5468 or (864) 333-2000 -- John Shaffer, of Evans; Jared Sutton and Al Sutton, of Martinez; and Matt Meitner, of Milwaukee, Wis.; caught 21 hybrids from a chunky 3 pounds to 5 pounds 30 to 35 feet down in 50 feet of water. I fished from Mosley Creek to Keg Creek. Check out my Web site at www.williamsasserfishing.com.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 -- I haven't wet a hook all week. I'm due to take out a party on Saturday, but I'll have to keep a close eye on the weather. My VHF radio handle is Boat Racer and I can be reached on Channel 68. My Web site is www.fishlakethurmond.com.
Donna Sasser, Clarks Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000 -- We're still seeing a few people come in and buy herring, then cut up the bait fish and try their luck off the bank near the dam on the South Carolina side.
New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle, Billy Hambrick), (706) 496-1173 -- Fishermen are catching nice stripers on large shiners in Butler Creek. Some hybrids are being caught, too. The river is so high it's nearly in our front door. White perch also are biting small shiners in the creek.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) -- Robert Hughes caught a 6.18-pound bass in the Membership Pond on a jig. He leads the big fish contest. Crappies are being caught in the Front Ditch.
BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 -- Fishermen who have been braving the winter weather are catching redfish and an occasional trout. Black drum and sheepshead are being caught around wrecks and reefs if windy conditions calm.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 -- Sheepshead are biting at near-shore artificial reefs, as well as around docks, rocks, jetties and beachfront wrecks. Purple-backed fiddler crabs remain the No. 1 bait for these sneaky biters.
Black sea bass are hitting around live bottom or reefs in 60 to 80 feet of water. A fun way to catch them is to use a 3/4-ounce Hopkins spoon, add a bit of cut squid to the hook and drop it to the bottom. Jig it up and down and hang on.