The Merry Land Brickyard Ponds have been under new management for the past several weeks, with improvements being made for easy access to most of the ponds, plus a new "shack" overlooking the Shack Pond where permits and bait can be purchased.
New owners Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer will hold a grand opening May 7, during which visitors can fish the ponds for free. Since the ponds are operated under a catch-out license, no fishing licenses are needed and there are no limits to the number of fish that can be caught.
I started fishing those ponds back in the late 1940s, early 1950s. Homer Garrison was the lessee at the time and he was followed by Albert Redfern. Actually, I collected snakes and turtles around the ponds, got to know several fishermen and saw how they were catching fish. I even paddled some of the anglers during late afternoons until after dark, having learned the "J-stroke" which means I didn't have to lift out the paddle after each stroke. They'd cast Jitterbugs and the top-water plugs would catch the heck out of big bass.
A group of us kids collected snakes and turtles and we had a ball when one of the ponds would be drained. We caught mud and musk turtles, painted turtles, yellow-bellied terrapins and snapping turtles.
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 -- Brad Carani, of Washington, Ga., caught 30 channel catfish weighing 7 to 10 pounds each, fishing chicken livers on sand flats.
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.crockett rocketstriperfishing.com) -- Water temperature hit the 70s this week and fishing went into high gear. We're still having some weather issues (high winds and early morning thunderstorms), but on a good weather day, fishing has been great. Billy Miller, Terry O'Banion, Walter Brittain and Michael Lindale had a good morning catching a cooler full of stripers, hybrids and largemouths. Shane Burdette and his boys, Michael and Marcus had a blast catching their limits of hybrids and stripers up to 8 pounds.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide specializing in hybrids, stripers and bass. (706) 860-7373 -- I fished last Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, I caught five bass on a Yellow Fellow jerk bait. Most of the fish were chunky 2 to 3 pounds and came from points in Cherokee, Grays and Lloyds creeks. On Tuesday, Kirk Daniel fished with me in his boat. It was overcast with just a bit of wind. We wound up with four bass and one hybrid. He caught three bass on a silver jerk bait (31 pounds the biggest). I caught the hybrid on the first point going in to Lloyds Creek and added two bass, all on the Yellow Fellow. Kirk hooked an estimated 30-pound carp in the side and got a big scale back, but no fish.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishing guides.com) -- My grandchildren, Abby, James and Johnathan, and their fathers, Brad and Jim, joined me on the lake. As soon as we got our planer boards and freelines out, Abby (with the help of her father, Brad) caught a 15-pound striper. Then the light rain came. A few minutes later, James caught a 4-pound striper. Then the rain came down harder, the grandchildren got wet and cold and wanted to go home. So we did. Last Saturday and Sunday, Jack and Jim Fugate, of Pensacola, Fla., fished with me for crappies. We trolled Hal-Flies over treetops in eight to 15 feet of water. We caught 45 crappies with seven weighing 2 pounds or better. Enjoying getting out of the house on Tuesday with me was Doug Holland, of Augusta. We pulled live herring beneath planer boards and freelines from 6:15 a.m. to 10 a.m., around points. We caught 18 hybrids and stripers with the biggest weighing 7 pounds. Water temperature on the surface was 68 to 71 degrees.
William Sasser's Guide Service, (Capt. William Sasser and Capt. Mark Crawford, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, full time professional guides specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass). (706) 589-5468 (William), (706) 373-8347 (Mark) or (864) 333-2000. (Clark Hill Herring Hut) -- William: Rual Thang, Cung Thang, Deborah Pae, Bethey Thang, Bonnie Zual, Emily Mung and Christopher Mung, all of Burma, caught 32 fish in about an hour. That's all they wanted to catch, but we could have loaded up the boat. Dwain Williams, Augusta; Zack Pye, Martinez; Drew Pye and Andy Pye, North Augusta, got in a quick trip. Zack caught his first hybrid of about 7 pounds. Dan McAlvin, Matt McAlvin and Michael McAlvin, Roy Colvin and Greg Colvin and Larry Ennis, all of Evans, stopped at 40 fish, each over 5 pounds, hybrids and stripers mixed. Roman Bing, Eddie Crompton, Don Adams, Corey Adams, David Bigelow, Rodney Brown, all of Augusta, and Calvin Norris, Harlem, Ga., Sam Hairston, Evans; Robert Bradburn and Thomas E. Carter, Hephzibah caught 45 stripers and hybrids. Mark: Clarke Sharpe, Steve Carlisle, of Savannah Lakes Village, caught 18 stripers and hybrids 2 to 4 pounds. Scott Peterman, Alex Peterman and Kyle Peterman, all of Greenville, S.C., caught 24 fish 2 to 4 pounds. Dennis Heiny, Florence, S.C.; Jay Heiny, Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Rick Heiny, Jacksonville, Fla., and Skip Wergers, Florence, caught 13 stripers and hybrids. Tom Jastrom, Chris Wilson, Kenny Barrose, Robert MaCulough, all of Augusta, caught 22 fish. Carl Perdue, Tom Murphy, Tom Latsko, Gary Baker and Dick Gaul, all of Aiken, caught 23 hybrids and stripers and 57 crappies. www.williamsasserfishing.com.
Dale Gibbs, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass (706) 288-7510 -- Fishing for largemouths is still great, with the fish hitting top water plugs like the Zara Spook, Pencil Popper and Sammy. Plastic worms and lizards also are producing good catches. Jim Fowler, of Augusta, and his son, Jonathon, of Aiken, had a great day on the lake. We caught about 25 largemouths and 10 stripers mixed with hybrids. Most were in the 11-to 4-pound range. Jim caught a 4-pounder and Jonathon added a 31-pounder.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 -- I've been catching fish off points because the herring are spawning. I am catching some on down rods in 20-25 feet of water. The fish are of good quality. The key time to go is the first hour around daylight. Once the sun comes up, it makes for harder time to find the fish. Check out my web site: www.fishlakethurmond.com.
Bradd Sasser, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000 -- Andrew Tubbs, of Clarks Hill, and Tom Banks, of Martinez, limited out on hybrids on live herring around the dam. The bream bite has turned on big time, with worms and crickets the best baits. The evening bite on cut and live bait around the dam also is on the upswing.
New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 798-3252 -- Wayne Newsome caught a 7-pound largemouth bass. David Lyons caught a 9-pound largemouth and 60 handsized bream. Anthony Caruso and Caine Rios have been catching lots of redbellies.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706) 722-8263 -- Our grand opening will be held on May 7. We have a full line of bait. An easy way to reach the ponds is to turn onto Doug Barnard Parkway off the Gordon Highway, take the first left and follow the signs.
Last Friday's tournament was won by Bubba and Dana Koss, with 11.97 pounds. Bobby Young and Ricky Johnson were second with 8.91 pounds and third was J.C. Dicks by himself with 8.22 pounds. Big was caught by Young and Johnson, a 5.41-pounder.
Cory and Justin Martin and Jocelyn Ivey caught 12 bass, with 3 in the 5-pound range in the Expressway Pond on a black plastic worm. Phillip Reedy caught 48 nice bream on wax worms in the Ditch. Caneshia Hill and Betsy Hill caught 35 bream on red worms in the Swan Pond. Carol Cummings had 10 bass, one a 51-pounder, on plastic worms and big shiners in the Warren Pond. Ernie Burton and Charlie Nelson caught 72 crappies in the Ditch on minnows. Sam Spivey and Willie Jones caught 61 crappies and 10 bass on minnows and worms. Paul Wolfe caught an 81-pound bass in the Membership Pond on a plastic worm. Mike Grubbs Sr. and Jr. caught 15 bass in the Expressway Pond in spinnerbaits. Larry Johnson caught six bass -- two over 5 pounds -- in the Membership Pond on plastic worms. Willie Black caught 42 crappies on minnows in the Ditch. Sally and Fred Ludwick caught 45 catfish in the Ditch on livers.