Some weeks ago, I mentioned that this is the time of year when the opportunity is there to catch really big fish in Thurmond Lake.
The proof is in two fish – the 45-pounder caught by Nick Dibella pictured on this page and the 10.22-pound largemouth landed by Reno Reasoner on the final day of the Local Top Six Bass Tournament. Another individual, who did not reveal his name, e-mailed a photo of a 4-plus-pound crappie he caught in Grays Creek to Billy Murphy, of Augusta. “He’s a friend of a friend,” Murphy said. “I don’t know him.”
Anyone catching a big fish – residents or non-residents – is eligible to enter it in Georgia’s Angler Award programs. The program runs year-around, but applications must be received no later than Jan. 15 of the year following the catch. That means eligible fish caught this year must be registered before Jan. 15, 2013. Copies of the rules and applications are available from the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division., 2070 U.S. Highway 278, S.E., Social Circle, GA 30025.
Steve Perdue, of Thomson, landed a 55-pound flathead catfish from Thurmond Lake on a crank bait on March 6, 2011. Virgil Edge, of Wrightsville, Ga., caught a 40-pound, 2-ounce blue catfish in Lake Oconee on a nightcrawler July 20, 2011. Both were presented with certificates and hats embroidered with the anglers’ names as well as the species and weight.
• An in water boat show and open house will be held at Hayes Marine at 5580 Marina Parkway near Trade Winds Marina on April 14 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Demonstration rides will be held all day, and more than 20 lake and recreation vendors will be on hand.
THURMOND LAKE Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Cliff Crowe and Danny Johnson, of Thomson, limited out on crappies. Jessie Dawson caught a 5¼-pound largemouth. William Hopkins, of Raysville, with daughter and son-in-law Cheryl and Carey Locke, from Alamo, Ga., caught a limit of crappies on minnows. Hopkins and Greg Reeds, from Raysville, caught 16 largemouth bass. Four weighed 3 pounds each. They caught them on plastic worms. Danny Johnson, of Thomson, caught 27 nice crappies and one bluegill on a minnows. Hulon Dorsey, of Harlem, Ga., caught an 8½-pound on channel catfish on a minnow.
Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, fulltime professional guide specializing in hybrids and striped bass and trophy largemouth bass. (Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379. (www.crocketrocketstriperfishing.com) – Water temperature has reached the 60s and the spring season is in full swing. Of course, we’re still in March, and anything can happen, but I’m not seeing any fronts on the horizon as of today. We’ve had some great mornings with the fish bunched up and easy to catch. One morning, I couldn’t get away from the fish long enough to drink a cup of coffee. We’ve also had a couple of mornings with slower fishing, mostly as a result of dense fog which kept me from running and gunning like I wanted. The fish are still moving a lot, so if they’re not in one locale, you have to change zip codes, and you have to do it quick while the bite is still on. I enjoyed my trip with Hammond West and Bettis Hammond. They caught some nice stripers and largemouths. Also, Mickey and Henry Hudrell had a blast catching stripers and hybrids on their second trip with me. They’re from Ohio, but keep adding trips to Carolina to their agenda. Free-lining live herring is the name of the game right now. Fishing should remain good and even get better as we approach the spawn.
Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – Kirk Daniel and I fished six hours on Wednesday. I caught a jack and one bass. The latter was about three inches long and came on the 5-inch-long Yellow Fellow. Kirk fished with another fisherman on Tuesday and Kirk caught bass weighing 5, 4 and 3 pounds. All came on the Yellow Fellow.
My new show features The Bassmasters. Fishing with Ralph Barbee airs Saturdays at 11 a.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. on Comcast Channel 21, WRDW-My12, Knology Ch. 7, Atlantic Broadband (Aiken) Ch. 7 and Charter Ch. 9 (Fort Gordon).
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) – Mark: Jason Cunningham, Matthew Cunningham and Bobby Peterson, all of Augusta, caught 11 hybrids and stripers 2 to 8 pounds on downlines and planers. Jim Linton, McCormick, S.C.; Jeff and William Linton, Harrisville, Pa., caught 20 stripers and hybrids downlining live herring in 50 feet of water. William: Bob Rexroat, Evans, and Ray Pijanowski, Peru, Ohio, caught 12 crappies on a late afternoon trip.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – I am back in business again. I do so much appreciate all the kind words from the fishing community after my mother passed away last week. Check out my Web site: www.fishlakethurmond.com.
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) – Thanks to warm water and relatively low fishing pressure, all the private trophy trout streams are fishing incredibly well. I had two consecutive trips to Fern Valley where we caught big trout consistently from midmorning on, the biggest a beautiful 24-inch rainbow. I had a trip to Frog Hollow on the Chestatee River where we lost count of the number of trout over 20 inches we caught. A lot of different patterns caught fish, but big rubber-legged stonefly nymphs and pink San Juan worms worked especially well.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland and Brantley Toomer, (706 722-8263) – Paul Wolfe caught seven bass in the Membership Pond on plastic worms. Bubba Johnson caught 60 big crappies in the Swan Pond on minnows. Larry Johnson caught eight bass 3 pounds or better in the Membership Pond on plastic worms and a black plastic frog. Lynn Barnes caught 42 crappies on minnows in the Ditch. Ricky Thompson caught 38 crappies in the Ditch on minnows. Bill Waters caught 39 catfish on liver and worms in the Pollard Pond. Jack Larens caught 42 crappies in the Membership Pond on minnows. Sally and Jim Green caught 13 carp (one 14 pounds) in the Ditch on dough balls. David Dals caught six bass in the Expressway Pond, one 7½ pounds, on plastic worms. Scott Melvin caught 46 crappies on minnows and jigs in the Membership Pond. Lock and dam: Harvey Bowles caught eight shad on Sabiki Rigs and two stripers on live herring. Kenneth McDowell caught eight stripers down river on herring, including two 10-pounders. Larry Valdez caught eight shad on Sabiki Rigs. Thomas Freeman, 8, caught a 6-pound striper on herring and Charlie Freeman, 6, caught two shad on Sabiki Rigs.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Patrick Mullinix, of Savannah, Ga., has been catching some nice redfish while fly fishing the flats. He reports schools of red are feeding on large schools of bait fish. Now that waters are warming, the bottom fishing bite is excellent. Just last week, we caught a few trophy redfish, rock bass, ringtailed perch, pinfish, trigger fish, nice flounder and 200 black sea bass!
Capt. Ray Golden, of Coffee Bluff Marinaa, reports really good redfish action on both live bait and artificials. The IFA Redfish Tour comes to his marina on March 24.
It’s going to take two 23-inch fish to win.