Quality schooling hybrids and stripers have taken their annual sabbatical, leaving Thurmond Lake’s fishermen to guess when that leave is up.
Veteran angler Bill Howle, of Evans, notes that it’s usually around “World Series time” when the fish take a break from chasing shad to the surface. Sometimes, he said, it lasts for nearly a week, other times longer.
My wife, Bea, and I took out our 1964 Larson runabout Wednesday afternoon, leaving just in time to hit the school traffic, but we finally made it past Evans High. We launched at Lake Springs (the ramp still extends beneath the water for several feet). A strong southeast wind was blowing and the only fish we saw break was a single in the corner below the welcome station on the South Carolina side of the dam.
Capt. Dave Willard thinks hybrids and stripers may be on their way up Georgia’s Little River toward Raysville. The fish turn on up there about a week before Thanksgiving and fishermen are aided by flocks of diving gulls and terns.
The problem with the Raysville area is that there are loads of treetops – some showing, others just beneath the surface – making for dangerous boating conditions when lake levels are well below normal pool.
-- The 12th annual John de la Howe Fishing Tournament will be held Saturday, Oct. 27, on Thurmond Lake. Bonnie and David Annis are honorary weighmasters and, as usual, they need volunteers with boats to take out some 30 youngsters. “We’re in need of boats with adult female captains to chaperone the girls we take out,” David Annis said. Contact him at (706) 481-9336, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Congratulations to Mr. Clark Hill winner Larry Atkins, of the Augusta Bassmasters, and to Lee Sidener, the 2012 Angler of the Year.
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, the lake is clear and continuing to fall. Fall fishing is here and it is good. One factor about the lower lake level is that fish have fewer places to hide. Sarah Sheffield, from Panama City, Fla., was visiting family in Aiken. She had a blast catching a limit of stripers and hybrids. We located the fish that had blown up on a 24-foot hump at the mouth of the Georgia Flats and they were definitely interested in live herring. This is her fifth year of visiting friends in Aiken and fishing the lake. Their fish fries have become a big hit with their friends.
William Sasser’s Guide Service, (Capt. William Sasser, Capt. Mark Crawford, 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) 373-8347 (Mark), (Bradd) (706) 267-4313, (Andrew) (803) 507-5083 – Inconsistent weather conditions forced the fish to change their feeding patterns once again. The bite has moved back to a morning bite starting about 7 a.m., and shutting down by 1 p.m. All of the bigger fish are coming in 70 feet of water at the mouths of creeks, fishing live herring 30 to 50 feet deep. Schooling fish have been scarce, with a few schools of smaller fish breaking near the Cherokee ramp and Georgia’s Little River Bridge. Having a great time on the water this week were Ron Thigpen, Evans; Fred and Tim Cooper, Martinez; B.J. Arrington, J.D. Wheeler, Justin Russell, Chad Stewart, Jake Kight and Jeremy Gay, all of Louisville, Ga.; Paul Thompson, Augusta, and Nicki Kong, North Augusta.
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Clarks Hill Herring Hut, (Capt.Bradd Sasser) (864) 333-2000 – The catfish bite has turned on, with several nice channel and flathead catfish being caught off points at the mouths of creeks, fishing cut herring in 35 to 40 feet of water. Keeper hybrids and stripers are being caught off the fishing pier below the dam on the South Carolina side, using Berry’s Flex-It Spoons and casting after the generators are turned on in the afternoon. David Poole enjoyed catching and releasing a 9-pound hybrid on the spoon. He also hooked two small largemouths on one plug (a Sammy) at one time.
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) – The heavy rainfall that hit north Georgia early last week has had a big impact on the fishing. In the Toccoa River, it initially meant more hours of generation through the dam, which caused the trout to become more active. As the lake level has dropped and there has been little or no generation, the fishing has become more unpredictable. As for the smaller trout streams, some of them saw so much rain that levels rose several feet, displacing many trout and making fishing a challenge. Now that conditions have stabilized, the fishing has gotten very good. We’ve had successful trips on Noontootla and Dukes creeks and the Soque River. Most of our trout were caught on small, realistic-looking flies like pheasant tails and golden stonefly nymphs.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706 722-8263) – Military personnel, senior citizens, you can fish for half-price. If you’re handicapped, you can fish for free. Contact the bait and tackle shop for details.
Brickyard: Josh Burke caught 30 crappies on minnows in the White Elephant. Billy Howard and Ron Bell caught 40 crappies on minnows in the Ditch. Mike Lewis and Roy Davis caught 20 crappies and 15 bream on worms and minnows in the Garden Pond. Floyd Brown caught 25 crappies in Expressway Pond on minnows. Tommy Cooper and Ken Wayne caught 35 crappies in the Ditch. Bobby Hayward caught 25 bream on crickets and worms in the Shack Pond. Mason Cummings caught 10 bass (biggest 6 pounds) on plastic worms in the Garden Pond.
Lock and dam: Jim Wallace caught 50 bream on worms. J.D. and Sharon White caught 30 crappies on minnows. Paul Wolfe and Robbie Hendricks caught 12 bass on plastic worms and 30 bream on crickets.
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – The annual Owen Perry Memorial Inshore Tournament, named in honor of the late Augustan, will be held out of Fripp Island Marina today and Saturday. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Camp Rainbow for kids with cancer and rare blood diseases. Registration will be held at the marina today at 6 p.m., followed by a captains’ meeting and a Lowcountry cookout. An auction will be held with proceeds also going to Camp Rainbow. Fishing begins Saturday at 7 a.m., with the weigh-in closing at 5 p.m. Next on the schedule is the annual Kids’ Thanksgiving Fishing Tournament on Friday, Nov. 23, at the marina. More information: (843) 838-1517.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Most of you who have been out with me or some of my captains have caught trigger fish while bottom fishing. Back in the days of wooden ships, seamen would catch the trigger fish, skin and fillet them, eat the meat and dry out the skins. They’d use the latter to sand the ship’s decks. So next time you need sand paper, go fishing for trigger fish. Some of my clients have caught some unusual critters. One was a sea urchin, which trigger fish target to eat. The fish aim for the center of the urchin, which is less protected by spines. But the fish sometimes have their bodies pierced by the spines so next time you catch one of those species, check its body for scars from attacking too many urchins.