Use caution with low lake level

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Fishing for largemouth bass, hybrid and striped bass in Thurmond Lake always turns on as temperatures begin to drop on the big lake this time of the year.

The lake level is inching its way down toward the 16-feet-below mark, so boaters and fishermen have to stay alert and be very careful. The problem isn’t what one can see, but what one can’t see that can be dangerous to boat and boater.

If I was going to head for the lake today, I would stick to the lower end from Shriver Creek (just below Plum Branch Yacht Club on the Georgia side) to the dam and everything in between. Check out William Sasser’s Guide Service report, as well as that of Capt. Dave Willard, for best areas to fish.

THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Jack Owens and Billy Inglett, of Grovetown, caught 24 crappies weighing from 1 to 2¼ pounds on minnows.

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 high 50s, the lake is clear and continuing to drop. Fishing is good between the cold fronts. We’re catching some nice stripers freelining, nice hybrids on downlines and still jigging up a lot of perch, largemouths and catfish. The famous fishing Yoder family, from Ohio and North Carolina, fished with me last Saturday. We had a great trip, catching a cooler full of fish. They planned to have a big fish fry when they returned home. All of our fish were caught in the Parksville and Georgia Flats areas. After the fog lifts, about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is the best time to fish.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – Bob Vernoy and I fished last Friday in the Raysville area. He caught five bass 2 pounds to 4 pounds on the Rat-L-Trap. We fished again on Monday and I caught four bass on the Yellow Fellow up to 2½ pounds. He caught a gar on the Rat-L-Trap. I also hung about an 8-pound striper that escaped. The fish have been dead on the banks. Our best fishing came after 4 p.m. If you launch your boat on the Amity middle ramp, you have to raise up your motor because there is a hump just off the ramp.

Fishing with Ralph Barbee airs Saturdays at 11 a.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. on Comcast Channel 21, My12TV, Knology Ch. 7, G-Force (Atlantic Broadband) Ch. 7 and Northland Ch. 9 (Charter).

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 – Two days of cooler weather moved the fish out of deep water into the backs of the creeks in 10 to 20 feet of water. All the fish we are catching are coming on live herring and gizzard shad pulled behind planer boards in creeks such as Shriver, Landam, Bennefield, Murry and Fishing. Slab crappies are being caught fishing treetops in Grays Creek, around Raysville or in the creeks off South Carolina’s Little River. Watch for heavy bird (sea gull) activity over bait with hybrids about 20 feet below. You can catch those fish on jigging spoons or live bait. Having a great time with us this week were Paul Lotspelch and Gene Lotspelch, both of Hephzibah; Ray Perkins, of Beech Island; Jimmy Torrone and Debbie Guilyard, of North Augusta; Randall Redmond, Junior Lambert, Linda Holtzclaw, Doug Leinart and Chris Schafer, all of Evans; Scott Leinart, of Martinez, and Brenda and Mike Busby, of Aiken. Check out our Facebook page for up-to-date pictures.

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) – For anyone not deterred by cooler temperatures, several of north Georgia’s public trout streams are producing some nice fish. The delayed harvest section of the Toccoa River might be the best one to try if you’re planning on being in the Blue Ridge area. Try fishing flashback pheasant tails and egg patterns when nymphing. About mid afternoon, the brook trout have been rising to eat Blue-winged Olives (sizes 20 or 22) off the surface in that same area.

MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS

Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706 722-8263) – Military personnel and senior citizens can fish for half price. If you’re handicapped, you can fish for free. Contact the bait and tackle shop for details.

Brickyard report: Ed and Wes Ables caught 100 crappies and two bass in the Ditch on minnows and jigs. Robert Hughes caught 15 bass and a catfish on plastic worms in the Expressway and Membership ponds. James Gilbert caught six bass (4½ pounds the biggest) and eight crappies in the Clayton Pond. Henry Jones caught 80 crappies on minnows in the Ditch. B.J. White caught 50 crappies and 10 catfish in the Expressway Pond on minnows and liver. Tim Brown and Joey Smith caught 75 crappies and 210 bass on minnows and plastic worms in the White Elephant Pond. Mike and Sue Williams caught 50 crappies and 10 catfish on minnows in the Ditch.

Lock and dam: Bob Jones and Sam Grady caught 50 crappies on minnows. Jerry and Aaron Skinner caught 30 shellcrackers on pinks and 40 crappies on minnows.

SAVANNAH, GA.

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Capt. Jack McGowan, of Miss Judy Charters Inc., was scouting around when he caught some nice sheepshead on jigs baited with shrimp. He wasn’t looking for that species, but enjoyed the battle they put up. The artificial reefs are red hot during this cooler time of the year.


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