Winter weather conditions finally making an appearance

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Well, those of us who hoped that winter fishing conditions would return are happy, sort of, and we’d even be happier if the strong winds would cease and desist. Today’s weather forecast is such that most of us will stay home and avoid the freezing rain that may or may not hit our area.

However, the early part of next week is looking good, with the extended forecast calling for light winds and warmer temperatures on Monday and Tuesday. One of those days, I hope to be on the Savannah River below Thurmond Dam after yellow perch.

Meanwhile, down on the Atlantic coast between Beaufort, S.C., and Savannah, inshore fishermen are having a good time targeting sheepshead. Bridge and deep water dock pilings are favorite places for those fish, with purple-backed fiddler crabs the chief bait.

• Arriving in my mail this week was the 2013 issue of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) World Record Game Fishes, all 408 pages. I am an IGFA member. I’d certainly recommend membership in this worldwide fishing conservation group. Annual fee is $40 and includes a subscription to the magazine. Check out the Web site at www.igfa.org.

Fishing report

THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Clifford Crowe caught a limit of bream in the Savannah River below Thurmond Dam. Danny Johnson, one of our better customers, has been feeling poorly and would appreciate hearing from friends.

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 – Water temperature is into the high 50s and the lake is clear. The level is holding its own. During the days when we’re not having high winds, we’re catching 8-10-pound stripers and 4-6-pound hybrids pulling live herring behind planer boards. Dordon Creek, Georgia Flats and the left cut going into Shriver Creek produced good fish over the last couple of days. Birds were diving in the mouth of Dordon a couple of days in a row. I did not see any loons and we marked and caught some fish where the birds had been.

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), (706) 267-4313 (Bradd), (803) 507-5083 (Andrew) – With the weather cooling down, the fishing has been a little slower paced, but the sizes of the stripers and hybrids more than makes up for the slow bite. The cooler weather has set the crappie bite back into full swing, with small shiners fished over submerged treetops in the upper end of the lake around South Carolina’s Little River and Grays Creek off Georgia’s Little River. Larger stripers are still lingering in the creeks such as Dordon, Wells and Shriver and are being caught pulling large herring and gizzard shad behind planer boards. More groups of downline hybrids are beginning top show up on the sides of humps and off points in about 40 feet of water in mid to lower lake areas such as Parksville, Hamilton Branch, Georgia Flats and Bass Alley. Working small half-ounce bucktails or a 1-ounce Berry’s Flex-It Spoon while downlining for hybrids also are producing some nice hybrids and largemouths. This week, Jeremy Sizemore and Tom McCall (both of Hendersonville, N.C.) caught a nice mixed string of hybrids, stripers and largemouths. Jeremy caught a 15.2-pound striper and a 9-pound striper. David Pierce and his son, Adam, of Evans, fished with us on Lake Russell. They caught an 18-pound striper and a 15-pound striper, along with several Kentucky spotted bass. John and Nikki Slown and Will and Abbi Reese, of Craytonville, S.C., caught a cooler full of crappies and hybrids.

Check out our Facebook page for up-to-date pictures.

Clarks Hill Herring Hut, (Capt. Bradd Sasser) (864) 333-2000 – Fishing off the bank has begun to be productive with reports of good hybrids, stripers and catfish coming from Parksville, the Bait Cove below the S.C. Welcome Center, using live and cut herring. Several fishermen also are reporting good catches of crappies and bream in the Savannah River below Thurmond Dam. Best bait includes hybrid pinks and small minnows. A few yellow perch also are being caught with perch fishing expected to improve as colder weather sets in.

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – Now that deer season is closed, I’m starting tom ease back into the fishing. I’ve been out with my friend, Buddy Edge, and we’ve been catching some pretty good fish. It’s been typical winter – some days good, others not so good. Last week, we caught 20 fish from five to 20 pounds and we’re also catching some big ol’ slab crappies around deep docks. Most of our action has come around Fishing Village.

Check out my Web site at www.acestriperguide.com.

MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS

Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706 722-8263) –The brickyard bass tournament will be cranking up in the near future. A meeting discussing the rules will be held at the tackle shop on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The tournament will start the following Saturday, starting at 7 a.m. Weigh-in will be at 12. Memberships also will be available. See Gene Kirkland for details.

Brickyard report: Robert Hughes and Josh Bratcher caught 18 bass last Saturday and 12 bass last Sunday on hard lures, plastic worms and spinnerbaits in the Membership Pond. Bubba Johnson caught 15 crappies, two bass and one yellow perch on minnows in the Membership Pond. Jimmy Slaughter caught 63 crappies, four bass and one shellcracker in the Ditch. Jerry Skinner caught 72 crappies and five bass on minnows and jigs in the Expressway Pond. Brandon Prickett caught nine bass (biggest 7.8 pounds) on plastic worms and buzzbaits in the Farm Pond. Claude Daley caught 41 crappies, 16 catfish and two bass in the White Elephant Pond on minnows and worms. Sue Hornsby landed 12 crappies and one bass in the Ditch on minnows.

Lock and dam report: Joel Humphrey caught two bass, eight shellcrackers and six yellow perch on minnows and worms. Dan and Lisa Heath caught four bream, eight crappies and six yellow perch on worms and minnows. Gene Simms caught three carp, one mudfish and three catfish. Cliff Mills caught 16 channel catfish and two blue catfish on crawfish and cut bait. Biggest blue cat was 14 pounds. Bill and Nancy Griner caught six bream, seven shellcrackers, three yellow perch and one bass.

BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY

Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Redfish are still hungry and the few fishermen who are after them are having good results on incoming tides in the grassy areas, fishing both mud minnows and live shrimp. Good fishing for winter trout, sheepshead and large mullet. No offshore report.

SAVANNAH, GA.

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Now is the time for those who want to do a bit of inshore fishing for sheepshead to go. Best baits are purple-backed fiddler crabs, clam strips and green mussels fished around structures like bridge pilings. As of Jan. 1, there are no restrictions on fishing for whiting. There are no creel or size limits for this fish, which can be sporty on light tackle.


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