Hydrilla's future being debated at Thurmond Lake

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If your favorite lake is Thurmond, then you will be interested in a poll now being conducted to determine whether or not sterile grass carp could be stocked in the lake in an effort to eliminate hydrilla, a non-native aquatic plant.

The University of Georgia’s Daniel R. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources is conducting the poll of a small number of individuals on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Results from the poll will help the corps determine the future of the lake as far as hydrilla is concerned.

There are at least four points to ponder: (1) Bass fishermen love hydrilla, which offers food and cover for bait fish and game fish. (2) Anglers who seek deep water species such as striped and hybrid bass detest the weeds, which can foul hooks and prevent downline fishing in many areas of the lake. (3) Hydrilla is the host of a disease which causes deaths in American bald eagles feasting on common coots eating the hydrilla. (4) Property owners and marina operators along the lake hate hydrilla, which can clog the water around docks and other facilities.

The covering letter says a “small number of individuals” were contacted. I feel the issue is vital to the future and well-being of the lake and all readers who love it as I do need to have a chance to respond. Apparently, I was not among “the small number” sent the poll, but Phil Morris, who directs American Bass Angler District 96 tournaments, forwarded a copy which I duly filled out and sent in. So any readers interested in getting a copy can e-mail me at riverswamper@comcast.net and I’ll forward it.

Fishing report

THURMOND LAKE

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – Bob Vernoy and I fished many hours on Monday and Thursday and never got a strike on any of several lures we tried. Water temperature was 53 degrees. We’re not marking much in the way of bait fish, either. Later, we moved up to the Wilkes County pumping station. Bob caught a crappie on a jig trolled behind the boat and I caught a decent hybrid on a spinnerbait thrown against the bank. Crappies are flipping everywhere. The water is stained, but not badly. Of course, the rain predicted for Friday and the weekend will muddy it up some more.

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, 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), (Bradd) (706) 267-4313, (Andrew) (803) 507-5083 – Mid-lake points at the mouths of creeks have been the place this week to find plenty of downline hybrids and stripers in 35 to 40 feet of water. There is still plenty of sea gull activity going on, giving away (to anglers) location of schools of bait fish. We are also finding some nice stripers in the backs of creeks and catching them on planer boards with gizzard shad and blueback herring. Areas such as Cherokee Creek, Moseley Creek and Hamilton Branch have produced plenty of nice fish using both techniques. Nice slab hybrids have started appearing at the dam around the off-limits cable early in the morning and during the afternoons from 5 to 8 p.m. This fishing will get only better as temperatures warm. Crappie fishing is holding steady and improving, with nice-sized keepers being caught on small shiners and jigs fished over trees in 30 to 35 feet. Folks who had great times fishing with us this week include Andrew Holiman, Ronnie Jepsen and Daryl Jepsen, all of Waynesboro, Ga.; Mike Tate, Evans; Karl Moore, Mitchell Boyd and Louis Boyd, all of Aiken; Stephen Saunders, Tristan Saunders, Samantha Saunders and Jay Saunders, all of Warrenville, S.C., and Tony and Teresa Lumpkin, of Martinez.

Clarks Hill Herring Hut, (Capt.Bradd Sasser) (864) 333-2000 – Yellow perch have finally turned on in the river below the dam. Tony Polson stopped by with 24 of the nicest, fattest perch I have seen in a while

All were caught on small shiners. Bank fishing in the lake below the South Carolina Welcome Center also has steadily improved with plenty of 4- to 6-pound hybrids and an occasional catfish being caught in the afternoon on live and cut herring.

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – Capt. Buddy (Edge) and I took out a group from Savannah on the pontoon boat last Friday. We caught a good bunch of hybrids and stripers and a few perch. It was a pretty day on the lake. Then the ugly weather came in on Saturday and I haven’t been since, opting to get my boats and equipment ready for the spring. Check out my Web site at www.acestriperguide.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.flyfishing northgeorgia.com) (facebook.com/flyfishingnorthgeorgia) – The recent string of consistently cold days has made the fishing consistent as well. The best fishing has been during two to three hours in the afternoon. Most trout have taken big stonefly nymphs, but both Toccoa and Soque rivers have had black caddis fly hatches in the afternoons.

MERRY LAND

BRICKYARD PONDS

Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706) 722-8263 – Plans are being made to hold a bowfishing tournament on the ponds. Anyone who has the knowledge of how to operate such an event is asked to call Gene Kirkland.

Winners of last Saturday’s bass tournament: Wendell Williams won with 5.26 pounds. There was no big fish (minimum 5 pounds) caught so the big fish pot money will roll over to the next tournament.

The tournament runs from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Memberships are still available. See Gene for details.

Brickyard report: Gary Edge caught 32 crappies, four weighing in at 2½ to 3 pounds each, and one bass in the Garden Pond on minnows and jigs. Jimmy Sloan caught 46 crappies and two bass on minnows and jigs in the Ditch. Earl and Mary Tolbert caught 16 crappies, seven catfish and one bass, all on minnows, in the Expressway Pond. James Hughes caught 22 crappies and two bass in the Stick Pond on minnows.

Lock and dam report: Gene Kirkland and Jerry Skinner caught 42 crappies and two bass on minnows and worms. Kevin Coleman caught six bass, eight shellcrackers, 12 yellow perch and five crappies on minnows and worms. Jimmy Tyson caught six channel catfish, a flathead catfish and three blue catfish (biggest 18 pounds) on nightcrawlers and liver.

SAVANNAH, GA.

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Our inshore fishing schools are history, but we have two offshore schools scheduled March 9. The first runs from 8 a.m. to noon, the second from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cost of each is $90 and participants must bring their own food and drinks. The best part of these schools is that all participants will be taken out in boats. Those signing up who have GPS systems, use this address: Miss Judy Charters, 202 Wilmington Island Road, Savannah, GA 31410. Space is limited.


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