Is it possible to have too much hydrilla?

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There are still quite a few of us who go back to the “BH” (before hydrilla) days on Thurmond Lake.

As some might recall, the late Tommy Shaw was the one who first found and reported the weed when he discovered a mass of it in the basin of Little River Marina. I drove up and took a photo of Shaw holding the dripping mess.

I joined other fishermen in late 1964 by buying a boat and seeking largemouth bass. When the lake was first opened to the public in May 1953, its shoreline was loaded with all kinds of protective cover, including button bushes, willow trees, rocks and stumps.

We had little trouble catching a 15-fish limit (it later was reduced to 10 per day), throwing plastic worms.

From the 1960s through the 1970s, I saw many double-digit bass weighing 10 pounds up to 14 (always caught by somebody else!)

As the lake grew older and shoreline cover began deteriorating, many of us sunk Christmas trees (sans decorations) into creek channels or other places that had no natural cover.

Later, the Corps of Engineers gave its blessings to the U.S. Forest Service to topple many shoreline trees into the water to provide still more cover.

Point is, during those “BH” days, most of us had no problem catching bass. Then came the “AH” (after hydrilla) period, which is with us today. There is no doubt that the addition of the weed created sanctuaries for bait fish which became magnets for predatory fish like bass. The addition of blueback herring into the lake a few decades ago also provided the bass with a food that was going to make them heavier than what smaller threadfin shad and small bream and other species could do.

Now, there has been a poll seeking to justify the stocking of a certain species of non reproductive carp into the lake. These carp love hydrilla and over a long period of time can eliminate it entirely.

Here’s the scenario on our beloved lake today: hydrilla is clogging submerged areas like road beds, culverts, ditch lines and the like, in clumps so thick it’s impossible to fish.

I loved to target those areas back in the day. Lloyds Creek is another example. There is no birth control on this weed which also can be found in huge, deeper water areas. Is there such a thing as too much hydrilla?

If the plan is approved, there is no doubt fish like bass will adapt to pre-“BH” conditions. Question is, can today’s bass fishermen?

I am interested in hearing your comments.

• Condolences to the family of Doug Pentecost, 69, of Thomson, who died earlier this week. Condolences also go to his friend and partner, Leon Buffington, of Thomson. Together, they operated Raysville Marina on Georgia’s upper Little River on Thurmond Lake for nearly 30 years.

Fishing report

THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 – Allen Alspaugh Jr., and Sammy Stalvey, from Burke County, caught two striped bass – one 9 pound, 8 ounces, the other 8 pounds, 4 ounces. The fish bit herring in Germany Creek. Pierre Lampkin Jr., caught 50 nice crappies at the fish house on minnows and jigs.

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 50s and the lake is slightly stained. We’ve had a good week, catching some slab hybrids, nice stripers and largemouths. We are occasionally finding some down fish in 25 to 30 feet, but most of our fish are being caught on live herring fished beneath planer boards in the shallows. The “miserability” factor is still high with cold winds blowing almost every day. Sarah Sheffield, of Panama City, Fla., and her group of fish killers, had good morning on Wednesday, catching a cooler full of fish. They were cold, but had a blast. I canceled my Thursday trip due to high winds. It shouldn’t be long before the real spring weather arrives.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – Bob Vernoy and I caught a bunch of fish. Big fish was a 3½-pound black bass. We caught and released 24 bass, most coming on spinnerbaits fished in weedy pockets in the backs of coves. The half-ounce white spinnerbaits sported chartreuse skirts. Bob caught the bulk of the fish and each of us missed a bigger one.

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, Atlantic Broadband (Aiken) Ch. 7 and Charter Ch. 9 (Fort Gordon).

Bill Speer, The Fishing Coach, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass fishing on Lake Russell (www.thefishingcoach.com) (706) 421-6630 – Are we sure this is spring? The weather has cooled a bit this week and water temperatures are still in the low to mid 50s and a cold rain doesn’t help. The bass are still holding off the secondary points near deeper water and they move deeper as the water cools. They are slow to move back during the morning hours. Something to remember about our active creeks: they are going to clear from the back first so if you’re looking for clear water, that’s where to go. Off-color water warms faster than clear. I am still throwing flat-sided crank baits like the Bomber Flat A in bass color, a Thundershad coffin bill in the copper mesh color, and a Strike King Sexy Shad lipless bait.

One other technique often overlooked this time of year is throwing a soft jerk bait. My best depth has been 5 to 12 feet with deeper water nearby. After this cold snap, the bass will be pushing to the shallows with males cruising for that perfect bedding location. Fish south-facing coves and creeks where the colder north wind has had less effect.

You can reach me on Facebook @Lake Russell Bass Fishing as well as through my web site and phone number.

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), (706) 267-4313 (Bradd), (803) 507-5083 (Andrew) – Water temperatures are in the 50s and stripers and hybrids have started their transition into their spring patterns.

There are some nice stripers caught using planer boards to pull live herring into the shallows at places like the Georgia Flats, Parksville and Hamilton Branch. Moe and more hybrids are being caught on downlines in 35 to 45 feet of water from Parksville down to the dam along main channel points on the South Carolina side. Crappies are on the move, going from 20 feet to 8 to 10 feet over trees and brush, fishing small shiners and crappie grubs. Some very nice slab crappies were caught in the Fishing Village area. Enjoying trips with our guides were Jay, Ethan and Elliott Phillips, all of Claxton, Ga.; Dan, Mary Jane and Patrick Shea, all of Corpus Christi, Texas; Miller Finley, Grovetown; Mary Rhoads, Atlanta; Jim Donahue, Greenville, S.C.; John Rhoads, McCormick, S.C.; Carey Underwood, Grovetown; Tom Dunaway, North Augusta; Hanky Hutto, Augusta; Ray Waide, Aiken; Fred Ricketson, Martinez, and Tim Dobbs, Martinez.

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) – You can’t really go wrong right now in choosing a north Georgia trout stream to fish. This was the first week of really aggressive feeding by trout on every stream we’ve been on. The trout in the private trophy streams on the Soque and Chestatee rivers have been eating mostly mayfly nymph imitations as well as pink and red San Juan Worms. And most of the trout we’ve caught in the Toccoa River and Amicalola have eaten big stonefly nymphs. Speaking of the Toccoa, we’d really recommend fishing the Delayed Harvest section upstream from Blue Ridge Lake right now, with a big stonefly nymph and an egg pattern dropped below it.

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. Last Saturday’s bass tournament winners were Mike Bowling and Mike Carothers caught a 5.8-pound big fish and the big sack of 10.8 pounds.. The tournament continues this week and runs from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Memberships are still available. See Gene for details.

Brickyard report: Jimmy and Jan Milles caught 46 crappies and two bass in the Cornell Pond on minnows and jigs. Ronald Lovett caught seven bass in the Stick Pond on top water plugs. Jake Rawls caught 32 crappies and a jack on minnows in the King Pond. Paul Wolfe caught 12 bass in the Membership Pond on crank baits. Bubba Johnson caught 25 crappies on minnows in the Membership Pond. Mike Grubbs Sr., and Jr., caught six bass in the Membership Pond on crank baits and plastic worms. Michael Leaptrotte caught two 8-pound bass and two smaller ones in the Cornell Pond on plastic worms and crank baits. Jerry, Colton and Garron Pamkey caught 10 carp in the Ditch on doughballs.

Lock and dam: Herbert Gibson caught 13 yellow perch, two bass and three jacks on minnows and Roostertails. Cecil Grubbs caught three bass and a hybrid on buzz baits and Raty-L-Traps. George Logan caught 16 crappies, one striper and two bass on minnows and blueback herring. We will be getting a supply of live blueback herring sometime next week.


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