Baab: Catching crappies can be easy

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This is my favorite time of year for making easy catches of crappies on Thurmond Lake and it can become yours, too.

The fish have moved into the shallows to lay their eggs and they are easily caught on live and artificial baits.

My technique is to fish 1/32-ounce jigs a foot or two below weighted corks; i.e., corks that have a band of lead around the base so that they stand straight up after hitting the water. That means less resistance when the jigs are struck by fish.

My favorite jig colors are green or chartreuse. Suspended beneath the float, one gives a slight tug and the jig moves up in the water. Allowed to sink, the bite generally comes as the jig falls.

The cork disappears and pretty soon the black-and-silver fish can be hauled to the surface. I always use a net instead of trying to haul the fish bodily from the water. They have paper-thin mouths and hooks can tear out easily, especially on the bigger females.

The lake is about six feet below normal, but might come up a foot or so after the rain. Air temperatures are predicted to rise into the low 80s by early next week.

• Condolences to family and friends of Doug Hannon, 66, a legend known as “The Bass Professor,” who died last Thursday at his home near Tampa, Fla. He was best known for his documentation of catching more than 800 bass weighing 10 pounds or better. He also held 20 patents for numerous fishing tackle, lures and boat propulsion designs, including the WaveSpin
spinning reels and MicroWave line.

Fishing report

THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington), (706) 595-5582 – Cliff Crowe, of Raysville, caught eight nice crappies, fishing with minnows. Dennis White, of Augusta, caught 14 crappies on minnows in our fish house.

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.crockett rocketstriperfishing.com) Water temperature is in the mid 50s and the lake is slightly stained. I had a great couple of days, but then we got hit by this northeaster. Jimmy North and his son, Chad, from Charlotte, N.C., had a good morning, catching hybrids, stripers and largemouths in the Parksville area. We caught a few fish downlining, but most were caught freelining in the shallows. I hope this will be the last cold front for a few weeks and we can start on a regular pattern.

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 – Water temperatures have risen steadily this week, averaging around 60 degrees by mid morning. The lake level is slightly up and we should be knocking on 325 feet (5 feet below normal pool) by this weekend. First part of our week started off with most of our fish coming on live herring fished behind planer boards in Cherokee, Grays and Keg creeks, but warmer water sparked spring patterns and coolers started filling up with downline hybrids. Underwater humps and troughs in 35 to 40 feet of water around Parksville, Bass Alley and Modoc have been great for early morning fishing. In the evenings, hybrid and striper fishing has been as good as it gets, with great catches coming from fishing around the dam and the Lake Springs area from about 4 p.m., to about 8. Crappies can be caught along the shoreline as they participate in the spring spawn. They’re being caught in three to four feet of water around bushes and other cover on small shiners, tuffy minnows and crappie jigs. Crappies should move back out over trees in deeper water in one to two weeks. This week, we enjoyed fishing with Ronnie Brian, Gary Gulfwich and Reuben Cheatham, all of Roebuck, S.C.; Mark Tuttle, Pickens, S.C.; Richard Davidson, Grovetown; Bobby Wilks, Evans; James Damico, Clemson, S.C.; John Lapps and Dave Hughes, both of Baltimore, Md.

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – Life at the lake is happy. Dogwoods blooming and wild turkeys gobbling. Fishing should be on the upswing. I’ve been catching fish early on planer boards until I mark some downline fish.

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) – After fishing five different streams this week, we can officially say that the trout are in the spring feeding mode all across north Georgia. Most trout on the Soque and Chestatee rivers (both having had recent rainfall) were caught on San Juan Worms and Wooly Buggers. But the trout on all of the streams we fished were very receptive to mayfly nymph patterns such as Mighty Mays and Pheasant Tail Nymphs.

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 was won by Mike Leaptrotte with 8.9 pounds. There was no big fish. 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: Bubba Johnson caught 16 bass on plastic worms, lizards and Shad Raps in the Membership Pond. James and Taylor Hutto caught a bass and 13 bream in the Ditch on worms and crickets. Dwayne Simmons caught 32 crappies and a bass on minnows and jigs I the Expressway Pond. Brandon Prickett caught 41 crappies and five bass on minnows and jigs in the Garden Pond. Howard Lovett caught 18 catfish, six bream and two crappies on minnows and worms in the Ditch.

Lock and dam report: Jimmy Houston caught three stripers and a 7-pound bass on blueback herring. Gene Kirkland and Jerry Skinner caught nine bass, five crappies and six catfish on worms and minnows. Clyde Lowry and Ted Hatcher caught two stripers and three catfish. Biggest striper weighed 24 pounds and all were caught on blueback herring.

SAVANNAH, GA.

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Vermilion snapper season opened April 1. Grouper season opens May 1 and black sea bass season starts June 1. Best bait for the snapper includes cigar minnows and live Spanish saredines.


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