The best, most positive thing I can say about Thurmond Lake is that it’s about a inch of becoming full again after many months of low water. With more rain predicted for the weekend, it’s likely to surpass the 330-foot level.
So, what’s happening, fishing-wise?
When you get onto the lake, steer your boat into almost every cove and take a deep breath. Phew! That’s the delightful smell of bream and shellcrackers spawning.
My friend, Ashley Meadows, of Augusta, reports that he and a friend checked the South Carolina waters opposite Fishing Creek up the Savannah River. They found them muddy and trashy with about 6 inches of visibility. No bites.
So they went to Catfish Creek (Parksville, S.C.).
They didn’t have much luck bass fishing, but they could smell the bream. Problem: no worms. They checked out the bait store in Parksville, only to find it closed.
Ashley notes that this time of year, it’s best to plan ahead.
“I told my buddy that next time, I was going to carry some worms, even if I had to put them in my pocket!”
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington), (706) 595-5582 – Brad Carney caught 30 catfish on chicken liver off Raysville Marina. Junior Crowe caught 20-plus nice catfish next to the Raysville Bridge on chicken liver.
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 upper 60s and the lake is slightly stained. The lake continues to rise and I expect to see it close to full pool soon. We are hopefully over the cold fronts. Several days of nor’easter put a damper on the fishing. One morning on the windward side of the lake, I recorded 59-degree water temperature, pretty cold for May. Tom Cotton, of Aiken, and his group of fish killers, could not be deterred on a wild, wet nor’easter morning with winds pushing 30 mph. They wanted a fish fry and they stayed until they finally got enough for one, but it was tough fishing. May and June promises to see normal weather and fishing patterns and I am looking forward to them.
Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 860-7373 – My friend, Kathy Wade, and I caught five bass weighing 20 pounds on Wednesday. At first, I had trouble catching fish, missing three straight. I decided to check the hook and found a piece of plastic covering it. When I took it out of the package, I guess I wasn’t paying much attention. We fished yellow spinner baits in the grass in the back of Big Branch (Wildwood Park cove).
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).
Bill Speer, The Fishing Coach, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass fishing on Lake Russell (www.thefishingcoach.com) (706) 421-6630 – As all bass fishermen know, a boat is just a gigantic hole in the water into which we throw money. I am boatless for awhile, so I took the time to volunteer for The Bass Federation’s Student Angler Federation’s Georgia championship on Lake Lanier. This is a great program. Events that are open to any high school bass fisherman (club affiliation is not necessary). The kids braved nasty weather (51 degrees, 15-20-mph winds and a driving rain) all day last Saturday. The tournament was dominated by North Forsyth High School whose team of Brandon Marks and Luke Slaton won it with 18 pounds, 11 ounces. Runners-up were teammates Bo Kelentic and Cole Cloud with 17 pounds, 1 ounce. Fifty-eight anglers were in the field. If you’re interested in the organization check it out at http://www.highschoolfishing.org.
I always put in at Beaver Dam Marina where you can have a nice lunch as well as a safe launch. You can reach me on Facebook at Lake Russell Bass Fishing as well as through my Web site and phone number.
Capt. Billy Murphy, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishingguides.com) – Inclement weather has forced me to cancel and reschedule trips. Last Tuesday, however, Billy and Elise Arthur, of Ocilla, Ga., and I braved the cold and winds. Water temperature was 59 degrees at 6:30 a.m., and 62 by 11:30. We pulled planer boards and free lines over long points and humps. They caught nine stripers and bass weighing 2 to 4 pounds.
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) – We haven’t seen the lake look this good for a long time, with it rising to 328.5 (1.5 inches below full pool), with surface temperatures creeping up toward 70 degrees. Hybrids have been feeding in the Bait Cove below the Corps of Engineers Welcome Center until 8 a.m., before moving to shallow water and humps in Georgia’s Little River later in the morning. Cherokee and Mosely creeks and Bussey Point have been among the hot spots. Crappies have moved back to the shelter of submerged trees in 15 feet of water and can be caught on small shiners or small jigs tipped with shiners. This week, we enjoyed fishing with Brad Gilbert, Grovetown; Doug Riley, Lexington, S.C.; Frank Pepper, Aiken; Hatcher Logue, Edgefield; Hunter Fields, Evans; Brian Applewhite, Evans; Mike Bongiovi, Evans; Charlie Brinson, Evans; Roy Johnson, Baxley, Ga.; Cody Johnson, Baxley, and John Hartley, Nashville, Ga.
Check out our Facebook page for up-to-date pictures.
Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – I got back on the lake this (Thursday) morning for the first time this week. Inclement weather kept me off for most of it. I found the planer board bite pretty soft, but located some good stripers on downlines. Problem was, they didn’t stay put. We’d catch two or three out of a school and then they’d disappear. The downline hybrids I found were pretty small and they‘d stay around, even when I didn’t want them to. The lake looks really good right now and I hope it stays up for a while.
Check out my Web site: www.fishlakethurmond.com.
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) – Hunter: Nymph fishing continues to be the best way to catch trout in north Georgia’s streams for a few more weeks. The unprecedented rainfall we’ve received will mean a much longer peak fishing season, but for now it means getting down deep in order to catch a lot of trout. Just add an extra split shot and fish the seams of riffles that are swifter than normal.
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. Our Saturday bass tournament (7 a.m. to noon) will continue. Another bass tournament will be held on the ponds on Fridays, starting today, from 6-10 p.m., under the direction of Gene Moyer (803 270-1580).
Brickyard report: George Kent caught 60 shellcrackers on pink worms. James Smith and Henry Williams caught 40 bream and 30 shellcrackers in the Garden Pond on pinks and crickets. Bill and Judy Jones caught 15 crappies, 20 bream and 10 catfish in the Ditch on crickets, worms and minnows. Joe Black caught 10 bass in the Expressway Pond on plastic worms. Mike Hunt caught 20 bream and 10 shellcrackers on crickets and worms in the Shack Pond. Lock and dam report: Robbie Shelton caught 20 shellcrackers and 10 bream on pinks and crickets. Dell Johnson caught 30 shellcrackers on pinks.
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – The annual Fripp Island Memorial Day Kingfish Tournament will be held May 24-25. Normally, the largest fish of the season are caught during the event. Registration and a captains’ meeting will be held May 24 from 6-7 p.m., followed by a Lowcountry cookout. Fishing starts at sunrise the next day and weigh-ins close at 6 p.m. A 90 percent pay back of entry fees will be awarded for the top two kingfish and the largest bull dolphin, wahoo, Spanish mackerel and cobia. For more information, call Fripp Island Marina at (843) 838-1517.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Inshore fishing is very good, especially if you just want to catch a rod-bender, Trout, whiting, flounder and croaker are getting settled in spring and summer spots. Always carry dead shrimp. Almost all fish will hit that bait and live shrimp may not be available. Take along a few plastic screwtails and grubs in case you get into a school of feeding fish. Catch a few mud minnows, fish them on the bottom, and flounder will come.