Baab: Enjoy Memorial Day on the lake, but do so responsibly

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Back in the day, I was among those who’d carry a six-pack or two of beer in an ice chest inside my boat as I headed to Thurmond Lake for a day of fishing and fun.

But it got to the point that I was having to relieve myself almost more times than when I was fishing, so I cut it out.

Was my mobility being impaired while swigging a cold one?

It probably was, but I couldn’t tell you.

So here comes Memorial Day weekend when everybody and their brother will be out to have a good time in, on and around our favorite lake, which is almost at full pool for the first time in months.

Last year, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, there were 118 boating accidents and 12 boating-related fatalities in Georgia. Conservation rangers also made 180 BUI (boating under the influence) cases.

Georgia boat operation law has been changed to where the blood alcohol content level is now .08 to match the state’s driving law.

If you register that an above, you’ll be guilty of drunken driving on the water.

Point is, go have fun, catch a lot of fish, but don’t become one of Georgia’s 2013 statistics.

• The fourth annual Kids’ Fishing Rodeo, postponed by inclement weather a few weekends ago, will be held at Wildwood Park on June 1. Registration has been held, but those interested can be at the park by 8:30 a.m. to sign up.

THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington), (706) 595-5582 – Joe Oswald, of Martinez, caught 30 crappies on a white jig and minnows in the fish house. Cliff Crowe caught eight catfish off the rocks near the 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 mid 70s and the lake is full. The fish-catching broke loose this week. My parties are catching limits of stripers and hybrids on live herring, fishing 20 to 30 feet down. Thursday morning, we had cloud cover and a few sprinkles, but the fish were everywhere. We couldn’t get away from them. Glenn Hurt and Larry McGrady had a limit (10 fish each) by 7 a.m. Fishing should only get better for the next few months

Bill Speer, The Fishing Coach, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass fishing on Lake Russell (www.thefishingcoach.com) (706) 421-6630 – Are we sure it’s spring? Weather in our section of the state has cooled a bit, pushing water temperatures into the low to mid 50s, and cold rain doesn’t help. When shallow water cools at night, the bass move to suspend over deeper water and are slow to move back to secondary points near deep water during the day. Something to remember about our active creeks: they are going to clear from the back first so that is where to head if you’re looking for clear water. Off-color water also warms quicker than clear water. I am still throwing flat-sided crank baits such as the Bomber Flat A (bass colors), a Thundershad coffin bill in the copper mesh color and a Strike King Sexy Shad lipless bait. Trick worms and plastic lizards fished on Carolina rigs. One other technique sometimes overlooked this time of year is throwing a soft jerk bait. My best fish-catching depth. After this cold snap, the bass will be pushing to the shallows with males cruising for that perfect bed location. Fish the coves facing south and the creeks where the colder north wind had less effect. I always put in at Beaver Dam Marina where you can have a nice lunch as well as a safe launch.

If you would like to book a trip on Russell in the coming weeks, give me a call or find me on Facebook@Lake Russell Bass Fishing with the Fishing Coach.

Capt. Billy Murphy, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishingguides.com) – Tuesday was a great day to be on the lake and enjoying the lake with me was Ray Dowdy, of Harlem, Ga. Water temperature was 71 degrees at 6 a.m., and the lake was almost at full pool. We are pulling planer boards and free-lined herring over humps and points. We caught 14 stripers and hybrids. Ray caught the big fish of 5 pounds. Jeff Coleman, of Augusta, and Larry Freeman, of Grovetown, enjoyed an outing with me on Friday. We pulled herring behind boards and freelines over humps and points and caught 25 stripers and hybrids. Jeff had the big fish of 8 pounds. Rest of the fish weighed 3 to 6 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), (Bradd) (706) 267-4313, (Andrew) (803) 507-5083 – The lake is almost at full pool and water temperatures were nearing the high 70s and the low 80ss, the late spring-early summer hybrid feeding frenzy has begun. We have been catching plenty of early morning hybrids and stripers on downlines in 20 to 40 feet of water on live herring. The hybrids have started stacking up on the sides of humps and off main channel points on the lower end of the lake. The larger stripers have started running more toward the mid to upper lake with Shriver, Wells and Bennefield creeks producing several fish in the teens. Stripers are hitting live herring pulled beneath planer boards in 20 to 50 feet of water above underwater trees and across points. Crappies are hanging out in treetops 10 feet deep in 20 feet of water around the Raysville area and up South Carolina Little River. Small shiners and tuffie minnows are the go-to baits. We enjoyed fishing with Sara Thigpen and Dwight Thigpen, Thomson, Ga.; Van Davis, of Appling, Ga.; Krystle Johnson, Stuart Cooley, Matt Eidson and Robert McKeen, all of Augusta; John Jordan, of North Augusta; Eric Gill, of Harlem, Ga.; Carlos Jarosz, Grovetown; James Odom, Tom Stearns, John Page and Evan Page, all of Aiken; Jim Cearly, Sublette, Kan., and Jason Cearly, of Evans.

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 – We’ve caught a mixed bag all week, hybrids, stripers, perch, catfish and largemouth. We’ve finally gotten on some really good fish on downlines 20 to 30 feet of water 6 to 8-pound stripers and some slab hybrids. The shellcracker bite was wide open last weekend. When we get past this holiday weekend and this moon, we ought to be in pretty good shape. I almost had a young man from North Carolina take home a 30-pound-class fish, but it pulled free.

Check out my Web site: www.fishlakethurmond.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.flyfishingnorthgeorgia.com) (facebook.com/flyfishingnorthgeorgia) – The mayfly hatches on the Toccoa River tailwater have been huge this week, with several different types of flies hatching each day, often at the same time. Try a size 16 light Cahill or Parachute Adams, a size 18 or 20 blue-winged olive emerger, or a size 16 flashback pheasant tail nymph. The best time to catch rising trout has been mid morning or mid to late afternoon, but we’ve caught fish consistently throughout the day on 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. Our Saturday bass tournament (7 a.m. to noon) will continue. Another bass tournament will be held on the ponds on Fridays from 6-10 p.m., under the direction of Gene Moyer (803 270-1580).

Brickyard report: Jim Lacey caught more than 72 catfish on liver in the Ditch. Brandon Prickett caught eight bass on crank baits and spinnerbaits in the Garden Pond. Joe Rawls caught 18 shellcracker, nine bream and two bass on worms and crickets in the Expressway Pond. L.D. and Martha Miller caught 11 shellcrackers, 12 bream, one bass and 12 catfish on worms in the Stick Pond. Richard Grubbs and Brandon Rogers caught more than 24 bass on plastic worms in the Membership Pond.

Lock and dam report: Dan and Nancy Johnson caught 16 blue catfish and seven channel catfish on cut bait. Cecil Williams caught a limit of shad on Sabiki rigs. Jerry Skinner caught 32 channel catfish, 44 bream, and two bass on worms and crickets.

BEAUFORT, S.C.

& VICINITY

Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Inshore fishing will keep a man (or woman) busy catching redfish, trout, flounder and whiting. Offshore around the Gulf Stream, fishing is excellent for wahoo and dolphin and good for blackfin tuna, kingfish and Spanish mackerel.

The annual Fripp Island Memorial Day Kingfish Tournament starts today and ends Saturday. Registration and a captains’ meeting will be held today from 6 to 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. More information: Fripp Island Marina, (843) 838-1517.

SAVANNAH, GA.

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Fishermen have been dealing with the lack of bait. However, things will change for the better and you’ll be able top throw a cast net and catch your own. White shrimp are on the large side and are starting to migrate out of creeks and rivers. Brown shrimp are too small for your hook, but in about two weeks, the “brownies” (as they are called) will be the perfect size for using as bait.


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