Remember to slow down on retrieves during cold temperatures

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One of the reasons my wife and I love living in Augusta is that weather extremes are rare, and aren’t long-lasting.

The Canadian cold front that moved through our area Wednesday and Thursday has departed and air temperatures in the 70s have been predicted for Saturday.

The subfreezing temperatures that accompanied the front did not push down water temperatures too much, either.

Fish are cold-blooded creatures whose movements slow down during extreme cold water periods. Generally, the closer water surface temperatures get to 40 degrees, the slower the fish become.

Therefore, when you’re casting crank baits, jigs and pigs or even Super Flukes, slow down the retrieves because bass in colder waters really don’t feel like joining high-speed chases. Another factor this time of the year has to do with bait fish.

They are plentiful, usually gathering in great numbers in “balls” or schools.

Fishermen sometimes wonder why fish aren’t feeding on the bait fish which position themselves just beneath the surface.

Truth is, they are, but from the bottom up.

So deep-diving crank baits and other lures fished beneath the baits will draw strikes, even from fish that have stuffed themselves. Like dogs and cats, they don’t know when to stop eating.

Lures fished beneath the bait will sometimes draw reaction strikes. I mean, even if Brother Bass doesn’t want to eat another bait, he (or she) sometimes can’t stand it if a delectable lure swims past.

• After pulling my boat from the water during winter months, I generally trim the motor so that it’s vertical and let all the water in the foot drain.

The folks at Augusta Marine also recommend that if a boat is stored outside, to trim down the motor so that if it rains, water will not collect in the gear case and freeze during low temperatures.

Fishing Report


Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington), (706) 595-5582 – Ruben Barr caught 16 crappies on minnows at the fish house. Jay and Debbie Percival caught 29 crappies on jigs.

Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed, full time professional guide specializing in hybrids, striped bass and trophy largemouth bass. (Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 (wwwcrockettrocket – Water temperature is in the mid 60s, the lake is clear and the leaves are getting more glorious. The fish are stacking up good for us with stripers and hybrids coming on 30-foot humps, with white perch and flathead catfish coming at 50 feet. Everyone enjoys catching the white perch and small stripers on Berry’s Flex-It Spoons on ultralight tackle. Catching a 15-pound flathead on an ultralight is an added bonus. James Oellerich, from Charlotte, N.C., and his group fished with me last Monday and had a blast, catching all the above fish. After that, it got a bit windy and cold, but it’s supposed to warm up by the weekend.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 831-8756 – Bob Vernoy and I fished in the Raysville area on Tuesday. Bob caught and released 25 largemouths, mostly coming around the Hart Creek park cove. Some were throw-backs, but most were 2 to 2½ pounds. The rattling baits caught all of his and I caught three bass of about 3 pounds each on the Yellow Fellow. He gave me a fishing lesson out of the back of his boat.

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 ( (706) 421-6630 – The lake is in great shape, water temperatures range from the mid 50s to lower 60s as the days warm up. Massive numbers of threadfin shad are in the backs of coves that hold deep trees. Herb Flick, of Harlem, Ga., and I fished this week and he had a good day fishing beneath those shad. The fish hit deep-diving crank baits under the pods of bait fish in 15 to 20 feet of water. We have been using Rapala DT-16s and Sk-6s in the blueback and sexy shad colors. The fish also hit a Carolina-rigged trick worm. On Veterans Day, I fished with retired Sgt.-Maj. Jim Timmerman, of Martinez, under the same conditions, in the same areas, under the same shad. But the fish refused to bite for most of the morning before eventually hitting the Carolina rig. I won’t have a report for the next two weeks because I’ll be out of town.

On Russell, I always put in at Beaver Dam Marina where you can have a nice lunch as well as a safe launch.

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 – A mid-morning to early afternoon bite was the pattern this week. Water temperatures are in the low 60s. The hybrid-striper bite has been good and steady, the majority of fish coming on blueback herring pulled behind planer boards in the creek mouths. There has been a good bit of sea gull activity diving on bait with small hybrids feeding beneath the pods. Fishing with us this week were Robert and Walter Crawford, and Bill Williams, of Metter, Ga.; Steve and Mike Jackson, of Greenville, S.C., and Bruce, Gary and Al Robertson, all of Columbia.

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Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706 722-8263) – Brickyard report: Tony Chisum and a friend caught 72 crappies on minnows in the Ditch. Mel and Sharon Langston caught 60 crappies in the Ditch. J.C. Skinner caught 46 crappies and six bass on minnows and jigs in the Expressway Pond. Tyrone Green caught 26 crappies and 13 catfish on the Cornell Pond on minnows and worms. Ray Reynolds and Bob Saxton caught 78 crappies and 10 bass in the Shack Pond on minnows. Jerry Thomas caught 32 crappies and two bass on minnows in the Ditch. Bill Carter and Jim Young caught 46 crappies, six bass on minnows in the Garden Pond. Lock and dam report: J.C. Skinner and friend caught 36 bream, 18 crappies and five catfish.


Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Fishing is excellent. Big redfish (40 inches long) are being caught from the back water to near shore wrecks almost one after another. The Trenchard’s Inlet trout bite is strong. Black drum in the 10-to-15-pound class are common. Coming up Nov. 29 is the Fripp Island Yacht Club and Marina Kids’ Thanksgiving Tournament out of Fripp Island Marina. Entrants 4 to 14 must bring their own tackle. There are no fees. Last year, 186 kids participated. Prizes will be awarded for the largest trout, redfish, black drum and flounder. Youngsters will feast on free hamburgers, hot dogs and ice cream after the event. More information: (843) 838-1517.


Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 ( P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – “Mary Lee,” a 16-foot, 3,500-pound great white shark, surfaced about 3 p.m., off Charleston on Nov. 9. Scientists have attached a radio transmitter to her mammoth dorsal fin.

No swimming!

Our inshore captains in their 21-foot center console boats have been having a great time watching clients catch spotted sea trout, weakfish, bluefish, redfish and tripletail. Many trophy redfish have been caught, tagged and released after photos were taken.

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