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 (www.crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) – Water temperature is in the mid to high 50s and the lake is clear. I think we’ve just transitioned from fall into winter fishing officially. We’ve been rained off and blown off, but managed to get a few hours of great fishing in this week. We are looking forward to good weather except for some rain this weekend. We’re still catching some nice fish on down lines – stripers, hybrids and largemouths, with an occasional flathead catfish. The white perch have really gotten congregated during the cold weather and we can’t get a Berry’s Flex-It Spoon onto the bottom without having a fish on. I rescheduled a couple of parties until next week, so I’ll have more information if the weather will cooperate.
Bill Speer, The Fishing Coach, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass fishing on Lake Russell (www.thefishingcoach.com) (706) 421-6630 – We’ve sure had our ups and downs for temperatures since I issued my last report. Looks like we’re in for a real winter. It is time to get out those winter clothes layers and carry a set of extra clothes in your boat, just in case. If you’re fishing by yourself, please wear your life jacket at all times. If you fall into the water at these temperatures, hypothermia will set in long before you can be rescued without that jacket. Fourteen pounds won a bass tournament this past week and it was a real grind. Best bet is to fish vertically along the trees with either a drop shot or a spoon. If your boat is equipped with down/side scan imaging (and you need to save your pennies for this), look for the bait fish and the bigger images of bass hanging around them on the bottom. An old tactic from back in the day also works, but be ready for some work. Spool your Carolina rig with 60-pound-plus braided line and a strong fluorocarbon leader, add a ¾-ounce weight and throw it into the tops of the trees. Remember, the bite usually starts at about 30 feet in the coves and the trees top out near 15 feet or so. Work a trick worm back through the limbs and hang on. On Russell, I always put in at Beaver Dam Marina where you can have a nice lunch as well as a safe launch. It’s open this time of the year on Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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 – It’s been hard to “catch” good fishing days this week because of rain and wind. With water temperatures in the low 60s, the good-sized hybrids and stripers have been moving farther back in the creeks. Pulling planer boards with blueback herring, gizzard shad and large shiners in mid to upper lake creeks have produced some nice catches. Fishing in Dordon, Shriver, Wells and Bennefield creeks have rewarded our clients with some great catches. As the weather cools expect more areas a bit farther up the lake such as Soap Creek and Georgia’s Little River around Germany Creek to really turn on. Keep your eyes open for bird activity since there is plenty of it going on. Crappie fishing is on the upswing with some slab fish being caught around brush piles. On the Savannah River below Thurmond Dam, male yellow perch have started moving up and expect the bigger females to show up over the next two weeks. Small shiners and hybrid pink worms on the river have helped fill coolers with crappies, bream and perch. This week, we enjoyed fishing with Clyde Thompkins, Millen, Ga.; Steven Jackson, Beech Island, S.C.; Ray Jackson, Beech Island; Jackson and Lane Burnett, North Augusta, and Angela Burnett, Aiken.
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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 Soque River has fished extremely well this week, thanks to all the extra water that Monday’s rain added to the river. The trout have plenty of cover after a few weeks of very low, clear water. And since we’re expecting more heavy rainfall by this weekend, the Soque and other smaller private streams should continue to produce excellent fishing through the end of the year.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706 722-8263) – Brickyard report: Chris Thomas caught 20 crappies and 10 bass on minnows in the Expressway Pond. Sam Wallace caught 32 crappies and 10 catfish on minnows and jigs in the Ditch. Ron Williams caught 20 crappies on minnows in the Garden Pond. Barry Gooding caught six bass and 10 crappies on minnows in the King Pond. Tom Long caught 20 catfish on minnows and liver in the Stick Pond. Mel Langston caught 30 crappies in the Membership Pond on minnows.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – If you like salt water fishing, both inshore and offshore, but lack the expertise, Capt. Judy Helmey can help. Her inshore and offshore schools have been scheduled during next February and March.
“Our classes are designed to teach you the best times to fish for what, when and where for all of 2014,” she said. There are four inshore schools, two in the classroom and two in the boat. The first two are set Feb. 8 and Feb. 15 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., at Tubby’s Tank House, 2909 River Drive, Thunderbolt, GA 31404. Cost is $90 per person each and includes a continental breakfast and lunch.
Inshore learning trips on the water have been set for Feb. 9 and Feb. 16 and cost $125 per person. They’ll run from 8 a.m., until noon and leave from Miss Judy Charters, 124 Palmetto Drive, Savannah, GA 31410 and Capt. Judy will provide snacks and drinks.
Four offshore schools leaving from the same place costing $125 per person have been set for March 1 (8 a.m. to noon; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) and March 2 (same times). Snacks and drinks will be provided by Capt. Judy.
Check with the skipper for a special package deal at a Savannah Beach hotel.