Glad I live in fisher-friendly territory - and not in Maine

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Fishing is a way of life for millions of Americans. It’s a pastime all can enjoy, as well as a multi-billion-dollar industry through the sale of boats and motors, fishing tackle and even live bait.

The state of Maine, though, seems hell-bent on becoming the nation’s first anti-fishing state, according to a news release from Keep America Fishing.

Not long ago, the state legislature voted to impose restrictions and downright bans on the use of lead-headed jigs and lead sinkers, claiming the loon population was being adversely affected by ingesting that tackle while diving for bait fish.

Earlier this year, Maine’s Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife called for a study to determine the effects of soft plastic lures on fish. Maine’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department is using online research, ice angling reports and litter assessments to determine if there are adverse effects on fish.

Manufacturers of soft baits such as Zoom Super Flukes and plastic worms do test their products in laboratories. Studies have shown fish regurgitate or otherwise pass soft plastics and there is no evidence anywhere that might suggest fish are harmed by those products, in use since the 1950s.

Legislation introduced during early 2013 legislative sessions called for the outright ban of soft plastic lures.

The state study also includes the impact of hooks! What a waste of time! If soft baits are banned, what’s next?

I’m glad I live where I live!

THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington), (706) 595-5582 – William Hawkins, of Thomson, caught 15 nice crappies. Merry Christmas to all our friends.

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) – Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business in great waters, they have seen the works of the Lord and his wonders of the deep (Psalm 107). Merry Christmas to all my clients and friends.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 831-8756 – I found hybrids schooling in Lloyds Creek Thursday morning. I caught some on a Yellow Fellow and when they went down, switched to a Hopkins ¾-ounce spoon and jigged up some. I wound up with a limit. By the way, Holiday Park’s boat ramp is closed. There is a chain across the road. You can still put in at Amity Day Use Area. Merry Christmas!

Fishing with Ralph Barbee airs Saturdays at 11 a.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. on Comcast Channel 21, WRDW My12, WOW! 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 – It’s winter on Russell and the fish know it. Best bet for catching some decent bass is to fish deep on structure with a half-ounce jig or drop shot rig. How deep? Fifteen to 30 feet. You can work the standing timber edges in coves with some success or look for good deep-water locations up main creeks like Beaver Dam Creek.

I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas and that Santa brings you that new boat, rod and reel, or whatever you asked for.

For me, I hope Santa brings me a full limit of 4-to-6-pound largemouths.

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

Capt. Billy Murphy, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide, with twins Brad and Jim (706) 733-0124 (Web site www.doubletroublefishingguides.com) – Ted Boileau, of Grovetown, and I went on a fish-finding trip last Friday. We just followed the birds (when they started flying) and fished live herring on downlines, freelines, planer boards and jigged spoons. Water was clear and 51 degrees. We started fishing at 8 a.m., and wound up with 17 keepers. Last Monday, Larry Freeman, of Grovetown, and I fished beneath the birds, catching 15 fish with three being 1½-pound crappies. We started fishing about 7:30 and the water temperature eventually climbed to 55 degrees. We are fishing Lloyds, Rousseau and Germany creeks below Raysville Marina.

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) – Water temperatures have settled into the mid to high 50s and the stripers have moved to the backs of creeks. Make sure to watch bird activity over balls of bait fish because hybrids are lurking beneath. Pulling planer boards with herring or gizzard shad (gizzards are the most productive) in the backs of Bennefield and Hawe creeks and South Carolina’s Little River has filled coolers with 3-to-8-pound hybrids and 6-to-15-pound stripers.

Parksville has had plenty of bird and fish activity, with the majority of fish being 2-to-5-pound hybrids, with some schools holding long enough to be caught on downlines. Germany Creek and the area around and above Amity Day Use area have not turned on yet, but should be producing slabs any day now. Good trophy stripers are being caught on Lake Russell pulling live gizzard shad and rainbow trout below planer boards. The Beaver Dam Creek area has had plenty of bird activity and stripers swirling to give away the presence of the fish.

The Savannah River below Thurmond Dam is producing good catches of crappies, catching them on small shiners and tuffy minnows fished along the shoreline. More yellow perch are beginning to show up.

This week, we enjoyed fishing with Tyana Stithe and J.P. Petty, Charlotte, N.C.; Charles Stithe, North Augusta; Gail Counts, North Augusta; Josh and Jessie Holms, Lincolnton, Ga., and Austin and Vincent Parkette, Evans. Austin landed an 18½-pound striper and Vincent landed a 29-pound striper. Merry Christmas! Check us out on Facebook for up-to-date pictures.

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 – Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

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 past week had the earliest sunsets of the year as well as some of the biggest temperature differentials between the low and high temperatures. What all this means is that the peak fishing time has been very predictable, starting around 10 a.m., as things start to warm up, and ending around 4 or 5 p.m. Fishing days are shorter, but trout are actively feeding during the midday hours. Small, natural nymphs such as size 18 hare’s ears are effective on several different north Georgia streams. We hope all our friends have a Merry Christmas!

MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS

Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706) 722-8263 – Merry Christmas to all our friends and customers.

BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY

Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 – Merry Christmas to all my Augusta area friends.

SAVANNAH, GA.

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – The bite of redfish and spotted sea trout has continued to amaze us. The bite pattern has been during afternoon incoming tides.

Best bait continues to be mud minnows or live shrimp.

I’ve had a few reports of striped bass being caught up and down the Savannah River. Black sea bass are feeding on cut squid and fish, but be sure to check sea conditions before venturing offshore.

I’m hoping all my friends in the Augusta area have a very Merry Christmas.


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