If you and your collective family love to fish, one of your New Year’s resolutions should be to visit the Go Fish Education Center adjacent to the Georgia National Fairgrounds near Perry, once fair weather returns.
My wife, Bea, and I, who will celebrate our 48th year together Wednesday, attended the center’s dedication on Oct. 7, 2010. We were astounded by what we saw.
Seventy-six species of fish were on display in tanks and ponds. Boating and fishing simulators let visitors test their skills on the water. It’s a fun place, especially for kids.
The state’s schools and the public are offered educational programs, including kids’ fishing events, on-site classroom programs and teacher development sessions. Call Clara Thom at (478) 988-7187 to schedule a school group.
Admission charges are reasonable, with adults $5, seniors 65 or older, $4, children ages 3-12, $3 and children 2-under free. The center is closed Mondays, but open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., on Sundays. Tuesdays through Thursdays are reserved for educational outreach programs.
Only complaint I have is that Perry is far from the Augusta area. Drive to Interstate 75, head south and take Exit 134, heading east on Perry Parkway. Take the second exit into the fairgrounds and the center will be on your left, with plenty of parking space.
For more information, call (478) 988-6701.
Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington), (706) 595-5582 – Cecil Roaden, Belvedere, caught 14 crappies on minnows and jigs. Matt Williams caught 13 crappies and a 5-pound striper on ultralight tackle and minnows for bait. Bleau Pentecost caught a limit of stripers, two over 10 pounds each, on an Alabama Rig.
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 (crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) – Water temperature is 52 degrees and the lake is high, wide and muddy. Roy Altman, of Buckeye Lures fame, took grandsons Wyatt, David, John and Jack on a holiday fishing trip. These boys are very competitive (they got it from Roy) and they love to have individual tournaments while on the lake. I think they pretty much broke even with an 8½-pound striper, largemouths up to 3 pounds and enough white perch to feed six people who have been known to eat a lot of fish. He’s a good grandfather to take his “grandboys” fishing.
Bill Speer, The Fishing Coach, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass fishing on Lake Russell (www.thefishingcoach.com) (706) 421-6630 – The constant parade of weather fronts has the fish following irregular patterns. Surface temperature is in the mid to upper 40s and the lake is about 2 feet over full pool. The Corps of Engineers will continue letting water out of the lake in an attempt to return to its winter pool. The current thus generated will work to your advantage. The best bites are still coming on jigs and jerkbaits. Largemouth bass in the 2- to 4-pound range have been taking a half-ounce jig stroked in 30 to 40 feet of water. Spotted bass are being caught on a Bass Pro Shops XPS suspending minnow in the Georgia Shad color. On Russell, I always put in at Beaver Dam Marina where you can have a safe launch as well as a nice lunch. The marina is open Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday from 11:30 until 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 – The lake level keeps inching up and is approximately 3 feet over full pool. All the fresh water is pushing bait fish and game fish back into the creeks and they’ll stay there until everything settles down. Sea gulls are still working over bait fish schools, giving fishermen an indicator of where the stripers and hybrids are hanging out. Mid lake creeks such as Dordon, Bennefield and Hawe, as well as the creeks like Germany, Lloyds and Rousseau off Georgia Little River, are producing good catches. Majority of the stripers are coming on live herring and gizzard shad fished beneath planer boards in 15 to 20 feet of water. Some hybrid schools are lingering beneath bait fish pods long enough to be caught on downlines. This week, we enjoyed fishing with Chris Bartow and Bryce Bartow, Atlanta; Greg and Sharon Zeigler, Laurens, S.C.; Gary Crook, Martinez; Steve Fowler, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Brenden Fowler, Kindred, N.D.; Wayne Peloqui and Gary Peloquin, Evans.
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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/flyfishingnorth georgia) – We’ve had to reschedule several float trips on the Toccoa River this week due to an unfavorable dam generation schedule by the Tennessee Valley Authority. This is always frustrating, especially because one never knows the schedule until the evening before the day you’re planning to fish. However, this almost always means that the fishing on the Toccoa will be very good for the next couple of weeks once the TVA resumes regular generation. Because the water has been well oxygenated and the fishing pressure has been very low, the trout will be energized and not very picky about what they eat.
We hope all our friends have a Happy New Year!
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706) 722-8263 – Brickyard report: Malik Austin caught a 4.76-pound bass on a trick worm in the Ditch. Jerome Miller caught 36 crappies and six bass on minnows in the Expressway Pond. Ed Weaver and Sam Thompson caught 46 crappies and seven bass (the largest bass weighed 6 pounds) on minnows and jigs in the Garden Pond. Robert Gregalumas caught a 7½-pound bass in the Expressway Pond on a plastic worm. J.C. Skinner caught 46 crappies and seven bass in the Garden Pond on minnows and jigs. Sam Saxton and Kim Thompson caught 76 crappies and eight bass on minnows and worms in the Ditch.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – While bottom fishing for black sea bass recently, out of the corner of my eye I saw a gannet dive and come up with a small bass, which the bird proceeded to swallow head first once it surfaced.
Winds have been too strong for us to venture out to the artificial reefs, Savannah Snapper Banks and Gulf Stream.
Sheepshead continue to bite, cold weather or not. Live mud minnows and white artificial jerkbaits are producing good catches of redfish.