Venture out with a professional guide on to Thurmond Lake and here’s what might happen: The guide baits the hook, drops the bait overboard to the proper depth, sometimes helps the novice fishermen strike and after the fish is reeled up, nets it and puts it into the ice chest.
My friend, Ed Lepley, wants to be different. He wants to give clients a “reel” hands-on learning experience during the hunt for stripers, hybrids, catfish and pan fish.
“I want it to be more than a guide trip. It’s more for people who want to learn how to fish, want the right kinds of tackle and to learn the different techniques,” Lepley says. “I’ll tell them all about free lines, down lines, planer boards, downriggers and cut bait fishing.
“I’ll share what I know about marine electronics, bait tanks and bait fish. I’ll also emphasize catch-and-release with what I call ‘CPR’ – Catch, Pictures, Release.”
After working at Savannah River Site, Lepley wondered what he could do in his retirement.
“Friends suggested that I take up guiding so I gave it some thought and came up with this idea. I also have been hired by Cabela’s to work in the new store to open soon.”
Lepley can be reached at (706) 373-5241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 831-8756 – Bob Vernoy and I fished the Raysville area last Monday. Where we went the water was stained, but not as muddy as it is around Holiday Park. We fished from 11 a.m to late in the day and never got one strike. We talked to other fishermen and they had the same kind of luck – bad.
Fishing with Ralph Barbee airs Saturdays at 11 a.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. on Comcast Channel 21, My12TV, 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 (www.thefishingcoach.com) (706) 421-6630 – The fronts keep rolling in and the fishing changes from day to day. Water temperature is in the low 40s, some areas are stained and others are not. Shawn Hackett and his son, Andrew, 13, and his friend, Kaleb Harris, both members of the Columbia County Youth Fishing Team, hit the lake with me for a tough day. Wind was 15 mph gusting to 20, water temperatures ranged from 43 to 46 degrees and we were cold most of the day. These guys were real fishermen and kept chunking and winding with little to show for it. We were throwing jigs and crank baits most of the time. Looks like the cold is here to stay, so fish slow, bundle up and remember, spring is just around the corner. 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), (706) 267-4313 (Bradd), (803) 507-5083 (Andrew) – Water temperatures are in the mid to high 40s and the lake is beginning to clear. We have been pulling planer boards early in the day in the backs of creeks with herring and gizzard shad as bait and catching some nice-sized stripers. As it warms up, stacks of hybrids have been showing up in creek mouths. Swap over to downlines mid-morning and use live herring or medium shiners to catch a limit of hybrids. Mid lake areas such as Shriver, Bennefield and Hawe creeks have been producing good catches, along with lower lake areas such as Chigoe and Keg creeks. When targeting larger stripers, pulling gizzard shad in the backs of Murray and Baker creeks have produced fish in the 15-to-23-pound range. Lake Russell is on fire right now. Be sure to watch for bird activity in the creeks because 20-to-40-pound stripers can be caught by pulling rainbow trout behind planer boards. Back on Thurmond, crappie fishing has remained hot and will get only better in the next couple of weeks throughout South Carolina Little River and the Raysville area. This week, we enjoyed fishing with Brian Pluckett and Matt Cline, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Chris Pluckett, Columbia, S.C.; James Long, Richard Lovett and Marie Lovett, all of 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/flyfishingnorthgeorgia) – Trout are extremely active during the mid day hours right now. Cold temperatures at night have all but guaranteed the fish are going to do most of their feeding for the day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Since they’re feeding during a small window of time, they’re likely to make the most of it. This means the really big trout are chasing and eating lots of minnows. So, sleep in a little later and make sure to grab your streamer box on the way out the door.
MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS
Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706) 722-8263 – Brickyard report: Paul Wolfe caught 16 bass on plastic worms and other lures. His biggest weighed 6 pounds. All were caught in the Membership Pond. Richard Carter and Don Taylor caught 26 crappies and 10 bass on worms and minnows in the Ditch. J.C. Skinner and Gene Kirkland caught 18 crappies and 11 bass in the Expresway Pond. The biggest bass weighed 8.1 pounds. All were caught on minnows and plastic worms. Lock and Dam: Tommy Herrington caught 12 crappies and six catfish on minnows and worms.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – I really don’t have much to share with you. Winter has arrived and I don’t like it! Spotted sea trout have become few and far between and mostly undersized. Some puppy drum to trophy-sized redfish are being caught. The best bite now in progress is sheepshead. Fish purple-baked fiddler crabs around vertical structure like bridge piers and docks.