Baab: Life as professional angler can be a grind

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Many area bass fishermen, especially the younger set, dream about fishing professionally, but most haven’t the slightest idea about how to get started in that direction.

Senior writer Louie Stout has written the best story describing life on the road with the so-called Elite Series professionals and it can be found in the March issue of B.A.S.S. Times, published by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS).

Veteran Skeet Reese says the average fan sees only the excitement of catching fish, the thrill of winning a tournament and the limelight as captured on TV.

What they don’t see are the long days on the road, the fatigue that builds from countless hours on the water and behind the wheel of a tow vehicle, the struggle to eat healthy and the loneliness of being away from the family.

Most pros log 20,000 to 30,000 miles throughout the course of an Elite Series season. Then there are the expenses. One pro spent $20,000 on fuel alone last year.

If you’re a BASS member, then you should be getting the Times. If not and your dream is to become a bass pro, you need to join BASS so you can receive this publication which is always full of “Timely” articles.

• Congratulations to Randy Howell, of Springville, Ala., winner of last weekend’s Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville. The difference between the first-place prize of $300,000 and the second-place money ($45,000) was one pound, Randy caught bass weighing 67.8 pounds. Connecticut angler Paul Mueller’s catch weighed 66.8 pounds.

• Augusta Marine will hold an indoor boat show at its store at 4250 Belair Frontage Road from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 14-15. Seminars from Lowrance and Humminbird and striper-hybrid seminars from Fish On! Guide Ed Lepley are among events to be held during the show.

Fishing Report

THURMOND LAKE

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) – Water temperatures are in the low 50s and the lake is slightly stained to muddy. The fish were in the shallows last weekend and we were picking up some nice largemouths as well hybrids and stripers on live herring fished slowly behind planer boards and on free lines. By Tuesday, the high winds had blown them out of the shallows. This is typical for the time of the year.

Ralph Barbee Jr., professional guide specializing in largemouth bass. (706) 831-8756 – Bob Vernoy and I fished last Monday. Bob caught one bass on a rattle bait and I caught two bass on a spinnerbait. I caught three bass on the Yellow Fellow. We were fishing the Wildwood Park area.

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).

Billy Murphy, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed guide specializing in striped bass and hybrid bass. (706) 733-0124 – I finally got back on the water, but I sure don’t like this cold weather. Last Saturday, my son, Brad, and I went scouting for crappies. We started at 10 a.m., when water temperature was 48 degrees. We trolled Hal-Flies in 10 to 16 feet of water. As the water warmed, we moved to the banks, but it was 2:30 p.m., before we caught our first fish. We moved to the grassy areas in three to six feet of water. The water warmed to 51 degrees and we stayed there the rest of the day. We wound up with 18 slab crappies, two catfish (3 and 5 pounds), two bass, two jacks and one bream.

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 lingered in the low to mid 50s and the lake has cleared almost to normal on the lower end. Hybrids and stripers decided to move back into the shallows in the backs of creeks and are feeding from about 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Majority of the fish are being caught on live herring pulled behind planer boards. Majority of the fish are coming from mid lake creeks while waiting on the weather to warm so they can make their spring runs to the dam. Crappies are to be found all along the shoreline in Dordon and Bennefield creeks and can be caught tight-lining red/chartreuse and green/chartreuse crappie jigs tipped with small shiners or tuffie minnows. This week, we enjoyed fishing with Johnny Turner and Betty Turner, Aiken; Callie and Melissa Bagwell, Anderson, S.C., and Charles Stith, North Augusta, and J.P. Stith, Charlotte, N.C.

Check us out on Facebook for up-to-date pictures.

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/flyfishing northgeorgia) – We thought the black caddis fly hatch was in full swing last week, but after float trips on the Toccoa River the last several days, we can officially say we’ve never seen a caddis hatch this thick on an eastern trout stream. Big caddises have been coming off the river in the tens of thousands and trout couldn’t be happier It won’t last much longer, so if you can get out of town one day in the next week, it definitely would be worth the trip. We recommend trying for a day that is predicted to be at least partly sunny in the afternoon as these have been the days that have produced the heaviest hatches.

MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS

Check-in station, 1408 Doug Barnard Parkway, Gene Kirkland, (706) 722-8263 – We’ll start our night bass tournament on the first Friday (March 14) after the time change. Hours are 6-10 p.m. Entry fee is $20 per man. We’re also conducting a membership campaign. See me for details. Brickyards report: Paul Wolfe caught and released 16 bass in the Membership Pond. J.C. Skinner and Earl Hood caught 36 crappies and six bass in the Expressway Pond on minnows. Ray Clark and Bill Hood caught 38 crappies and six catfish in the Ditch on minnows and worms.

SAVANNAH, GA.

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 – Cold winds and rain have forced the redfish back into their hibernating mode. Stop at your local seafood store and purchase a few scallops, clams, blue crab parts and large prawns. No, we’re not having a seafood dinner, but the redfish will be. Scallops, clams, crabs and shrimp do come in shells and the scents the offer will get the redfish’s attention. Check out areas in the marsh grass where redfish have been known to feed.

Break up some of those crab parts and fling ’em into the area. Then bait your hook with a clam or part of a prawn, making sure the hook’s point is buried in the bait’s body. That will keep you from catching a bunch of grass. Be patient and wait for the bite.


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