If you want to catch striped and hybrid bass on Thurmond Lake this time of the year, look for flocks of diving gulls and terns.
Birds are the key to good catches, because they pinpoint locations of bait fish being chased to the surface by marauding schools of game fish. Sometimes, birds are found diving on other birds, namely loons. It's worth a few casts, because the loons are diving on hapless bait fish and if the latter is present, the game fish might be as well.
The main hot spot during the winter is the Raysville Marina area of Little River and Hart Creek. On Tuesday, a flock of about 100 gulls was found diving in Hart Creek just above the Raysville Bridge about 2:45 p.m. Fishermen in three boats gave chase and were rewarded with catches of mostly hybrids in the 6- to 7-pound class.
The fish struck white ice Zoom Super Flukes threaded onto quarter-ounce jig heads, as well as white ribbon-tailed Fat Albert Grubs.
Guide David Willard reports Little River is "the color of coffee" from Holiday Creek up, but Hart Creek is slightly stained. However, it's likely that Thursday's rain and any more this weekend will add to the silt flow and slow down the fishing.
- A show called Everyday Sportsman will air on Fox Sports Net on Saturday and again Dec. 25 at 9 a.m.
It will feature professional striper guide Buddy Edge and Tom Rodgers, both of Edgefield, S.C. Rodgers founded the National Wild Turkey Federation about 38 years ago.
STROM THURMOND LAKE
Raysville Marina, near Thomson, Ga. (Doug Pentecost, Leon Buffington) (706) 595-5582 - Glenn Davis and his fishing buddy from Lincolnton caught four stripers and four hybrids on Wednesday on live herring. They also caught a 35-pound flathead catfish. Thomas Casteel caught nine stripers and one largemouth, the stripers running 3 to 4 pounds each. Mike Arrington and Mikey Walker caught eight hybrids and one striper, jigging -ounce Hopkins spoons.
Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. 410 Sprouse Road, Clarks Hill, SC 29821 (803) 637-6379 (crockettrocketstriperfishing.com) - I'm getting between 10 and 15 fish per day. Most of them are stripers. They're coming on live herring - shallow in the morning and 30 to 40 feet deep in the afternoons. We've really had to watch the weather. Water temperature is getting critical. It was 52 on Monday morning, warming up a degree or two on sunny afternoons. A few days of cool weather will lower the water temperature even further and shut off the fish for a few days. The upper tributaries are getting muddy from all the rain, so I've moved down the lake to around Lloyds and Rousseau creeks.
Ralph Barbee, professional guide, (706) 860-7373, 957 Windmill Lane, Evans, GA 30809 - On Monday, Tarver Bailey and his friend, Dave Mundorf of Casper, Wyo., fished with me. We put in at Cherokee and, braving a 25 mph-plus wind, rode up to Raysville. Dave caught a 3-pound white bass on the pumpkinseed Rat-L-Trap. Then we went almost to the Hart Creek bridge and started fishing back. Tarver and I caught bass weighing about a pound each on the Rat-L-Trap, but Dave caught a 3-pounder and two more nice bass. He was in the back of the boat and his technique was simple, allowing the "Trap" to sink to the bottom and then ripping it up. He gave us both a fishing lesson.
On my fishing show, Pete Glabas joins me on the Savannah River with Ben Ballard and Gabe Gaddis of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. We're catching huge stripers on the river and helping the Richmond Hill-based biologists tag the fish. This is the second of two parts on electro-fishing, a technique used by the biologists to stun the fish and send them to the surface where they are netted, weighed, measured and tagged and then released. The show runs Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. on UPN Augusta.
Billy Murphy, professional guide, (706-733-0124) (Web site doubletroublefishingguides. com) with twins Brad and Jim - No report.
Craig Johnson, professional guide specializing in largemouth bass, hybrid bass, striped bass. (706) 364-6437 - No report. Be sure to check out my new Web site at www.professionalangler.com/CraigJohnson.htm.
New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam
Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle), (706) 793-8053 - Crappies and bass have been biting from Beckum's Cut (about 3 miles down river) on down. Some shellcrackers also are being caught. Crappies also are being caught in deep holes around the Sand Bar Ferry railroad trestle. Chain pickerel (jacks) are hitting spinnerbaits and inline McDonald's spinners and bucktails. This is yellow perch time, too, with small shiners fished on the bottom off the fishing platform the best baits.
MERRY BROS. BRICKYARD PONDS
Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) - Brenda Finley caught a mess of crappies and bream on minnows and worms in the Front Ditch. Charlie Baggett caught three nice bass in the Hidden and Shack ponds on spinnerbaits. Biggest weighed 5 pounds. Mike Smith caught a 3.4-pound bass on a minnow in the Garden Pond. David Scott caught a few crappies and bream on minnows and worms and a 2-pound bass on a plastic frog. Don Rice caught a few crappies, a few catfish and a real bad cold.
Beaufort, S.C. & vicinity
Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530, and Doug Gertis, professional guide, (843) 524-5250) - Goodison: Inclement weather has kept many guides' boats inshore, but those who have been getting out are catching fish. Trout, redfish, sheepshead and a few flounder are being caught. Groupers, red snappers and black sea bass are being caught around offshore reefs, while wahoo, kings and yellow fin tuna are showing up in the Gulf Stream.
Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www. missjudycharters.com) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, GA 31410-0771 - Spotted sea trout have been really biting, with fish up to 5 pounds being reported. Be sure to have a landing net in your boat. One party went out without one and, as a result, lost several nice fish. For hooks, I always go with a 1/0 kahle hook, which works on large and small fish. I like to target big trout and beef up my traditional float rig accordingly. Instead of live shrimp, I prefer to use live mud minnows and finger mullet. They stay livelier longer on the hook and attract the big fish bite.
There are still openings in our inshore and offshore fishing schools scheduled for January. The inshore session will be held Jan. 21 and the offshore clinic Jan. 28 from 8 a.m., until 2 p.m. at Tubby's Tank House, 2909 River Drive, Thunderbolt, Ga. Cost is $80 per session and includes breakfast and lunch. Call (912) 897-4921 to make reservations.