Using live herring works wonders in muddy water

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The Raysville section of Thurmond Lake remains red hot when it comes to catching hybrids and stripers, but only if you use live blueback herring for bait.

The water is still muddy enough to where artificials such as the Yellow Fellow stick bait and Zoom's white ice Super Flukes apparently cannot be seen by the game fish. However, once the water begins clearing, those artificial baits will work almost as well as the real deal.

Some anglers are trolling herring beneath planer boards, but most are fishing the baits below the boats on downlines. Try Hart Creek as well as Little River, with the keys being large flocks of diving gulls.

Check out the Raysville Marina report below. Capt. David Willard also is fishing an upper river section, but in his case it's the Savannah.

- Thanks to all of you who attended last Saturday's signing session and buying my new book, Remembering George W. Perry , at The Book Tavern on Broad Street. The book will remain available at the store. Mr. Perry caught the world record largemouth bass of 22 pounds, 4 ounces on June 2, 1932. The record still stands.

THURMOND LAKE

Raysville Marina (Leon Buffington and Doug Pentecost), (706) 595-5582 -- Stripers and hybrids are schooling and hitting live bait in the vicinity of the Goose Farm up Little River from Raysville Bridge. Ted Boileau, of Evans, and Tony Poulson have been wearing out the fish on live herring fished on downlines. Scott Loo and Gee Loo, along with Joe Chen, also have been doing well. Look for diving gulls and fish live bait beneath them.

Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 (www.crockettrocketstriperfishing.com).comcrockettrocket@bellsouth.net) -- Fishing remains good between cold fronts and rainy days. Water temperature is in the low 50s and slightly muddy upriver, but that hasn't hurt the fishing so far. Dutch Ashton and his wife, Charlotte, from Detroit, fished two days with me. They really enjoyed the lake and our striper fishery. They do a lot of walleye and salmon fishing, but they had never fished for stripers. They caught striped bass, hybrids and largemouths. John Webster brought some of his fishing buddies -- Jim Caddell, George Dyson and Kerry McAvoy on a striper fishing trip. They had a blast putting a limit of hybrids and stripers in the cooler in 11/2 hours. We found a huge school of fish chasing bait across a 30-foot hump. We went upwind, dropped anchor and swung around on them. They ate the bottom out of the boat, catching them as fast as we could bait the hooks. The fish are grouped up really good and we're catching limits in a short time. The birds also are helping us, diving on bait being pushed to the surface, especially if there aren't any loons around.

Capt. William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass. (706) 589-5468 -- Our adventures this week consisted of half striper trips, half crappie trips. Ronnie Bryan and Jason Fisher, of Spartanburg, S.C., with Augusta's Bobby Verney and Don Buchann, of Columbia, fished the upper end of Georgia's Little River. They caught a limit of stripers on a great fishing day. Gary Dixon and son Brandon, 12, of Elberton, Ga., came down to go crappie fishing. It was cold and rainy, but they managed to catch about 30. Mike Noriega, of Grovetown, Sloan McLaughlin and David Lalancie, both of Evans, caught limits of stripers in upper Little River. We listened to Christmas music and watched the sea gulls dive on the bait fish. Bill and Bea Baab and Albert Moody went crappie fishing and we wound up with 30 slabs, with Bea showing the rest of us how to fish.

Check out my Web site at www.williamsasserfishing.com.

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 -- I've been out only one day. I haven't been able to get my parties out on the lake because of inclement weather. Fishing is still great, though.

My VHF radio handle is Boat Racer and I can be reached on Channel 68. My Web site is www.fishlakethurmond.com.

Albert Moody, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000 -- Gary Burdick is catching yellow perch and slab crappies in the river below the dam, when it is at its normal flow. It's been out of the banks over the past couple of days.

SAVANNAH RIVER

New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam

Lock and Dam Bait and Tackle (Bob Baurle, Billy Hambrick and Russ Peyton), (706) 496-1173 -- The river is still high, but it has settled down somewhat, just in time for the next rainfall. One man caught a huge shellcracker off the wall, while crappies are biting in Butler Creek. So are a few catfish.

MERRY LAND BRICKYARD PONDS

Harrison Sears (706) 722-8263 (www.brickyardponds.com) -- Jeff Richards caught 12 crappies in the Middle Ditch on minnows. Amos Williams caught nine crappies and seven catfish in the Back Ditch on minnows. Jesus Gomez caught 14 catfish, six crappies in the White Elephant on red worms and minnows. James Gilbert caught 14 nice crappies on minnows in the Garden Pond.

A fishing license is not required to fish in our ponds.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

BEAUFORT, S.C. & VICINITY

Ralph Goodison, Fripp Island, (843) 838-2530 -- There haven't been many fishermen out, but fishing for trout and redfish remains good. Offshore, bottom fishing around the 6HI buoy, Betsy Ross wreck and Savannah Towers has been excellent. Lots of black sea bass are being caught, but most of them are small. Still, after you release two-thirds of them, you can go home with a great catch. The trigger fish bite is good and an occasional grouper can be caught.

SAVANNAH

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, GA 31410-0771 -- As water temperatures start to fall, things in the bite department normally change. It's not that the fish aren't biting -- it's just what appealed to them during warmer times might not now.

Spotted sea trout go into the deep-water mode when temperatures drop below 60 degrees. The fish look for areas that have deep holes or ledges they can hide in or under. It's probably one of the few times trout and "bait" like whiting, yellow tail and croaker co-exist in the same hole.

Strike King flukes in baby bass and ice colors, while Zoom's Golden Bream-colored flukes, threaded onto a one-eighth ounce red jig heads are key artificials in my area. The sheepshead bite is pretty darned good. Try fishing purple-backed fiddler crabs around bridges, docks, rocks, wrecks or any sort of structure that offers vertical feeding. Green mussels, barnacles, small pieces of shrimp and raw oysters also work. Place the oysters in the microwave for a few minutes to toughen them up to where they will stay on the hook longer.


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