Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report April 2015

GON Staff | March 25, 2015

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “April fishing brings fishermen closer to the act of catching. Bait shops should start to carry live shrimp, which is the bait that gets all fish’s attention. Live shrimp with your traditional adjustable floats from large to small and popping corks are going to be your best bet for not only finding but catching fish. If a redfish, spotted sea trout or flounder gets close to this bait, they will eat it. Another way to present live shrimp is to just fish naked, meaning light leader, small split shot and small hook. All you need to do is hook your shrimp up under the horn and cast into place. The shrimp goes where it thinks it is safe, which is just about where the fish is waiting. During the month of April, the sounds come alive with everything from whiting to sharks to blue fish to stingray to other strange creatures. While using small pieces of shrimp on light-tackle rigs, even the smaller fish offer some nice action. However, take the smaller fish you just caught using it whole or cut in chunks rigged up on heavier tackle, and a big-fish bite could happen. When fishing in the sound, the bigger the bait the bigger the fish. All sized fish follow a working shrimp boat. While the shrimp boat is dragging its nets, nutrients are churned producing a feeding frenzy for smaller fish, which brings on the larger ones. Fish know the sounds of a shrimp boat, and to them it’s the ringing of the dinner bell.”

Nearshore: Capt. Judy reports, “The artificial reefs can hold the attentions of all sorts of fish. When bottom fishing, you could catch black sea bass, flounder, blue fish, white bone porgy, summer trout, cobia and other biters. When it comes to topwater fish, larger Spanish mackerel usually arrive feeding on any baits they can find, whether it is on the surface or right on the bottom. Just because you can’t see the mackerel on the surface certainly doesn’t mean they are not there. The best bait is going to be the ever popular small to medium Clark Spoon. I suggest either trolling the spoons deep or pitching them right over the structure. Capt. David Newlin reports, “Water temperature on March 22 in Ossabaw Sound was around 62 degrees. The sheepshead bite is really good. Friday we caught a limit of sheepshead, some sea bass and several monster redfish around 45 pounds at the Cat. Reef. The artificial reef fishing should get better in April as more fish start moving around and migratory fish start showing up. Fish with fiddler crabs and pieces of cut fish. I also catch a lot of fish on the reefs with jigs. Try a 1-oz. jig with a Gulp Swimming Mullet. Sea bass, blues, weakfish, redfish and cobia will eat it up. On the inshore scene, everything is starting to heat up. Trout have started showing up in fair numbers. I have caught some fishing shrimp and poly-wogs under a float in 6 to 10 feet of water. Look for the trout to move on all the usual spots by the middle of April when the water warms up a few degrees. April and May usually produce some of the biggest trout of the year. Until the water warms up, fish your bait slowly and have a lot of patience. A small jig fished very slow can catch a lot of trout in April. This spring should have a great redfish bite starting any day. We had a good crop of redfish last year, so there should be a lot of 20-inch fish this spring. The usual slip-float rig with a live shrimp should catch plenty. The whiting bite has started and should heat up over the next few weeks. Find a sandy bottom with shells on it in 6 to 12 feet of water, put a piece of shrimp on a No. 2 long-shank hook, and you should be in business. Usually my best catches of whiting are the last of the low tide and the first hour of the incoming tide. There are no limits on whiting in Georgia. The big blacktip sharks should be here be the middle of April. Anchor your boat 3 miles offshore, put out a good chum line, fish a fresh fish fillet under a noisy popping cork and hang on. Every year I catch some 100-lb. blacktips in April doing this. They are great sport, blacktips usually jump and fight hard, and they are also excellent eating. Size limit is 54 inches fork length. Check regulations before keeping sharks.”

Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Offshore fishermen can finally head out to the Savannah Snapper Banks, which is about 35 miles. Bottom fishing for vermilion snapper, white grunt, triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy, white bone, cobia and many other top/bottom biters can be caught with cut fish and squid. Grouper season opens May 1. All you need is a rig that will take you to the bottom, and catching will happen. For the fishermen who seeks blue-water status, this would be the time to make that happen. For tuna, dolphin, wahoo, Mako shark and bill fish, the 70-mile run is definitely worth it. For bait, I suggest single-hooked chin-weighted dink ballyhoo, old school sand eels and cedar plugs. Another option when going deep is to give bottom fishing a try. With small pieces of squid, you catch football vermilion, mega triggerfish, sand tile, knobbed porgy and fish not even listed in the identification booklet. The bottom line when it comes to bottom fishing in this area is this: If you use two hooks, you catch two fish. If you use three hooks, you catch three fish, and I think you get the idea. All fishermen when targeting the snapper grouper species have to use circle hooks. It’s the law! Here’s the good news about circle hooks. All you have to do is to get your bait to the bottom. Fish will eat it, try to swim off, and fish will be hooked up. I always suggest checking for current fishing regulations before heading offshore. The best website for up-to-date federal fishing regulations is”

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