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Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report April 2019

GON Staff | March 25, 2019

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “March weather has been crazy. Hot one day and freezing the next. The fishing has been good one day and slow the next. The water temp was right around 65 degrees on March 22. The water should warm up into the low 70s shortly. The whiting bite is about as hot as it will get. Several days lately we have caught 50 or more in a couple of hours. I took my two grandkids out yesterday and caught a bucket full in about 45 minutes. Find a sandy bottom within a mile of the ocean about 10 feet deep. I like a small piece of shrimp on a 2x No. 2 hook on the bottom. If you don’t catch a fish in 15 minutes, move and keep looking. This should be good right on through April. Some really big trout have been caught the last few weeks. April should be good trout fishing with some big fish mixed in. A live shrimp under a slip cork should work great. In some places, you may need to fish 12 feet deep. You need a cork that will work with a 3/4-oz. weight. Toward the end of April, some topwater action should start early in the morning. The redfish bite has been good on slot-limit fish and some big reds. April should put the redfish in the shallow water all day. A live shrimp under a cork or on the bottom should work all month. The sheepshead bite on all the reefs a few miles out should be hot all month. These drops should also hold weakfish, blues, sea bass, sharks and some big redfish. Usually April has a little less wind and more days with calm seas to fish the reefs. A few miles up the Ogeechee River from Fort McAllister the freshwater catfish bite is hot. This should continue right on through April. A few stripers and redfish will be in the same areas as the catfish. A shrimp on the bottom will catch all of them. With some decent weather, April should be a good fish catching month.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Adjustable floats from large to small and popping corks with live shrimp are going to be your best bet. If a red fish, spotted seatrout or flounder gets close to this bait, they will eat it. You can also fish a live shrimp on a 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. During the month of April, the sounds come alive with everything from whiting to sharks to blue fish to stingray to trophy red fish to cobia to other strange creatures. Its fun just dropping down to the bottom and waiting to see what just might get on your hook. Fishing with small pieces of cut shrimp will work for a while. However, adding a small piece of whiting fillet sweetens the bait and offers enough of a change to turn the bite back on. When the bait slows again, just go back to the small pieces of shrimp or just pieces of whiting filet. The smaller fish that you just caught can be used either whole live or fresh dead. You can also cut them up in steaks just like you do a loaf of bread. With a little heavier rod/reel combo as well as terminal tackle, you can use any of these baits and drift them out with a float or not or fish them right on the bottom.  Believe me this will definitely bring on the bigger fish bite. For rigs when fishing the sound no matter the size of fish that you are targeting, I suggest the Carolina style classic.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “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, normally large Spanish mackerel have arrived.  These fish feed on any baits that they can find staging from the surface to right on the bottom. Just because you can’t see the mackerel on the surface certainly doesn’t mean they are not there. So this is a tip to catch a fish that most don’t even know exists in these areas during this time. 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. I will also suggest bringing along a suitable dip net because you most likely are going to need it to land this fish. Another fish that frequents the artificial reefs at this time is the little tunny, and they can come in sizes from 1 to 20 pounds. This fish offers a strong fight on just about any size tackle that you care to use. One sure fired way to catch this fish is pull a small cedar plug way, way back. Cedar plugs come in assorted sizes. This boils down to about a distance of 200 feet plus. I know that sounds like letting out a lot of line, but for some reason when the boat approaches, this fish dives and right after the pass, the entire school surfaces again. So if you are pulling bait way back, well, hits are going to happen. Now if you are not going to eat this fish, please release it. However, I also suggest checking on the web for some suggested recipes for this fish. You just might be surprised, and I do know that little tunny are good when smoked. To further your opportunity for catching fish, I suggest make yourself a copy of Georgia’s artificial reefs. http://coastalgadnr.org/sites/default/files/crd/Reefs/GeorgiaOffshoreReefWeb.pdf.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Grouper season runs from May 1 to Dec. 31. Offshore fishermen still make their way to the banks at this time to take advantage of the incredible amount of large bottom fish available, such as vermilion snapper, also known as b-liners, white grunt, triggerfish, amberjack, black sea bass, red porgy and white bone. As far as top to mid water column fish, there is always cobia, amberjack, almaco jack and king mackerel, which can be caught while plain old bottom fishing. When bottom fishing, cut squid, frozen/fresh cigar minnows whole or in pieces, and cut fish are great working baits. I also suggest putting your livewell into circulation and keeping all small fish caught to use as live bait. Best live baits are going to be ruby red lips, rock bass, sand perch, vermilion snapper and pinfish. The federal government is opening genuine red snapper season July 12-14, 2019 and July 19-20, 2019. Go to www.safmc.net and learn the current regulations and those that are coming our way.”

Blue Water: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “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 and cedar plugs. For a large bite, I suggest Ilander lures rigged with horse ballyhoo. This brings on great possibilities for a serious yahoo wahoo bite. High-speed trolling should be put high up on your list of things to do to catch big fish. While heading to the Stream, you cover lots of water, so you might as well get the best out of it. Dragging a couple of high-speed lures should be next on your list. Here are some websites that have high speed trolling lures: http://cscustomlures.comhttps://ballyhood.com, www.handmadetackle.com/wahoo-fishing-lures and www.afwfishing.com. While at the Stream, there is another option and that’s 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. All fishermen when targeting the snapper grouper species have to use circle hooks. It’s the law! Check the current fishing regulations before heading offshore. The best website for up to date federal fishing regulations is http://www.safmc.net.”

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