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Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – April 2022

Brad Gill | March 23, 2022

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Bait shops should start to catch and carry live shrimp. With live shrimp in the well, 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 seatrout or flounder gets close to this bait, they will eat it. Another way to present live shrimp is to just fish naked. All you need to do is hook your shrimp under the horn and cast into place. Bottom fishing in the sound during the month of April comes alive with everything from whiting to sharks to bluefish to stingray to trophy redfish to cobia to other strange creatures. When the fish quit biting, thinking that they have moved might not be the case. I always suggest changing your bait. While using small pieces of shrimp on light-tackle rigs, even the smaller fish offer some nice action. We have found that smaller fish also get tired of the same old bait plan.  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 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. This is the time of year when a smaller fish 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. 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, fish a Carolina style. For the smaller fish, use 10- to 20-lb. test monofilament line or up to 50-lb. test braid main line. As far as the leader, use 15- to 20-lb. test fluorocarbon or just regular monofilament line. Best hook style is going to be kahle No. 4 or No. 6. Standard j thin-tinned hooks in the same size range are also good to go. When you are changing from small pieces of shrimp to steaks or whole fish as bait, use 30- to 50-lb. test monofilament or 50- to 80-lb. test braid as main line. When setting up your Carolina rig for the larger bite, use 40- to 60-lb. test line as leader. For large fish, use a circle hook from size 9/0 to 14/0 or a standard j from 6/0 to 8/0. As far as egg sinker, use sizes from 1 to 8 ounces.  The currents in the sound can get strong. Your best tide stage is two hours before until two hours after the tide change. When fishing in the sound, it really doesn’t matter whether you are fishing incoming or an outgoing tide stage. It is more about the current’s speed. When it is strong, it produces muddy water conditions and fish have to fight to stay on any point, which means bites may not happen.”

Capt. David Newlin reports, “Water temps are in the mid 60s. Redfish, trout, whiting, black drum and flounder have been in my catch the last couple of days. As the water warms up the next few weeks, the fishing should heat up. The whiting bite is off to a strong start. Yesterday we fished for whiting an hour and caught 43. This should get better and peak out around the middle of April. Look for whiting in the sounds and on the sandbars off the beaches. I generally do the best around 10 feet of water. A simple rig is a 1-oz. egg sinker, a swivel and a 6-inch leader with a long-shank No. 2 hook. Bait can be a piece of shrimp, squid or a small piece of cut fish. A lot of places are better on different tides. Most whiting spots are better on the last of the outgoing tide and the first of the incoming tide. When the current is moving fast, they can be hard to catch. The redfish bite has been good since the middle of February and should continue through April. They seem to be almost everywhere. I have caught them in the sounds and way up in small creeks. In April, the redfish usually move from up in the rivers out toward the sounds. A live shrimp under a slip-cork rig will work everywhere the redfish should be. Trout should be showing up in big numbers in April. We usually catch a lot of trout and a lot of big trout during April. Look for trout out in the sounds on the points, around oyster shells, drop-offs and all the usual places. A slip-cork rig that you can adjust from 1 to 10 feet deep with a live shrimp will almost always catch a trout if it is there. A small live mullet works if you are hunting a big fish. If you want to try something different, throw a topwater plug early and late in the day. A red and white MirrOlure is one of my favorites. Flounder, black drum, bonnethead sharks and several other fish should be all over the sounds by the middle of April. Try throwing a shrimp under a cork in April and you should have some action. If the weather will cooperate, April fishing and fish catching should be good.”

Offshore Artificial Reefs: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The artificial reefs can hold the attentions of all sorts of fish from bottom to topwater. When bottom fishing, you could catch black sea bass, flounder, bluefish, white bone porgy, summer trout, cobia and other biters. When it comes to topwater fish, normally large Spanish mackerel have arrived feeding on any baits that they can find near 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 here. The best bait is going to be the small to medium Clark spoon. Troll the spoons deep or pitch them right over the structure! 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 to pull a cedar plug way, way back to about 200 feet or more. 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. If you are not going to eat this fish, please return back to the wild.  However, check 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!”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Grouper season opens on May 1, 2022 and goes until Dec. 31, 2022. 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, white grunt, triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and white bone. As far as topwater fish, cobia and king mackerel can certainly be caught bottom fishing cut squid, frozen/fresh cigar minnows (whole or pieces) and cut fish.”   

Blue Water: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “For tuna, dolphin, wahoo, mako shark and billfish, 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 wahoo bite. High-speed trolling should be put high up on your list of things to do to catch big fish. Here are some websites that have high speed, already-proven trolling lures: http://cscustomlures.com, www.ballyhood.com/html/wahoo_lures.html, www.handmadetackle.com/wahoo-fishing-lures and www.candhlures.com/wahoo-whacker-xl.html. Drag any of these when making your way to the fishing grounds. When dragging, be a lure watcher. You won’t believe the things I have seen over the years while in this watching mode.  Just to name a few:  big fish basically jumping over the lure as they miscalculate their prey (your lure), big fish trying to keep up with the lure, big fish stalking smaller fish that are tracking the lure, and on. For every day that you fish, your eyes get more trained on seeing better the ways of fish. While at Stream, 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 current fishing regulations before heading offshore. The best website for up-to-date federal fishing regulations is www.safmc.net. For those fishermen who would like to receive my weekly fishing report, please email [email protected] 

Miss Judy’s Books For Sale: Capt. Judy Helmey says, “It has been 30 years since I published ‘My father The Sea and Me!’ A lot has happened, many have passed and many are a whole lot older. There is one thing time can’t erase, especially in this book, things that happened in the past. I invite you to read about the things that happened before 1992. The cost is $25 (plus tax, postage, and shipping). I have a case left of these books. I am in the process of publishing a second printing. The second book is called ‘Kicking Fish Tail Since 1956! Inshore Fishing Techniques presenting Old School Tools!’ This book’s information has been proven over and over again by fish and fishermen. Daddy started honing these techniques in 1948. My father was an excellent fisherman both inshore and offshore. I was lucky enough to have a father who wanted to teach his daughter how to catch fish. In other words, he skipped fishing and moved me right into to catching status. The cost is $25 (plus tax, postage, and shipping). To purchase books, you can call 912.897.4921 or email [email protected] What other books are coming late 2022? ‘Captain Judy Says The Darnest Things’ and ‘Captain Judy’s Complete Old School Offshore How To Book’ that covers from the sound to the blue waters of the Gulf Stream.”  

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