Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – April 2024

GON Staff | March 27, 2024

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Bait shops should start to carry live shrimp. With live shrimp in the well, traditional adjustable floats and popping corks are going to be your best bets. If a redfish, seatrout or flounder gets close to this bait, they will eat it. You can also fish just plain naked. During April, the sounds come alive with everything from whiting to sharks to bluefish to stingray to trophy redfish to cobia to other strange creatures. It’s fun just dropping down to the bottom and waiting to see what just might get on your hook. When the fish quit biting, change your bait. Fishing with small pieces of cut shrimp will work for a while. However, adding a small piece of whiting filet sweetens the bait and offers enough of 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. Another great cut-up bait is going to be small pieces of bonita. For rigs when fishing the sound, no matter the size of fish that you are targeting, fish a Carolina rig. For the smaller fish, I suggest 10- to 20-lb. test monofilament or up to 50-lb. braid. As far as the leader, I suggest 15- to 20-lb. fluorocarbon or just regular monofilament. The best hook style is going to be a kahle No. 4 or No. 6. Standard j-style, thin-tinned hooks in the same size range are also good. I also like using Eagle Claw L197G series circle hooks, which come in assorted sizes. When setting up your Carolina rig for the larger bite, I suggest using 40- to 60-lb. test. For larger fish, I suggest using a circle hook from size 9/0 to 14/0 or a standard j-hook from 6/0 to 8/0. As far as egg sinkers, I suggest having on board sizes from 1 to 8 ounces. The currents in the sound can get strong and sometimes during the tide change no currents prevail.”

Capt. David Newlin reports, “Water temps were around 64 degrees on March 23. Redfish, trout and whiting are biting. Redfish are all over the sounds and up in most creeks. As the weather warms up, redfish will scatter all over the place and usually be in smaller schools. All the oyster mounds should hold a few. The bite should be good all month. The big roe trout should be showing up all month in April. Trout should be in the sounds and larger creeks and rivers. All the usual drops should hold fish in April. As always, a live shrimp under a slip-cork rig is my go-to rig for spring trout fishing. The whiting bite is hot and getting better. April is usually the best whiting-catching month of the year. I have caught 50 in a couple of hours several times this week. Sandy bottoms in the sound about 10 feet deep on the last of the low tide have been producing great. A small piece of shrimp on the bottom with a No. 2 hook works well. It should be good all month. Move until you find fish. They are not big-game fish, but fresh whiting sure fry up good. The freshwater catfish bite above Fort McAllister is really good.  From the marina to I-95 seems to be full of them. In the lower river, they seem to prefer shrimp on the bottom. At the moment, the Ogeechee is fresh all the way to Fort McAllister. April should be a good fishing month. Wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts. The gnats have been thick some days.”

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “When bottom fishing at the artificial reefs, you could catch black seabass, flounder, bluefish, 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 bait that they can find staging from the surface to right on the bottom. 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. When targeting this fish, pull the smallest cedar plug 200 feet or more back. I know that sounds like letting out a lot of line, but for some reason when the boat approaches, this fish dives, but right after the pass, the entire school surfaces again.”

Georgia Saltwater Fishing Page: Archived Articles, News and Fishing Reports

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Gag grouper season opens on May 1, 2024 and closes on June 15, 2024. This is not a typo! Normally our gag grouper season is open until Dec. 31. The 2024 gag grouper season is being cut short since the 2023 recreational landings exceeded the recreational annual catch limit! However, the rest of the shallow-water grouper are still open. Offshore fishermen still make 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, black seabass, red porgy and white bone. As far as top- to mid-water column fish, there is cobia, amberjack, almaco jack and king mackerel. When bottom fishing, cut squid, frozen/fresh cigar minnows, whole or pieces, and cutfish 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. At this time, we do not know the opening dates for the 2024 genuine red snapper season.”

Blue Water: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “For the fisherman who seeks bluewater status, this would be the time to make that happen. For tuna, dolphin, wahoo, mako shark and billfish, the 70-mile run is 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. While heading to the Stream, you get to 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. My favorite is Ballyhood Cowbell high-speed lures. While at the bluewater, give bottom fishing a try. With small pieces of squid, you can 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 must use circle hooks. Here’s the good news about circle hooks. All you must do is get your bait to the bottom. A fish will eat it, try to swim off and will be hooked up!”

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