Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – August 2023

GON Staff | July 26, 2023

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “We have one of the biggest crops of redfish that I have ever seen. Some days it has been hard to get away from the small redfish. By the middle of August, catching a limit of legal fish should be easy. These small redfish will hit a shrimp any way you throw it to them. A good number of slot limit and bigger fish are in the mix. Early and late in the day some big redfish are up in the shallow marsh. Throw a big shrimp on a weedless hook in front of them. The flounder bite is hot and should be good all month. My best bite has been on the first half of the outgoing tide. Fish where the oyster shells and mud meet. The trout bite is pretty steady, catching some good fish out in the sound. My better catches have been close to the ocean. I have had a couple good days on the beaches. A live shrimp or small fish under a cork has been working, as well as a light bottom rig with a 2-foot leader. A lot of croaker and black drum are in the mix. A small piece of shrimp on a No. 2 hook will catch a bucket full of croaker almost anywhere in Ossabaw Sound. The sharks are all over the place, from the beaches to the rivers. A fresh menhaden on the bottom in 15-plus feet of water will get a bite. Everything from bonnetheads to tigers have been caught lately. They should be here several more months. August is usually the best tarpon month in Georgia. They can be from 3 or 4 miles offshore to miles up the rivers. Look for them rolling on the surface early in the morning. Fish a live mullet or pogie under a cork or a fresh dead one on the bottom. Have patience. You won’t catch one every day. We have big tarpon. Don’t be surprised to see fish 150 pounds plus. I like 50-lb. mono on a sturdy rod with a Penn 4/0 reel and a 10/0 Lazer Sharp circle hook. August should be really good fishing. September is always the best fishing of the year, I still have a few good days left, give me a call.”

Capt. Judy Helmey of Miss Judy Charters reports, “August is the month that separates the true fishermen from those who only claim to be. You really have to pull out all of the stops when you want to turn fishing into catching during this month. It’s best to fish early. Redfish, spotted seatrout, flounder, whiting, black drum, sheepshead and sharks can be caught just about anywhere while fishing the sounds and beachfronts. The best baits are going to be the lively ones, such as shrimp, mud minnows, finger mullet and small yellowtail. Don’t laugh about using small yellowtails as bait. After the grand freeze killed so many of these fish years ago, it seems it made them a lot more desirable as bait. All you have to do is cast rigged baits into considered strike zone and possibly re-adjust the float’s depth, but only if no hits occur after the float by takes place. The best news about these baits is most of them can be caught by you. There is more good news. It’s also a good time to catch your own bait and you might just have enough left over for supper. Work the grassline as the shrimp first come out on the falling tide and when they start heading back to the safety of the marsh on the rising tide. I also suggest making sure that the grassline that you are working has a mud bottom and not oyster rakes. For those who prefer to use artificials, I like DOA shrimp patterns during this time. You can use them as rigged straight out of the package. Best method here is to tie a 3- to 4-foot leader of 12- to 20-lb. test to a popping cork and cast into place. Let the tide take the float and come up with your own popping-the-float sequence. It’s best to fish this rig in 5 to 6 feet of water. When fishing more than 6 feet of water, I suggest using a small adjustable float rig with a 2/0 kahle hook. Remove the DOA weight and hook from the artificial shrimp pattern, then I suggest balancing this bait on your hook, which while waving in the current will look just like the real deal. I am always talking about using live shrimp as bait and all of the advantages that come along with it. As I mentioned many times over, all fish like the taste of a shrimp, and in some case it doesn’t even have to be alive to get their attention. It seems the shrimp that you catch in your cast net are much hardier and will live longer in your livewell, especially during these hot-water times. Live shrimp that are caught while using a dragging net don’t live as long. Most of these shrimp do not make it back to their full moving potential, especially after the shock of being caught this way. So you end up with a lot of fresh dead, almost live shrimp.  I have always said the hardier the bait, the better the fish bite. While casting for shrimp, you will also catch some great juvenile baitfish. Your bycatch can be anything from a mullet to a pinfish to a menhaden to many other small bait fishes. I suggest throwing them right into your livewell with the shrimp. The absolute best way to rig up your bycatch is to lip hook it. And you can present it under a popping cork or a traditional adjusted float.  All baits from live shrimp to small fish work great when placed on the bottom with a Carolina-style rig. If you don’t want to hold your rod, I suggest using a small circle hook, which will almost insure a more solid hook-up. When using a Caroling rig, I suggest casting your bait into place, letting it sit at least two to three minutes, then raise your rod, reel about five turns, let it sit, wait and repeat. I suggest whatever you do that you bring a dip net to this most likely flounder catching rodeo. It is a known fact that most flounder are lost at the boat while trying to lift them into the boat without using the aid of a dip net.”

Beachfronts & Shipping Channel: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Ocean menhaden have arrived and can be caught while casting your net around beachfronts and as far out as 3 miles into the ocean. The secret to finding pogies is to keep an eye to the sky for diving pelicans. This is the one bait that works when used live or dead. It also works when used as chum, meaning cut up or smashed up. When using live menhaden, I suggest light-tackle rigs made with stinger hooks fished around the beachfronts and shipping channels. Big kings are known for migrating into these areas during the month of August.  Steep drops such as those located in shipping channels hold lots of bait standing opportunities. King and Spanish mackerel know exactly how this feeding drill works. Slow trolling in these areas usually yield big king mackerel bites. If you see Spanish mackerel on the surface, it’s very likely that large kings are holding in the outskirts. Another good baiting option is to catch a Spanish mackerel, rig it up quick and let it free swim. In the Savannah River channel, ships are much larger now, making the water they push and wakes made causing possible dangerous situations. Please beware!”

Artificial Reefs: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Trolling for Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and barracuda is very good during this time. Best trolling lures for Spanish mackerel are going to be the ever-popular 0 and 00 Clarkspoons or any sort of pitching lure that once on the retrieve looks and acts like a glass minnow or juvenile squid. Best trolling spoons for king mackerel are 1 1/2- to 3 1/2-inch Drone spoons. As far as best colors, I have always preferred old-school silver. However, that is only because that was the only color they used to have. So if you want to pull a colored Drone, I suggest black, chartreuse, red or royal blue (with or without flash bling). When it comes to getting that prefect barracuda bite, it can happen while trolling for Spanish and king mackerel. However, this toothy monster will also attack at and hit trolled surgical tubes. We like using Sea Striker Cuda Tube CT-12 (12 inch) surgical tube with a 2/0 heavy-duty saltwater treble and CT-14 (14 inch) rigged with two hooks. Once you see how these tube lures are put together, you then can purchase a 6-foot package SST6 (color) or a 24-foot bulk pack SSTB (color) and build your own. The tubes come in green, red, pink and yellow colors. The best news is you could catch just about any kind of mid column to surface swimming fish with this crazy acting tube lure.” 

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The bottom bite at the Savannah Snapper Banks is good during this time. However, to catch big fish you have to use the right big bait. Larger fish such as grouper, red snapper, cubera snapper, amberjack and cobia want live bait. A fisherman needs to use live baits, such as menhaden, sand perch, rock bass, scup, pinfish and ruby red lips. It’s best to make sure that your livewell circulation pump is working properly and that the filter is clean. You want your bait as lively and not shocked. When a fish is shocked, it basically does look stressed and has a white, milky appearance. I suggest lip hooking any of these baits with a 13/0 circle hook rigged up on a Carolina-style rig. As far as weight, I always use a 3- to 8-oz. egg weight and an 8- to 30-foot, 80- to 100-lb. test monofilament leader. I suggest sending this rig to the bottom, which anchors the line on the bottom. This Carolina rig allows the bait to swim free, putting it right in the big fish’s strike zone.”

Gulf Stream: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “When the waters to the west become the same temperature as the blue waters of the Stream, topwater fish go on the hunt. You could find yourself hooking up a blue-water fish at the artificial reefs as easily as you could while fishing at the Savannah Snapper Banks. There have been a few sailfish sightings at the KC artificial buoy during the month of July. Now for those fishermen who just want to make that blue-water run, I suggest doing so. The live bottom areas/ledges located in 150 to 200 feet of water are holding some large gags, scamps and red grouper. Best working large live baits are ruby red lips, sand perch, menhaden, vermilion snapper and rock bass. Also on the bottom are football-sized vermilion snapper, trigger fish, sea bass and sand tile, also known as sea serpents of the night, and then there are those fish that we have never been seen before. Whatever you do, don’t forget your deep-water identification book. Best bottom rig is going to be one made with double or triple 5/0 to 6/0 circle hooks. Best bait is going to be cut squid and fresh fish fillets. Before heading out, check out There are a few closers, such as genuine red snapper, which is closed to harvest and possession. Make sure that you always check this website out for current rules and regulations. You should have a copy of the current regulations on your boat. You also need to know that state and federal regulations are not always the same.”

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