Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report December 2014

GON Staff | November 25, 2014

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “The weather has been crazy, windy, cold and just plain miserable. The trout have been biting good, catching a lot of keeping-size fish mixed with a whole lot of small fish. All the usual artificial baits have been working, as well as the old reliable live shrimp under a cork. Very shortly the trout will head for deeper water, deep turns in creeks and bluffs with some trees in the water. When this happens, fish a jig on light line real slow and deep. Water temp is 60 now. When it gets below 58, the trout usually get off the shallow flats and get in the deeper holes. The redfish bite has been good, with a lot of 14- to 18-inch fish and some big fish mixed in. Live shrimp, or a Gulp Swimming Mullet fished 2 feet deep under a float and slowly worked in a jerking motion has been working. When the water gets colder, the redfish will get very easily spooked. Being quiet will be a major factor in catching them. Sheepshead love the cold water. They have started showing up everywhere they should. Fish a live fiddler crab on a 1/0 kahle hook with just enough weight to get it to the bottom. This should get better next month. Fort McAllister Marina has live fiddler crabs. A few of the bait shops in Savannah have fiddlers also.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “During this time, all fish from spotted seatrout to flounder to redfish are doing what they do best, and that’s bulking up for cold-weather patterns. The inshore bite can turn on big time, especially when there is an approaching cold front. The fish usually feed hard at about 18 to 24 hours before the big weather change. The best natural bait is live shrimp, and the best artificial bait is those that imitate shrimp. These baits will work under popping and traditional corks or just plain naked. Most spotted seatrout and flounder will take a chance on a shrimp, even if it does looks a little fishy. And once you get the bite going on either a live or fresh dead shrimp, it’s easy to change to artificial, such as DOAs. Copper penny, baby bass or ice flukes made by Strike King (ZTOO) rigged weedless and cast right into the grass also makes for an interesting redfish catch. When the water gets cooler, it clears. If you can see the fish, they most likely can see you, too. The clearer the water, the lighter the leader. On cloudy days, I suggest going with dark-colored artificial lures. When the sun is shining, I suggest going with the lighter color ones. Captain Judy’s 2015 inshore school dates are Saturday Feb. 21 (in classroom) and Sunday Feb. 22 (on boats). For details, contact [email protected] or call (912) 897-4921.”

Capt. Judy reports, “For those who love a light-tackle, fish-catching experience, December is the month to visit the nearshore artificial reefs. Sheepshead, black drum, trophy redfish, flounder, black sea bass and cold-water sharks put these areas on their list of places to school up and bulk up for winter migrations. Best baits for sheepshead, black drum and trophy redfish are going to be the purple-back fiddler and green mussels. Small pieces of shrimp and cut fish will also work. These fish love anything wrapped in a shell or the meat that is removed from one. Flounder are known for situating themselves on the outskirts of the structure when the tide is slack, while waiting for that prefect meal. Best baits for the old flounder are jumbo mud minnows or small sand perch placed on a Carolina-style bottom rig. Placement of this bait is simple. Cast to the outskirts of the structure, set drag to medium and place rod in holder. When you get a hit, don’t pick the rod up until the flounder situates the bait in its mouth. In other words, give these flat fish time to eat, because they are fast on the hit and slow on the eat. Black sea bass can be found on the bottom feeding near low-relief bottom areas. The best bait is going to be shrimp, squid and small pieces of filleted fish. As far as the sharks go, take along some squid or cut a sheepshead belly strip out, and put it on the bottom near the structure. At the Savannah Snapper Banks, grouper season (gags, scamps and red grouper) is open until the last day of December. And there is better news: vermilion snapper, also known as b-liners, don’t have a season closer. When you add these fish, as well as trigger fish, white grunt, red porgy, banded rudder fish, almaco Jack, amberjack, flounder, cobia and others, you could find yourself having one heck of a fish-catching, fish-keeping day. Capt. Judy’s 2015 offshore schools (held on the boats) will be Saturday, March 7 and Sunday March 9. For details, contact [email protected] or call (912) 897-4921.”

Gulf Stream: Capt. Judy reports, “Our blackfin tuna run is wide open, and this is one fish that can offer a strong fight. You can find these fish holding over the ledges in 180 to 250 feet of water, or you might just happen to find a school holding in the upper water column that has rounded up a school of bait. Best lures are cedar plugs pre-soaked in menhaden oil. These plugs will absorb the menhaden oil quick and will hold it longer while producing happy fishy trails when trolled. For those fishermen who have to troll with bait, I suggest Ilander Trackers Juniors rigged with dink (small) ballyhoo baits. The trick here is to rig the Ilander Trackers with 60-lb. test fluorocarbon and small, short-shank, extra-strong 4/0 to 5/0 hooks. This style rig works well when rigging with dink ballyhoo. While heading to the Stream, I suggest pulling a high-speed lure. The best and most proven high-speed lure on the market is made and sold by”

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