Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report December 2015
Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “November has been really good for trout fishing. The water is in the middle 60s. Trout are hitting artificial lures and the usual live shrimp rigs. Keeper-size redfish have been real hot some days and slow on others. The redfish bite should be good through December. Look for fish on mud flats on sunny days, and throw a Gulp Swimming Mullet on a jig head to them. The sheepshead bite is already getting hot. I caught a lot last month, including a couple of 8-lb. fish. This will get better on into the winter. Live fiddler crabs are the best bait. A good striper bite is happening in the Ogeechee River from Hwy 17 to Fort McAllister. The striped bass will bite all through the winter. Try throwing Rapalas and yellow jigs to them. December should be good fishing as long as the water stays above 50 degrees.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “During this time, fish are bulking up for those unpredictable cold weather patterns. Normally the inshore bite will turn on big time when there is an approaching cold front. The fish usually feed hard 18 to 24 hours before the big weather change. The best natural bait is going to be live shrimp, and the best artificial baits are those that imitate shrimp. Live shrimp will work under popping or traditional adjustable corks or just plain naked. Once you get the bite going on live or fresh dead shrimp, it’s easy to change to artificials, such as D.O.A.’s. When it comes to getting the redfish to bite, I suggest pitching Strike King flukes (Z Too) in copper penny, baby bass or ice. Rig them weedless, and cast them right into the grass. When you can’t purchase or catch your own live shrimp, fish mud minnows. They are easy to catch, and they are a hardy bait. A single mud minnow works great and is usually good after several hits, misses or catches. If one of these lip-hooked minnows under a popping or adjustable cork doesn’t work, I suggest adding another one. Using two baits can turn an unlikely bite on. This time of year the water is clear, so approach any of your fishing spots slowly and quietly. For those fishermen who prefer darkness over daylight fishing, this is the perfect time of the year to give it a try. Most all isolated dock lights will hold the interest of some sort of bait, which brings on one heck of a topwater bite. Best baits are D.O.A’s artificial shrimp patterns rigged on 1/8- to 1/4-oz. jig heads and small Rapala floating/diving lures. When fishing dock lights, pitch and retrieve a few lures in different directions. You can also fish shrimp or mud minnows under a cork up current of the light. Bites should be consistence for about 15 to 20 minutes, and then it will be time to move on or take a break so the fish can regroup.”
Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Sheepshead, black drum, trophy redfish, flounder and cold water sharks will be at the nearshore artificial reefs bulking 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 will also work. These fish love anything wrapped in a shell or the meat that is remove from one. Flounder are known for situating themselves on the outskirts of the structure while waiting for that prefect meal. Best baits for flounder are jumbo mud minnows or small sandperch placed on a Carolina-style bottom rig. Cast to the outskirts of the structure, set the drag to medium, and place rod in holder. When you get a hit, don’t pick the rod up until the flounder eats your bait. As far as the sharks, use squid or cut a sheepshead belly strip out, and put it on the bottom near the structure. Large summer trout can also be found schooling on the artificial reefs, and some of these fish are in the 20-inch-plus size range. The best bait is small pieces of cut fish, squid and cigar minnows. Large gag grouper are known for migrating into shallow water during this time of the year. In the shallow department, artificial reefs located in 35 to 90 feet of water are stopping off staging places. The best places to fish on the artificial reefs are the places where you have wrecks, such as the barges, battle tanks, subway cars, ships, tugs and dredges. I always suggest using live bait when targeting grouper.”
Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The bottom fishing in 90 to 100 feet of water can be very interesting because you never know what you might catch. Best bottom fishing baits are going to be small pieces of squid, cut fish and fresh or frozen cigar minnows. These baits bring on the attentions of black sea bass, vermilion snapper, white grunts, porgy, trigger fish and other colorful bottom biters. If you are looking for a bigger bottom bite, I suggest dropping a lip-hooked ruby red lip, sand perch, vermilion or rock bass down to the bottom. These baits attract amberjack, grouper and red snapper, which come in extra large sizes. Before heading out, I always suggest checking with http://www.safmc.net for current offshore regulations.”
Gulf Stream: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Our black fin tuna run is wide open, and this is one fish that can offer you 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. Fish cedar plugs pre-soaked in menhaden oil. I am suggesting the actual plug that is made with cedar showing, not the ones that are painted. These plugs absorb the menhaden oil while holding it longer when trolling. For fishermen who prefer real bait, I suggest Ilander Trackers rigged with dink 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 (small) ballyhoo.” Miss Judy has two inshore fishing clinics scheduled for Feb. 20-21. The clinic on Feb. 21 will be on the water. For more info. call Capt. Judy at (912) 897-4921.
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