Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report February 2015

GON Staff | January 29, 2015

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Inshore redfish fishing has always been good in February, but you need to keep in mind that the water is a lot clearer, causing the fish to be a bit more skittish. Keep as quiet as possible. Pick areas in the sounds where sloughs flow onto bars or flats. The best spots should have at least 6 inches of water at mean low tide. The best days are those that have a midday low tide stage with sunny conditions. I like to fish the bottom of the low tide stage until the water floods the grass. When it comes to the best natural baits, I suggest chunked pawn shrimp and whole mullet cut in pieces like a loaf of bread. I always suggest cutting the bait first before heading out. The best place to put the bait is out in the air and sun. This dries the bait, sealing in the fish juices that ring the dinner bell for a redfish once it is placed back in the water. When using natural baits, all you need is 12 to 15 inches of 15- to 20-lb. test fluorocarbon leader tied to a small extra-sharp circle or J hook. Cast into the area, let the bait fall to the bottom, and wait for a hit. Please keep in mind before you start reeling while using the circle or setting the J hook to give them time to eat. For those fishermen who prefer pitching artificial baits during the cold water bite, I suggest Berkley jerkbaits or Strike King soft jerkbait flukes rigged on 1/4-oz. jig heads. Please remember white is the right color for this time of the year. For the chance at February seatrout, since we have not had much winter conditions so far this year, the spotted seatrout bite has not missed a beat. January offered inshore fishermen a good solid trout bite while using both live shrimp and artificial soft baits. So if the month of February follows suit and the water temperature stay above 50 degrees, then a spotted seatrout bite can be found in all the normal places. If live shrimp or mud minnows are not available, I suggest using small 1/8- to 1/4-oz. jig heads rigged with screw or paddle tails. If you can’t catch or purchase any sort of live bait, nine times out of 10 the fish can’t find any either. Now, if February goes cold, I suggest still targeting seatrout, but I suggest hitting the deep holes in the creeks and rivers. Best bait while in this mode is going to be the small artificial jigs rigged with screw or paddle tails. The secret to get hooked up while fishing the deep holes is to cast into the hole and work your lure very slowly. For the past couple of seasons, our striped bass bite has been mostly hit and miss. However, we have started seeing some striped bass—also known a rock fish—activity in the Savannah River and Ogeechee River areas. If you are looking to tangle with a strong-pulling fish, the striped bass will not let you down. Best baits are live shrimp, finger mullet and threadfin herring. These live baits work great under larger adjustable traditional floats. For those wanting to go artificial, I suggest 3-oz. lead head with hair jigs rigged with 4-inch plastic worms or paddle tails. The best jig for this job is called Cobia Candy. I have been using these jigs for years with great success. The best news is when it comes to striped bass is it’s a fish that loves windy, rainy and cold-water conditions. So if you are this kind of a fisherman, this is the type of fish for you.”

Capt. Judy reports, “Although February is considered our coldest month, there is still plenty of big time offshore trophy redfish action to be had. The secret is to know the deal, which I am going to share with you right now. Most of these trophy redfish that have migrated offshore during this time are in the 27- to 45-inch and bigger range. The best place to start looking is the nearshore artificial reefs located in up to 50 feet of water. Here are a few artificial reefs that have been holding some nice trophy redfish: SAV, DUA, CAT, KC and KTK. Best places to anchor are over barges or pallet balls. Since most artificial reefs are no longer are marked with yellow reef buoys, I suggest when researching for coordinates use only the ones that mark the actual places that you want to anchor, not the general area. Go to Another suggestion when targeting trophy redfish is while heading to your destination point that you keep an eye out for any formed rips that are holding any interest from birds. I have caught many trophy redfish while working rips that the seabirds are also interested in. Quite often a school of large redfish will find plenty to feed on in a formed rip. A rip is two different currents being pushed together making what I call a wall. The best artificial baits here are Causeway Diamond jigs with red or green small tube lures or any jigs without the tube. Once you have located the school, pitch your jig, let it free fall, and you should get a solid hit before it hits the bottom. When more than one fisherman is jigging, I suggest waiting a few seconds before throwing out the second jig. Your hooked-up redfish will most likely be followed by the entire school of fish. You need to be prepared in case this happens. I suggest cutting or chunking up any old mullet or menhaden that you might have. You should have this ready to throw right into the school of redfish. Please remember all redfish caught in federal waters are protected and have to be released as soon as possible!”

Offshore: Capt. Judy reports, “Black sea bass season open; however, please always check for current fishing regulations. When it comes to making way offshore, fishermen now have fishing, catching and keeping choices. You can bottom fish for black sea bass, and then go fishing for sheepshead, black drum and flounder.”

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