Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – February 2022

GON Staff | January 27, 2022

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey, of Miss Judy Charters, reports, “Inshore fishing in February can be very good for redfish, but you need to keep in mind that the water is a lot clearer, causing the fish to be a bit more skittish. Keep things as quiet as possible. Pick areas in the sounds where sloughs flow onto bars or flats. Best fishing spots should have at least 6 inches of water at mean low tide. The best days are going to be 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. Due to the last couple of hurricanes, lots of changes in the sandbars have taken place. Use frozen shrimp and/or whole mullet cut in pieces like a loaf of bread. When using natural baits, use 12 to 15 inches of 15- to 20-lb. test fluorocarbon leader tied to a small, extra-sharp circle hook. Fish the bait on the bottom. For artificial baits, fish Berkley jerkbaits or Strike King flukes rigged on 1/4-oz. jig heads. White is the right color for this time of the year. Also for redfish, try a soft plastic worm-type shaped lure.  It seems the extra mud/sand storm it makes when bumped along the bottom gets this fish’s attention. However, too much or not enough movement is going to be the key to unlocking this cold-water bite. In our area of the Savannah River and Ogeechee River you can find some stripers. Best baits are live shrimp, finger mullet and threadfin herring.  For artificials, use a 3-oz. lead head with hair jigs rigged with 4-inch plastic worms or paddle tails. Our inshore captains have been catching spotted seatrout ranging from 14 to 23 inches while using live shrimp. They are catching their own live shrimp, which most of the time are being caught in the deeper holes.” 

Capt. David Newlin reports, “Water temps are right around 48 to 50 degrees. In the shallow waters, it will warm up a few degrees on sunny days. Look for redfish on sunny days on mud flats and up in dead-end creeks where still waters can warm a few degrees. Fish very slow and quiet. Trout will be deep and not real aggressive. Light tackle and jigs fished deep and slow should catch trout. They should be schooled up tight. When you find one, there should be several more fish in the area. Look way up in small creeks that have some deep curves and holes in it. A few warmer days will help the trout bite. Sheepshead and stripers are the only fish that the cold water temps don’t seem to turn off. For the sheepshead, get some fiddler crabs and fish any structure that grows barnacles. Trees, dock pilings and old boat wrecks will all hold hungry sheepshead. Fish as close to the structure as possible. A simple egg sinker, swivel and a short leader about 6 inches with a fiddler crab will work. An unpainted jig head with a fiddler crab will work. All the nearshore artificial reefs can hold sheepshead. Stripers up the Ogeechee will bite all winter. Throw Rapalas, jigs or fish with live mullet or shrimp. Fish around creek mouths where two currents run together. Cover a lot of water and you should find fish. February fishing will depend a lot on the weather. A little warm weather and the fish will turn on.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The nearshore artificial reefs located in 45 to 50 feet of water are holding the winter migration of large sheepshead. Normally the reefs offering the best vertical structure are the ones that hold sheepshead and black drum. Best bait is going to be the purple or black back fiddlers. I suggest anchoring while situating your boat so that you can fish over and around the wreck. These fish are known for biting furiously and then stopping, but keep fishing and not moving from this spot. This is a fish known for feeding vertically while circling around the wreck at a slow pace. The artificial reefs located in more than 50 feet of water are holding black sea bass. Normally this is a fish that loves to school up in low-relief areas and feeds near the bottom.  However, during this time large schools of black fish can be found schooling just about every place where there is structure. All structure has potential, but you will most likely find them holding in only a few spots on the reef. If your plan is to drift particular spots, you are only going to get a few drifts before the bite will thin. If anchored, the bite will be about the same way. The best bait is going to be cut squid and fish. To target the larger black sea bass, use a fish steak with all fins removed. Most of these trophy redfish that have migrated offshore during this time are in the 27- to 48-inch and bigger range. The best place to start looking is at the nearshore reefs located in up to 50 feet of water.  The best places to anchor are over barges or pallet balls. Watch for rips and birds. I have caught many trophy redfish while working rips that the seabirds are also interested in. Once you have located the school, pitch your preferred jig, let it free fall and you should get a solid hit before it lands on the bottom. Your hooked-up redfish will most likely be followed by the entire school of fish.  For those of you who want to take a longer ride there is always the live bottom areas of the Savannah Snapper Banks.  During this time the Savannah Snapper Banks bite for large sea bass, trigger fish, vermilion snapper, white grunt, white bone porgy, red porgy and knobbed porgy is very good.  Also African pompano can be found schooling around the naval towers. As far as best bait to use, squid is universal.  When waters temp are on the colder side, most fish are not picky. Don’t overthink bait used because presentation is higher on the list than taste.”

Editor’s Note: 2022 Captain Judy’s Inshore/Offshore Fishing Clinics: School is in! Join Capt. Judy and her staff for some educational time on the water. Dates are Feb. 18-20 2022. Cost is $180 for inshore and $180 for offshore. Morning trips are 8 a.m. until noon. Afternoon trips are 1 to 5 p.m. Snacks and drinks provided by Captain Judy Place. Leaving from Miss Judy Charters dock, 202 Wilmington Island Road, Savannah, Ga. 31410. Call 912.897.4921 or 912.897.2478 for more details.”


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