Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report January 2013

GON Staff | January 3, 2013

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Bob Barnette reports, “We have had a mild winter so far. For the last two months, the sea trout bite has been great, with many people catching a limit. This was great news as it appears it may continue into January. Looking ahead, sea trout will be moving to the headwaters of our sounds and into the deep holes looking for warmer water. This is where I would look to find them. I will be using float rigs, fishing for them deep with live shrimp or mud minnows. You can also troll soft plastic baits this time of the season, using a lead-head jig that will keep your bait just off the bottom. The reds have started to school, though they are a bit harder to catch this time of the year. They seem to turn down your bait one cast, and the next cast will eat it like there was no tomorrow. I will be using cut mullet and artificials for them. When using artificials this time of the year, use a slow retrieve as fish move much slower in the cooler water.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Spotted sea trout during this time are normally wintering in deep holes in the creeks, rivers or sounds. The best way to catch spotted sea trout when in hibernation mode is use small freshwater jigs with curly tails or super grubs while using 4- to 6-lb. test main line. As far as main line, I like monofilament because of the extra stretch and cushion it adds. The best freshwater jigs that also work in the saltwater are Jiffy Jigs, which come in assorted sizes and colors. However, if these jigs aren’t available, select 1/16- to 1/24-oz. jigs dipped in red, white or black plastic. Heck, if you can’t find jigs in any of these colors, I suggest picking out the preferred by all fish, which is naked unpainted lead. For some reason a fish can’t seem to pass up a piece of lead when something such as a screw tail (any light color as long a white is involved works) or real shrimp is involved. The best method is to cast in the deepest part or the hole, let your lure hit the bottom, wait, reel a few times, wait and repeat. Then I suggest casting lures to the sides of the hole and repeat this sequence. The secret to catching trout during cold times is to work your lure as slow as you can while still keeping it on the bottom. There is an old saying, ‘To get a trout’s attention during hibernating mode, you almost have to hit them right on the head with the lure.’”

Offshore: Capt. Judy reports, “For fishermen who want to get their best shot at a trophy redfish, now is the time. Please know the redfish when caught offshore is on the catch-and-release list only, but just think about that picture you can take. The best natural baits, believe it or not, are cut squid or fish. The best artificials are any sort of jigs with white hair or small plastic tubes attached. Once cast into the school, the redfish should hit your lure on the fall. If two of you are fishing, I suggest throwing the first artificial lure and then waiting about five seconds to throw the second. The nearshore artificial reefs are holding some pretty good sheepshead, flounder, black drum and summer trout. Best baits for sheepshead and black drum are going to be live or frozen fiddler crabs, raw oysters, barnacles in the shell, green mussels out of the shell and crickets. Yes, I said crickets! These normally used freshwater baits offer just enough crunch appeal to make it worth giving them a try. They won’t work all of the time, but they do work some of the time. For the flounder, I suggest fishing on the outskirts of the structure with live or strip baits. Live baits that work are jumbo mud minnows, sand perch and any other smaller fish that you might catch on a sabiki rig. As far as stripped bait, I suggest any fresh caught fish—from the stomach wall of the sheepshead or black drum to the fillet side of any other bottom fish. The secret to catching offshore flounder is to fish the outskirts of the structure, not on top of it. The only time flounder are in the structure is when they are situated with heads ducked in and tails out. This is not when they feed. To learn more about how to catch inshore and offshore fish, please call (912) 897 4921 to get information on the Capt. Judy schools on Feb. 9, 2013 (for inshore fishing) and March 9, 2013 (for offshore fishing).”

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