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Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report January 2015

GON Staff | December 23, 2014

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “As the month of January rolls around, the coastal inshore fish that are migrating have left, and the ones that are staying have gone into the hibernation mode. Spotted seatrout during this time are normally wintering in deep holes in the creeks, rivers or sounds. The best way to catch spotted seatrout when in the hibernation mode is to use small freshwater jigs with curly tails or paddle tails and 4- to 6-lb. test main line. As far as main line, I am from the old school and prefer monofilament because of the extra stretch and cushion it provides. However, some prefer braided main line because of the way it slices through the water column, and it will also work. However, you need to make sure the drag set matches the main line used. Spotted seatrout have soft mouths, and a hook can easily be pulled free. I have always used freshwater jigs called Jiffy Jigs. However, it has always been my belief during the month of January, when the trout are hibernating, that they are just as likely to hit one jig as another. The best method is to cast in the deepest part of the hole, let your lure hit the bottom, wait, reel a few times, wait and repeat. Then I suggest casting your lure 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 bouncing right on the bottom. Deep holes that are holding occupants that are feeding down under most likely are guarded on the surface by cormorants.” Capt. David Newlin reports, “Winter has come to the Georgia coast. The sheepshead bite has turned on over the last few weeks. Fish around docks, bridge pilings, tree tops or anything that will grow barnacles. Drop a fiddler crab as close to the structure as possible, and keep it about a foot or 2 off the bottom. The nearshore reefs are where the big sheepshead are thick now and will be for the next few months. Big redfish, sea bass, black drum and sharks will be there, too. The redfish are schooling up on the mud flats all over the sounds. Throw a Gulp Swimming Mullet on a 1/8- or 1/16-oz. jig head with light fluorocarbon line. The redfish are real spooky during winter, but a stealthy approach and accurate casting will produce strikes. Trout have moved into the deeper holes. Try fishing a small jig on light line very slowly. The lazy way to fish is to troll a jig very slowly down deeper creeks and river banks. The sheepshead action should heat up next month, and they are great fish to catch and excellent eating.”

Offshore:
Capt. Judy reports, “For those fishermen who want to get their best shot at a trophy redfish, now is the time. Please know that these offshore redfish are catch-and-release only. Please handle with care, and release as quick as possible. The best natural baits, believe it or not, are cut squid/fish, finger mullet and mullet steaks. These natural baits work great when fished on the bottom with a Carolina-style rig. The best artificials are any sort of jigs with white hair rigged with small curly or paddletail lures. The best old-school lure is called a Diamond Jig, which can be purchased with a bare hook or with a red or green plastic tube attached. Once cast into the school, the redfish should hit your lure on the fall. If two or more are fishing, I suggest throwing any of these artificial lures about five seconds apart. The nearshore artificial reefs are holding some pretty good table fare. The sheepshead, flounder, black drum and summer trout (also known as a weak fish) run is pretty good. 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. 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 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 and not on top of it. The only time flounder are in the structure is when they are situated with heads tucked in and tails out. So, therefore chances of catching a flounder right on top of the structure is not too good, since this is when they are supposedly in the resting mode. Artificial reefs located in 50-plus feet of water are holding the some nice black sea bass. During this time, these fish are normally stacked up like cord wood. These fish are best caught when using cut squid or fish as bait. Baited two-hook bottom rigs normally work as soon as they are dropped to the bottom. Please remember when heading offshore to always check http://www.safmc.net/ website for current fish regulations and any closers.”

Gulf Stream: Capt. Judy reports, “Ledges in 180 to 200 feet are holding bait, which in turn attracts wahoo and tuna. The best areas to fish during this time off the coast of Savannah are the South Ledge, Triple Ledge and Sow Pen. For free temperature charts providing information you can use to help you catch fish, go to http://sstcharts.com/.” To learn more about how to catch inshore and offshore fish, please call Judy at (912) 897-4921 or e-mail her at [email protected] She is offering several classes on saltwater fishing. The inshore school is Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 (in the classroom) and Sunday Feb. 22, 2015 (on the boats) The offshore school is Saturday March 7, 2015 and Sunday March 8, 2015. Both dates will be on the boat.

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