Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report July 2015

GON Staff | June 25, 2015

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “The heat of summer is here in full force. Water temps are around 86 degrees all over the rivers and sounds. The good news is that we have a big crop of redfish on the way—small redfish seem to be everywhere. This past week we caught trout, redfish, sheepshead, flounder, sharks and tarpon. That is just part of the mix of fish that we have inside in July. Fishing the traditional live shrimp under a cork will get you a lot of bites, but sometimes a lot of unwanted bites. Yesterday we were covered up with small pinfish and blues that were eating off shrimp in seconds. We switched over to Gulp baits and started catching trout. Sometimes artificial bait, small mullet or poly-wogs will catch fish when trash fish are too thick to use shrimp. A lot of trout are on the beaches during July. Look for tide lines and any type of structure that might attract a trout, and move a lot until you find fish. Sheepshead seem to be all over most of the inshore structures. Catch a handful of fiddler crabs, and fish around any submerged trees, dock pilings or about anything that grows barnacles. Redfish are everywhere in Ossabaw Sound—a few keeper fish with a lot of small ones and a few big ones. Late afternoon on high tide, go hunt big ones on the shallow marsh flats. Throw a Gulp shrimp or a swimming mullet on a weedless hook. July is a good time to go in the sound and catch a few of everything. Try several methods of fishing and come home with a lot of different fish.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Purchase or catch some live shrimp—this is the No. 1 bait that all fish like. Your chances for hooking up when baiting up with live shrimp are very good. There are several good presentations, like the traditional adjustable float, which comes in all sizes from super large to mini sizes. This is a great float because you can quickly adjust your depth fished. Then there is the ever-popular popping cork, which when popped makes a sound just like a fleeing live shrimp. The only down side to using the old popping cork is your length of leader used restricts you to depth of water fished. The leader shouldn’t be longer than 4 feet and shouldn’t be shorter than 12 inches. I suggest using this float when fishing in depths from 2 to 6 feet of water. Then there is ‘just fishing naked!’ Tie a short leader to your main line, and then tie on a small Kahle hook. Place the hook under the shrimp’s horn located on top of the head, and let the shrimp make its own way. Shrimp go where they feel safe, and larger fish have figured out the shrimp’s game of hide and seek. Inshore fishermen should get their cast nets ready, because creeks and back of creeks are full of finger mullet, pin fish and peanut menhaden. These baits are great this time of the year. The livelier the bait the better, so make sure that the old livewell is working properly. A spotted seatrout likes to chase its intended and then make the kill. Over the years, I have watched the spotted seatrout make fools out of even the most seasoned fisherman. When water temperatures heat up, the fish bite especially when it comes to the spotted seatrout can be a little vague. This fish likes to kill first and then eat. During the hot season, trout do everything the same when killing with the exception of exactly taking the bait. They take the bait, but not in a solid way. After setting the hook, you think you are hooked up, but after a few turns your fish is gone. This is called the summer-bite blues. There is too much food, so even after killing it, they don’t necessarily have to eat it. The best way to combat this action is to basically let the fish swim off with the bait in its mouth, letting it make the line tight while setting it own hook. The best way to present this bait to this trout is to suspend it in the water column under an additional float or popping cork. Meanwhile, flounder lay in wait burrowed in the sand or mud. One of these lively baits presented on the bottom is certainly a great calling card for flounder. When targeting flounder, use a Carolina rig, which keeps your bait near the bottom as well as allows it to swim a bit. Once placed on the bottom, slowly relocating your bait every five minutes or so.”

Nearshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “July is when the migratory giants—tarpon and sharks—invade the Georgia Coast. The hotter the weather gets, the thicker they get. Tarpon can be found in the rivers, beach fronts and river channels out to 5 miles offshore. The usual methods of fishing live and dead menhaden and mullet are always the best methods of hooking up to Mr. Tarpon. Cover a lot of ground until you find spots that hold tarpon. It take years to find some of the holes, while some of the popular spots work good when not covered with boats. Usually, if tarpon are in the area, you will see a few rolling on the surface if you anchor for an hour. We released two last week around 150 pounds. The next 10 weeks should be good tarpon fishing. The sharks seem to be everywhere. This morning (June 20) we caught and released 23, including black tips, bulls, lemons and tiger sharks. Several sharks were in the 150-lb. range. The sharks will stay here all summer. The bigger ones are usually where the sounds meet the ocean or offshore a little ways. Try fishing just outside of the fast currents with some type of fresh fish on the bottom. Make sure you have enough weight on your line to keep the bait on the bottom. Some sharks will hit near the surface, but most of my bigger sharks are caught on the bottom.”

Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Our beachfronts and artificial reefs are holding some pretty interesting topwater catching opportunities. I call the month of July the, ‘If you can see the fish, you can catch them month!’ Topwater fish such as spanish and king mackerel, barracuda, little tunny, jack crevalle and cobia have arrived. All will hit anything from a small trolled lures to a spoon being pulled slowly behind your boat. Another way to get one of these fish is to cast right into the school. For Spanish mackerel, little tunny and jack Crevalle, their favorite meal is glass minnows and juvenile squid. Small silver spoons sizes 0 and 00 made by Clark are the best. Also, any artificial crankbait that imitates a glass minnow or squid will also make one of these fish eat. When targeting the larger fish such as king mackerel and barracuda, use a larger 3 1/2-inch Drone spoon. When targeting cobia, which is the fish that looks like a shark or a large catfish in the water, I suggest using a 6- to 8-inch diving plug or some sort of a jig. My favorite jig for cobia is made by Whoop Ass Tackle Company, and it’s called Cobia Candy. I like using their blue/white hair or chartreuse/white hair 3-oz. jig, which I rig with their signature white 8-inch plastic eel or a blue/white screw tail. If you happen to have some live bait in your livewell, anything from shrimp to small fish works like a charm on the old cobia. It’s this fish’s delight to look it over before sucking it down! Bottom fishing is less than 60 feet of water at the artificial reefs. At this depth, the bottom fish seem to be a little less eager to take your bait. You might mark them on your finder, but you certainly can’t make them eat. So if this is the depth that you have to fish, I suggest having plenty of patience. While looking and waiting for a bottom bite, I suggest always keeping a topwater line out. Whether it’s baited with live bait or the artificial stuff, your chances are very good for a hook up. Bottom fishing in more than 85 feet of water on the live bottom at the snapper banks. Normally this time of the year, bottom fishing is pretty generic, meaning bait up with cut squid or fish fillet, drop your hook and catch a fish. However, there have been a few changes in the bottom bite pattern for the 2015 fishing year. I am calling this the year of the sharks! Large bull sharks have basically labeled this live bottom area their home sweet feeding home. Believe me, we have caught, fought, landed and released dozens of these sharks in over 100-lb. range. As far as best bait, well, it’s just about anything you throw at them. If you want an immediate bite, I suggest cutting the head off a just-caught medium-sized black fish, leaving about 2 inches of shoulders attached. Then lip hook it, and just let it free fall in the water column. I suggest using a single strong 8/0 to 12/0 J-style or circle hook rigged with about a 8 feet of braided wire.”

Gulf Stream:
Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Blue-water fishermen used to say, ‘When the month of July rolls around, the blue water bite slows!’ However, things have changed. We Georgia fishermen have a blue-water bite year round. Here’s a suggestion when going to the blue water during the month of July. I suggest high-speed trolling starting at about 50 feet of water and pulling this lure or lures until you pull the throttles back. The best high-speed lures are Ballyhood. Also, I suggest giving bottom fishing a try. The fish that feed deep down under are bigger and better than you think during this time. You can catch your own bait with a sabiki rig, or just use a belly strip from one of those just-caught topwater fish in your cooler. Most blue-water fish have moved closer inshore while following different temperature changes because that is where the baits are that they feed on. This is where the fishermen meet the fish.”

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