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Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report July 2019

GON Staff | June 25, 2019

Saltwater:Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “For those inshore fishermen who just want to catch fish, I suggest purchasing or catching some live shrimp. Our captains have been catching their own live shrimp for the last couple of months. As soon as the water leaves the grass is a great starting time to catch shrimp. Most shrimp during this time are caught in less than 5 feet of water. Our captains are using a 6- to 8-foot cast net with 3/8-inch mesh for bait shrimp. After polling everyone, I have found that the Betts Hi-Tider cast net is one brand that is preferred, especially at this time of the year. It seems lighter weights on these nets are the way to go when targeting shrimp. Check all current state regulations to make sure that your net size is legal for what you are trying to catch and keep. There are different regulations for bait and food shrimp. The creeks are full of peanut menhaden. They can stay pretty healthy if you don’t try to keep too many in your well at once. In the backs of creeks there are schools of very small finger mullet. The mud minnows, especially during lean live shrimp times, have really saved us. This bait can be caught using a minnow trap baited with bacon, cat food or saltines. I have one captain who swears that if you put a small McDonald’s burger in the trap, the muds just can’t turn away. The larger versions of spotted seatrout, flounder and redfish will eat these baits. The secret is you have to give the larger fish time to eat. When it comes to fishing with live shrimp, finger mullet, peanut menhaden or mud minnows, there are several good presentations. There is the traditional adjustable float, which comes in all sizes from super large to mini sizes. 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 this float is the length of your leader restricts the depth of water fished. The leader shouldn’t be longer than 4 feet and can’t be shorter than 12 inches. Use this float when fishing depths from 2 to 6 feet. Then there is fishing naked. All you do is tie on a short leader to your main line and then tie on a small kahle hook. Place the hook under the shrimp’s horn on top of the head and let the shrimp make its own way. When it comes to using peanut menhaden, finger mullet or mud minnows, I suggest lip hooking. Another method is to place the hook right behind the dorsal fin. Shark fishing is very good during this time of the year. Lots of sharks are being landed while fishing in the sounds, off the beach fronts, around surfacing schooling baits and while fishing all points east. As far as the tackle, it really doesn’t matter whether or not you are light tackle fishing with smaller baits or heavy tackle fishing with larger baits. I have caught them on shrimp, cut fish, whole live and whole dead fish. My No. 1 bait used is what I call a fish steak, which is any size whole fish cut up like a loaf of bread. Since sharks are free to roam any depth of the water column, fish from the bottom to the surface to present your bait. A shark’s keen sense of smell is unbelievable. Even the smallest drop of blood or scent from bait can be detected from long distances.” Capt. David Newlin reports, “Everything is in the usual summer patterns. We have everything from monster sharks and tarpon to flounder and trout. Inshore we have a hot flounder and trout bite. The flounder catching has been as good as I have ever seen it. It seems like they are everywhere. Live shrimp, jigs, everything seems to be catching flounder. A lot of days we have caught 15 to 25 flounder in a couple of hours. This should keep going right on through the summer. Trout catching has been good. We have been catching all sizes of trout. I have caught trout up to 5 pounds. They are all over the sounds and beaches. Most of my trout have been caught on live shrimp. The daylight topwater bite should be good in July. A good number of slot-limit redfish are being caught. A lot of small redfish are showing up and growing fast. The shallow flats should hold plenty of redfish in July. Black drum catches are looking real good. Fish a dead shrimp or a fiddler crab on the bottom. Sharks seem to be everywhere. Fresh fish on the bottom will get a bite. Tarpon have invaded the coast. This is the only big game fishing in Georgia that doesn’t require a long offshore boat ride. They require a lot of patience and a lot of chasing them to figure them out. Watch for them on the surface chasing bait. We will catch tarpon in July. This should be a good month to catch eating fish and big fun fish.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Topwater fish such as Spanish and king mackerel, barracuda, little tunny, jack crevalle and cobia have arrived. All fish will hit anything from a small trolled lure to a spoon being pulled slowly behind your boat. Another way to get one of these fish’s biting attentions is to cast right into the school of fish. The best thing that I can suggest is that you match the hatch. Spanish mackerel, little tunny and jack crevalle like glass minnows and juvenile squid. Small silver spoons sized 0 and 00 made by Clark are best. When targeting the larger fish such as king mackerel and barracuda, I suggest using a larger spoon like a 3 1/2-inch Drone. If you really want to get a barracuda’s attention, try using a fresh dead or alive Spanish mackerel. The secret when using a fresh, dead Spanish mackerel is to pick the fish that looks the shiniest. We got a cobia season! When targeting cobia, I suggest a 6- to 8-inch diving plug or a hair jig tipped with a plastic eel or worm. Hands down the best jig for this catching job is called Cobia Candy Blue Thunder. Go to https://nuts-and-bolts-of-fishing-boating.myshopify.com/pages/on-line-store and order some today. 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. The secret is to give them time to eat.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “At this live-bottom area about 30 miles off Georgia’s coast, you could find yourself catching anything from billfish to a wahoo. When the waters west of the Stream reach the same temperatures, blue-water fish go into the traveling mode. They make their way to the west, which means it is not unusual to catch them at the Savannah Snapper Banks. Heck, not only there, but also this could also happen at any of the artificial reefs. You could catch anything at the Banks from grouper to red snapper to cobia to amberjack to all kinds of bottom fish. Before heading out, I always suggest looking at http://safmc.net. You should have a copy of these rules and regulations on your boat. At the time of this report June 24, 2019, genuine red snapper is currently closed to harvest and possession. However, if you want to target and keep genuine red snapper, the open dates for this month are July 12-14 and July 19-20, 2019. For more details, go to http://safmc.net and print out a copy of the regulations.”

Blue Water: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “When going to the blue water during in July, I suggest high-speed trolling starting in about 50 feet of water and trolling until you pull the throttles back. Best high-speed lures are http://ballyhood.com/high_speed_lures.htm. If dragging lures and baits doesn’t work, I suggest giving bottom fishing a try. The fish that feed deep down under are bigger and better than you think during this time. As far as the best bottom live baits, I suggest menhaden, sand perch, ruby red lips, vermilion snapper, pinfish or blue runners. Any hardy, live bait can work. Catch these baits with a sabiki rig, which they just can’t seem to pass up. As far as the menhaden, I suggest breaking out the cast net and loading up before departing the sound area. You can also cut a belly strip from one of those just caught topwater fish in your cooler to use for bottom fishing. If you don’t want to use bait, there is always jigging, which is very effective in deeper water. I suggest a Williamson Benthos Speed Jig (5 to 8 ounces) on braided line. I like 80-lb. test braided line. Add a line-to-line leader of about 4 feet of 60- or 80-lb. monofilament or fluorocarbon. This jig is made for high-speed vertical jigging. Let it free drop to the bottom. If you don’t get hooked up, reel your jig about 10 feet up off the bottom and work it vertically at that depth.”

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