Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – July 2023

GON Staff | June 28, 2023

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey of Miss Judy Charters reports, “For those inshore fishermen who just want to catch fish, I suggest purchasing or catching some live shrimp. This is the No. 1 bait that all fish like. When it comes to fishing with live shrimp, 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 leader shouldn’t be longer than 4 feet and can’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 fishing naked by tying on a short leader to your main line and then tying on a small kahle hook. Then I suggest placing the hook under the shrimp’s horn located on top of the head and letting the shrimp make its own way. 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. Best baits are just about anything you care to use from squid to shrimp to cutfish to whole live/dead fish. One of my most favorite baits is any size whole fish cut up like a loaf of bread. I suggest picking up a copy of the 2023 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. This booklet is full of information that fishermen need when it comes to fish identification, explanation of rules/regulations and some really interesting helpful reading facts. For those who are reaching for the catching stars, I suggest checking out the current Georgia saltwater gamefish records and deciding which one you want to personally break!”

Capt. David Newlin reports, “All the usual summer fishing is almost in full swing. Trout, flounder, redfish, black drum and sharks are all here and biting. Flounder are one of the fish I catch a lot of during the summer months. I have caught a few on all tides, but the best bite has been on the outgoing tide. Fish a live shrimp or a small mullet just off the bottom under a cork. The flat mud bottoms with a good mix of shells in them have been real good. When you catch one, fish the area real thoroughly. There usually are a couple more in the area. Last week, I caught 12 out of a small spot in 12 casts one morning. A Gulp Swimming Mullet fished Texas rigged with a real light weight will work fished in a slow jerking motion, keeping it right on the bottom. Trout are in all the usual spots out in the sounds and should be on the beach fronts all July. We have caught some really big trout the last few weeks. A live shrimp fished under a cork is the usual go-to method in July. A lot of days I will fish a shrimp on the bottom with a 2-foot fluorocarbon leader and a light No. 2 hook. Keep moving until you find a trout, and it should have company around. The first hour after daylight a topwater plug can get some big trout bites. Redfish are scattered all over the place. They are from 6 inches to 40 inches. This year’s crop of small fish looks really good. In some of the creeks, the small redfish have completely taken them over. When you get on the little fish thick, please leave them and move on. In about eight weeks, they will be legal fish. Slot-limit fish are scattered all over. Almost all oyster-covered banks are holding a few, along with a few black drum. The shark invasion is happening as usual. Blacktips, lemons and sand tiger sharks have been keeping me busy. They seem to be almost everywhere in the sounds and off the beaches. Any fresh fish on the bottom will catch them. Big baits means big sharks. Tarpon should be here very shortly, a few are already here. These are the biggest game fish in Georgia. Live pogies, mullet and crabs are usually the best baits we can get. Don’t expect to catch one on your first few attempts. Keep moving until you can see fish feeding. Some spots seem to always hold a few on certain tides. A few tripletail are being caught. I saw a 22-lb. one get caught last week. July should be a good month for food fish and big fun fish.”

Georgia Saltwater Fishing Page: Archived Articles, News & Fishing Reports

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey of Miss Judy Charters reports, “Our beachfronts and artificial reefs are holding some pretty interesting topwater catching opportunities. Topwater fish such as Spanish/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 attention is to cast right into the school of fish. The best thing that I can suggest is that you match the hatch. This means that you match the size of the bait you use to the bait that the fish you are targeting are feeding on. Let’s start with 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 to use. There are lots of different kinds of spoons on the tackle shelves, but the Clark spoon with the red ball is proven by fish many times over. When targeting the larger fish, such as king mackerel and barracuda, I suggest using a larger spoon. The best spoon for this job is a 3 1/2-inch Drone. 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 with hair tipped with some sort of a plastic eel/worm type. If you happen to have some live bait in your livewell, anything from shrimp to small fish, it works like a charm on the old cobia. It’s this fish’s delight to look it over before sucking it down. The secret to unlocking this bite is to give them time to eat. Always remember before heading out to make sure you know the correct updated regulations, meaning both state and federal waters.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey of Miss Judy Charters reports, “Those fishermen who make their way to the live-bottom area, which is located about 30 miles off Georgia’s coast, could find themselves catching anything from billfish to a yahoo wahoo. And there is a good reason, too. 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. Just know that catching options at the Banks are great this time of the year because you could catch anything from grouper to red snapper to cobia to amberjack to all kinds of bottom fish. Genuine red snapper season is  open July 14-15. Please always check rules and regulations before departing the dock. Shark populations and their desire to eat have taken over. While plain old bottom fishing and live lining at the Savannah Snapper Banks, I have found that long drifts should be taken out of your fish-catching equation.  Why? The longer your drift, it seems the better the sharks can tract you. Once you have attracted one or more sharks, they will follow you from spot to spot. This is very true if you only move a short distance. So a fisherman’s job in order to be successful catching fish is getting more tedious.”

Blue Water: Capt. Judy Helmey of Miss Judy Charters reports, “Blue water fishermen used to say that when the month of July rolls around, the blue water bite slows. However, since things have changed, we have a blue-water bite year-round. And all of this boils down to you don’t know if you don’t go. 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. Best high-speed lures are 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. As far as best bottom live bait, I suggest menhaden, sand perch, ruby red lips, vermilion snapper, pinfish or blue runners. Actually any hardy live bait will work. And how do you catch them? You can catch your own with a sabiki rig, which they just can’t seem to pass up. As far as the menhaden, I suggest breaking out the old cast net. As far as another great bottom bait, I suggest cutting a belly strip from one of those just caught topwater fish in your cooler. Please remember all heads and tails on your caught fish have to remain intact.”

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