Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report June 2017

GON Staff | June 1, 2017

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Inshore fishermen get ready to catch spotted seatrout, redfish, flounder, sheepshead, black drum, shark, Spanish mackerel and cobia. This would be the month to bring out the cast net and catch your own bait. Inshore fisherman can leave the dock without bait, because peanut menhaden, finger mullet, mud minnows and shrimp are available and plentiful. All of these baits will work under traditional adjustable floats or popping corks, Carolina-style rigs or by fishing just plain naked. For those fishermen who want to use artificial lures, pick up an assortment of different colors of Strike King soft jerkbaits. Try baby bass, ice, Arkansas shiner and smokey shad. These baits work rigged weedless on a 3/0 worm hook or threaded on to 1/8-oz. red, black or white jig heads. Cast them out, let them fall, and normally these lures never make it to the bottom before strikes happen. Berkley Gulp Alive is a great soft artificial bait that comes in many forms. These baits will work rigged on jig heads or under corks. It works whether it is in its original shape or not. After this bait is destroyed, I have taken the leftover parts, sliced the pieces up, dropped them back in the sauce to marinate and used them while bottom fishing. In this case, the secret really is in the sauce. Who needs shrimp when you got DOA artificial soft-bait lures? This artificial bait can be hooked up just like you do the real live shrimp. Add the new 2.75-inch shrimp colors #368 clear/red glit and #441 figi chix. These shrimp patterns come rigged with a keel weight for balance and are already threaded onto a hook. Charter boats captain swear by this DOA lure. However, when using for any sort of float fishing, we suggest making these changes. It’s best to remove the hook that the DOA comes rigged with while leaving the keel weight in place. I suggest taking a 2/0 khale hook and hooking up the artificial shrimp as you do the real thing. The only thing when it comes to using this design is that it is a must that the shrimp needs to be balanced on the bend of the hook. Once embedding the hook, give the lure a pull, enlarging the hook’s hole allowing the currents to swing more naturally. When using a DOA 2.75 under a popping cork, I suggest using a 3- to 4-foot leader. For the leader material, I suggest 15- to 20-lb. Ande pink fluorocarbon, but clear monofilament will also work. While using a popping cork, your fish hit can come from your immediate splash down, after using your personal popping sequence or from a personal erratic freestyle retrieving method. During this month, the inshore shark populations are plentiful, which means they are hungry. For those fishermen who want lots of pulling sport, I suggest light-tackle shark fishing. The best bait during this time is bluefish, yellowtail or whiting steaks. It’s best to use these baits the same day that they are caught. Fresh cut fish such as this offers a smell that sharks are drawn to. A fresh drop of blood goes a long way. When using this bait, I suggest scaling and also cutting the tail off. The removal of the scales helps you get a more solid hook-up, especially when a softer bite is delivered. With the tail removed, fresh scents are delivered at intervals, which keeps a scattered smell around your bait. June is mackerel catching time. For Spanish mackerel, all you need is a small 0 or 00 Clark spoon to get this catching job done. The spoons work great being pulled 10 feet behind 2-oz. trolling sinkers or small planers. I always keep No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 planers on board, which allows me to pull lures at different depths. And if you find yourself surrounded by surface-holding Spanish mackerel, you can stop and pitch your most favorite small-size lure. Just about anything will work as long as it matches the hatch and it’s got some shine. The king mackerel bite will get hot and heavy. Best artificial bait is the ever popular 3 1/2 Drone spoon pulled at around 5 to 7 knots behind deep-running planers. I like using at least 30 feet of leader between the Drone spoon and the planer. For live bait, use Duster skirt rigs with stinger hooks in tow. Best live baits are going to be the nervous baits, Spanish sardines, cigar minnows or any small shiny bait that can move up and down quickly in the water column. King mackerel like bling, so give them what they want.” Capt. David Newlin reports, “The month of May has been a real good month on big trout and redfish. Corks have been going under a lot the last few days. Trout, redfish, flounder, black drum, sheepshead, whiting and a lot of sharks have been biting. The trout bite should continue through June with the fish moving around a lot. Next month a lot of trout will move onto the beaches. Try around creek mouths, tide lines, drop-offs and any structure you can find off the beaches. Several good drops are around wrecks and trees just off the breakers. All the drops in the sounds will hold trout in June. A live shrimp under a slip-cork rig will almost always work. Redfish will be all over the sounds in small schools in June. During the summer, redfish are usually scattered in smaller schools than at other times of the year. I have been catching a lot of slot-limit fish and a few big redfish. A live shrimp under a cork will usually work. Look for redfish chasing bait early morning and late in the afternoon. We have been catching a good number of flounder and black drum. The whiting bite is still good, hot one day and cold the next. I have been catching a lot of bonnethead sharks while fishing with shrimp on cork rigs. During June, you never know what will bite a shrimp floating under a cork. I think June can best be described as pot-luck fishing. Throw out a shrimp, and hang on. The sharks seem to be everywhere. Last week I shark fished two afternoons and caught sharks almost non-stop the whole time we had hooks in the water. Some big blacktips and other sharks are all over the sounds and beaches. With the shark fishing, put some fresh fish on the bottom and have some patience. Wait for the sharks to come to you. The worst mistake you can make is moving around a lot. As the water gets warmer, the sharks will continue to get thicker. I have caught a few tripletail on the couple of days I have looked for them. Look for them cruising along tide lines where the sound and ocean meet. A live shrimp under a small cork will usually get you a bite. Tarpon will be showing up any day. As the weather gets hotter, the tarpon numbers will increase. June is usually a good month to go fishing for everything. Get some live shrimp and go fishing for eating fish, or get the heavy rods out and go chase sharks and tarpon. Check out my fishing reports and pictures on Facebook.” For a story on inshore fishing in June with Capt. Newlin, turn to page 26.

Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “This 2017 catching season so far has not let us down, with fishermen catching lots of cobia around buoys, artificial reefs and at the Savannah Snapper Banks. Best baits for cobia are eels under beefed-up adjustable floats or Carolina-style rigs. Believe it or not, but live prawn shrimp is another favorite. Under federal regulations, cobia season is closed for 2017, which means catch and release only. Please go to for more details. Cobia is open in state waters. Please go to and make sure you are clear on where state waters end and federal waters begin. It can get a little confusing. To add to this already good catching time, grouper, vermilion, amberjack, almaco jack and black bass catching seasons are open. Genuine red snapper is still closed to catch and release only. As far as baits for grouper, I suggest using live fish on the bottom. Try cigar minnows, Spanish sardines, vermilion snapper or sand perch. When using small vermillion snapper, sand perch or rock bass, I suggest using a Carolina-style rig. The leader used can be as short as 6 feet and as long as 30 feet. When using this style, I suggest a 7/0 offset circle hook. The Carolina-style rig allows your bait quite a bit of swimming freedom, which brings in the attentions of a larger fish bite. When using a single- or double-hook bottom rig, I suggest using live or dead whole or cut cigar minnows or Spanish sardines. These baits are known for triggering a bite. When targeting the larger species of vermilion snapper, I suggest the liveliest cigar minnows, Boston mackerel or Spanish sardines that you can catch. To catch bait, you will need to bring along more than one set of Sabiki gold-hook rigs, which works great when dropping over any sort of structure at the artificial reefs. When fishing for any fish that are in the snapper/grouper complex, you must use circle hooks. I like using 2/0, 3/0, 4/0 and 5/0.”

Blue Water Fishing: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “This is the time of the year when mahi mahi and wahoo go into the wandering mode. This means you could find yourself catching blue-water fish while fishing in green water. The Savannah Snapper Banks is a great place for these blue-water fish to wander to. Toward the middle of June, those fish that travel and feed near the surface show us the way. Mahi look for anything floating that provides any sort of shade. This makes for a great place for small baitfish to school. While these fish are feeding near the surface, the sea birds with their keen eye sight are picking up the leftovers. The large and mighty wahoo will also make way into the green zone. Normally a large wahoo is accompanied by a yellow bill tropical bird or some sort of fast seabird. If you happen to see a single bird diving fast and then making erratic air moves, it most likely is mimicking the movement down under of a large feeding wahoo. I have caught some nice 100-lb. wahoo while putting this knowledge to work. All you have to do when you find yourself in this target-rich environment is to let the bird that is watching the fish’s movement lead you. I always presented the bait ahead of what I thought was the fish’s intended direction. During this time of the year, I normally keep larger baits, such as red porgy and vermilion snapper, in the livewell. My favorite rig was a beefed-up king mackerel rig using a single extra heavy-duty hook. It’s best to place the hook as near the tail section, but you want to make sure the bait can still swim somewhat normally.”

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