Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report June 2018

GON Staff | May 31, 2018

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “Summer is finally here. A lot has happened in the last few days. Shrimp have finally showed up in good supply. Our usual methods of fishing with live shrimp can finally be used again. May 23 was the first good shrimp catch that my bait dealer has had this year. All the usual summer fishing patterns should start taking shape. I had a real good day on trout May 23. Trout should be out in the sounds and the areas close to the sounds and beach fronts. Look for clear water and some type of surface activity. This morning I was watching small mullet breaking the surface while trout chased them. Early in the day, a lot of surface activity can be seen on most mornings. Try throwing a topwater plug for trout early in the morning for some awesome strikes. The redfish are up on the shallow flats. All the usual shrimp rigs will work. Try the mud flats with a lot of rough oyster shellbeds on them in a couple feet of water or less. Don’t expect to find any large concentrations of redfish during the summer months. Flounder should be getting thicker as the water heats up. Try finding them around shellbeds that have some smooth spots on the bottom around them. A live shrimp fished just off the bottom will usually work. We should keep catching whiting right on into the summer. Sandy spots in the sound should work. Some black drum will bite all summer mixed in with redfish and trout.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “I suggest always checking with the local baits shops to see if they have been carrying live shrimp. If so, then most likely you can catch some with the cast net. The best way to be prepared in the event you can’t purchase or catch any live shrimp is to have some artificial shrimp patterns and assorted color screw tails. These styles of artificial baits work great when rigged on jigs, cast into place and retrieved slowly. I cast into place and let my bait fall seemly natural through the water column. Once it hits the bottom, I wait a few seconds, reel a few turns, wait, twitch it a bit and then slowly retrieve. What does twitching do? It causes a small but noticeable mud storm. This in turn brings on the attentions of fish. When something dead/fake or alive moves near the bottom, it produces one heck of a calling trail. All of the live baits will work under traditional adjustable floats or popping corks, Carolina-style rigs or fish just plain naked. For those fishermen who want to use artificial lures, please pick up an assortment of different colors of Strike King soft jerkbaits. One of our favorite is baby bass, which is 3XZT00-55. These baits work rigged weedless on a 3/0 worm hooks 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 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.”

Nearshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “A lot of big blacktip sharks have been caught lately. I have caught a lot around 3 to 5 miles offshore. Go out until you find some clear green water, and anchor up and wait. Fish a couple of baits with no weight and about a foot of light wire. Fish a couple with a little weight, and fish a couple on the bottom. Look for big schools of menhaden. They almost always have sharks under them. Read regulations carefully before killing a shark. Offshore, check federal regulations, too. This should stay good right on through hot summer months. By the middle of June, tarpon should be all over the coast. Look in the channels offshore for the first schools of tarpon to show up. By the end of June, they should start going up the sounds. Look for cobia in the same holes the tarpon will be in a few miles offshore. I have caught some monster cobia while tarpon fishing. Some tripletail are already showing up. They should be all over the beaches and around channel markers in June. Throw a live shrimp to them.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “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 worked great being pulled 10 feet behind 2-oz. trolling sinkers or small planers. 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 is shinny and matches the hatch. The king mackerel bite will get hot and heavy. Best artificial bait is the ever popular 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.  Live bait on 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 shinny bait that can move up/down quickly in the water column. King mackerel like bling! For those fishermen who want lots of pulling sport, I suggest light tackle shark fishing. The best bait during this time is blue fish chunks or whiting steaks. It’s best to use these baits the same day that they are caught. Whole just caught whiting also make a great shark bait. 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. The bigger piece of bait used normally does attract a much larger shark bite. All I have to say now is make sure you have plenty of line and a fisherman or two strong enough to reel them in.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The 2018 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 old-time favorite. Grouper, vermilion and black bass catching seasons are open. As far as baits for grouper, I suggest using live fish on the bottom, such as 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 12/0 to 14/0 circle hook. This type of rig allows your bait quite a bit of swimming freedom, which brings in the attentions of larger fish. When using a single- or double-hook bottom rig, I suggest using live/fresh dead cigar minnows or Spanish sardines. 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. Please know that when fishing for any fish listed under snapper/grouper complex, you must use circle hooks.  Go here to for all current federal regulations and details.”

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. Mahi look for anything floating that provides any sort of shade, which 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 unusual looking seabird. If you happen to see a single bird diving fast and then making erratic air moves, it is most likely 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 this 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 normally.”

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