Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – June 2020

GON Staff | May 31, 2020

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Inshore fisherman can leave the dock without bait because peanut menhaden, finger mullet and mud minnows are plentiful. As the temps warms, the shrimp population gets stronger. 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. If you can’t purchase or catch any live shrimp, have some artificial shrimp patterns and assorted color screw tails. I like to cast into place and let my bait fall naturally 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. Twitching causes a small, but noticeable, mud storm and brings on the attentions of fish. Live baits will work under traditional adjustable floats or popping corks. Fish them Carolina style or just plain naked. For those fishermen who want to use artificial lures, pick up an assortment of different colors of Strike King soft jerkbaits. One of our old time favorites is baby bass. Work baits weedless on a 3/0 worm hook or threaded onto 1/8-oz. red, black or white jig heads. 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. During this month, the inshore shark populations are plentiful. The two best baits during this time are bluefish fillets or chunks and whiting steaks. It’s best to use these baits the same day they are caught. Whole whiting also make a great shark bait. When using this bait, I suggest scaling and 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. We are now offering inshore and offshore shark fishing trips.” Capt. David Newlin reports, “The redfish bite has been really good, especially with the 26- to 34-inch fish. Some spots have held a school of big redfish every time I have looked for them. The redfish bite should continue through the month of June. Most of the time I will be fishing a live shrimp under a cork for most of my redfish. One of the more fun ways to catch big redfish in the summer is to float up in the marsh on high tide looking for them. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to actually see reds feeding. Rig up a PowerBait shrimp with a weedless hook, throw past the fish and slowly drag it in front of a feeding redfish. Sometimes a gold Johnson spoon will work. I usually add a piece of fish or Gulp! bait on the spoon. By the time you read this the summer trout bite should be in full swing. The bigger trout should be out in the sounds and moving to the beach fronts. The next few weeks the trout will be spawning around the islands and beaches. During the summer months I will change my usual methods a little at times. The regular slip-cork rigs with a live shrimp still almost always will work. A slip-sinker bottom rig with a 1/4-oz. sinker and a 2-foot leader with a live shrimp or small mullet catches a lot of trout for me in the summer. All summer, trout can be caught on topwater plugs early and late in the day. MirrOlures and Zara Spooks are my favorites. I caught a couple big trout yesterday on a Whopper Plopper. The flounder bite has been good. As the water gets hotter, it should be good. When you catch one, beat the area hard. There should be more where the first one came from. I am usually using shrimp for flounder, small mullet, poly-wogs, and a lot of the artificial jigs will work. A white Gulp! Swimming Mullet jig on a red head has worked good for me. Fish the mud flats that are next to big oyster shell mounds with a bait under a cork just off the bottom. The shrimp boats a few miles offshore have been covered up with sharks. A piece of fresh fish on a big circle hook should work. Try to use the bigger circle hooks. I like a 10/0 Eagle Claw or bigger on sharks over 30 pounds. Unless you are an expert at identifying sharks, release them to save yourself a large ticket and fine. Enjoy the fight and cut them loose by the boat to fight another day. Tarpon should be here in a couple of weeks. Watch for them rolling on the surface. Beware when booking a guided fishing trip. Some people have been burned badly on several large online booking sites that book trips for anybody that has a boat. Talk to the boat captain or don’t book the trip.” GON got in the boat last month with Capt. Newlin. For that story, turn to page 16.

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “June is mackerel catching time. For Spanish mackerel, all you need is a small 0 or 00 Clark spoon. The spoons work great being pulled 10 feet behind 2-oz. trolling sinkers or small planers. If you find yourself surrounded by surface holding Spanish mackerel, you can stop and pitch your most favorite small lure. Just about anything will work as long as it is shiny and matches the hatch. The king mackerel bite will get hot and heavy. The best artificial bait is the Drone spoon pulled 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. Fish live bait on Duster skirt rigs with stinger hooks in tow.  Best live baits are going to be the nervous baits, such as Spanish sardines, cigar minnows or any small shiny bait.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Fishermen are 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. Live prawn shrimp is another old time favorite. Grouper, vermilion and black bass 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. When using a single- or double-hook bottom rig, I suggest using live or 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. For bait, use Sabiki gold hook rigs over any sort of structure at the artificial reefs. When fishing for any fish listed under snapper grouper complex, you must use circle hooks. Go to for all current federal regulations and details.”

Blue Water: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “This is the time of the year when mahi mahi and wahoo go into the wandering mode. The Savannah Snapper Banks are a great place for these blue-water fish to wander to. Mahi look for anything floating that provides shade, which makes for a great place for small baitfish to school. If you happen to see a single bird diving fast and making erratic air moves, it is most likely mimicking the movement down under of a feeding wahoo. Present the bait ahead of the wahoo’s intended direction. A red porgy or vermilion snapper on a beefed-up king mackerel rig with a single, extra-heavy-duty hook is a good setup. It’s best to place the hook near the tail section, but you want to make sure the bait can still swim somewhat. A wahoo will often chop off the tail and then turn back for the spoils. Just like old times, we are now once again offering blue water bottom fishing and trolling trips.”

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