Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report March 2015

GON Staff | February 25, 2015

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “The sheepshead bite has been real good, both inshore and offshore. However, the fiddler crab supply has been real low. The only way to get them has been digging them up, which is a lot of work. Shucked oysters and clams will work but not as good as fiddler crabs. Some of the bait dealers should be getting some fiddlers in the next few weeks. The month of March should make a lot of fish start biting. The sheepshead bite will get hot, and the redfish and trout should turn on as soon as the weather warms the water up a few degrees. By the middle of March, one of my favorite fish, the whiting, should start biting. They are a good fish for everybody to catch, and they are great eating. Find a bottom that is covered with shells or sand, put a small piece of shrimp on the bottom, and get ready to catch fish. Keep moving until you find the whiting.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Inshore fishermen can expect the cold redfish bite to thaw and become less stealthy. Pitch Berkley Gulp baits rigged weedless in and around shallow areas with structure. Redfish consider submerged oyster rakes and isolated grass pods a target-rich feeding environment. The clearer the water, the lighter the leader and color of artificial baits used. Once the redfish bite ends for the day, fishermen have a choice, which is give plain old bottom fishing in the sound near the mud and sand flats for whiting a try. The best bait is going to be little chunks of shrimp laced onto small hooks. It’s a lot of fun. Bull whiting are sometimes bigger than you think and are lots of fun on light tackle. It’s now legal in Georgia to keep any size whiting, also known as southern kingfish, and as many as you want. This is the month when the water starts to warm bringing out the wintertime mud babies. For those who don’t know about mud babies, they are spotted sea trout that have been wintering in deep holes. Once the trout make a move, their bellies still have a ring around their stomach from where they suctioned themselves in the mud. I have heard it also called a wintering ring. No matter what it’s called, it is good news to an inshore fisherman. As these spotted seatrout start to move, they are hungry. If you happen to be in the area where you catch one, there usually is more to come. The best bait is always going to be live shrimp or mud minnows, but bait is hard to buy or catch. Small artificial shrimp patterns such as DOAs and soft Berkeley baits packed in their secret sauce will work. The secret to catching a mud baby is that you have to use a lighter tackle setup, pitch a lot and retrieve it slow while adding an ever so slightly twitch. This month there is yet another great fish to target while inshore fishing, and it’s the sheepshead. The best times to fish for sheepshead inshore are two hours before high tide until two hours afterward. The best time to look for where the sheepshead will be feeding is to look at the vertical structure when it is exposed, which is one hour before low to about one hour after low tide stage. The best baits are purple-and-black-backed fiddlers, clam strips, green mussels, barnacles, shucked oysters with hearts and small pieces of bugged out shrimp.”

Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “On the artificial reefs, offshore fishermen can look to catching some of the biggest sheepshead and black drum this month. Normally the bite is very active. Sheepshead and black drum are bulking up and feeding heavily to get ready to migrate back to the inshore waters. The best baits are purple-back fiddlers, raw oyster, clam strips and green mussels. Please remember when targeting fish listed in the snapper grouper species regulations are you must use circle hooks only! I have been using Eagle Claw Lazer sharp L-197 G series and the best proven sizes for sheepshead are No. 1, No. 2. and 2/0. While fishing for sheepshead, you might encounter a black sea bass, flounder, trophy red fish or other bites. As of this report, black sea bass season is open, and I am happy to report that this bite is very strong at the nearshore artificial reefs. Before leaving the dock, whether your plan is inshore or offshore fishing, you should always check all rules and regulations for state and federal waters.”

Capt. Judy reports, “For those fishermen who want a true challenge, I suggest giving some blue-water trolling a try. The blue waters of the Gulf Stream, especially off Georgia’s coast, can be very interesting. During March big fish are on the move. You could find yourself hooking up with a mako shark, bill fish, wahoo, king mackerel or tuna. As far as best baits to put in your trolling spread, here are a few suggestions: Cedar plugs (not painted) soaked in menhaden oil and peewee ballyhoo rigged with Ilander Trackers. The best Ilander Trackers colors are silver heads with blue/white and pink/white skirts. And for the best old-school advice, I suggest rigging up a burgundy/black Ilander with a horse ballyhoo, and pull it way back behind your trolling spread. If the first part of your trolling spread doesn’t work on that lone lurking wahoo, this long single pulled lure will. If the topwater bite doesn’t materialize, I suggest a little bottom fishing. It’s a stretch to get there, but once you arrive the possibilities could turn into a serious rod-bending, cooler-filling affair!

There is still time to sign up for Capt. Judy’s offshore schools on the water in the boats on Saturday March 7 and Sunday March 8. For details, call (912) 897 4921.

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