Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – March 2019

GON Staff | February 26, 2019

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Bottom fishing is great in the sound because everything is on the move. Bull whiting should start showing up near sandbars in the sound. The best bait is going to be small pieces of peeled shrimp laced on small hooks fished directly on the bottom. The best hook size is a No. 4 to No. 6 kahle hook or a No. 4 to No. 6 classic j hook. No matter the hook used, it is best to make sure it is the thin-tinned style. As far as the best bottom rig, I suggest Carolina-style rig. This rig keeps your bait near the bottom, allowing for a better hook-up opportunity. You could find yourself catching spotted sea trout, summer trout, flounder, trophy redfish, flounder and sharks. For larger fish, my most hit bait during this time is a whiting steak. To get the best whiting steak, cut the slice just like a loaf of bread. The secret is to not use too thick of a piece and also to cut off any pieces hanging. If you don’t, smaller fish are going to assault your bait, leaving you with a piece of leftover fish that no larger fish is going to be attracted to. Once cut, let the steaks sit on your fish cleaning table, which will allow them to dry. The smell of those fish pieces are actually brought back to life when introduced back into water. For those fishermen who prefer inshore trout and reds, the best artificial baits are DOA shrimp patterns and Berkeley Gulp Alive Swimming Mullet and mud minnow and croaker soft baits. As far as best live baits when fishing floats or not is a live shrimp. However, they might be hard to come by and also very expensive. However, so far this year dropping cast nets in the deeper holes has provided fishermen with some fine live shrimp. The best tide is the bottom of the low tide. The creeks in our area have some really nice deep holes. Your best live bait, and it travels well, is going to be the mud minnow. All you need is a minnow trap and a place such as a shallow tidal slough to set it. The mud minnow can be fished lip hooked under a traditional or popping float rig. This bait also works great when just fished directly on the bottom with a Carolina-style rig or hooked up just plain naked. And in some cases two minnows on a hook are better than one. Capt. David Newlin reports, “Redfish have been biting good and should get better in March. A dead shrimp on the bottom will work. After 70 degrees, the redfish will prefer live shrimp. The best fishing and easiest fishing in March are for whiting. Find a sandy bottom around 10 feet deep, put a piece of shrimp on the bottom and catch fish. With no limit on whiting, you can keep a lot of fish. Fried whiting is good eating.”

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Nearshore artificial reefs are holding black sea bass. I suggest using cut squid or a filet of fish. Jigs tipped with or without any sort of bait (artificial or not) and jigged or placed directly on the bottom will also work. I have found that artificial reefs such as J, L, CCA or any others located in 55 plus feet of water will hold the most concentrations of black sea bass. The secret is to stop, drop and move until you find the fish. After several close encounters with hurricanes the last few years, some artificial bottom has been moved or is covered with locking bottom sand. So, if you mark a few fish up off the bottom, there is most likely a lot more locked down in the sand. This is where stopping, dropping, and checking could turn into some serious catching. Please know when drifting bottom spots at this depth, too many drifts will scatter the fish. I suggest making a couple of drifts, moving off and looking for more active bottom. After waiting 30 minutes or so, circle back and fish this same spot. If the fish have moved, I suggest looking up or down current around the next structure. The offshore sheepshead bite should still be strong for the first two weeks of March. I suggest keeping your search to artificial reefs or wrecks located in less than 50 feet of water. Any structure that offers lots of vertical feeding opportunity will hold the most sheepshead. The best bait is the purple back or black back fiddler.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “This live bottom area is located about 29 miles off our coast. The best bottom rig is going to be a two-hook rig made with 3/0 to 4/0 j or circle hooks. I like making my rigs out of 80-lb. test monofilament line. In the charter boat world, 16-oz. bank sinkers are the best. However, you can get away with 8 to 10 ounces, especially when there isn’t as many fishing at one time. As far as the fish catching possibilities, I will name a few: large green head black fish, trigger fish, hog nose snapper, knobbed head porgy, amberjack, masked almaco jacks, banded rudder fish, vermilion, solider fish, and I could keep on listing. This is a great time of year to bottom fish around the naval towers, as well as the live bottom areas located at the Savannah Snapper Banks. I suggest purchasing the Top Spot Georgia fishing map N229. I provided coordinates to this company many years ago. These coordinates are proven to hold the attentions of fish. As with most passed around coordinates, the numbers used sometime aren’t exactly on the fishing spot. The reason being is, especially in my case, these coordinates were derived from the use of Loran. When transferring and re-computing coordinates, it seems that they never seem to be spot on the fish. To combat this problem, I always suggest slowing down before reaching suggested coordinates. While making your way slowly, I suggest keeping a sharp eye on your fishing finder.”

Blue water fishing: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The most popular areas to fish are going to be South and Triple Ledges, which are located in about 160 to 200 feet of water. The Deli Ledge is another good ledge to fish at this time, which is located a little to the north of these areas. It’s a great time to catch wahoo and black fin tuna. We pull standard Ilanders lures in black/black and red/black rigged with medium/large ballyhoo, naked cedar plugs soaked in menhaden oil and Trackers Ilanders rigged with dink/peewee ballyhoo. If you are a planer user, this method works during this time of the year because in some cases big fish are holding much deeper. We also use a 3 1/2-inch Drone spoon. Drone spoons have two rings, which is what causes it to make erratic moves when trolled at 4 to 6 knots. This movement definitely gets a fish’s attention. If you have spoons in your tackle box that only have one ring, I suggest adding a second ring. Double rings on a spoons changes everything in regards to the movements made.”

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