Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – March 2022

GON Staff | February 24, 2022

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “February weather has been a real roller-coaster ride, cold for a few days and then hot. Water temps have been from 46 a few weeks back to 57 degrees this morning. The sudden warming trend has kicked the fish activity into high gear. Redfish and trout activity should be really good as the weather continues to warm into March. Look for redfish way up in the backs of small creeks around a lot of thick cover. I will catch a lot of them around trees, dock pilings and in some really thick places. The redfish will be all over the big oyster beds out in the sounds. Look for redfish chasing bait on the mud flats, especially on the first of the incoming tide on bright days. The mud warms when it gets out on low tide and seems to attract bait when the tide starts covering it with a few inches of warm water. A live shrimp fished under a cork will almost always work. Fish it a little slower and not as aggressively as we do in the summer. Have a little patience and let the fish come to you. Trout will be up in the rivers and creeks for the first part of March. Around the middle of the month, they will start moving out into the sounds when the water warms into the 60s and they start getting ready for spring. Some of the biggest trout of the year will be caught in March and April. Last year I found one small creek that held a lot of 20-inch-plus fish all month. Yesterday I got into a school of big trout, and after we moved, on the trout were much smaller and we couldn’t find any big fish again. A green DOA 3-inch swimbait has been working for me. As always, a live shrimp under a cork will almost always catch a trout. During March, we should have a good sheepshead bite. Inshore and offshore sheepshead should be easy to catch. Get near some structure and put a fiddler near the bottom and you should be able to catch a few. Keep moving until you locate a school. Should be some black drum in the same areas. The drum will hit fiddlers, but you might also drop a shrimp down for them. All the saltwater creatures seem to have survived the winter months. We seem to have a good shrimp crop. Usually when we have plenty of shrimp we catch plenty of fish. Everything looks real good for March fishing.” 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.  The best bait is going to be small pieces of peeled shrimp laced on small hooks fished directly on the bottom. The best hook is a No. 4 to No. 6 khale style or a No. 4 to No. 6 classic j-hook. Hooks must be the thin-tinned style. Fish a Carolina rig for spotted seatrout, summer trout, flounder, trophy redfish, flounder and shark. Use a light-tackle rod/reel setup with 10- to 15-lb. test main line when targeting whiting. I like using monofilament, but braided will also work. For larger fish such as sharks or trophy redfish, I use 20- to 50-lb. test main line. As far as the rig, use a Carolina style with 30- to 60-lb. test leader material. Use a classic j-hook in 4/0, 5/0 or 6/0. If you prefer circle hooks, go with a 9/0 to 12/0. If using live bait, make sure the hook size and style matches the bait used. You don’t want to use a hook that is going to hinder the natural movement of the bait used. However, sometimes it is better to use a fish steak as opposed to a live fish.  My best used and 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.  A fresh cut whiting steak is going to only last so long, so change it frequently. All steaks once cut should not be put on ice. They need to stay out and allowed them to dry. Once introduced back into the water the true fishy scent will be repaginated. Every time I use the word repaginated, I get called on it, because if looked up in the dictionary, it doesn’t fit. However, my father and I have use this term for many years in regards to a piece of bait that has been left out to sun or air dry. The scent/smell of a piece or part of fish is actually brought back to life when introduced back into water. In our book this is called repaginated or repagination. For those fishermen who prefer trout and reds, the best artificial baits are DOA shrimp patterns and Berkley Gulp! Alive! Swimming Mullets. When you find any sort of action, stop and give it a try. Shrimp is the best live bait when fishing floats or not. However, shrimp might be hard to come by and very expensive. You can also fish with mud minnows. Catch your own with a minnow trap in a shallow tidal slough. 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. In some cases two minnows on a hook are better than one. This hardy bait is not anywhere as delicate as a shrimp and can be used a number of times even after it has been bit and hit.”  

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Nearshore reefs normally hold black sea bass and can be caught on cut squid or filet of fish. Jigs tipped with or without any sort of bait (artificial or not) either jigged or placed directly on the bottom will also work. Reefs such as J, L, CCA or any others located in 55 or more feet of water will hold the best concentrations of large black fish. The secret is to stop, drop and move until you find the fish. The offshore sheepshead bite should still be strong for the first two weeks of March. Search for these fish on 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.  I have added electron fish attractors to all of my bottom rigs. Take a look at their site at It explains the concept behind this catching magic. I really like using them, because they do attract fish.”

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 ounce, especially when there isn’t as many fishing at one time. Don’t forget the fish attractors! As far as the fish catching possibilities, expect large green head black fish, large trigger fish, nice hog-nose snapper, knobbed head porgy, amberjack, masked almaco jacks, banded rudder fish, football-sized vermilion, solider fish, and I could keep on listing. This is a great time of the year to bottom fish around the naval towers as well as the live bottom areas located at the Savannah Snapper Banks. Prior to  heading out, it is best to always check the coordinates/areas in which you are planning to fish. I suggest purchasing a Top Spot Georgia offshore Brunswick to Savannah waterproof chart map number N229. I provided coordinates to this company many years ago.”

Blue Water: 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. It’s a great time to catch wahoo and blackfin 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/pewee ballyhoo. If you are a planer fisherman use No. 3 and No. 4 inch planers with at least 30 feet of monofilament leader between planer and lure used. The oldest of oldest type of spoon that we use is a 3 1/2-inch Drone spoon. Drone spoons have two rings, which is what causes it to make erratic moves when trolled at about 4 to 6 knots.”


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