Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – March 2023

GON Staff | March 1, 2023

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey, of Miss Judy Charters, reports, “Inshore bottom fishing in the sound just got more interesting! Bull whiting should start showing up near sandbars in the sound. The best bait for this great size panfish 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 khale 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 the Carolina-style rig. This rig keeps your bait near the bottom, allowing for a better hook-up opportunity. You could find yourself catching spotted seatrout, summer trout, flounder, trophy redfish, flounder and shark. It is best to use a light tackle rod/reel set up with 10- to 20-lb. test main line when targeting whiting. I like using monofilament, but braid will also work. For larger fish such as sharks or big trophy redfish, I suggest going with a little heavier tackle.  I use 20- to 50-lb. test main line and a Carolina rig with 30- to 60-lb. test leader material. As far as best hook size, I suggest classic j-hook 4/0, 5/0 or 6/0. For those who prefer circle hooks instead, go with 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. For those fishermen who prefer inshore trout and reds fishing, March is a great time. The water is clear and it is the best time to see exactly what’s down under. Best artificial proven baits are DOA shrimp patterns and Berkeley Gulp Alive Swimming Mullet and mud minnow/croaker soft baits. When you find any sort of action, give it a try. As far as best live baits when fishing floats or not is going to be a live shrimp. However, they might be hard to come by and also very expensive.  However, so far this year dropping your cast net in the deeper holes has provided fishermen with some fine live shrimp. Not every deep hole is holding shrimp, and they might be hard to find. The best tide is the bottom of the low tide. The creeks in our area have some really nice deep holes. You can fish mud minnow, which 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.  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.”

Georgia Saltwater Fishing Page: Archived Articles, News and Fishing Reports

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey, of Miss Judy Charters, “Normally the black sea bass are holding on low relief bottom. There are pallet balls, tires, concrete piles and culvert pipes, which offer these fish a lot of feeding opportunity. As far best bait, I suggest using cut squid or fillet of fish. Heck, jigs tipped with or without any sort of bait, artificial or not, 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 to hold the most concentration of large black fish. The secret is to stop, drop and move until you find the fish. And since we have had several close encounters over the last few years with hurricanes, 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 in a facing the current mode. 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 should still be strong for the first two weeks of March. I suggest keeping your search of these fish to those 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 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-oz. sinkers, especially when there isn’t as many fishing at one time. You can catch green head black fish, trigger fish, hog nose snapper, knobbed head porgy, amberjacks, masked Alcamo jacks, banded rudder fish, vermilion, solider fish, and others. 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.”

Blue Water: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “It’s about a 60-mile run and is considered a more serious boat ride for sure. You must always factor in the weather. 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. When your fish day takes you this far offshore, wind and waves can dictate your compass heading for the most comfortable ride to the fishing grounds. When departing the Savannah area, it is always good having onboard coordinates for the northern and southern blue-water areas. It’s a great time to catch wahoo and blackfin tuna. We pull black/black and red/black Ilanders lures 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 fisherman, this method works during this time of the year because in some cases big fish are holding much deeper. I like using high-speed planers with at least 30 feet of monofilament leader between planer and lure. We use  a 3 1/2-inch Drone spoon. The Drone spoons have two rings, which is what causes it to make erratic moves when trolled at 4 to 6 knots. For free online sea surface temperature charts, go to and this site also offers for sale different types of blue-water charts sets.”

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