Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – March 2024

GON Staff | February 28, 2024

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “February has been a really good month of fish catching. The weather has been a real roller coaster ride. The water temps have gone up and down all month. This morning (Feb. 22) it is reading 55 degrees. Three days ago it was reading 51 at 7 a.m. Hopefully it will keep on warming up. In March when the water temps hit 60 degrees, the fish get active and everything starts moving around and eating like a bear that just woke up from a long winter sleep. The redfish bite is still on fire. The last 24 months has been the best redfish catching I have seen in the last 40 years, The current limits we have in Georgia are working. The slot limit we have should be a model to be followed. The states that have allowed keeping of larger fish seem to have far less fish than we do. Over the last year, I have had a lot of 50- to 100-fish days with redfish from 13 to 48 inches. During March when the water temps get in the 60s, we should have some big redfish catches. Right now most of my redfish have been up in the smaller creeks. As the water warms, I will start catching them in good numbers out in the sounds and the bigger creeks and rivers. As always, a live shrimp is my go-to bait on most days. A white Gulp! Swimming Mullet on a bright green jig head has been working on the redfish. Fish the jig really slow, stopping it for several seconds. I have had a lot of bites while letting it lay on the bottom. The trout bite has been good and should be getting better as the water warms over the next few weeks. This big blast of freshwater we are having has moved a lot of trout out of the rivers and creeks where we were catching them in. The Ogeechee is fresh all the way to the sound. Over the next few weeks the trout will start returning to the usual spots out in the sounds. A green DOA paddletail on a white jig head has worked really good for me lately. Over the next few weeks, trout will some days prefer a jig over a live shrimp. Livescope-style, forward-facing fish finders are a real game changer in the trout fishing world. I have located a lot of active trout with mine in deep holes recently that were hungry and hit a jig really well. March, April and May have always been good months to catch some of the biggest trout of the year. Some of the easiest fishing of the year is the spring whiting fishing. Whiting are not a big glamorous game fish, but they are really good eating, abundant and unregulated. It is nothing unusual to go catch and keep 50-plus fish in a couple of hours when they are biting. Around the middle of March, they usually start showing up in the sounds and beaches. This is a great fish to get kids interested in fishing. My go-to whiting rig is a 1/2-oz. egg sinker with a long-shank, No. 2 extra-strong Eagle Claw hook on about a 12-inch leader with a swivel between the leader and sinker. Put a small piece of shrimp on the hook and go fishing. My better whiting spots are usually sandy bottoms in 10 to 20 feet of water near the ocean. Stay just out of the fast-moving currents. A lot of the sandbars that run out from the beaches will have whiting around them. Sometimes on the beaches they will be in 3 or 4 feet of water. Fry up a batch of fresh whiting fillets and you are in for a real good meal. Bring a box of extra hooks. The sharks and sting rays will be with the whiting. The easy method of handling them is to cut the hook off and tie on another hook and keep fishing. Usually the better tide is the last half of the outgoing and the first hour of the incoming tide. The sheepshead bite is going good. As always, fish a fiddler crab real close to some kind of structure that has barnacles growing on it—like pilings, trees and wrecks. Keep moving until you find fish. March should be an all around good month for fishing on the coast.” 

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 for this great size panfish is going to be small pieces of peeled shrimp laced on small hooks fished directly on the bottom. Best hook size is a No. 4 to No. 6 khale hook, also known as a wide gap 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 a 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 setup 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 trophy redfish, I suggest going with heavier tackle. I use 20- to 50-lb. test main line with a 30- to 60-lb. leader. As far as best hook size, I suggest the 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 cut 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 to keep smaller fish from assaulting your bait. Another thing to remember is a fresh cut whiting steak is going to only last so long, so change it frequently. Once cut, let the steaks sit on your fish cleaning table, which will allow them to dry. Once introduced back into the water, the stinky juices that are dry sealed in the fish steak will come back alive once introduced back into the water. For those fishermen who prefer inshore trout and reds, March is a great time to look for potential fishing spots. The water is clear and it is the best time to see exactly what’s down under. And of course while you are slowly making way, drag some sort of lure behind you. Best artificial proven baits are DOA shrimp patterns and the Berkley Gulp! Alive! Swimming Mullet. Best live baits when fishing floats or not is going to be 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. However, throwing your cast net a few times might yield you some hard-to-get live shrimp. The best tide is the bottom of the low tide. The creeks in our area have some nice deep holes. For those not familiar with deep dropping for shrimp or don’t know the type of cast net to use, get on the web and doing a little searching. These nets are a little expensive, but if you master this type of shrimping, you could save enough to justify purchasing one. Your best live bait that travels well is the mud minnow. The best news is you can catch your own. All you need is a minnow trap and a place such as a shallow tidal slough to set it. As far as bait for the trap, I suggest using raw chicken parts, tube of saltines, bacon, old shrimp with the heads still on, cracked crabs or oyster or clams. 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 several times even after it has been bit and hit. I had a fisherman tell me the other day that he always lets the minnow go after it caught a fish on it. He called it giving back, I called it chumming!”

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

Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “If you would like a short, offshore boat ride to the fish, head out to one of the nearshore artificial reefs. 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 opportunities. I suggest using cut squid or a filet 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 J, L, CCA or any others located in 55 plus feet of water hold the most concentration of large black fish. The secret is to stop, drop, and move until you find the fish. Since we have had several close encounters over the last few years with hurricanes, some artificial bottoms have been moved or is covered with locking bottom sand. So, if you mark a few fish up off the bottom, there are most likely a lot more locked down in the sand facing the current. This is where stopping, dropping and checking could turn into some serious catching. When drifting bottom spots at this depth, too many drifts will scatter the fish. Make a couple of drifts, move off and look for a more active bottom. After waiting 30 minutes or so, circle back and fish the same spot. If the fish have moved, look up or down current around the next structure. 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. Normally this is the time when this fish bulks up for their journey back to the inshore waters. The best bait is the purple back or black back fiddler. Did you know that a sheepshead can hit your fiddler so hard that it can suck the insides out of the crab while leaving only its empty shell left balanced on your hook? With this shared knowledge, always give your fiddler crab a once over before sending it back to the bottom.”

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. You could catch large green head black fish, large trigger fish, hog nose snapper, knobbed head porgy, amberjack, masked Alcamo jacks, banded rudder fish, big vermilion, solider fish and more. This is a great time of the year to bottom fish around the naval towers. I have broken it down into three areas. At the north snapper banks, fish the following: R7 3149.000/8016.500; Naval tower, live bottom areas, 3144.970/8013.890. This is a good area to start a bottom fishing drift. Try 3144.192/8013.021. This is the coordinates to a ledge. Running 160 degrees and 330 degrees will keep you on the ledge. At the middle snapper banks, fish the following: R6 (M2R6) 3132.000/8014.000 naval tower; live bottom areas 3135.350/8021.660 (ledge) and 3134.990/8022.900, which is scattered live bottom. At the south snapper banks, fish R2 3122.530/8034.010 naval tower, live bottom areas 3124.768/8036.795 (tight/small area but very productive) and 3124.658/8035.262. Once locating this coordinate, work your way back 290 to 310 degrees to find more live bottom areas. 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. These coordinates are proven to hold the attention 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, slow down before reaching suggested coordinates and keep a sharp eye on your fish finder.”

Blue Water: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “It’s about a 60-mile run and is considered a more serious boat ride for sure. The most popular areas to fish are going to be South and Triple ledges, which are in about 160 to 200 feet of water. The Deli Ledge is another good ledge to fish currently, 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 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. To some fishermen this means the basics, but for us elders, it just works! If you are a planer user, this method during this time of the year is very effective because in some cases big fish are holding much deeper. I like using No. 4 high speed planers with at least 30 feet of monofilament leader between planer and lure used. We use is a 3 1/2-inch Drone spoon. It has two rings, which is what causes it to make erratic moves when trolled at about 4 to 6 knots. If you have spoons in your tackle box that only have one ring, I suggest adding a second ring. Double rings on a spoon shaped lure changes everything regarding the movements made. Best ledges to work this time of the year are going to be South Ledge (3106.416/7955.300), Deli Ledge (3132.961/7943.493) and Triple Ledge (3116.769/7952.069). You can troll the area, give vertical jigging a try or just go plain old bottom fishing with a two-hook rig. For those who want to do a little deep water wreck blue water fishing, try the  Deep Water Wreck Dump Scow (3121.525/ 7950.403). If you really want to get fish catching serious, ROFFS provides a variety of the highest resolution fishing oceanographic analyses that are customized for the local recreational and tournament angler. Go to: to see what they can offer you. Before heading out, check for any fish closures. For federal regulations, go to If you have trouble finding information, contact Kim Iverson, public information officer at 843.571.4366 or [email protected]. Kim is always very helpful.”

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