Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report May 2015

GON Staff | April 30, 2015

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Although the spotted seatrout has been a little unpredictable over the last few months, May is the month that changes everything. By the time this month rolls around, the spotted seatrout bite is joined up with the flounder bite, meaning two types of fish for one type of bait. As always, live shrimp under an adjustable float or popping cork works like a charm. However, if you are wanting to get your bait closer to the bottom, but not right on it, an adjustable cork will do just that. The bottom line when presenting bait this way is spotted seatrout will find your bait, and the flounder can see it. If it’s artificial lures that you are looking to work instead, I suggest purchasing yourself some Berkley Gulp Alive baits, which come in all sizes and shapes. The old saying, ‘The secret is in the sauce’ comes into play when using this line of artificial baits.” Capt. David Newlin reports, “This April has been the best fish-catching month I have seen in a long time. I have had a lot of trips with more than 100 fish caught. This past Friday, April 24, we caught 70 trout from 12 inches up to some real nice 20-inch fish, along with 30 whiting and some 14- to 16-inch blues. The really amazing thing about Friday is we caught those fish in a 20-knot wind. The trout seem to be holding in 8 to 15 feet of water right now, but that will start changing almost every day as the water warms. Saturday, April 25 the water temps were around 71 to 73 on the surface. The best method to catch trout in coastal Georgia waters is almost always to a slip-cork rig with a live shrimp. I use a custom cork built by Comcal Tackle that has two built-in rattle chambers with a 1/2-oz. sinker tied on below it. Then tie on 15 inches of 25-lb. test fluorocarbon leader and a 1/0 hook. With a slip knot on the line above the cork, you can fish this rig from 2 feet to 20 feet just by sliding the slip knot. We catch a lot of trout on a variety of artificial baits, but it is hard to beat a live shrimp. I have been catching a lot of fish in small creeks. By the first of May, the trout should be in the sounds and the larger bodies of water. By the middle of May, a lot of trout should be on the beach fronts. Find some structure like trees, wrecks, small drop-offs, tide lines and clear water on the beaches, and there could be trout. Look for any small baitfish jumping or any small sign of feeding trout. Fish a shrimp 3 feet deep, and keep moving until you find fish. The big redfish bite has been good, and when I say big, I mean big. I have released some redfish in the 45- to 50-inch size range. The real big redfish have been mixed in with whiting. The usual bigger baits like cut-up whiting and mullet have worked, but I have caught most of the bigger fish on pieces of dead shrimp. The smaller slot-limit redfish should show up real good in May. Fish a live shrimp in 1 to 3 feet of water over live oyster beds, and you should catch plenty of slot-limit fish. The whiting bite is hot, and it should continue on into the summer. A small piece of shrimp fished on a sandy bottom in 3 to 10 feet of water should work.”

Capt. David Newlin reports, “A lot of big sharks are showing up off the beaches. The shrimp boats working 3 to 5 miles offshore are shark magnets. Be careful fishing around working shrimp boats. Watch for one to pick up nets and go get close behind it. A fresh piece of fish under a noisy popping will work every time. Check federal regulations before harvesting any sharks. May should be a great month of fishing and a lot of fish catching.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy reports, “The bottom fishing can be very good at this time of the year at the artificial reefs. Best bottom baits are cut squid and fillet of fresh fish. These baits once put on or near the bottom get the fish’s attention. The black sea bass, trigger fish, summer trout, flounder and other bottom biters love the option of a free meal. As far as a topwater bite, the Spanish mackerel should have arrived. You might not see them, but they are here. Best places to troll are going to be over and around structure. If you happen to see a few Spanish catching air (jumping), I suggest working the area while pulling small to medium Clark spoons at different depths. You also could find yourself catching king mackerel, barracuda or little tunny. Also during this time, the elusive cobia arrives, along with its various ways for driving fishermen crazy. These fish sometimes bite, and sometimes they don’t. Here’s the thing: you can see them, and they can see you, but sometimes bites don’t happen. Best baits are going to be anything from a live fish, such as a juvenile black fish, pinfish, cigar minnow, Spanish sardines, peanut menhaden, live shrimp or eels. Live baits might not work, so I suggest being prepared with some artificial green and white eels, which are threaded on to about a 3-oz. jig head. This sometimes gets their eating attention. Jig heads rigged with big screw/paddle tails or some sort of plastic-shaped eel when worked in the upper water column will get this fish’s attention. Another jig type that also works is the old-school diamond jig with the tube tail in tow. I am using the 3-oz. jigs with either the red, green or white tail. I prefer the smooth metal jig over the hammered finished. As far as hook style, I suggest purchasing ones with j hooks. However, if you can only get jigs made with treble hooks, you can always change them out to the j-style. The month of May is not the only time you should consider jigging the upper water column over any sort of structure. Any time you care to give this type of fishing a try, it most likely will work more than not. Grouper season in Savannah is May 1-Dec. 31. Gags and scamps (grouper) exercise their right to make a move to feed. I suggest a nervous bait, such as live cigar minnows or Spanish sardines, which are easily caught on just about any type of gold-hook sabiki rigs. The secret is to use sabiki bait rigs made with No. 6 to No. 8 size hooks laced with fish skin. Once these style hooks are dipped into the water, baits can resist the gold flash or the secret smell delivered. Another method for getting a solid grouper bite is by jigging. The secret to jigging when it comes to catching big grouper is to drop to the depth where the fish are holding, and then work your jig by raising and dropping your rod. This basically works your jig about 4 to 5 feet up and down at the same depth. Once hooked up, this area is better known as the ‘feeding zone!’ As far as topwater fishing at the banks, anything goes from king mackerel to mahi mahi. When moving from spot to spot, I try to always put some sort of a swimming lure on. Try a Sand Eel ( When pulling this lure, no bait is needed, because it works by itself! And everything wants to eat it.”

Gulf Stream: Capt. Judy reports, “Water temperatures to the west of the stream are still cooler, meaning the edge is still strong. The best ways to find fish is to locate any temperatures breaks. Go here for free online sea-surface temperature charts. The dolphin bite is normally the best during this month. You can catch them pulling small- to medium-rigged baits right on the surface. For those who don’t want to rig ballyhoo, there is another option. I suggest pulling old school birds with artificial squid in tow ( Once you find a school of dolphin, I suggest stopping and pitching to them. You can use small jigs with screw tails, squid on a hook, cut ballyhoo on a hook, or you can use small live baits. If they come to the boat with their lights on (colorful attire), they are most likely going to eat just about anything you throw at them. To keep the school’s attention, always leave the last fish hooked up swimming in the water right by your boat until you have landed the one before. Dolphins are very jealous fish and always want whatever their counterparts are eating.”

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