Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report November 2016

GON Staff | October 26, 2016

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports,” Firstly, I would like to say that this is the time of the year that fishing on the coast is great. And the best news is that it doesn’t matter whether you are an inshore or offshore fisherman. So whether it is your boat or mine, serious fish bites can happen. When the month of November rolls around, the inshore bite certainly does pick up. It is much easier to score a Savannah Slam, which is redfish, spotted seatrout and flounder. The secret to catching more inshore fish during this time is to use live shrimp for bait. All fish like shrimp, because it’s easy to kill, easy to eat, and it’s more plentiful. And it seems that once you get the bite going, it’s simple enough to change straight to any sort of artificial shrimp pattern. As far as how to present your live shrimp, there are several ways. Try popping corks with 3- to 4-foot leaders. It’s best to put a split-shot weight about 1 foot above the hook, because this helps keep the bait deep under the cork. Another good thing about popping corks is the sound they make when they are popped. They sound just like a shrimp flapping its tail up against its body. This is a spotted seatrout, flounder and redfish head turner for sure. Traditional adjustable floats come in all sizes and work great when trying to find the bite at different depths. When anchoring is the plan, I suggest using the larger versions of the traditional adjustable corks, because it enables you to make longer drifts. The larger corks can be seen for farther distances, allowing you to be able to cover a lot more area without changing locations. It seems the more you move the longer you have to wait to see if there really is any sort of bite in the area. For those fishermen who want to use artificial only, this is the month for you. The secret when going this route is to use lighter tackle for that better feel. I like using 8-lb. test monofilament line while tying artificial baits. I do not use a leader. Try DOA’s, rigged or not, Berkeley scented Gulps, Strike King soft baits, flukes, paddle and curly tails, etc. My favorite cold-water colors are electric chicken, baby bass and root beer. Last but not least is to just fish naked, meaning fish just hook, leader and bait.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy reports, “The bottom fishing at the artificial reefs located in 50 to 70 feet of water normally are holding a nice build-up of black sea bass. Just about all structures on the reefs will hold fish. However, sometimes you have to look before you find the bulk of the bottom fish. Go to for all coordinates. The best bait is going to be squid and cut fish. Artificial reefs such L, CCA and J buoy normally are holding the attentions of the winter end run of the Spanish and king mackerel. For the first two weeks of this month, the chances are strong for a solid hook-up. We normally pull 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 Drone spoons for the kings and small to medium Clark spoons for the Spanish mackerel. Best trolling speed is 5 to 7 knots. For those fishermen who want to drift these areas with light tackle and live baits, this is a good time to go this route. Trophy redfish can also be caught while trolling, bottom fishing or live-lining these areas. Please remember these fish are on the federally protected program list. You can catch them, but you can’t keep them.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy reports, “Bottom fishing at the Savannah Snapper Banks for grouper is still open. Best live baits when targeting grouper are small vermilion, pinfish, sand perch, bluefish and rock bass. If you can’t catch these baits while plain old bottom fishing with squid, give the sabiki rig a try. For those who like the standard old bottom fishing with live bait, such as cigar minnows or Spanish sardines or cut squid, now is the time. Best rigs to use to catch these live baits are going to be sabiki gold-hook rigs. Whatever you do, always carry extra bait rigs, because they work great and get a lot of abuse. Unfortunately, I need to report live baits are not as plentiful as they have been in past years. Normally a fisherman could stop by any of the artificial reefs, drop a sabiki bait rig down, and catch a livewell full of choice bait. However, this has not been the case with this fishing year. So, I strongly suggest picking up a box of frozen cigar minnows or Spanish sardines at your local bait shop. You will notice that the cigar minnows will be more expensive than the Spanish sardines. I suggest purchasing the Spanish sardines and keeping them frozen as long as you can. These partially frozen baits whole or cut in half will stay on the hook better. If you can’t find any frozen baits, I suggest putting the old cast net in the boat. The ocean menhaden have been strong this year, and this will work live and used when cut up. When traveling to the sound and you happen to see schools of peanut menhaden flipping, I suggest giving them a catching try. Sometimes all it takes is one cast to fill you livewell. The small menhaden dead or alive work great, and you don’t have to cut them up. If you do catch a lot of them, I suggest not overfilling your livewell. When there are leftovers, I suggest putting them in a bucket and cover with saltwater. This type of soaking will keep their shine alive. Cut up shiny menhaden work great as bottom bait.”

Gulf Stream: Capt. Judy reports, “For those fishermen who don’t mind a longer ocean ride, the blue waters of the Gulf Stream can certainly hold the interest of big game fish, especially during the month of November. During this time the edge between the cooler western waters and the continuously northern pushed warmer waters of the Stream is formed. This is where smaller fish feel safe and where larger fish feed. As far as best baits to drag, you certainly do have lots of options. For those fishermen who want to do a little rigging, I suggest dragging ballyhoo from small dinks to large horse size and dressed in different colored skirts or rigged just plain naked with or without chin weights. For those fishermen who just want to drag the artificial stuff, believe me it does work. I like pulling cedar plugs that have been soaked in menhaden oil. This is where you forget the painted cedar plugs and just go plain cedar. Or do a little sanding/scraping on the painted ones so as to expose the wood. This wood can really soak up the oil, and when trolled, it leaves a nice oily trail. Dolphin Delight made by No Alibi is a plastic squid lure made with feathers, and it works great when pulled about 4 feet behind a bird. Best lures to pull are old school black/silver and blue/silvers Halcos rattlers and black with orange bottom Terminators. If the trolling doesn’t work, there is always deep water jigging for big gags and scamp grouper. As far as main line used, I like using 80-lb. braid, because it cuts through the water with less friction delivered. Best jigs for deep water are the big boys, Williamson or Shimano 7 to 10.5 ounces. The best old school no frills jigs are the Bridgeport diamond jig, which comes with 1- to 16-oz. weights. All jigs normally have an option for attaching main line to top or bottom. In the case of the Bridgeport, it suggests rigging up leaving the hook at the bottom. However, I suggest attaching the main line to the same end as the hook. This makes for less hook-ups on the bottom. Plus, it is a known fact that a larger fish, especially on a triggered bite, normally strikes the head first. All you have to do is to drop these jigs on the bottom, reel up a few feet and vertically work your lure in this area. Work it as close to the bottom as possible. I suggest jigging with a medium drag, and you had better keep a strong grip on that rod, because big bites can happen. Please always check for current federal regs at and state regs at Believe me, there have been some changes for both this 2016 fishing year.”

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!