Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – November 2018

GON Staff | October 30, 2018

Saltwater:Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “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 as bait. All fish like shrimp because it’s easy to eat, easy to kill, and it’s more plentiful. 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. One, you can try popping corks with a 3- to 4-foot leader. It’s best to put a weight about 1 foot above the hook because this helps keep the bait deep under the cork. Another thing good 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 works on seatrout, redfish and flounder. 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. This is a very good tip, especially when fishing in a cooler-water situation because sound travels farther. 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 an artificial bait directly to it, meaning no leader. Here are a few artificial suggestions: DOA’s rigged or not, Berkeley scented Gulps!, Strike King soft baits, flukes, paddle tails, etc. My favorite cold-water colors are electric chicken, baby bass, root beer and candy corn. The inshore big bull trophy reds population was strong in October, and the month of November is normally even better. These big fish love to school around anything that offers them a source of food. The deepest side of a creek or river mouth is going to be the best place to anchor. The best bait for getting this fish’s attention is going to be a standard beef-up Carolina rig and cut fish for bait. Back in the old days, we used finger mullet and big chunks of larger ones for bait. I suggest cutting your bait up and letting it air/sun dry out. In other words, do not put it back in the cooler. As the bait dries, it seals in the fish-calling stinking juices that only a mullet has to offer. Once introduced back into the water, the sealed-in scents disperse. It worked then, and it works now.”

Offshore Artificial Reefs: Capt. Judy Helmey 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 GPS coordinates. The best bait is going to be squid and cut fish. Artificial reefs, such L, CCA and the J buoy, normally are holding the attentions of the winter end run of the Spanish and king mackerel. The chances are normally strong during this month for mackerel activity. 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 could also be caught while trolling, bottom fishing or livelining these areas. Please remember these fish are on the federally protected program list. You can catch them, but you can’t keep them. Please handle with care and released as soon as possible.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Bottom fishing at the Savannah Snapper Banks for grouper is still open, as well as quite a few others. 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 old sabiki rig a try. Here’s a list of catchers and keepers: cubera snapper, white grunt, flounder, amberjack, almaco jack, banded rudder fish, porgy, triggerfish, black sea bass and vermilion snapper.  For those who like the standard old bottom fishing with live bait, such as cigar minnows, 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.  We have been catching baits in rips and over any sort of structure. The best news is during these times it is easier to find the bait because it normally is schooling in the upper water column near the structure. Now for those who don’t want to mess with catching bait, I 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 cast net in the boat because we have lots of menhaden. This bait will work live and when cut up. While making your way through the rivers, sounds and beach front, you could find yourself in menhaden catching heaven. I suggest giving them a catching try. Sometimes all it takes is one cast to fill your livewell. The small menhaden, whether they are 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 help keep their shine alive. Before heading offshore, I always suggest you visit If you want to talk to someone, please call Kim Iverson, the public information officer for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at (866) SAFMC-10. Kim’s up to date with all regulations, very helpful and easy to talk to. My suggestion is that you always know before you go.”

Blue water fishing: Capt. Judy Helmey 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 sized 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, happy 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 any sort of bird. Best lures to pull are black/silver and blue/silvers Halcos. Back in the old days, we pulled a black with an orange bottom lure that was called a Terminator. This is not to be confused with the freshwater Terminator spinnerbaits. Yo-Zuri Bonitos lures are great big game trolling baits, and they have the new updated version of my old school bait at If the trolling doesn’t work, there is always deep-water jigging for big gags and scamp grouper.  Best jigs for deep water are the Williamson lures, and my favorite is the Bethos speed jigs or SHIMANO jigs. I like the jigs with the flat sides that weight 7 to 10.5 ozs. All you have to do is drop these jigs on the ledge, keep them close to the bottom and work them. Big bites will happen. I suggest jigging with a medium drag, and you had better keep a strong grip on that rod.”

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