Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report October 2016

GON Staff | September 28, 2016

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “The best redfish bite we have had in years is still hot. My last five trips we have caught more than 200 redfish. The whole month of September I have caught the limit on redfish on all but one trip. Most trips we have caught 30 or more. They are hitting just about anything you throw at them. Live shrimp and small mullet have been working great, as always. Shrimp imitations, jigs and Gulp baits have all been catching reds. Keep moving until you find an active school. The redfish should only get better into October as the water cools down a few degrees. The big redfish should turn on any day now. We have caught a lot of fish up to 35 inches lately, but the big fish should show up on the beaches any time and be there all October. The trout bite will get hot as soon as the water cools into the 70s. Look for clear water around oyster beds that have deep water close by. The usual live-shrimp rigs will always catch trout, but as soon as the water cools, the artificial bite will pick up. Black drum are still showing up good. Drum should be around all winter. All the fish should start heading up the rivers over the next few weeks, all the way to the brackish water areas.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “With water temperatures on the fall, the redfish, seatrout and flounder bites get more predictable. Places where you caught them last year most likely will be great places to start. If you don’t find your fish in your old spots, try giving areas down river a try. Best fall bait is going to be live shrimp fished anyway you care to deliver. The best news is once you get the bite going, switching to artificial shrimp patterns is going to be an option. It’s that time of the year when you can bring your cast net and catch your own bait. Small live baits normally trigger a bigger fish bite. Artificial flukes rigged on red/black/white colored lead heads work great around any sort of structure. If a fish doesn’t hit it on the fall, let it sit on the bottom for a few seconds, then reel a few times, twitch and repeat. Best flukes colors are baby bass, pearl white and golden bream. The big bull redfish migration starts taking place this month. These monsters start their migration pattern from where they have been holding in the creeks, rivers and upper sound areas. Once making their way to the sounds (closer to the ocean), they find a suitable place to bulk up before making their way to the beachfronts and then to the ocean. Schooling baits, such as mullet and menhaden, provide much feeding opportunity for these fish. When you see any surface action, stop, wait, and look for any turbulence, underwater feeding or seabirds in a heavy feeding or holding pattern. Fish areas where currents come together forming some sort of a rip. Not all rips will hold the interest of fish, but I can guarantee you once you figure out what to look for, instant hook ups can happen. Here are a few suggestions: Always look for any surface oils (cat paws). If there is any bird-feeding action, always check out the size and type of seabirds. If it’s pelicans, what you most likely have down under is schools of menhaden. However, if you have pelicans, as well as other small sea birds, then you have a possible big feeding frenzy going on down under. When anchored around live oysterbeds, I suggest using small, adjustable floats with about 12 inches of 30- to 40-lb. test fluorocarbon leader with either semi circle or standard 2/0 to 3/0 kahle-style hooks. Best baits for this rig are going to be lip-hooked live mullet, peanut menhaden or live shrimp hooked up under the horn. If live bait isn’t an option, fish dead, old or fresh, smelly mullet steaks cut like a loaf of bread. You can also fish air dried shrimp with the heads on or off and threaded onto the hook. When working rips or actual feeding schools of redfish, I suggest using 1- to 3-oz. diamond shape jigs with or without red or green or yellow miniature tube lures. Jigs such as the 1- to 3-oz. Shimano Butterfly with double hooks located at the head of the lure are good. Most of the big- and non-brand names of jigs with hook or hooks attached to the head do work. All of this boils down to location and the working of the lure used. Another way to get the best chance at a hook up when fishing a rip or surface schooling baits is to take a beefed-up popping cork or a traditional float rig rigged with some sort of bait. When it comes to this situation, anything that you happen to have that is live or a steak of something fishy can work. Large sharks, rays and any left behind tarpon would most likely find these baits alluring. Suspending your bait under a float gives fish a 360 degree opportunity for attack, prompting more serious hits.”

Nearshore: Capt. Judy reports, “Nearshore artificial reefs and natural live bottom areas will start holding the attentions of lots of different sized bottom and topwater fish. For those fishermen who want to get some big bottom fish action, I suggest filling the livewell before reaching the fishing grounds. The best places to stop and load up on bait are the wrecks located at the artificial reefs in 55 feet plus of water. However, our bait populations in these areas have not been too good so far this year, which has been the norm for a while. Spanish sardines and cigar minnows usually school up over any sort of high relief structure. Please know that most of the yellow buoys marking the offshore artificial reefs are gone. These buoys held the interest of all types and sizes of baitfish. So now you need to make sure that you have GPS coordinates for all structures on the artificial reefs that you are going to fish. Go to to get information about Georgia’s artificial reefs. I have fishermen ask me all the time what are the best charts to purchase for this area. Well, here’s my standard answer: I have (Miss Judy Charters) inshore charts available through Another set of charts that is a fisherman must is Top Spot charts, which are available at most tackle stores. Gold hook sabiki bait rigs normally have 6 to 8 small hooks laced with fish skin. You can catch lots of bait each time you drop. Always make sure to have at least a dozen bait rigs in the old tackle box, because once hooked up, large fish can attack. When this starts happening, I suggest moving to another spot until the big fish feeding frenzy stops. These rigs are made for small baits, not larger fish. Best live baits are cigar minnows, Spanish mackerel, Boston mackerel and any others that are hanging with the school. However, we have been catching lots of horny bellies, which isn’t the best of live baits to use. However, we have noticed since the lack of availability of the different live baits, the horny belly has worked a time or two. Bait shops normally stock both frozen cigar minnows and Spanish sardines, which both will work just fine. My suggestion is when possible to purchase frozen Spanish sardines over cigar minnows. The sardines are cheaper and will bring on the absolute same bite. Keep these frozen bait frozen as long as you can, only taking a few out your cooler at a time. They will stay on your hook much better on the drop to the bottom.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy reports, “When bottom fishing, I suggest fishing in 100 feet (Savannah Snapper Banks) to 200 feet (edge of Gulf Stream) of water over any broken live bottom with ledges. Drop your lipped or dorsal-hooked bait to the bottom, and hang on for a grouper biting affair. You will also catch cubera snapper, amberjack, vermilion snapper, white grunts (closed), porgy, etc. Always check current regulations and closures before heading out. Just to name a few closures: cobia, red snapper, banded rudder fish, white bone porgy, almaco jack, jolt head porgy and lesser amberjacks. We mostly catch greater amberjacks off the coast of Georgia. However, there is some good news; the bag limit for black sea bass changed from five to seven per person. The black bass still has a 13-inch tail length to legally keep. Best website to visit for current regulations is”

Blue water fishing: Capt. Judy reports, “During the spring when the waters to the west are much cooler than the Stream, a great edge is formed. This edge is where larger fish feed on the smaller fish. This happens again in the late fall. Now is the time to keep an eye on the surface temperatures. When the cooling event starts, it will be time to do some serious blue water fishing. Please remember you can get free temperature readings from They also offer for sale a fine set of blue water charts, which can be purchased from this website.”

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