Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – October 2018

GON Staff | September 26, 2018

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “I consider October as being one of the best fishing months for both fish and fishermen. The reason being is all fish both inshore and offshore are in full migration mode. With water temperatures on the fall, the redfish, spotted 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 downriver a try. The best fall bait is going to be live shrimp fished anyway you care to deliver. The best news is that 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. If doing so, I suggest throwing any small fish that you happen to catch in your livewell. Small live baits normally triggers a bigger fish bite. Artificial flukes rigged on red/black/white colored lead heads work great around any sort of structure. If the fish doesn’t hit on the fall, let it sit for a few seconds on the bottom, and then reel and twitch and repeat. Best fluke colors are baby bass, pearl white and golden bream. Inshore fishermen get to experience the big bull redfish migration, which 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), this is a fish that finds a suitable place to bulk up before making 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 under the water feeding or seabirds in a heavy feeding or holding pattern. Other places to look are 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, instance hook-ups can happen. Always looks for any surface oils, sometimes referred to as cat paws. If there is any bird feeding action, always check out the size and types of seabirds. If it’s pelicans only, 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. For catching big bulls reds when anchored in areas around live oyster beds, I suggest using small adjustable floats with about 12 inches of 30- to 40-lb. test fluorocarbon leader with either semi circle or a standard 2/0 to 3/0 kahle-style hook.  Best baits for this rig are going to be lip-hooked live mullet or peanut menhaden or live shrimp hooked up under the horn. If live bait isn’t an option, there are plenty of other baits that will work, such as dead-old or fresh, smelly mullet cut in steaks like a loaf of bread. Air dried shrimp with the heads on or off threaded onto the hook will work, too. When working rips or actual feeding schools of redfish, I suggest using diamond-shaped jigs (1 to 3 ounces) 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 to go. 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. 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 traditional float rig rigged with some sort of bait, which is anything that you happen to have that is live or cut. Large sharks, rays and any left behind tarpon would most likely find these baits alluring. Suspending your bait under a float, whether it is alive or dead, gives fish a 360-degree opportunity for attack, prompting more serious hits.”

Capt. David Newlin reports, “The fishing this week has been some of the best I have seen in years. I have caught around 400 slot-limit redfish this week. This morning (Sept. 22), we caught 75 in one spot. The redfish bite has not been this good for me in years. We caught several big fish the last couple of mornings. Caught a beautiful 38-inch red this morning. Right now the redfish are all over the sounds. In a couple of weeks, they should start moving up the rivers. The water temp right now is 81 degrees. When it gets around 75, a lot of redfish will move up the rivers. October should be a hot redfish catching month for all sizes. Fish a shrimp in shallow water for numbers or a chunk of mullet on the bottom near the beaches for a big fish. The trout bite has been good for small fish and good trout. Several days lately, we have had a limit of nice trout. They are starting to hit artificials good early in the day. Today, I caught a lot of trout on a Z-Man shrimp under a cork. The trout bite should only get better into October. As always, a live shrimp is the best bait you can get. I have also caught a lot of big croaker, blue fish, black drum and flounder recently. As October gets going, the fish will move a little deeper. Toward the end of the month a lot of trout will be in 10 to 20 feet of water. Try fishing deeper if the fish are not on the usual shallow places. If the weather stays decent, we should catch a lot of fish in October. The best fishing of the year is usually right after the water gets around 78 degrees, which is just around the corner. We have a few days of big tides, but the rest of the month looks good.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “When it comes to offshore fishing during October, lots of different bites can happen in the most unusual places. The reason being is that this is the month where fish start their fall migration patterns. With moving on their minds, all fish have to bulk up as fast as they can, which boils down to major feeding times all of the time. Nearshore artificial reefs and natural live bottom areas will start holding the attention 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 place to stop to load up on bait is wrecks located at the artificial reefs in 55 feet plus of water. Our bait populations in this area have gotten better. I suggest stopping and giving it a try because it is on your way. Spanish sardines and cigar minnows usually school up over any sort of high relief structure. 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. For catching bait, I suggest gold-hook sabiki bait rigs. The best size has six to eight 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. I suggest to always have on board some frozen ones. 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 reason being the sardines are cheaper and will bring on the absolute same bite. Keep this 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. 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 can also catch cubera snapper, amberjack, vermilion snapper, amberjack, white grunts, porgy and etc. The bottom line is that it’s time to go fish! Please always check current regulations and closures before heading out.  Best website for regulations

Gulf Stream: Capt. Judy Helmey 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 detailed set of blue water charts, which can be purchased from this website.”

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