Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – October 2022

GON Staff | September 29, 2022

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin, reports, “September’s redfish bite has been on fire. A lot of days we have caught 50-plus fish from 13 to 42 inches. They seem to be almost everywhere from the beach to the freshwater up the river. October should be hot. Look for the redfish to head up river as temperatures cool down. The trout bite is getting better every day. We caught 25 good ones today (Sept. 24). Most are in the sounds but will start moving up the river and creeks by mid October. The black drum bite has been really good. A lot of days we have been catching a lot of them between 5 and 10 pounds. Fish a fresh, dead shrimp on the bottom. We also caught some really big flounder. Last Saturday, we caught two around 25 inches in two consecutive casts. They should be here a few more weeks. We have as many redfish as I have seen in the last 50 years. All DNR data shows plenty of fish; our limits are fine. The plain simple truth is redfish in Georgia are not in trouble. Guides need to keep their limits. I normally see less than three boats a day. We are not overfishing them. Ten percent of fishermen usually catch most of the fish. A small group of mostly catch-and-release or fly fishermen are making a lot of noise. DNR is not basing this on true fishery science. Call your elected officials. We need to leave the limit at five with a boat limit of 12 to 15 fish and guides need to keep their limits. You can fill out an online DNR survey. October should be great fish catching.”

Capt. Judy Helmey, of Miss Judy Charters, reports, “I consider the month of October as being one of the best fishing months for both fish and fishermen. With water temperatures on the fall and daylight being shorter, the redfish, spotted seatrout and flounder bites gets more predictable. Places where you caught them last year most likely will be great places to start. If you don’t find fish in your old spots, try giving those areas down or upriver a try. The best fall bait is going to be live shrimp fished anyway you care to deliver. Once you get the bite going, switching to artificial shrimp patterns or finger mullet (fresh dead or alive) are going to be very strong options. 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 (finger mullet, yellow tail, croaker, pinfish, etc.) 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 and unpainted lead heads work great around any sort of structure. When working this lure, if you don’t get a hit on the fall, let it sit right on the bottom for a couple of seconds, then give it a twitch, wait and repeat. The best old-school 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. Schooling baits such as mullet and menhaden provide much feeding opportunity for these fish. Where 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. Another place to look, as well as fish, are areas where currents come together forming some sort of a rip. Not all rips will hold the interest of fish. Always looks for any surface oils, sometimes referred to as cat paws. If there are any birds feeding, always check out the size and types of seabirds. If it’s pelicans, you most likely have schools of menhaden staging down under. However, if you have pelicans, as well as other small seabirds, then you have a possible big feeding frenzy taking place. When fishing for big bull reds around oyster beds, use 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 under the horn. If live bait isn’t an option, try dead, old or fresh, smelly mullet cut in steaks like a loaf of bread or air dried shrimp with heads on or off threaded onto the hook. When working rips or actual feeding schools of redfish, use diamond-shape 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 lures are good to go. Another way to get hooked 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. The meaning of bait when it comes to this situation is anything that you happen to have that is live or a chunk or steak of something fishy. Large sharks of all types, rays and also 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. 

Offshore & Trolling: Capt. Judy Helmey, of Miss Judy Charters, reports, “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 places to stop to load up on bait are wrecks located at the artificial reefs in 55-plus feet of water. Spanish sardines and cigar minnows usually school up over any sort of high relief structure. I do sound like a broken record, but all yellow buoys marking the offshore artificial reefs are gone. These buoys held the interest of all types and sizes of baitfish. Now here’s a well-kept secret. The locations where the buoys used to be anchored are still holding bait. The anchoring systems used on the buoys are still there and so are the types of baits that used to school around the chain. Check this out, and you might be catching surprised. I always suggest having GPS coordinates for all structures on the artificial reefs that you are going to fish. I know paper isn’t popular, but having a hard copy on board of the coordinates for Georgia’s artificial reefs can turn out to being a very good idea. This information is free and can be found at  Georgia DNR website. I suggest making a copy of all the artificial reef coordinates for both inshore and offshore. I have fishermen ask me all of the time what are the best charts to purchase for this area. I have some (Miss Judy Charters) inshore charts available through Another set of charts that are a fisherman must is Top Spot charts, which are available at most tackle stores. The best chart for inshore fishing in Georgia is the Brunswick area to Savannah Inshore map (map number N232). Top Spots also offer a Georgia offshore chart, which covers Brunswick to Savannah (map number N229). Most GPS units have a lot of this information already loaded. However, updates are needed. Check your GPS machine out, and if you are not sure, contact the company. Most updates can be retrieved free off the web. Also coming up with somewhat of a boating/fishing plan before launching your boat is always a very good idea. Why? It basically gives you more fishing time, because you already know where you are going, how to get there and what you plans are once arriving. In the baiting-up department, gold-hook sabiki rigs normally have six to eight small hooks laced with fish skin. You can catch lots of bait each time you drop. Best live baits are cigar minnows, Spanish mackerel, Boston mackerel, horse mackerel and any others that are hanging with the school. The bait catching this year has not been the best. I suggest bringing some frozen bait just in case. 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. I suggest keeping it frozen as long as you can, taking only a few minnows out of your cooler at a time. They will stay on your hook much better on the drop to the bottom. These bait work when used whole and cut in half.  When using this type of bait, the smell seems to be the attractant, not so much the shape. And believe me, it does stink! When bottom fishing in 100 feet (Savannah Snapper Banks) to 200 feet (edge of Gulf Stream) over any broken live bottom with ledges, I always suggest using large live baits. Drop your lipped- or dorsal-hooked bait to the bottom and hang on for a grouper-biting affair. Best baits for this type of rig are vermilion snapper, tomtates, rock bass, sand perch, pinfish, scup, blue fish, etc. The best rig to use is going to be a beefed-up Carolina rig. I like using 10 to 20 feet of 80- to 100-lb. test monofilament leader between the hook (10/0 to 14/0 circle hook) and the egg (6- to 8-oz.) sinker. When using this style rig, grouper is not the only fish that you might catch. Expect cubera snapper, amberjack, genuine red snapper, king mackerel, tuna, etc. Our shark populations seem to be growing. While bottom fishing, you normally have lots of discards (released live fish sending distress signals) which means you most likely are going to be visited by some really big sharks. When these big sharks get to feeding, no hooked-up fish is safe. Why? They start eating everything that you throw back and also everything you hook up. I suggest if you start seeing these sharks schooling near the surface or on your fish finder, you move to another spot with hopes that they don’t follow. Now, if you want to hook up one of these ocean monsters, this is one fish that will put up quite a serious pulling fight.” 

Blue Water: Capt. Judy Helmey, of Miss Judy Charters, “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. Now is the time to keep an eye on the surface temperatures, and when the cooling event starts, it will be time to do some serious blue water fishing! You can get free sea surface temperature readings from From a charter captain point of view, October through December are the best inshore and offshore fishing months in this area.”     

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