Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – September 2022

GON Staff | August 26, 2022

Georgia Saltwater Fishing Reports – September 2022

Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey, of Miss Judy Charters, “The temperatures are still hot, but there is a subtle change that takes place in the month of September.  All fish are basically put on notice that fall patterns are pending. Just the fact that daylight is a couple of minutes shorter makes all the difference to those down under. This is not the month for migrations, but it’s the month for feeding on everything that is available. Spotted seatrout, redfish, sheepshead, black drum and flounder might feed at different times of the tides, but they all like live shrimp. Fish  them with or without any sort of leader or weight or under popping or adjustable floats. Once you get the bite going, you can change bait. For example, if you start using live shrimp and run out, you can use DOA shrimp patterns. The best early fall colors are rootbeer, clear gold glitter, clear chartreuse tail and golden cherry red. Use 1/4-oz. jig heads for DOA shrimp patterns. Drop a few DOAs into the livewell, which adds juice appeal. There are other artificial baits to be considered. There is Berkley Gulp Alive! I like the 3-inch shrimp assortment recharging baits, which have new penny/natural, shrimp/pearl and white/molting shrimp patterns all packed together. The best way to present this bait is on popping corks, traditional adjustable floats and threaded onto a jig head tied directly to a fluorocarbon leader. For those fishermen who don’t use artificial baits, there are quite a few alterative live baits. During this time, the creeks and backs of the creeks are full of schooling finger mullet. They do come in all sizes from petite to large. Keep all sizes, because when using live bait, you want to match the hatch. The other live baits, which you could catch while casting for shrimp or finger mullet, are mud minnows, peanut menhaden, croaker and yellow tail.”

Inshore:Capt. David Newlin reports, “August has been a good month of fish catching. The redfish numbers have been really good. There are hundreds of redfish that will be legal-sized fish by September. I caught 10, 14-inch fish today and about 60, 13-inch redfish. By Labor Day, they should all be legal fish. We should be catching a limit every day in September. Redfish seem to be all over the place from up the river to the ocean. Live shrimp under a cork will work great. The big, 30-inch-plus redfish should show up around the end of September. Fish a fresh piece of mullet, whiting or pogie on the bottom on a 10/0 circle hook. The trout bite is good and should be hotter in September. We have been catching all sizes of trout from 12 inches to a few really big fish around 25 inches. A live shrimp has been working well for mixed-up trout. If you want a big one, fish a live mullet about 6 inches long under a cork with a 24-inch leader. The longer leader allows it to swim freely. An artificial shrimp under a cork retrieved in a slow, jerking motion has been working. The Z-man Shrimp has been working good for me. We have been catching a lot of black drum. Fish a big shrimp on or near the bottom. Some days the drum prefer a large, dead shrimp over a live one. On into the fall the drum numbers should increase. Drum like to hang around heavy cover like trees, rip-rap and dock pilings. September catches should include flounder, croaker and whiting. A lot of decent croaker have been in my catches lately. September is always the best month of fishing we have. It looks really good for this year. The redfish bite should be great with plenty of trout, drum and other fish. Stay out of the woods a few days and enjoy a great day of fishing on the coast. Beware of the online charter boat scams. They are worse than ever. If you can’t talk to the boat captain, beware of a pack of lies.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The artificial reefs during September can be at times seemly completely baron. It can be frustrating for sure, because you are marking lots of fish on your finder. Then the bite can turn on like a light switch. When you arrive at a selected artificial reef, wait it out because bites will happen eventually. When the bite is on, you could catch Spanish or king mackerel and barracuda. Trolling Clark and Drone spoons will get a topwater bite going. For those fishermen who prefer trolling bait, use medium-sized ballyhoo rigged on a Sea Witch. The best colors have been red/black, blue/white and chartreuse. As far as head style, I prefer the round lead heads. However, there are all sorts of different shapes (split, cone, bullet, etc.) that pull through the water differently. You have to be the judge on whether or not you want your bait to push or be pulled through the water. I rig the sea-witch-type lures with three hooks in a row while using 100-lb. test single-strand wire as my leader. I take three 7/0 Mustad trailer hooks (j-hook style with open eyes) and rig them in line. When a fish hits this rig, the hook configuration makes it almost impossible for them to avoid getting hooked up. Pull this bait about 50 to 75 feet behind your boat. It is going to be best if you adjust your reel so that it has a medium drag. This helps in the hook-up department. As far as the bottom bite, drift your baits at the mid- to lower-water-column depth. The best bait is going to be exactly what you catch with your gold-hook sabiki rig, but always take along a little squid. This bait works offshore as well as shrimp does for inshore fish. Our king mackerel bite at the artificial reefs, as well as the live-bottom areas at the Savannah Snapper Banks, has been very successful. I like pulling my sea witches, also known as Judy Jigs, on the surface that I have rigged with medium ballyhoo. One of my favorite lures to pull behind a No. 3 planer is a 3 1/2-inch Drone spoon. For the leader, I am using 30 feet of 80- to 100-lb. test monofilament line. For those fishermen who prefer live-lining only for kings, this is the time for this kind of fishing.  Catch some live bait and rig them up with some type of duster king rig. As far as the topwater bite, we have been catching king mackerel nearshore at the Savannah River Channel, artificial reefs and at the Savannah Snapper Banks. The best bait when targeting this fish is the liveliest possible—blue runners, ocean menhaden, Spanish sardines, Spanish mackerel and cigar minnows. September means gag, scamp and red grouper are more likely to be caught. The best places to look for one of these fish are the live-bottom ledges at the Savannah Snapper Banks. Best baits are going to be live cigar minnows, Spanish sardines, which can be caught with sabiki gold-hook rigs. This bait is known for schooling over the structure at the artificial reefs. A bigger fish sometimes wants bigger bait. Baits caught at the Banks are normally sand perch, rock bass, vermilion snapper, pin fish and ruby red lips. Before putting these baits in the livewell, deflate the air bladder with a sharp pointed knife. These baits will also bring on a big-time grouper bite. For those who prefer jigging for their gags, this would be a great time to give this type of fishing a try. When vertical jigging, I use 80-lb. braided main line, 4 to 15 feet of fluorocarbon leader and a jig (4 to 8 ounces) that has one or two hooks located at the top of the lure. Jigging during this month is great because the large bottom fish start to move a little farther from the protection of the ledge. The secret to perfecting this style of fishing is to keep the jig moving erratically. This style of jigging does a great job of imitating a baitfish that’s trying to make a solid getaway move. Once you have located the depth of the fish, drop your lure to this depth and just jig. Do not reel and jig. You want your lure to stay in the strike zone. While bottom fishing the Savannah Snapper Banks, we have been hooking up a lot of big bull, tiger, nurse and sandbar sharks. Any fish that you have just caught, pan size or larger, cut the tail off the live fish and set it up on a beefed-up Carolina-style rig with an 8-oz. sinker on the main line. Then tie on a 100-lb. swivel and a leader. I do not use any sort of wire leader. Instead I use 10 to 20 feet of 80- to 100-lb. test monofilament line. To this setup, I tie my 14/0 circle hook directly to my leader. During this time it’s not unusual to catch mahi mahi while bottom fishing. They are curious fish, and they will swim right to the boat. Just remove your weight off a bottom rig, loosen your drag, and float your bait (squid or cut fish) right to the circling mahi mahi. While doing this, throw a few pieces of bait over the side of the boat. If they are hungry, this will really get them going. If there is more than one mahi mahi, leave the last fish caught in the water until the next fish is hooked up.”

Georgia Saltwater Fishing Page: Archived Articles and Fishing Reports

Blue Water: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “This is not a great month for blue-water trolling due to the fact that water temps are still about the same in the Stream as they are in waters to the west. However, the live-bottom areas located in 150 to 220 feet are holding a lot of fish: grouper (red, scamp, gag, snowy), sand tile, vermilion, black sea bass, triggerfish, whitebone porgy, knobbed porgy, red porgy, white grunt, cobia, and then there are those fish that you could catch that we really don’t know what the heck they are! If you do make this trip, the best bait is going to be squid and cutfish. If you happen to have cigar minnows or Spanish sardines (fresh dead, live or frozen), these baits will also work. These baits work great when used with a two- to three-hook bottom rig. Or you can skip the small baits and go straight to big live baits, such as ruby red lips, pinfish, vermilion snapper and tattlers. The best rig for these fish are going to be Carolina-style rigs with long leaders (80- to 100-lb. monofilament) and large circle hooks (10/0 to 14/0). This is definitely the right place to jig a heavy Williamson deep-water jig. We are now once again offering 14-hour Gulf Stream bottom fishing trips.”

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