Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report – September 2023

GON Staff | August 29, 2023

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “In September, once you get the bite going, it’s easy to change your bait. For instance, if you start using live shrimp and they all happen to die or you run out, your best bet then is to change over to any leftover parts from previous hits and/or start using D.O.A. Shrimp Lures. The D.O.A. Shrimp work like a charm. When using pre-rigged D.O.A.’s, remove weight and hook. Then take a 2/0 to 3/0 kahle hook and hook the Shrimp like you do the real deal. Since you want the D.O.A. to look as natural as possible, you need to place the hook in the mid-ship of the shrimp. Once it’s balanced on the hook’s bend, it becomes the perfect waving bait in the current under a popping cork or a adjustable float. The best early fall colors are rootbeer, clear gold glitter, clear chartreuse tail and golden cherry red. I suggest using 1/4-oz. D.O.A. Shrimp. There is Berkley Gulp! Alive! I like the 3-inch Berkley Gulp! Alive! Shrimp Assortment recharging baits. This can has new penny/natural shrimp/ pearl white/molting shrimp patterns all packed together. Use popping corks, traditional adjustable floats and thread onto a jig head and tie directly to a fluorocarbon leader. Knowing how to throw a cast net is a big plus. During this time, the creeks and backs of creeks are full of schooling finger mullet. They do come in all sizes from petite to larger finger mullet. Keep all sizes because when using live bait, you want to match the hatch.”

Capt. David Newlin reports, “August fishing has been as hot as the weather. We have caught everything from trout to tarpon. This week the trout bite has been really good. Today, my two fishermen caught around 100 trout. They hit everything I threw at them; live shrimp, D.O.A. Shrimp, Gulp! baits, it didn’t matter. September fishing is always some of the best fishing of the year. This year it should be really good. We have a huge crop of redfish that will be slot-limit fish by September. Trout and redfish should be all over the sounds. Every oyster shellbed should have redfish and trout all around it. Fish a shrimp under a cork and keep moving until you start catching fish. In September, bring some artificial shrimp and use them when the small fish start eating all your shrimp. Black drum fishing should be good. Fish dead shrimp on the bottom in deep curves around old trees or any structure you can find. Redfish, trout, black drum and flounder should all be biting shrimp. We should see some really good piles of fish in September. Stay out of the woods a few days and come see what the Georgia coast has to offer. I have fished all over this country and nowhere can match Georgia in the fall.”

Georgia Saltwater Fishing Page: Archived Articles, News and Fishing Reports

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The artificial reefs during September can at times be seemly completely baron. It can be frustrating because you are marking lots of fish on your finder. And then as if someone turns on a switch, the bite starts. Therefore, when you arrive at your selected artificial reef, stay and wait it out because bites will happen, at least eventually. When the bite is on, you could find yourself catching Spanish or king mackerel and barracuda. Trolling Clark and Drone spoons will get a topwater bite going. For those fishermen who prefer trolling, use medium-sized ballyhoo rigged with Sea Witches. The best colors have been red/black, blue/white and chartreuse. I prefer to rig the Sea Witch with my three-hooks-in-a-row method while using 100-lb. test single-strand wire as my leader. It is old school, but it works. 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. When pulling this rig, I suggest setting the drag more at a medium stage than not. Why? Once your bait is hit, you want enough drag to drive the hooks solidly into place. As far as the bottom bite, I suggest doing a little drifting while keeping your baits at a mid to lower water column depth. The best bait is going to be exactly what you catch with your gold-hook sabiki rig. And of course always take along a little squid. This bait works offshore as well as shrimp does for inshore fish.”  

Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “In September, the grouper bite is better because things are cooling down. During this month, gags, scamps and red grouper are more likely to be up and about. Best places to look for these fish are the live-bottom ledges at the Savannah Snapper Banks. Best baits are going to be live cigar minnows and Spanish sardines, which can be caught with sabiki gold-hook rigs schooling over the structure at the artificial reefs. These baits are known for triggering a serious grouper bite. However, a bigger fish sometimes wants a bigger bait. Baits caught at the Banks are normally those fish that have air bladders, such as sand perch, rock bass, vermilion snapper, pinfish and ruby red lips. Before putting them 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. I suggest using any sort of butterfly jig or those less expensive that look, act and work like the same thing. When vertical jigging, use 80-lb. braided main line, 4 to 15 feet of fluorocarbon leader and a jig that has one or two hooks located at the top of the lure. You want your main line and your hooks at the same end. 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 as erratically as possible while still imitating a baitfish that’s trying to make a solid getaway move. 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 baits when targeting this fish is the liveliest possible; blue runners, ocean menhaden, pinfish, Spanish sardines, Spanish mackerel and cigar minnows are just some of the good live-bait choices. The pinfish is the hardiest live bait on this list. During this time, it’s not unusual to catch mahi mahi while bottom fishing offshore. They are curious fish, and they will swim right to the boat. Just remove your weight off the bottom rig, loosen your drag and float your bait (squid or cut fish) right to the circling mahi mahi. While doing this, throw over the side a few pieces of bait. If they are hungry, this will really get them going. Once this fish turn on their feeding lights, they will suck this bait in just like most of us do when ice cream and chocolate is involved! If there is more than one mahi mahi, leave the last fish caught in the water until the next fish is hooked up!”   

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