Georgia Saltwater Fishing Reports – September 2020

GON Staff | August 29, 2020

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “The best fishing of the year is finally here. The redfish bite should be nothing short of incredible this fall. We have a really big crop of slot-limit fish. Yesterday I kept 10 legal fish and released 35 more redfish in a little over an hour. The slot-limit fish are up in the creeks and all over the sounds. A live shrimp under a cork is all you need to catch a limit of redfish in September. All of the usual drops will have fish on them. Most of the better drops in the sounds will be around live oysters and piles of shells. These areas hold tons of bait that redfish love to eat. Some of these areas are good incoming or outgoing tide drops. Very seldom are these drops good on both tides. Keep trying until you figure it out. The big redfish will be showing up in big numbers next month. I have caught some big redfish while tarpon fishing the last few weeks, including a couple 50-lb. ones. Look for the bigger redfish on the beaches and in the sounds on tide rips, drop-offs and in some deep holes. Pieces of mullet, ladyfish, whiting, croaker or almost any fresh fish on the bottom will catch big redfish. My usual rig is a 2- to 6-oz. sinker, a couple feet of 80-lb. monofilament and a 10/0 Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp circle hook. Anchor the boat and throw four rigs out and sit and wait for a bite. Attach a float to the end of your anchor rope so when you hook a big redfish, you can follow him and catch it quicker with less stress on the fish. In September, the trout numbers should be good with a lot of legal trout in the mix. A live shrimp under a cork is the usual method of catching trout. In September when the water temp starts cooling down, trout will start hitting all kinds of artificial baits. My favorite method of fishing shrimp imitations under a popping cork. Put 20 to 36 inches of fluorocarbon on it and retrieve it with short jerks, waiting a few seconds between jerks. DOA shrimp, GULP! shrimp and a lot of paddletail jigs and curly tail jigs will work. I like the ones with a lot of glitter and some of the chartreuse-colored ones. During September, we should be catching a lot of black drum, flounder, croaker and several other shrimp-eating fish. The next two months should be the best fishing of the year on the Georgia coast. If the weather cooperates, we should catch a limit of redfish every day and a good pile of trout and other fish. Right now most of the fish are out near the sounds. In a couple of weeks, look for a lot of fish to move up the rivers.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Fish are feeding up, and spotted seatrout, redfish, sheepshead, black drum and flounder might feed at different times of the tides. However, all of them like live shrimp and you can fish it about any way you want. If you start using live shrimp and you run out, you can use pieces of shrimp or DOA shrimp patterns. The best early fall colors are root beer, clear gold glitter, clear chartreuse tail and golden cherry red. I suggest using 1/4-oz. jig heads for DOA shrimp patterns. I also fish the 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. Hook the bait like a live shrimp and fish it under popping corks, traditional adjustable floats and threaded onto a jig head tied directly to your fluorocarbon leader. 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 larger finger mullet. I suggest keeping 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, yellow tail and pinfish.”

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The artificial reefs during September can at times seem completely baron even though you are marking fish. When you arrive at selected artificial reef, I suggest staying and waiting it out, because bites will happen eventually. When the bite turns on, you could find yourself catching Spanish or king mackerel and barracuda. Trolling Clark and Drone spoons will get a topwater bite going. You can also troll medium-sized ballyhoo rigged on a Sea Witch type lure. 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. I rig the Sea Witch type lures with my three-hooks-in-a-row method while using 80- to 100-lb. test single strand wire as my leader. I suggest pulling this bait about 50 to 75 feet behind your boat. Adjust your reel so that it has a medium drag. If you are using this bait with a reel loaded with 20-lb. test, I suggest backing up a bit on the drag.  I am pulling stand-up rods with reels loaded with 60-lb. test monofilament. A medium drag is essential in getting this rig to work at its best. As far as the bottom bite, I suggest doing a little drifting, keeping 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. Always take a little squid. 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 most favorite lures to pull behind a No. 3 planer is a 3 1/2-inch Drone spoon.  For leader, I am using 30 feet of 80- to 100-lb. test monofilament line. For a big king, you can take a live-bait rig and place the first live-bait hook under the chin of a ballyhoo.  Then put the small, stringer treble hook in the ballyhoo’s side.  Since I do a lot of drifting when bottom fishing, this is what I call my flatline. The best recipe for this rig is to cast out and let it fall down into the water column until you can’t see the shine from the ballyhoo. Then put it in the rodholder, select a light drag and put clicker on. When picking out your ballyhoo, I suggest purchasing  the shiniest ones in the cooler. Yes, it does make a difference! Once they have thawed, I suggest cutting the ballyhoo up for bottom bait. Refreezing this bait does not work. Why? The shine is gone!”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “During this month, gags, scamps and red grouper are more likely to be up and about. 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 and Spanish sardines, which can be caught with sabiki gold hook rigs. A bigger fish sometimes wants bigger bait. Baits caught at the Banks are normally those fish that have air bladders, such as sand perch, rock bass, vermilion snapper, pin fish and ruby red lips. Before putting in the livewell, I suggest deflating the air bladder with sharp pointed knife. For those who prefer jigging for their gags, any sort of butterfly or those less expensive jigs will work. When vertical jigging, I suggest using 80-lb. braided main line, 4 to 15 feet of fluorocarbon leader and a jig (4 to 8 ounces). 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 getaway. Once you located the depth of the fish, drop your lure to this depth, and just 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 bulls, tigers, nurse sharks and sandbar sharks. Any bleeding fish or a tail cut off a live fish works for bait. Most of our sharks are caught on a Carolina-style rig with an 8-oz. sinker on the main line. Then tie on a 100-lb. swivel, and then tie on leader. As far as leader, I do not used any sort of wire leader. I use 10 to 20 feet of 80 to 100-lb. test monofilament line. To this setup, I tie on either a 10/0, 12/0 or 14/0 circle hook directly on to my leader. This style hook pretty much insures a behind the jaws in line hook up, which means the shark normally cannot use its teeth to cut the line. During this time, it’s not unusual to catch mahi mahi while bottom fishing at the Banks. They are curious fish and swim right to the boat. Just remove the 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. Once these fish turn on their feeding lights, they will suck this bait in just like ice cream. 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 to the waters to the west.”


Georgia Saltwater Fishing Page: Archived Articles and Fishing Reports

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