Georgia Saltwater Fishing Reports – September 2021

GON Staff | August 27, 2021

Georgia Saltwater Fishing Reports

Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Spotted seatrout, redfish, sheepshead, black drum and flounder might feed at different times of the tides. However, all of them like live shrimp. You can serve it up anyway you like from naked, with or without any sort of leader or weight, or under popping or adjustable floats. If you start using live shrimp and they all happen to die or you run out your best bet, then change over to any leftover parts from previous hits, and/or start using DOA shrimp patterns. The DOA shrimp patterns work like a charm. When using pre-rigged DOAs, remove the pre-packaged weight and hook and take a 2/0 to 3/0 kahle hook and hook the shrimp up 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 an 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. jig heads for DOA shrimp patterns. Another secret is to drop a few DOAs into the livewell to add juice appeal. Another artificial is 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. The best news is that if one pattern doesn’t work, remove off hook, drop back in sauce and grab another. As far as best way to present this bait, since it looks alive, is to rig it that way. Fish with popping corks, traditional adjustable floats or threaded onto a jig head and tied directly to your fluorocarbon leader. During this time the creeks and backs of creeks are full of schooling finger mullet. When using larger live finger mullet as bait, your chances of getting a big bite is going to be less. However, when you do get a hit, the fish are going to be larger because the smaller fish, as well as the fetish fish, will be scared off. The other live baits, which you could catch while casting for shrimp or finger mullet, are mud minnows, peanut menhaden, croaker, yellowtail, pinfish and basically any other small live hardy fish.”

Capt. David Newlin reports, “August has been a good month of fish catching. We have caught everything from croaker to tarpon and 10-foot sharks. Water temps are hot, around 85 degrees most days. The best news is the large number of redfish that are showing up. This week I have caught around 300 redfish from 10 inches to 38 inches. September fishing should be really good for redfish. Catching a limit should be easy. A live shrimp under a cork should work great. I have caught redfish from the ocean to miles up the river recently. In September, they should be on all the usual spots. Trout fishing has been good. Some days the trout bite has been really hot with a lot of small fish in the mix. During September, most of the trout will be out in the sounds and the larger bodies of water. When the water starts cooling in late September, trout will start moving up the rivers. The flounder bite has been good and should continue through September. Some really nice black drum have been getting caught. We had four nice ones today. September is usually the best fishing of the year, and this year looks like it will be a good one. Get a bucket full of shrimp, and a good variety of fish should be waiting and ready to be caught.”

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The artificial reefs during September can at times seemly completely baron. It can be frustrating for sure because you are marking lots of fish on your finder. Then, as if someone turns on a switch, the bite starts. 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. For those fishermen who prefer trolling some real bait, I suggest using medium-sized ballyhoo rigged on an old-school 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. You have to be the judge on whether or not you want your bait to push or be pulled through the water. It does seem that all of these heads do work. I rig the Sea Witch type lures with three hooks while using 80- to 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 that come packaged with open eyes) and rig them in line. You can open eyes on regular 7/0 j-hooks and use them. They will work just as good. Just make sure you close the eye completely. When a fish hits this rig, the hook configuration makes it almost impossible for them to avoid getting hooked up, but they still somehow do sometimes. I suggest pulling 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 hooking the fish up department. Now 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 (30- to 60-lb. test) with reels loaded with 60-lb. test monofilament line.  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 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 along a little squid.  This bait works offshore as well as shrimp does for inshore fish. My favorite sabiki rig is a Tsunami Sabiki TSB-068GL-8/10 style iridescent Hage-aurora green GL head. It also has some fish skin on each gold hook, which adds yet another reason why it attracts 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 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.  There is a couple of secrets to keep in mind when setting this trolling rig up. The first is the Drone spoon used normally when purchased does have two welded rings.  But sometimes they do not. However, if they don’t have two rings, the spoon will not work properly when pulled behind the planer. I am always suggesting have an assorted sizes of split rings available, and you can add your own. An added split ring to any lure makes a big difference in the movement delivered when retrieved or trolled. It adds just enough natural wobble, which is seriously known for triggering a hit from a fish that wasn’t even on the hunt. The second suggestion is to tie a 100-lb. barrel swivel into your leader. I suggest cutting the 30 foot leader in half and attaching the swivel, which will give you 15 feet on each side of your swivel.  This addition adds a little more movement to the Drone spoon. Now for those fishermen who prefer livelining only for kings, this is the time for this kind of fishing. I suggest catching some live bait, rigging up with some duster king rigs.  Go to It is very informative and not only that, they work, too! I am having a hard time finding old-time duster-style king skirts, which I like using when I make my live-bait king rigs. If you happen to find some, I suggest buying extra. There is another type of rig that I use to target a large king mackerel bite. I take this live-bait rig pre-made or homemade by me, place the first live bait hook under the chin of a shiny ballyhoo. Then I put the stringer hook (small 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 just until you can’t any longer see the shine from the ballyhoo. Then put in rodholder, select a light drag and put clicker on.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The grouper bite is fixing to get better because things are cooling down. 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 and Spanish sardines, which can be caught with sabiki gold hook rigs. This bait is known for schooling over the structure at the artificial reefs. If you want to vertical jig, I suggest using 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 top of the lure. You want your main line attached and your hooks at the same end of the jig. The secret to perfecting this style of fishing is to keep the jig moving erratically. Once you 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. During this time it’s not unusual to catch mahi mahi while bottom fishing at the banks.”

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