As many Georgia fishermen know, the fall and winter fishing season is approaching rapidly, creating ideal Trout and Redfish conditions. Late August and September nights begin to grow cooler and that sunlight we’re used to navigating with at 6:00 AM, is already in the history books this year.
To most people, this don’t mean much, but to us Inshore fisherman, it means a WHOLE lot. That little drop in water temperature means something to us fisherman. Trout and Reds by the cooler full. Whether you’re a frustrated Trout and Red fisherman, or an Inshore pro, the pointers in this article should aid in increasing your Inshore fishing skills and take you to another level.
Why Fish the Shell Beds?
Shell areas have always been hot spots among the “Old School” fishermen, and continue to be prime areas for all sorts of Inshore fish species for one main reason. Food.
Shells hold an abundance of small crabs, shrimp and other crustacians, which attract a wide variety of fish.
In addition to the food availability, high water rushing in or out over the shell beds will create rips and long currents on the shallow side of the bed, and usually the rip runs toward deeper water. When this chain of events takes place, the small shrimp and other food sources are swept off the shell beds into the rips and eventually, into the deeper water.
If you can find the shell bed I have just described, and there are thousands of them around, it will be your “Baby”. You can count on Trout and Redfish feeding in that area consistently. Once you have figured out which side of the bed to fish and what depth at what tide, you’ll be surpirised with your accomplishments.
The unfortunate side of this equation is that some shell beds run along a bank, and they do not protrude outward toward the deeper water to form a rip. Therefore, there is not much current directly on the shell bed. These beds will still produce some fine fishing from time to time, especially when you find one with some good moving water pushing the bank or close alongside the bank.
All of this takes a little exploring on your part. Take a few days each month and look closely at the above described scenerios. Take a rod or two along with you, and just go scouting for the day. Pick some areas and fish both flood and ebb tides until you can establish a pattern in a particular area.
Rigging for Success with Live Bait
Every fall and winter you can spot a trout boat a mile away. The tell tale 8 ft. rods with a giant orange and white “trout cork” hanging on the line. Now, this is one of the greatest rigs ever used by fisherman in this area to catch trout and reds, as we all know. But, sometimes the fish just won’t go for the old float rig, and this is when we begin creating a frustrated angler. You must broaden your fishing arsenal if this sounds familiar to you.
When the fish are in refusal mode in shallow water, you may want to consider changing your rig just a bit. An Equalizer popping cork is an excellent tool to keep in your tackle box, especially if you’re at the frustration point. The popping cork can be used with either spinning or bait casting tackle.
That popping cork makes a noisy rattling sound when you twitch the rod, and it’ll drive a trout to bite when nothing else will work. You can use a popper with live bait or jigs. Just tie a length of 15 lb. Fluorocarbon leader below the cork in accordance to the water depth you are fishing. Then, just tie on your hook or jig head and go to it. Fish your bait of choice just a few inches off the bottom, and then vary your depth if the fish are not cooperative
The Holy of Holiest, the Bottom Rig
In addition to popping corks and regular trout floats, you should ALWAYS fish a bottom bait. Whether you fish shallow or deep water, it’s a proven killer for Trout, Flounder and Redfish. This rig is often overlooked due to the number of anglers who have great success fishing popping corks and floats.
The rig is quite simple. Slide on a 3/8 oz. Weight first. Then, slide on a medium size bead and tie on a small barrel swivel to the line. All you have left to tie on now is your leader below the barrel swivel. Once again, you should always use a Fluorocarbon leader for the best abrasion resistance against structure and shell. It’s also about as low visibility line as you can get.
Once you have figured out a shell bed, you’ll know where it’s safe to set out your bottom rig without getting a snag every cast. This is a valuable asset to include in your spread, so look long and hard for a place to set it out.
Live Shrimp or Minnows will work miracles on any of the above described rigs. When you want that flounder to take home and cook out on the grill, try the old bottom rig with a mud minnow. You’ll surprise yourself with that deadly combo from time to time.
Multi-Use Rods and Reels
Penn Reels offers a fine line up of Inshore fishing tackle for saltwater use.
The Penn Sargus and SSG series spinning reels are affordable, yet durable with some of the options of “high end” expensive reels. Ultra Smooth drag is an important consideration when targeting the larger Redfish on our coast, and Penn has it. From a 4 pound ultra light Spinning reel all the way up to a 80 Pound Offshore Spinning reel, it’s in the new Penn line up.
The new line up of Ugly Stik Lite Inshore rods will impress anyone. Super light weight and a fast tip allows you to cast jigs or popping corks effectively, and they won’t pull the hook on a Trout like the old fiberglass rods do.
If you have any questions about Shakespeare products, please don’t hesitate to contact me for information on the perfect Inshore combo.
We’ll cover some deep water trout fishing in the next issue. Give these techniques a try. I guarantee you’ll be more productive if this is not the way you fish already.