Even though our weather can’t decide on what it wants to do, the fishing here in coastal Georgia is definitely suggesting that Spring is here. I’ve started to notice roe Trout, Summer Trout are on the reefs, huge Black Drum are in the rivers, and the Tripletail are at the southern border of our state. I spoke with Capt. Andy Gowen, an excellent guide out of St. Marys, and he reported outstanding Black Drum fishing with his clients.
Just recently I made a trip to Jacksonville Beach with a client for some Tripletail fishing. The rough seas and cloudy skies made it difficult to see the fish but we managed to spot quite a few very nice Tripletail. It’s only a matter of days before they show up here and I would not be surprised if a few were already here. I expect April to be an awesome month for Tripletail.
When sight fishing for free floating Tripletail I like to paint a popping cork black and tie about a 6 to 8 inch monofilament leader under it. Rig it with a live shrimp and cast it well in front of the fish. The Tripletail will be attracted to the cork itself first, and then it will notice the shrimp hanging below. Be patient because sometimes they like to stare the shrimp down for a minute or two before eating it.
In my last report I speculated about the effects of the freshwater that was making its way down the rivers and into the sounds. It did in fact make fishing very difficult in most areas surrounding the St. Marys River, Satilla River, and Altamaha River. The sounds looked more like swamps with the stained brown water and the fish apparently didn’t like it much either.
Fortunately since then the water quality has improved quite a bit and we have been experiencing some very good inshore fishing again. The Trout bite in the Cabin Bluff area has been excellent and there are still large concentrations of Trout in many of the smaller creeks.
Many of the larger Sheepshead seem to have moved offshore. I have checked a few reliable inshore spots lately only to find smaller Sheepshead that would fit in your pocket. On the reefs however, we’ve been catching some very solid bandits in good numbers. There is still the need to fight through the Black Sea Bass to get to the Sheepshead but if you hang in there it will pay off.
The Redfish bite has been good on the flats but I have still yet to see very many schools of smaller Redfish. Sight fishing for the larger Reds is a great way to have some fun but I am hopeful that our last spawning season produced a good crop of Redfish. The Reds won a crucial battle in conservation as House Bill 36 passed the Senate on March 25th granting Red Drum Game Fish status which prohibits their commercial sale.
As far as what is to come, the Cobia have been thick around the Space Coast and I would expect them to show up here in May. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep your pitch rod rigged with a Buck Tail or Shrimpy Jig as we get into late April if you fish on the southern part of the coast. Sometimes the first time you see “the man in the brown suit” each season it will catch you off guard and send you scrambling to the bottom of your tackle box for a jig.
Also expect to see the Sharks showing back up in May. Sharks can be found just about everywhere along the coast but a fun way to catch some Black Tips and Spinner Sharks is to find the shrimp boats just a few miles offshore and drift behind them with cut or live bait. Fish one bait on the surface under a cork and another on a free line. Lock down the drag, leave the rod in the rod holder, and wait for a monster strike!
Flounder have been slowly trickling in lately, but still aren’t here in numbers. Expect that to change in the coming weeks as they move back in to our waters. To catch Flounder try Carolina rigging mud minnows or shrimp and slowly dragging them around areas with small oyster clumps, docks, or any other debris on the bottom. Another great technique is the trusty jig fished slowly on the bottom.
Until next time, I wish you tight lines, fair winds, and following seas.
Capt. TJ Cheek