St. Simons Island Winter Fishing Report 2015
This winter season has had some highs and lows which have been dictated mostly by the weather. We’ve been hampered by some days of high winds, big tides, and rain.
Between bouts with nasty weather we have been able to find some pretty good fishing. Inshore we are catching Trout, Redfish, and Sheepshead and on the reefs we are finding Sea Bass and Bull Reds. To find the fish inshore we need a few things to come together. First we need some favorable tides, preferably a day with a mid morning to mid-day low tide. We also want to pick days when we would expect the water to be clean, which means avoiding times with tides over 8 feet. That is when we are able to really find the fish and this is the time of year that you can find some really awesome Trout bites and good schools of Redfish. It just takes a little planning.
Typically we will find the Trout in deep holes. When I say deep, I don’t necessarily mean a specific depth, but areas of creeks and rivers that are deeper than the rest of that particular area. I will look for creeks that are accessible by boat even at low tide but have an average depth of 3 or 4 feet with holes that are 8 feet deep or more. If there are oysters or other structure in those holes that is a bonus.
You might have to work through several creeks to find the fish but you are very likely to find Trout, Redfish, or both if you just keep looking.
The Sheepshead are going to be in similar areas but are going to hold tight to structure. You’ll want to find trees, docks, or rocks if you want to catch them in numbers. Fiddler crabs are the age old stand-by, but I have come to prefer shrimp when fishing for Sheepshead as you never know when there might be a school of Trout lurking around.
***Second hand information alert!*** I haven’t stopped to see for myself but I have heard that a couple of boats have whacked the Whiting in the Brunswick area. If I have a chance to confirm I will be sure to let you know in my next report. If you beat me to the punch be sure to let me know! Whiting don’t get the respect of being bragged about by us “buff wearing, super cool, I only go after the sexy fish” types but when it’s cold and the fishing gets tough, I ain’t to proud to put a shrimp on the bottom and have at it!
Reef Fishing Report
Out on the reefs you can pretty much take it to the bank that you will find heaps of Sea Bass. I ran the new bay boat out about 12 miles a few days ago and realized that I didn’t even have any of my numbers in the GPS yet. I had to kind of guess at where I was and after doing some zig-zagging I found some bottom that looked like it had life on it. All I had was Trout tackle so I drop a jig to the bottom and, what do you know, I caught one Sea Bass after another.
There are also some big Redfish out on the reefs for those that are looking for some “sexy” fish to take pictures with. These will all be catch and release but they’ll definitely give your string a stretch. The key is to either be content with having to catch a pile of Sea Bass while you’re waiting on your Bull Red to bite, or to try and use bigger baits that the Sea Bass will have trouble handling.
Similarly, you should be able to get into some Sheepshead around the nearshore wrecks right now. The kicker is trying to find Sheepies that you can catch without Sea Bass obliterating every crab that you drop to the bottom. Sometimes it’s just a numbers game and you’ll have to deal with catching a bunch of Sea Bass to get to your Sheepshead. Sometimes you will find that the convict fish bite better around a tide change. One tip is to resist fishing big wrecks and find some smaller stuff that might not be as enticing to the bass. I’ve found that if you are marking decent structure and you’re able to keep a bait down for more than a few seconds, your odds of catching Sheepshead improves drastically.
If you’re wondering how to rig, a simple Carolina rig with about 2 to 3 ounces of weight and a shrimp or fiddler crab for bait is usually all you need.
Hopefully when the wind subsides I can get out there and give you a 100% report about the Sheepshead. If history is any indication, February will be just fine for catching convict fish.
In other news, I finally took delivery of my new Pathfinder 2400 TRS and so far I am loving it! I just took it back to Atlantic Coast Marine in Jacksonville for it’s first service and to have a few more options installed. I can’t wait to take some clients out in it!
Look for a new blog post soon with a tour and review of the new boat. Please feel free to comment with any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them. If you didn’t catch my last blog post that details my tackle list for Georgia you can check it out here.
Until next time…
Capt. TJ Cheek