Coastal Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report for St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island
Capt. TJ Cheek of Coastal Georgia Charter Fishing is a local full time fishing guide.
After a slow start to the Spring season and some unseasonably cool weather we are finally getting some great fishing here in southern Georgia. Since my last report the Tripletail have arrived at Jekyll Island, the Trout have started their annual run on Cumberland Beach, and the Cobia have shown up in full force. The Shark fishing has been excellent as well and there are even a few big Bull Redfish around.
Last month I talked about sight fishing for Tripletail using an old popping cork. This month I want to talk about how to fish for them once they transition to their inshore pattern. The bigger Tripletail will usually start to move into the sounds and rivers in June. Around slack tide you can target them by drifting live shrimp or pogies by buoy chains and channel markers.
Rigging for this is the same as rigging for Trout with an adjustable float rig with a few exceptions. Most people will choose to use a heavier leader around 40 pound test and a larger hook such as a 4/0. This will help when you are fighting the fish around the channel markers and buoy chains.
To present the bait, start by positioning your boat up current from the marker and casting to the side or just short of the marker. Allow your cork to get in line with the pole and float within inches of the of it. If you get hung on the pole from time to time you know you are doing it right. Allow the cork to drift by a few feet and then reel it back up to the pole. Make depth adjustments to fish the entire water column before moving on to the next pole.
I like to fish the wooden channel markers that are on the edge of sandbars that are anywhere from just a few feet deep to as deep as 15 feet. During slack tide while the Trout bite is off you can hit a few markers in this depth range and before long you will start build a list of “favorites”.
As for the Cobia fishing, we have been having great success catching them on the buoys around 10 miles offshore as well as around the artificial reefs. Tofish the buoys I usually arm my crew with buck tail jigs, Hogy Eels, and shrimpy jigs on a lead head. When I pull up to the buoy or “can” and see a fish I usually like to cast a Hogy Eel rigged on a worm hook first. This bait will remain near the surface without having to reel so you can keep it in the zone a little longer. If they don’t take the eel I will follow up with a shrimpy jig or buck tail.
When fishing on the wrecks I will drop a combination of jigs, buck tails, and Hogy Eels. For this I rig the eels on a heavier jig head in the 2 ounce range. I will drop the baits all the way to the bottoms and work them back up through the water column. Sometimes you will hook sea bass and the Cobia will follow them to the surface.
While you are on the wreck the Cobia will just show up at the side of the boat sometimes. This is when it is good to have a pitch rod ready and rigged with an eel, buck tail, or live bait. They always seem to show up when you least expect it so be ready with a pitch rod at all times.
To fish for the Trout on Cumberland Beach you will need to first find the right location. There are several local favorites such as Stafford Shoals, Lake Whitney, and a stretch of beach just south of Christmas Creek. Once you have picked your spot you can narrow down your search a little further by looking for color seams and run-outs. Run outs are basically where water is draining off of the beach and you will be able to tell where they are by the plumes of dirty water that extend from the dominant color seam. I prefer to fish these edges where the muddy water and cleaner water meet.
The rig of choice is live shrimp under an adjustable float rig. Usually you will be in water that is 5 to 8 feet deep so it is best to adjust you cork so that your bait is a couple of feet from the bottom. I prefer to use a popping cork with a 30 inch leader. I have found that using a popping cork for beach fishing requires you to actually use the cork for its intended purpose, popping. I see a lot of people just let the cork float and catch nothing while others actively work the cork and catch plenty of fish. It definitely makes a difference.
For artificial baits I find that grubs, DOA Shrimp, and YoZuri Crystal Shrimp are very effective. I will often replace my live shrimp with a DOA or Gulp shrimp when I’m on a hot bite or if the Ladyfish invade and start going through too much bait.
I hope everyone is able to get out there and experience some great fishing and that you find these tips and reports helpful. I look forward to seeing you out there.
Life is good!
Capt. TJ Cheek