As published in the Tribune and Georgian:
Coastal Georgia Fishing Report
September Report / October Forecast
Capt. TJ Cheek – Coastal Georgia Fishing Guide – St. Simons Island
Lately the fishing has been interesting to say the least. The non-stop rain hasn’t given us any relief as far as the fresh water run-off goes, but I can’t say that the fishing has been bad. The Redfish bite has been excellent and the Bull Redfish have moved in. The Trout fishing has been pretty awful for the most part but it’s a lot easier to live with when you have such a great Redfish bite to fall back on.
This past month we’ve dealt with some pretty nasty water but what I have found to be worse than dirty water is inconsistent salinity. I can’t expect the Trout to get comfortable in one spot when the water is changing so often over such a wide area. I have been able to get on a good Trout bite several times this month, but every time I go I have to find the fish again.
The good news is that even though the Trout fishing is very challenging right now there are other options available to us. Redfish have been the main focus with an all but absent Trout bite, but if you are like me and prefer to release the Reds you have to find something else to target for the cooler.
One fish that has been reliable and easy to find has been Black Drum. I like to fish around docks and submerged trees with live or dead shrimp. You will probably find a few Mangrove Snapper while targeting Drum as well as Sheepshead and Redfish.
A good rig for this is a 1/4 oz. jig head with a piece of fresh shrimp. Just pitch it to the structure and let it sit. I also like to use live shrimp pinned on a jig head, especially if I feel that there could be some Flounder or Trout available. Just push the hook through the head of the shrimp from bottom to top so that the point of the hook lays on the horn of the shrimp. Then, you can either dead stick the bait or slowly drag it across the bottom. Another advantage of this is that it is somewhat snag proof.
The big news right now is the Bull Redfish run. If you’ve been out lately you’ve probably noticed giant schools of mullet near the inlets and on the beach. Although the Bull Reds have been here for a few weeks, the mullet run usually marks the beginning of the Bull Red explosion.
Fishing for Bull Reds really isn’t all that difficult. In fact, I have compared it to stingray fishing many times when explaining how to catch them. As far as rigging, you want to have plenty of weight to make sure that the bait stays pinned to the bottom. If the current lifts your bait from the bottom your chances of a bite are severely diminished. Use a fairly short leader (roughly 18 inches) and a large circle hook in the 9/0 to 12/0 range.
For bait there are a number of options including crabs, mullet, pogies, and squid. I prefer mullet cut into chunks but all of the baits mentioned will work especially when fresh. Take time to make sure that your bait doesn’t twist in the current. Just dip your bait in the water after you have hooked it and if it spins, re-position it on the hook until it stays straight in the current.
As far as where to look, there are a few options to consider. The jetties hold a lot of Redfish near the rocks but you can also look for rips near the rocks to hold fish. Rips are formed by either an irregular area on the bottom that forces water upwards as the current passes, or by current seams. You will usually notice smooth water and turbulent water side by side with a definitive line where they meet. You will also notice a color change, diving birds, and jumping baitfish many times. These rips are easy to spot once you know what to look for and they will usually hold fish.
Another thing to look for is breakers. Whether near the beach or around sandbars in the sound or just outside of the inlet, breakers will also hold Bull Reds. It might take some trial and error to figure out which breakers to fish on certain tides but if you hit the right spot it shouldn’t take long to find a bite. Use what you see as a guide. Birds, baitfish, and the presence of other predator fish are good indicators that an area is worth taking a look at.
In the coming months we usually get to enjoy the best Trout fishing of the year. When the water dips into the low 70s and mid to high 60s we typically start to hear about everyone catching lots of Trout. I am still hoping that this year will be no different but I am anxious to see how the fresh water situation affects the Trout. Let’s just hope that we can get back on track in October.
As always, feel free to email comments, questions, or suggestions to email@example.com. I look forward to seeing you on the water.
Capt. TJ Cheek