Finally… finally the awkward part of Spring seems to be over. It’s tough every year in the early Spring when you’re trying to figure out what the fish are doing when even they don’t know what they want to do. The water heats up, and then it cools down. The fish are here, now they’re there. It’s enough to make a guide want to throw in the towel.
Now that we’ve reached and exceeded the magic number (65 degree water temps) we can get back to business and leave the dock with a great deal more confidence. The Tripletail are here and will continue to increase in numbers over the next several weeks. This hasn’t been the most impressive start to a Tripletail season that I’ve ever seen, but they’ll get going like they should any day now. We’ve got some excellent weather coming up this weekend and I plan to spend some time looking for these floating fish.
If you’ve never Tripletail fished here in Georgia, you’ve been missing out. It takes a few things coming together to have a perfect day, but it’s worth it in my opinion. You need some decent seas, sunlight, good timing, and a little luck. These are some strange fish and just because you see them, it doesn’t mean they are going to eat every time. The thrill is in the chase and if you’re rewarded with catching a few that’s even better. If you want to keep the rod bent all day, this isn’t the way to do it. If you’re a hunter and you want to challenge yourself, you’re going to love it.
The Trout fishing has finally picked up and we’re seeing as many as 50 Trout in a half day trip. Is that going to happen every trip? No! This is Georgia and we deal with constantly changing tides and water clarity. We’ve been doing this a long time though, and if there are Trout to be caught, and there are, we are more than likely going to find them. Expect to move around a lot… simply because the Trout are doing just that. It’s not often that you get to catch Trout in the same spot, day in and day out, for more than a few days straight.
Right now we are finding the Trout in many different areas in depths ranging from 2 feet to as much as 12 feet. While docks, rocks, and trees are always worth taking a look at, the numbers have been around shell beds, creek mouths, marsh points, and the current seems that they create. Popping corks are the weapons of choice with live shrimp although you can have success with DOA Shrimp in near clear or clear with red flake.
Flounder have been regular guests on recent trips as well. We haven’t been specifically targeting Flounder although if we find ourselves in the right place at the right time we certainly will. If you plan to go it alone and want to target Flounder, I find it best to look for areas with scattered, loose shells in depths of 3 to 8 feet. A mud minnow or shrimp on a jig head or Gulp swimming mullet hopped across the bottom will get it done. A word of advice: set the hook twice. Sometimes you’ll think that you’ve snagged an oyster only to find out that you had a flounder all along. They’ll hang on to the bait right up until they see the boat and then spit the hook. It doesn’t hurt to stick ’em again!
Nearshore we have been doing some Whiting / Bull Redfish combo trips. In the Spring, you aren’t as likely to have a day where you catch 20 Bull Redfish like we do in the Fall. A trip with 4 or 5 isn’t a bad day this time of year, so we compensate by also fishing for Whiting. Whiting are smaller fish but are great in the grease and with no possession limit, you can keep all you want.
In a week or so, we’ll start targeting big Black Tip and Spinner Sharks nearshore while drifting near shrimp boats. If you want to see what it’s like to hook to the bumper of a Ferrari, this is about as close as we can get you. Often times we’ll mix in some Tripletail fishing during a Shark trip as most people don’t want to do an entire trip of pure Shark fishing. We can’t blame you. We don’t have that kind of stamina either!
Offshore we are starting to catch Cobia, Amberjacks, and Barracuda. Of course there is still the year round offering of Black Sea Bass, but what we are really interested in is the Cobia, followed by the AJs and the ‘Cudas. Right now we are looking for Cobia 20 to 30 miles offshore primarily, which takes a 6 hour trip minimum to accomplish. Around mid May we will be catching them as close as 8 to 12 miles out and it can be done in as little as a half day. Live bait is always a good option but we rely heavily on artificial baits for Cobia. 1 ounce to 4 ounce Bucktail jigs as well as Hogy plastic eels are kept at the ready at all times. Cobia are strange and will swim up to the boat to check you out. When you look down and see a pack of 5 Cobia within arms reach of the boat, you’ll want to have your pitch rod ready. Please, don’t leave home without it right now!
In tournament news, I recently fished out of New Orleans for the Battle at Boomtown. I didn’t have a great tournament after not being able to reach my area due to a broken swing bridge. In the spirit of Mike Iaconelli, I didn’t give up and was able to salvage a 24th place finish. That’s not great, but considering I wasted 3 hours of the first day just driving, I consider it a tremendous success. We’ll be going to Gulfport in June and I fully intend to make up for it there.
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Capt. TJ Cheek