It’s that time of year where we can expect to just pound on the fish. Trout are our target of choice for those that want to keep some fish for dinner and for those that want to catch loads of fish and don’t mind releasing some fish, Redfish are also a major target.
Over the last week the full moon tides have had the water churned up and muddy but starting this week we will see the return on premium tides and cleaner water. So far the weather looks like it’s going to cooperate as well.
A recent inshore fishing charter out of St. Simons Island:
Recently I had the pleasure of taking Mario Artesiano, his brother Phil, and two of their buddies on their second trip with me. Mario came with me once back in the spring season for the first time and we were hand cuffed with high winds forcing us to fish in protected areas. We caught some nice Trout and Redfish, but we didn’t get to do what I would call a proper fishing trip.
This time we were greeted with a little wind, but nothing that we couldn’t manage. I was looking forward to showing Mario and company what could happen when the weather and tides are in our favor.
The crew wanted to catch a few fish that they could eat but they also wanted to catch some Redfish. I tend to stay away from Redfish when I have a “kill” trip so that we can preserve those schools of fish for tough days when there isn’t much else to do. Knowing that they didn’t mind releasing some fish, and feeling confident that we would catch plenty of Trout for their fish fry, I went to a spot that I know is almost always good for a few good Redfish.
We had barely settled in at the first spot (I’ll leave out the part about getting across the sand bar!) and we had fish on the end of the line. We caught plenty of Redfish until the tide started really moving back in. Usually once the tide starts moving in we catch Trout in the same spot but this day the water just turned to chocolate milk and the bite shut down.
We decided to head out in search of a Trout bite but didn’t find much at our next spot other than a horrendous assault by the trash fish. I had a plan to hit two more spots and felt pretty good about both of them as I had been doing well in both places on other charters.
As it turned out, the next spot was all we needed. We started catching Trout as soon as we got there and within 30 minutes it went from a solid bite to a full blown frenzy. Trout were busting schools of finger mullet and sending the bait fish 5 feet in the air. All that was required was to make a cast into an area of about 1000 square feet. Pull that off, and you were getting a bite almost before your bait even had a chance to get wet.
We mixed in some Flounder and had a few Redfish up to 27 inches. We ran out of bait almost on cue at the end of the trip and drained the livewell to get the last shrimp. Mario did the honors and tossed the last bait into the zone and, of course, ended the day with a nice Trout.
We had quit keeping fish long before the end of the trip but estimated that we had caught well over 100 Trout, around 20 Redfish, and 2 Flounder with an assortment of trash fish such as Bluefish mixed in.
These are the kind of days that we have this time of year. Every day might not be this good but a lot of them will be. It’s not uncommon for us to go a month or more limiting out on every trip. In the case of this trip we did the job in 3 spots and on some days we might have to hit 10 different spots to find the right bite. Most of the time though, we’ll find it.
For some reason this is also the time of year that we just don’t book a lot of trips. Maybe it’s because deer season is in full swing, the Bulldogs are playing on Saturdays, or that our 40 degree low temps are just too cold for some. Either way, if you want to take advantage of the best inshore fishing of the year, book during the best tides between now and the end of January. The earlier in the season you go, the better.
If you want to read my report that is more about the “how” of catching these fish, continue reading below.
Trout fishing is definitely the target of choice right now. With cooling water temperatures the Trout are gorging themselves. While you will likely pick up a few Trout at any giving spot, it may take some moving around to get on a truly “hot” spot. One way that I have been narrowing down my spot selection is by looking for finger mullet.
In most of the spots that we have found Trout really feeding hard, there have been a lot of finger mullet passing through. In several instances the Trout were showering the bait fish just like Tarpon would a school of menhaden.
One thing that might stand in your way is the fact that the one thing that out numbers the Trout is trash fish. If you are using live shrimp for bait, the yellow tails, pinfish, and croakers are likely to eat up your offering before a Trout even gets a look at it. To avoid this, try either using finger mullet for bait or abandon live baits altogether and opt for soft plastics such as D.O.A. shrimp in clear with red flake or near clear, or go with a diving hard bait such as a Bomber Long A in a “twitch, twitch, pause” cadence.
While Trout can be caught in excess of 100, the slot Redfish are abundant as well. Most fish are in the lower slot around 14 to 18 inches although some are upper slot and up to 30 inches. Our best luck has come while fishing live oyster beds or docks with rip rap around low tide with live or dead shrimp. If you prefer to stick to artificial baits, it’s hard to go wrong with Berkely Gulp shrimp or swimming mullet in natural, new penny, or white.
Near the beach the Bull Redfish have been a staple for the past couple of months. We began catching these fish in numbers during Tarpon season in July. The big Reds have started to slow down a bit. While we are still catching them, it just isn’t as reliable as it was and a few boats have come in reporting that they caught nothing.
To catch the big Redfish, fish near sand bars, sloughs, and rips around the inlets. These fish will favor natural funnels where baitfish and crabs are being washed by in the current. Use 3 to 4 ounces of weight and a 40 to 80 pound leader 18 to 24 inches in length with at least an 8/0 circle hook. Baits of choice are mullet, pogies, squid, and if there isn’t much current, crabs. Pogies have been easy to find near the beach and are hard to beat for fresh bait.
Capt. TJ Cheek
St. Simons Island Fishing Guide