2023 fishing recap

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2023 fishing recap

 

WINTER

The 2023 fishing season began with a bang!  Jumbo sized early season sheepshead were abundant on nearshore structure along with black drum, black sea bass, and the other usual suspects.  Occasionally we would run across schools of bull reds blitzing on the surface a few miles offshore and they would eagerly take an artificial lure or a fly.

On the inshore waters, speckled trout had solid showings in deep holes and far up creek systems early in the year.  Redfish baked in small groups on the shallow mud flats on the low tides.  A well-presented lure or fly got the job done more often than not.  2023 fishing inshore in the coldest months even produced a fair amount of hybrid and striped bass when fishing the more brackish waters to the north.

SPRING

As the water temps rose a bit, 2023 fishing in the spring continued to be strong on the nearshore structure.  Sheepshead fishing remained solid into May on the reefs.  Red snapper kept the rods bent just about everywhere you stopped.  Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, weakfish (summer trout), jumbo flounder, mangrove snapper, spadefish, and even grouper joined the party.

Springtime on the inshore front brought a solid spawn of rat redfish that began to show, along with some black drum and a few flounder.  Speckled sea trout fishing was pretty typical for coastal Georgia.  The fish tend to be on the move constantly and you either hit them at the right time or you don’t.  We did not see the typical robust numbers of small trout that usually bite well in the early spring.  That being said, more 16-20+ inch fish made it to the boat than the smaller variety when we were able to find a good bite.

As May rolled around, things began to heat up in the air and on the water.  Tripletail began to roll in on the beach.  Spanish Mackerel, jacks of various sizes, and Cobia began to scatter across our nearshore reefs.  Jumbo blacktip sharks piled into the channels as well as behind the shrimp trawlers.  Just as the water was about to touch 80 degrees, we had a massive Memorial Day cold front that pushed the seawater temperatures back into to 60’s along the beaches.  Fortunately the inshore trout and redfish bite remained solid, and the nearshore reef bite was good as well.  After a week things warmed back up and we had a nice run of jumbo Cobia in the 15-20 mile range.  Tarpon were not far behind them.

Kids

On the kids 2023 fishing front, March usually kicks off that season for us.  We had some very productive nearshore reef trips on the calmest days with all the action you can handle!  Inshore, the whiting showed up in force in March, and I mean big ones.  Jumbo whiting were a daily occurrence well into the summer months.  The shark bite got rolling starting in April and were all you wanted by mid May.  It is not uncommon to catch 4 or more species of shark on a 2-3 hour kids trip during the warmer months.  We also had a healthy run of Pompano during the 2023 fishing season.  April-early November produced some outstanding catches of these delectable fish.

 

 

SUMMER

I primarily target tarpon all summer long on artificial and fly tackle, and 2023 was a solid season overall.  We saw excellent early season action with laid up fish in the ocean, as well as feeding in bait balls.  As conditions changed throughout the season, the best action moved inshore to creek and river systems as well as a thick concentration in the deeper channels and inlets.  The Big Jack Crevalle were stellar till mid July, then for some reason became much more scattered and random throughout the summer.  By early September we even caught bull reds while casting to shallow water tarpon with lipped plugs in our river systems.  Not a bad bycatch I must say so.

In addition to Tarpon, this summer produced plenty of cobia and kingfish.  June was great but by the end of the month, the sharks were nearly impossible to avoid.  Big bulls, tigers, and dusky’s are swarming almost every chunk of structure out there.  The only fish you can get to the boat some days are those pesky red snapper that seem to be everywhere 12 months a year.

FALL

2023 fishing in the fall transitioned nicely although mother nature sure made it challenging.  The trout fishing and juvenile red fishing was as good as I have seen in years if you could catch the right tide and get where you wanted to be.  Strong winds, rain, storms, and rough conditions were the norm this past fall.  Typically that’s ok because you can always find a spot to pull on some big bull reds that time of year.  That we did but overall the bull red fishing in fall of 2023 was quite disappointing.  They seemed thin in numbers and scattered.  You’d pick at them but nothing like we have become accustomed to over the years.  That scenario played out for everyone I know this past season.  Maybe the sharks are taking out large numbers while they are offshore….who knows?

Shallow water red fishing made a definitive improvement over the past couple of years.  We were able to see good numbers of 24-33 inch fish pushing in the tiny creeks.  The same caliber of fish roamed some of the larger flats and banks again in decent numbers.  They also did so on a much more consistent basis.  The high “flood” tide fishing was solid as well. Unfortunately,  the majority of the good tides were at night this season, so I didn’t get nearly the time fishing for tailing fish that I’d like.

Marsh hen hunting in the late fall/winter was a BANG…literally.  We had some great days with some great groups.  Once again the tides were tricky, not always getting up as high as forecasted, and the best stretches of days were during the closed season.

CURRENT

Carrying into the start of 2024, we have had a downright cold winter full of rain and wind.  When we’ve been able to get on the water, good things are happening.  Trout and reds are still biting well in the creeks.  We had some excellent trout fishing just before the New Year.  The nearshore wrecks and reefs are teeming with a wide array of life.  Black sea bass, red snapper, black drum, weakfish, sheepshead, bull redfish, small redfish, and several other species are making up the general targets.  Shallow water red fishing has been excellent most days with decent conditions.  Small lures and flies are getting the job done.  The water finally got cold enough this year to get gin clear.  When you get a little sunshine, the sight fishing has been hard to beat.

Tight Lines and see you in 2024! Thank you all for a great season from your guides at The Georgia Fishing Company and Southeastern Angling!

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