So I’ve been getting a lot of calls from folks looking to book trips for this year. A common questions is “What will be biting for the time I’m here?” This isn’t always easy to answer as the fish do their own thing a lot of times and all we can do is base a guess off of what we have seen in years past. I’ll do my best to give you a guide for the best fish to target this year while you are staying at St. Simons Island or Jekyll Island. Since January is almost over, I’ll start with February.
Please don’t feel like you have to decide to fish for one thing in particular. I love it when clients have open minds and are willing to adapt throughout the day and target the fish we have the best chance of catching with great success. I call this a “best bite trip” and it is the option most people go for. You can also tell me that you want to do, for example, a best bite, but you really want to try to catch X. We’ll focus on whatever X is but know that we can also do something different. I’m here for you. Just let me know what your goals are and we’ll go from there.
February / March
In February you can expect inshore fishing for Trout and Redfish to still be good while some years it will taper off. Redfish are here year round while Trout tend to be more mobile. Inshore fishing is definitely worth looking at for February.
Reef fishing in February can really be outstanding. Thankfully after a few years of being off limits in the winter and spring, Sea Bass season is open year round as long as the catch quota is not met early. This is excellent news as Sea Bass are great to eat and very easy to catch. It is common to catch more than 100 in a day although the limit is 5 per person.
Along with Sea Bass we can target Sheepshead and Summer Trout. Sheepshead put up one heck of a fight and can be found in large numbers if we play our cards right. They have great table quality and grow to 10 pounds or more. Summer Trout are fun to catch and, like Sea Bass, can be caught by the dozens. Their table quality is fair but not great which is fine because the limit is 1 per person anyway.
Bull Redfish are also found quite often this time of year out on the reefs. These big girls can grow to over 40 inches and sometimes you can’t beat them off of you with a stick. If you land on the right school you might be begging me to move so your arms can rest! These are all catch and release but make great pictures and memories.
In March we will start to see Whiting moving in on the beaches. These smaller fish can sometimes be caught by the bucket load as well and make a great dinner as a bonus. If you want to stuff a cooler you can certainly do it as Whiting have no possession limit in the state of Georgia. I offer special pricing on these trips at certain times so be sure to ask about Spring Whiting trips.
April offers many of the same options as February and March. Sea Bass will still be an option as well as Summer Trout. Sheepshead will often start heading back inshore although they can still be encountered on the reefs.
Usually in April my focus will turn back inshore as a primary concentration. Big Trout are most common is Spring and often you will start to see their numbers jump back up from March. Redfish, of course, are always a target.
Although in years past we have seen them arrive much earlier, it is safe to say that by late April Tripletail will be a fish that we can target confidently. These fish are probably my single favorite fish to chase as we catch them sight fishing.
If you’re not familiar with sight fishing, it can be summed up this way; See fish. Catch Fish. We will actively hunt these fish with our eyes and spot them before ever making a cast. Days of seeing 30 or more Tripletail are not uncommon. Tripletail are probably the highest quality table fare we have here but you will find your captain most grateful if you release the larger spawning females. I find Tripletail fishing to be EXTREMELY exciting although you might have to test your trust in me while I locate the first one. Usually once we find one we can locate the rest of them shortly after.
Oh, sweet May. I love May. May is a time of celebration for me. Did I mention I like May?
In May you will find the Tripletail in full swing as well as excellent Trout fishing near Cumberland beach. This is a great “one, two punch” of catching Trout early in the morning and then moving on to Tripletail once the sun is overhead making them easier to spot. It really makes my job easy having these two options open to me.
Sharks move in as early as April, but in May you can target them with confidence. So perhaps a “one, two, punch” followed by a haymaker?
In late May we will see the Cobia arrive. If you want to talk about an exciting day, imagine a full day that starts with some Trout fishing followed up with Tripletail and Cobia!
If you aren’t familiar with Cobia, imagine a fish that burns drag, swims right up to the boat sometimes just to check you out, eats artificial lures, and tastes great grilled.
June / July
June will provide most of the same opportunities found in May although the Cobia run will end some time during June. You will still find a few of them that stayed behind but it won’t be the insane run that we experienced earlier.
Sharks will be thick and easy to find. If you want to know what it’s like to be hooked up to the back of a Ferrari, our Black Tip and Spinner Sharks can help you with that. It isn’t uncommon to catch sharks in the double digits in a 4 hour trip which is pretty impressive considering we usually have to fight the big ones for half an hour. If you want to try your hand at high sport, just ask me about catching Sharks on artificial lures!
Toward the end of June we will start to see more and more Tarpon. These guys will really kick off later in July but will still be targets off opportunities in June and early July.
July also can offer some very exciting topwater action for huge Jack Crevalle. July of 2013 was awesome as we were fishing schools of 30 pound plus Jacks nearly every morning. Imagine watching an entire school of huge Jacks fight each other over a topwater plug! Last year we had many fights reach the 45 minute mark and we destroyed A LOT of heavy duty tackle in the process.
Sweet baby Jesus, August. August is prime time to get down here and chase our friends the Tarpon. Live bait, plugs, whatever you fancy. If you want to catch them on fly I will set you up with the top fly guide within 100 miles. Just please, please, consider Tarpon fishing in Georgia. Schools of Tarpon can be found erupting in pods of Pogies (that’s Georgia speak for Menhaden).
Just like Tripletail, you might have to put your trust in me for a little while. You don’t just drive to a hot Tarpon spot and start catching them. It’s a hunt. My favorite Tarpon trips are the ones when my customers PARTICIPATE in the hunt. You don’t have to sit back and wait for me to find the fish. You are more than welcomed to help me find them. Don’t be afraid to ask me what to look for. It’s your experience, I would love for you to be a part of it!
While the Tarpon will be the apple of my eye in August, most of the options that you have in June and July are still available as well such as Trout, Redfish, Tripletail (although we will target them a bit differently this time of year), and Sharks.
September will open with Tarpon and go out with Bull Redfish. Usually the hot Tarpon fishing from August spills over into September and may even run through the entire month.
Toward the end of September we can expect some pretty predictable Bull Red fishing. This is the major spawn and your best bet at catching some trophy redfish in excess of 40 inches. In 2013 we saw days that we went well over 30 fish… and sometimes that was a half day. Just check out last October’s fishing reports and you’ll see what I mean.
Inshore Trout and Red fishing can also be outstanding in September. Tripletail will begin to leave.
Trout will usually be eager to bite in October. Sometimes you can go catch a limit of Trout and still have time for a Bull Redfish or two. Not a bad day if you ask me.
Bull Redfish will almost certainly stay through the half way point of October, and in 2013 we saw them stay well into November. This is something that is hard to predict this far ahead so if you really want to do this it is best to book early to get prime early October days.
Trout. Trout Trout Trout. November is Trout time. Redfish too, but mostly Trout.
Capt. TJ Cheek