Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report April 2016

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “The water temperatures are in the low 70s already. Whiting, sheepshead, redfish and trout are already in full springtime mode hungry and biting. The whiting bite is wide open, and there has been a lot of them, and some of the biggest ones I have seen in years. A lot of whiting are 15 inches and around 2 pounds, which is a big whiting. They seem to be on all the sandy-bottom places in Ossabaw Sound. My best catches have been in around 10 feet of water on the outgoing tide. Fish a small piece of shrimp on a No. 2 hook on the bottom. A lot of big redfish have been mixed in with the whiting, so fish a strong 4x hook on 20-lb. leader if you want to catch the redfish, too. This is the easiest fish catching of the year, and it should last through April. The sheepshead bite is hot both inshore and offshore. As always, fish a fiddler crab just off the bottom near structure. The offshore bite will slow toward the end of April, but the inshore bite will slow a little, but it will continue on into the summer. A good number of slot-limit redfish are being caught, with a lot of big redfish being caught. I have caught a lot lately on shrimp while fishing in some deep trees along bluffs. Most of my fish have been in 8 to 15 feet of water. The redfish will move into shallow water any day now. I have caught some monster reds longer than 40 inches while fishing for whiting last week. A lot of big ones have been caught on the offshore reefs. The spring trout bite should be wide open in a few more days. Usually we catch some of the biggest trout of the year in April and May. I usually fish the deeper points with a lot of oysters on them in April. Trout will hit a lot of lures, but the best bet is always a live shrimp under a slip-cork rig. The big blacktip sharks will begin the annual spring migration up the coast any day. A lot of small sharks are already here. The big blacktips are the absolute most fun shark to catch and are very good eating. Get 3 miles or so off the beach and set up a good chum line, and put out fresh bait on the bottom and top. Fish your top baits on noisy popping corks, and work the corks making a lot of surface noise. You can get some wild topwater action with these sharks. Rig your anchor with a float on the end of the rope so you can drop it and follow a hooked fish. Check federal regulations before killing a shark.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Bait shops should start to catch and carry live shrimp. Traditional adjustable floats from large to small and popping corks are going to be your best bet. If a redfish, spotted seatrout or flounder gets close to this bait, they will eat it.  Another way to present live shrimp is to just fish naked, meaning light leader, small split-shot and small hook. All you need to do is hook your shrimp under the horn and cast into place. During the month of April, the sounds come alive with whiting, sharks, bluefish, stingray, trophy redfish and cobia. When the fish quit biting, I always suggest changing your bait. We came up with the ‘Captain Judy’s Whiting Cocktail.’ It is a change-up bait, as well as alternative bait. Fishing with small pieces of cut shrimp will work for a while.  However, adding a small piece of whiting filet sweetens the bait and offers enough of a change to turn the bite back on. When the bait slows again, just go back to the small pieces of shrimp or just pieces of whiting filet. For rigs when fishing the sound, no matter the size of fish that you are targeting, I have to suggest the Carolina-style classic with an egg sinker used on the main line. Then, tie on the swivel, then the leader and then the hook. For the smaller fish, I suggest 10- to 20-lb. test monofilament line or up to 50-lb. test braid main line. As far as the leader, I suggest 15- to 20-lb. test fluorocarbon or just regular monofilament line. The best hook style is going to be a kahle No. 4 or No. 6. Standard J thin-tinned hook. Just remember if the hook is too big, it can detour even a small bite. When you are changing from small pieces of shrimp to steaks or whole fish as bait, I suggest using 30- to 50-lb. test monofilament or 50- to 80-lb. test braid as main line. I suggest using a little heavier rod/reel combo setup. When setting up your Carolina rig for the larger bite, I suggest using 40- to 60-lb. test line. For large fish, I suggest using a circle hook from size 9/0 to 14/0 or a standard J from 6/0 to 8/0. As far as the egg sinker, I suggest having on board sizes from 1 to 8 ounces. The currents in the sound can get strong.”

Offshore: Judy reports, “The artificial reefs can hold the attentions of all sorts of fish from bottom to topwater. When bottom fishing, you could catch black sea bass, flounder, blue fish, white bone porgy, summer trout, cobia and other biters. When it comes to topwater fish, normally large Spanish mackerel have arrived, feeding on any baits that they can find feeding on the surface to right on the bottom. Just because you can’t see the mackerel on the surface certainly doesn’t mean they are not here. To catch a fish that most don’t even know exists in these areas, fish a small to medium Clark Spoon. I suggest either trolling the spoons deep or pitching them right over the structure. Another fish that frequents the artificial reefs at this time is the little tunny, and they can come in sizes from 1 to 20 pounds. One way to catch this fish is to pull a cedar plug way pack, 200 feet plus. I know that sounds like letting out a lot of line, but for some reason when the boat approaches, this fish dives, and right after the pass, the entire school surfaces again. If you are not going to eat this fish, please return unharmed back to the wild. However, I also suggest checking on the web for some recipes for this fish. I do know that little tunny are good when smoked.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Judy reports, “Grouper season runs from May 1-Dec. 31. Offshore fishermen still make way to the Banks at this time to take advantage of the incredible amount of large bottom fish available, such as vermilion snapper, white grunt, triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and white bone. As far as topwater fish, cobia and king mackerel can certainly be caught while plain old bottom fishing. When bottom fishing, cut squid, frozen/fresh cigar minnows (whole or pieces), and cut fish are great working baits. By using any or all of these suggested baits, all fish, whether they are bottom dwellers or not, will bite.”

Bluewater fishing: Judy reports, “For tuna, dolphin, wahoo, Mako shark and bill fish, the 70-mile run is worth it. For bait, I suggest single-hooked, chin-weighted dink ballyhoo and cedar plugs. For a large bite, I suggest Iland Lures rigged with horse ballyhoo. This brings on great possibilities for a serious yahoo wahoo bite. High-speed trolling should be put high on your list of things to do to catch big fish. While heading to the Stream you cover lots of water, so you might as well get the best out of it. Dragging a couple of high-speed lures should be next on your list. Try bottom fishing at the Stream with small pieces of squid. You catch football vermilion, mega triggerfish, sand tile, knobbed porgy and fish not even listed in the identification booklet.”

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