Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report August 2017

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “July has been a great month of fishing coastal Georgia waters. Redfish and flounder have been on fire. Trout, tarpon and tripletail have been caught in good numbers. The big news is the number of small redfish that we have been catching. After the first of August, catching a limit of 14- to 16-inch redfish should be simple. A lot of days recently we have caught more than 100 small redfish in a morning. Some big redfish and some 20- to 23-inch fish have been mixed in. The next few months should be some of the best redfish catching we have had in years. A live shrimp under a cork is always hard to beat. A Gulp Swimming Mullet rigged about any way you want will catch redfish in August. Almost every oyster-shell area will hold some redfish in August. Watch for redfish chasing bait in shallow water early mornings and late afternoons. Toward the end of August, some big redfish should show up around the beaches. The flounder bite has been red hot for the last five weeks. This should continue through August. I have caught flounder in places where I have never caught flounder before. Find a shell flat that has a good sandy bottom around it, and we have had instant flounder. Floating a live shrimp or small mullet just off the bottom in 2 to 3 feet of water has been deadly. A spinnerbait with gold blades has been working real good. Put a piece of fish or a Gulp Grub on the spinnerbait, and fish it just off the bottom real slow. One day last week I caught seven big flounder in seven casts in a spot about 4 feet wide. The last half of the outgoing tide is usually the best flounder fishing. The trout bite has been about normal—not red hot, but pretty good on numbers and great on quality. The next few weeks should keep producing some big trout and a lot of small ones. I have caught a lot of 3- to 4-lb. trout over the last few weeks. Most of my big trout have been caught before 11 in the morning. Midday fishing has been tough for trout. The second half of August usually produces some big catches of trout. Try a topwater plug right after daylight or late afternoon for a big trout. Try a live mullet under a cork if you are hunting a real trophy-sized trout in August. A lot of trout will be caught on the beach front next month. During August, try fishing a live shrimp on a light bottom rig with a 2-foot leader, 1/4-oz. sinker and a light No. 1 hook. Some days this rig really works great. On shell flats, I will fish a bottom rig straight down by the boat to keep it from getting hung up. Black drum have been in good numbers. I am catching a good number on shrimp under a cork. If you really want to target drum, fish a shrimp on the bottom with the same light bottom rig I suggested for trout. In thick cover, use a light leader, so you just break off the hook when you get hung up. If you want to target big drum, fish a blue crab on real heavy tackle. A lot of whiting and croaker are also being caught fishing with a shrimp on the bottom. Last week we caught a 19-inch whiting—that was the biggest whiting I have ever seen. The croaker bite will be strong during August. They aren’t very big, but they fight hard and fry up real good. August is always the prime tarpon month in our area. I have been seeing real good numbers of tarpon feeding on the surface in the mornings. I have been hooking a good number of fish off St. Catherines Island in 6 to 10 feet of water off the beach. Look for tarpon in the river channels, on the beaches and up the rivers in August. Fish a live bait when the water is clear and a dead bait on the bottom when the water is muddy. Menhaden and mullet are my favorite baits for tarpon. If you anchor and don’t see a tarpon in an hour, you are in the wrong place. Some places will have dozens of tarpon on the surface. The hotter the water gets, the tarpon will get thicker. Some days a chum bag full of smashed up menhaden seems to help, but it will also bring in a lot of sharks. Shark fishing is usually hot during August. Almost any channel off the beaches will hold some sharks. Anchor the boat, put some fresh fish on the bottom and a couple of chum bags over the side, and sit for three to four hours in the same spot. You will catch sharks. The worst thing you can do is a lot of moving around. Let the sharks come to you. Big sharks, big bait—don’t be afraid to put out 5-lb. baits. A 20-inch filleted trout or redfish carcass makes a great bait. For small sharks, use a 6-inch mullet or menhaden. A lot of sharks will still be around working shrimp boats. August should be a good month to go hunt eating fish and trophy-size monsters.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “It’s best to fish early. Redfish, spotted seatrout, flounder, whiting and sharks can be caught just about anywhere while fishing the sounds and beachfronts. The best baits are going to be the lively ones such as shrimp, mud minnows, finger mullet and small yellow tail. Our inshore captains have learned the shrimp you catch in your cast net are much hardier and will live longer in your livewell, especially during these hot-water times. Live shrimp caught while using a dragging net don’t live as long. The secret to casting and catching shrimp is working the grassline as the shrimp first come out on the falling tide and when they start heading back to the safety of the marsh on the rising tide. Make sure the grassline you are working has a mud bottom and not oyster rakes. While casting for shrimp, you will also catch some great juvenile baitfish. Your by-catch can be mullet, pin fish, menhaden and many other small baitfish. Throw these right into your livewell with the shrimp. The absolute best way to rig up your by-catch is to lip hook it, and you can present it under a popping cork or a traditional adjusted float. All baits from live shrimp to small fish work great when placed on the bottom with a Carolina-style rig. When using a Caroling rig, cast your bait into to place, let it sit at least two to three minutes, and then raise your rod, reel about five turns, let it sit, wait and repeat. Bring a dip net, because you’re most likely to catch a flounder. Most flounder are lost at the boat while trying to lift them without using a dip net. For those who prefer artificial bites, I like using DOA shrimp patterns in August. Best method here is to tie a 3- to 4-foot leader of 12- to 20-lb. test to a popping cork, and cast into place. Let the tide take the float, and come up with your own popping-the-float sequence. It’s best to fish this rig in 5 to 6 feet of water. Here’s another tip when fishing more than 6 feet of water—I suggest using a small, adjustable float rig with a 2/0 Kahle hook. Remove the DOA weight and hook from the artificial shrimp, and then I suggest balancing this bait on your hook, which while waving in the current will look just like the real deal.”

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “For bait, ocean menhaden have arrived and can be caught while casting your net around beachfronts and as far out as 3 miles into the ocean. The secret to finding porgies, also known as menhaden, is to keep an eye to the sky for diving pelicans. This is the one bait that works when used live or dead. It also works when used as chum. When using live menhaden, I suggest light-tackle rigs made with stinger hooks fished around the beachfronts and shipping channels. Big kings are known for migrating into these areas during the month of August. Steep drops such as those located in shipping channels, like the Savannah River Channel, hold lots of bait. King and Spanish mackerel know exactly how this feeding drill works. Slow-trolling in these areas usually yields big king mackerel bites. If you see Spanish mackerel on the surface, it’s very likely that large kings are holding in the outskirts. Another good baiting option to tempt a big king is to catch a Spanish mackerel, rig it up quick and let it free swim. Trolling for Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and barracuda is very good in August. Best trolling lures for Spanish mackerel are going to be the 0 and 00 Clarkspoons. Any sort of pitching lure that once on the retrieve looks and acts like a glass minnow or juvenile squid will work, too. Best trolling spoons for king mackerel are 1 1/2- to 4 1/2-inch Drone spoons. I have always preferred old-school silver color. However, that is only because that was the only color they used to have. If you want to pull a colored Drone, I suggest black, chartreuse, red or royal blue, with or without flash bling. When it comes to getting that prefect barracuda bite, it can happen while trolling for Spanish and king mackerel. However, this toothy monster will also attack at and hit trolled surgical tubes. We like using Sea Striker Cuda Tube CT-12 (12 inches) surgical tube with a 2/0 heavy-duty saltwater treble, and the CT-14 (14 inch) rigged with two hooks. The tubes come in green, red, pink and yellow colors.  And the best news is you could catch just about any kind of mid-column to surface swimming fish with this crazy-acting tube lure.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The bottom bite at the Savannah Snapper Banks is good in August. However, to catch big fish, you have to use the right big bait. Larger fish such as grouper, red snapper, cubera snapper, amberjack and cobia want live bait. Cobia season is closed in federal waters, and we still do not have a genuine red snapper season. Best live baits are menhaden, sand perch, rock bass, scup, pin fish and ruby red lips. It’s best to make sure that your livewell circulation pump is working properly and that the filter is clean. You want your bait lively and not shocked. I suggest lip hooking any of these baits with a 13/0 circle hook rigged up on a Carolina-style rig. I always use a 3- to 8-oz. egg weight and an 8- to 30-foot 80/100-lb. test monofilament leader. Send this rig to the bottom, which anchors the line on the bottom. This type of Carolina-rig allows the bait to swim free, putting it right in the big fish’s strike zone. Before heading out, I always suggest checking http://safmc.net. There are a few closures, such as genuine red snapper, which is closed to harvest and possession. And you also need to know that state and federal regulations are not always the same.”

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