Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report January 2016

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “December  fishing  has been good. Water temperature  on Dec. 18 was 60 degrees. The trout bite is hot. As long as the water stays above 55, the bite will continue as it is. When the water gets in the low 50s, the trout will go deeper. In January, try fishing  smaller jigs real slow and close to the bottom. The redfish can be caught all winter. Fish real slow, and have a lot of patience. The winter sheepshead bite should get hot very soon. As always,  fish a fiddler crab close to the bottom  near structure. Sheepshead should be inshore as well as on the close artificial reefs. The striper  bite in the Ogeechee River should  be good on through January. Try a Rapala around creek mouths on the outgoing tide. If the weather stays mild, fishing should be good in January. The sheepshead  and stripers will bite even if it gets cold. After you finish deer hunting,  give winter saltwater fishing a try.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “Spotted seatrout during this time are normally wintering in deep holes in the rivers or sounds. The best way to catch spotted seatrout when in the hibernation mode is to use small saltwater or freshwater jigs with curly tails while using 4- to 6-lb. test main line. I like monofilament because of the extra stretch cushion it adds. Braid will work, but you need to make sure the drag set matches the main line used. Spotted seatrout have soft mouths, and a hook can easily be pulled free. The best freshwater jigs I have found that really work are www.jiffyjigs.com. I like to use 1/16- and 1/24-oz. jig heads with an assorted colors of curly tails and super grubs. My favorite curly jig color combinations are a white jig head with white curly tail and red jig head with chartreuse flake. Another favorite is a white jig head or a plain lead jig head rigged with your favorite yellow/white/chartreuse curly tail. The secret when using any kind of soft bait in cold water is that it should be smaller and worked slower than usual. The best method when fishing a deep hole is to cast in the deepest part, let your lure hit the bottom, wait, reel a few times, wait and repeat. Then I suggest casting lures to the sides of the hole so as to work this area. The secret to getting solid hits during cold-water times is to work your lure as slow as you can while still keeping it near or right on the bottom. The inshore redfish bite can be very good, but you got to know the rules. During cold-water times, the redfish can see and hear better. This fish stays in high alert mode, because of their two main predators. At this time it’s the dolphin (porpoises) and the fishermen. They definitely fear the porpoises more than man. Where you have porpoises staging, you most likely have redfish schooling to the inshore. The best artificial baits are going to be flukes rigged weedless. Don’t be afraid to lay a bead of some sort of fish sauce into the groove of this bait. Fresh frozen pawn shrimp pieces and mullet steaks will also work. And whatever you do, when you do get a bite, give them time to eat.”

Artificial Reefs: Capt. Judy reports, “The artificial reefs located in less than 50 feet of water are holding the winter migration of sheepshead. These fish are going to be staging on the wrecks that offer the most vertical feeding opportunity. Before heading out, make sure you know the coordinates for the wreck you are going to fish. To get all information on Georgia’s artificial reefs, go to http://coastalgadnr.org/node/2089. The best baits for this fish is going to be anything wrapped in a shell, such as purple back fiddlers, black back fiddlers, barnacles, green mussels, oysters and shrimp. It is best to anchor over a wreck, drop Carolina-style rigs to the bottom, and then reel up about 1 foot off the bottom. Once you have either had a bite or caught a sheepshead, I suggest staying were you are. Sheepshead bites can come in flurries and then stop completely. I suggest when the bite stops not to relocate, but to re-situate your bait. Then I suggest waiting until the school makes its way back around to the wreck area that you are fishing over. Trophy redfish migrate to the offshore water during the cold water times. They can be found schooling near the beachfronts, around offshore sandbars and on the artificial reefs. These fish are normally schooling and feeding on something that they have corralled. I have caught them on 4-oz. single tube diamond jigs and Spro bucktail hair jigs. Best color tubes have been red and green. And best color jig-hair combinations have been white on white and blue on white. For those fishermen who prefer using real bait, I suggest squid and shrimp laced on to 4/0 J or circle hooks fished directly on the bottom. Please remember redfish that are caught in federal waters (ocean) are protected and have to be released. During this time, some of these trophy redfish being caught have been up to 45 inches long. Please handle with care. However, plenty of pictures can be taken.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy reports, “The bottom fishing is always very good, especially when you bait your hooks with plain old cut squid.  If using live bait, I suggest lip hooking sand perch, rock bass, juvenile vermilion and ruby red lips. Please remember grouper season is closed and will not open until May 1, 2016. The naval towers located at the banks R 7 3149.000/8016.500, M2R6 3132.000/8014.000, and R2 3122.500/8034.000 sometimes hold the interest of African pompano. Although this is not a fish that we normally catch in this area, this is the time we see them. Best bait is going to be the live ones, such as a ruby red lips, menhaden, horny belly or lookdown. The best presentation is either going to be rigging bait under some sort of traditional adjustable cork or basic freelining.”

Gulf Stream: Capt. Judy reports, “When you get good weather predictions, you can make the blue-water run. Trolling for wahoo, king mackerel and black fin tuna can offer one heck of a catching affair. Mahi mahi are few and far between during this time, but hook-ups are still possible. Finding a well-defined edge at the stream during this time of the year can be done, but there is not that many large fish or schools of bait lining it. Your best bet is to know the coordinates of all ledges, holes and live-bottoms areas where you intend on fishing. When departing Savannah, I suggest always heading to the South Ledge area (3106.416 /7955.300). This ledge has always held the interest of topwater fish as well as bait during this time of the year. Best rigged baits are going to be chin weighted dink ballyhoo pulled naked and medium/large ballyhoo on black or black/red Ilanders. I suggest rigging small dink baits with 60-lb. test fluorocarbon and medium/large ballyhoo with 80- to 100-lb. test wire leader. When it comes to pulling the artificial stuff, I always suggest cedar plugs soaked in menhaden. I always suggest pulling a couple of birds in your trolling spread. I pull No Alibi dolphin delights about 5 feet behind by birds. My preferred combination colors are pink/white and blue/white. If you’re trolling spread doesn’t produce, then I suggest dropping to the bottom.  Best bait is going to be cut ballyhoo, squid and cut fish. Or I suggest giving deep-water jigging a try.”

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