Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report June 2016

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. David Newlin reports, “The trout bite has been really good the last few weeks. The key to catching trout has been finding clear water. During June, a lot of trout will be caught on the beach fronts. The usual slip-float rig will work on the beach with a live shrimp or a small mullet or poly-wog. Sometimes on the beach a light bottom rig with a small live mullet has worked for me. The topwater trout bite should be hot by June. Try a MirrOlure in white just after daylight. Some of the Rebel topwater plugs have worked good in blue and silver. Flounder have been making a good by-catch. I have had several days with six or seven good ones. I have caught some monster redfish on dead bait on the beach fronts while shark fishing. I have been catching a few keepers on the inside on live shrimp. June is the month that tarpon and big sharks invade Georgia waters. All the usual spots in the offshore channels 3 to 5 miles out will be where the early tarpon show up first. Look for big sharks to be there, too. Shrimp boats have been holding a lot of sharks.” Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “This would be the month to bring out the cast net and catch your own bait. Peanut menhaden, finger mullet, mud minnows and shrimp are plentiful. All of these baits will work under traditional adjustable floats or popping corks, Carolina style rigs or fished just plain naked. For artificial lures, please pick up an assortment of different colors of Strike King soft jerkbaits. One favorite is baby bass, which is 3XZT00-55. These baits work rigged weedless on a 3/0 worm hook or threaded onto 1/8-oz. red, black or white jig heads. Cast them out, let them fall, and normally these lures never make it to the bottom before strikes happen. Berkley Gulp Alive is a great soft artificial bait that comes in many forms. These baits will work rigged on jig heads or under corks. During this month, the inshore shark populations are plentiful. The best bait during this time is bluefish or whiting steaks. It’s best to use these baits the same day that they are caught. Whole, freshly caught whiting make a great shark bait. When using this bait, I suggest scaling and also cutting the tail off.  The removal of the scales helps you get a more solid hook-up, especially when a softer bite is delivered. With the tail removed, fresh scents are delivered at intervals, which keeps a scattered smell around your bait.”

Nearshore: Capt. Judy reports, “June is mackerel catching time. For Spanish mackerel, all you need is a small 0 or 00 Clark spoon to get this catching job done. The spoons work great pulled 10 feet behind 2-oz. trolling sinkers or small planers. And if you find yourself surrounded by surface holding Spanish mackerel, you can stop and pitch your most favorite small size lure. Just about anything will work as long as it matches the hatch. The king mackerel bite will get hot and heavy. Best artificial bait is the Drone spoon pulled around 7 knots behind deep-running planers. I like using at least 30 feet of leader between the Drone spoon and the planer. Use live bait on Duster skirt rigs with stinger hooks in tow. Best live baits are going to be the nervous baits: Spanish sardines, cigar minnows or any small shiny bait that can move up/down quickly in the water column.  King mackerel like bling.”

Offshore: Capt. Judy reports, “Fishermen are catching lots of cobia around buoys, artificial reefs and at Savannah Snapper banks. Best baits for cobia are eels under beefed-up adjustable floats or Carolina-style rigs. Under federal regulations, cobia season closes June 20, 2016 and reopens on Jan. 1, 2017. Go to http://safmc.net/fish-id-and-regs/cobia for more details. Also the state of South Carolina has some rule changes. Please go to http://dnr.sc.gov/ for these details. Grouper, vermilion and black bass catching seasons are open. As far as baits for grouper, I suggest using live fish on the bottom, such as cigar minnow, Spanish sardines, vermilion snapper or sand perch. When using small vermillion snapper, sand perch or rock bass, I suggest using a Carolina-style rig. The leader used can be as short as 6 feet and as long as 30 feet. When using this style, I suggest a 12/0 to 14/0 circle hook. This type of rig allows your bait quite a bit of swimming freedom, which brings in the attentions of a larger fish bite. When using a single- or double-hook bottom rig, I suggest using live/dead cigar minnows or Spanish sardines. These baits are known for triggering a bite, meaning fish strike quick and strong. When targeting the larger species of vermilion snapper, I suggest the liveliest cigar minnows, Boston mackerel or Spanish sardines you can catch. To catch bait, you will need to bring along more than one set of Sabiki gold hook rigs, which works great when dropping over any sort of structure at the artificial reefs. Please know that when fishing for any fish listed under snapper grouper complex, you must use circle hooks. Go to http://safmc.net/sites/default/files/Regulations/pdf/2015/RecRegsSummary112415.pdf.”

Blue Water: Capt. Judy reports, “This is the time of the year when mahi mahi and wahoo go into the wandering mode. The Savannah Snapper Banks is a great place for these blue water fish to wander, too! Toward the middle of June, those fish that travel and feed near the surface show us the way. Mahi look for anything floating that provides any sort of shade, which makes for a great place for small baitfish to school. While these fish are feeding near the surface, the sea birds with their keen eye sight are picking up the leftovers. The large and mighty wahoo will also make their way into the green zone. Normally a large wahoo is accompanied by a yellow bill tropical bird or some sort of fast seabird. If you happen to see a single bird diving fast and then making erratic air moves, it is most likely mimicking the movement down under of a large feeding wahoo. During this time of the year, I normally keep larger baits, such as red porgy and vermilion snapper, in livewell. My favorite rig is a beefed-up king mackerel rig using a single extra-heavy-duty hook. It’s best to place the hook as near the tail section, but you want to make sure the bait can still swim somewhat normally. Wahoo have a great nickname, which is ‘Tail cutter!’ It’s this fish’s goal to chop off the tail and then turn back for the spoils.”

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