Georgia Saltwater Fishing Report November 2017

Saltwater: Inshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “When the month of November rolls around, the inshore bite certainly does pick up. It is much easier to score a Savannah Slam, which is redfish, spotted seatrout and flounder. The secret to catching more inshore fish during this time of the year is to use live shrimp as bait. Once you get the bite going, it’s simple enough to change to any sort of artificial shrimp pattern. You can fish popping corks with 3- to 4-foot leaders. It’s best to put a shot weight about 1 foot above the hook because this helps keep the bait deep under the cork. Another thing good about popping corks is the sound they make when they are popped. They sound just like a shrimp flapping its tail up against its body. This is a seatrout, flounder and redfish head turner for sure. Traditional adjustable floats come in all sizes and work great when trying to find the bite at different depths. When anchoring is the plan, I suggest using the larger versions of the traditional adjustable cork, because it enables you to make longer drifts. The larger corks can be seen a farther distances, allowing you to be able to cover a lot more area without changing locations. This is a very good tip, especially when fishing in a cooler-water situation because sound seems to travel farther. It seems the more you move, the longer you have to wait to see if there really is any sort of bite in the area picked to fish. For those fishermen who want to use artificial only, this is the month for you. The secret when going this route is to use lighter tackle for a better feel. I like using 8-lb. test monofilament while tying artificial baits directly, meaning no leader needed. Try D.O.A.s rigged or not, Berkeley scented Gulps!, Strike King soft baits, flukes, paddle tails, etc. My favorite cold-water colors are electric chicken, baby bass, root beer and corn. Also fish naked, meaning just hook, leader and bait.”

Nearshore: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “The bottom fishing at the artificial reefs located in 50 to 70 feet of water are normally holding a nice build-up of black sea bass. Just about all structures on the reefs will hold fish. However, sometimes you have to look before you find the bulk of the bottom fish. Go to http://coastalgadnr.org/ArtificialReef for GPS coordinates. The best bait is going to be squid and cut fish. Artificial reefs L, CCA and the J buoy normally are holding the attentions of Spanish and king mackerel. The chances are normally strong during this month for mackerel activity. We normally pull 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 Drone spoons for the kings and small to medium Clark spoons for the Spanish. Best trolling speed is 5 to 7 knots. For those fishermen who want to drift these areas with light tackle and live baits, this is a good time to go this route. Trophy redfish can also be caught while trolling, bottom fishing or live lining these areas. Please remember these fish are on the federally protected program list. You can catch them, but you can’t keep them. Please handle with care, and release as soon as possible.”

Savannah Snapper Banks: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “There has been some noise that a genuine red snapper season will be open during the first couple of weekends in November. However, the only way to know if you can keep your one fish per person with no size limit is to keep checking this website: http://safmc.net. If you want to talk to someone, please call Kim Iverson, the public information officer for South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at (866)SAFMC-10. Kim is up to date with all regulations, very helpful and easy to talk to. Bottom fishing at the Savannah Snapper Banks for grouper is still open, as well as quite a few other species. Best live baits when targeting grouper are small vermilion, pinfish, sand perch, bluefish and rock bass. If you can’t catch these baits while plain old bottom fishing with squid, give the sabiki rig a try. Here’s a list of catchers and keepers: cubera snapper, white grunt, flounder, amberjack, almaco jack, banded rudder fish, porgy, trigger fish, black sea bass, vermilion snapper and other large-mouth hungry biters. For those who like standard old bottom fishing with bait, such as cigar minnows, Spanish sardines or cut squid, now is the time. Best rigs to use to catch these live baits are going to be sabiki gold-hook rigs. Whatever you do, always carry extra bait rigs, because they work great and get a lot of abuse. We have been catching baits in rips and over any sort of structure. The best news is that during these times, it is easier to find the bait because it normally is schooling in the upper water column near the structure. Now for those who don’t want to mess with catching bait, I suggest picking up a box of frozen cigar minnows or Spanish sardines at your local bait shop. You will notice that the cigar minnows will be more expensive than the Spanish sardines. I suggest purchasing the Spanish sardines and keeping them frozen as long as you can. These partially frozen baits whole or cut in half will stay on the hook better. If you can’t find any frozen baits, I suggest putting the cast net in the boat because we currently have lots of menhaden. This bait will work live and when cut up. While making your way through the rivers, sounds and along beachfronts, you could find yourself in menhaden-catching heaven.  Sometimes all it takes is one cast to fill you livewell. The small menhaden dead or alive work great, and you don’t have to cut them up. If you do catch a lot of them, I suggest not overfilling your livewell. When there are leftovers, I suggest putting them in a bucket and covering with salt water. This type of soaking will help keep their shine alive.”

Blue water fishing: Capt. Judy Helmey reports, “During this time, the edge between the cooler western waters and the continuously northern pushed warmer waters of the Gulf Stream is formed. This is where smaller fish feel safe and where larger fish feed. For those fishermen who want to do a little rigging, I suggest dragging ballyhoo from small dinks to large horse size dressed in different colored skirts or rigged just plain naked with or without chin weights. For those fishermen who just want to drag the artificial stuff, believe me it does work. I like pulling cedar plugs that have been soaked in menhaden oil. This is where you forget the painted cedar plugs and just go plain cedar. Or do a little sanding/scraping on the painted ones so as to expose the wood. This wood can really soak up the oil, and when trolled, it leaves nice oily trails. Dolphin Delight made by No Alibi is a plastic squid lure made with feathers, and it works great when pulled about 4 feet behind any sort of bird. Best lures to pull are old-school black/silver and blue/silvers Halcos. Back in the old days, we pulled a black with an orange bottom lure that was called a Terminator (not to be confused with the freshwater Terminator spinnerbaits) and for good reason. Yo-Zuri Bonito lures are great big-game trolling baits, and they have the new updated version of my old-school bait. Go to https://yo-zuri.com/products/bonita/. If the trolling doesn’t work, there is always deep-water jigging for big gags and scamp grouper. Best jigs for deep water are the Williamson lures (my favorite Bethos Speed Jig) or Shimano jigs (flat sides 7 to 10.5 ounce). All you have to do is drop these jigs on the ledge, keep them close to the bottom, and work them. Big bites will happen. I suggest jigging with a medium drag, and you had better keep a strong grip on that rod.”

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