• Savannah Fishing Report - GA

    Miss Judy Charters
  • Miss Judy Charters provides Inshore fishing, Offshore fishing, and Gulf Stream fishing charters. Whether it's sport fishing for the serious angler or a leisurely day for the family, we have the trip for you. We have been fishing in Savannah, Tybee and adjacent waters for over 50 years. We have the knowledge for your inshore and offshore fishing adventure.

  • Savannah Fishing Report - GA

    September inshore fishing Forecast

    The temperatures are still hot, but there is a shuttle change that takes place in the month of September. All fish are basically put on notice that fall patterns are pending. Just the fact that daylight is a couple of minutes shorter makes all the difference to those down under. This is not the month for migrations it’s the month for feeding on everything that is available. Spotted sea trout, red fish, sheepshead, black drum, and flounder might feed at different times of the tides. However, here’s what they have in common all of them like live shrimp. The bottom line is you can serve it up anyway you like from naked with or without any sort of leader or weight, or under popping or adjustable floats. Here is the secret to the fish’s bite in September once you get the bite a-going it’s easy to change your bait. For instance: If you start using live shrimp and they all happen to die or you run out your best bet then is to change over to any leftover parts from previous hits and/or start using DOA shrimp patterns. The DOA shrimp patterns work like a charm. Here’s tip: When using pre-rigged DOAs meaning when they are purchased with hook and balance weight. I suggest removing weight and hook. Then I suggest taking a 2/0 to 3/0 Kahle hook and hooking the shrimp up like you do the real deal. Since you want the DOA to look as natural as possible you would need to place the hook in the mid ship of the shrimp. Once it’s balanced on the hook’s bend it become the prefect waving bait in the current under a popping cork or an adjustable float. The best early fall colors are Root Beer, clear gold glitter, clear chartreuse tail, and golden cherry red. I suggest using ¼ ounce jig heads for DOA shrimp patterns. (http://www.doalures.com/) Another secret is to drop a few DOA’s into the live well. I call this “adding juice appeal!”

    DOA shrimp pattern Golden Cherry red/gold #408

    The first shrimp is one that is rigged with a 2/0 Khale hook. This hook up design works when tied under a popping cork. Once cast placed, let the lure settle, and then give it a few “pops!” When in the flow of the current the shrimp “rocks” making moves “just like the real thing!”

    The second shrimp is a pre-rigged by DOA, which also has been proven to work quite well under a popping cork. When using a pre-rigged shrimp under a popping cork there are three good bite opportunities to consider. Number one: Once cast into place “as the shrimp sinks.” Number two: Once settled it’s suggested to “pop the cork,” which causes the shrimp to jump up triggering one heck of a bite. Number three: While in the retrieval mode trout think the shrimp is trying to escape.

    Now there are other artificial baits to be considered and have been proven by the fish as well as the fishermen. There is Berkley Gulp Alive! This is where the term “secrets in the sauce” really came from. I like the 3” Shrimp Assortment recharging baits, which have new penny/natural, shrimp/pearl, and white/molting shrimp patterns all packed together. (http://www.berkley-fishing.com/berkl...t/1415335.html) Heck, the best news is one pattern doesn’t work remove off hook, drop back in sauce, and grab another, it’s that simple. As far as best way to present this bait, since it looks alive is to rig it that way. (Popping corks, traditional adjustable floats, and threaded onto a jig head tied directly to your fluorocarbon leader) And there are many more shrimp patterns out there on the tackle shelves. The secret is to use the lure that you have the most confidence in, because it seems if you don’t, well bites just don’t seem to happen. My father always said, “There should be no negativity when fishing!”

    For those fishermen that don’t care to use artificial baits of any kind, well you also have options. As you know live shrimp is the most preferred bait that there is and bottom line is that all fish like it. Since all fish eat it meaning all sizes from petite to large; a fisherman’s chance of catching a keeper as well as losing your live shrimp part by part is possible. There are quite a few alterative live baits that you can catch for yourself. And here’s where knowing how to throw a cast net is a big plus. During this time the creeks and back of creeks are full of schooling finger mullet. They do come in all sizes from petite to larger finger mullet. I suggest keeping all sizes, because when using live bait you want to match the hatch. When using larger live finger mullet as bait, your chances of getting a big bite is going to be less. However, when you do get a hit the fish are going to be larger, because the smaller fish as well as the fetish fish will be scare off. What is a fetish fish? It is a small fish that dismantles and eats your shrimp one part at a time. The other live baits, which you could catch while casting for shrimp or finger mullet, are mud minnows, peanut menhaden, croaker, yellow tail, pin fish, and basically any other small live fish.

    The artificial reefs during September can be at times seemly completely baron. What does this mean, no fish bites to be had. It can be frustrating for sure, because you are marking lots of fish on your finder. And then as if someone turns on a switch the bite starts. So therefore when you arrive at selected artificial reef I suggest staying and waiting it out, because bites will happen at least eventually. When the bite is on you could find yourself catching Spanish or king mackerel and barracuda. Trolling Clark and Drone spoons will get a top water bite a going. For those fishermen that prefer trolling some real bait I suggest using medium size ballyhoo rigged on an old school Sea Witch type lure. The best colors have been red/black, blue/white, and chartreuse. As far as head style I prefer the round lead heads. However, there are all sorts of different shapes (split, cone, bullet, etc) that pull through the water differently. You have to be the judge on whether or not you want your bait to push or be pulled through the water. It does seem that all of these heads do work. I rig the sea witch type lures with my 3 hooks in a row method while using 80 to 100 pound test single strand wire as my leader. It is old school but it works. I take three 7/0 Mustad trailer hooks (J hook style with open eyes) and rig them in line. (http://www.tackledirect.com/mustad-o...s-34091dt.html) When a fish hits this rig, the hook configuration makes it almost impossible for them to avoid getting hooked up, but they still somehow do sometimes! I suggest pulling this bait about 50 to 75 feet behind your boat. It is going to be best if you adjust your reel so that it has a medium drag. This helps in hooking the fish up department!

    As far as the bottom bite, I suggest doing a little drifting keeping your baits at mid to lower water column depth. The best bait is going to be exactly what you catch with your gold hook sabiki rig. And of course always take along a little squid. This bait works offshore as well as shrimp does for inshore fish. My favorite sabiki rig is a Tsunami Sabiki TSB-068GL-8/10 style iridescent Hage-aurora green GL head. It also has some fish skin on each gold hook, which adds yet another reason why it attracts fish. Please be responsible when discarding your bait rigs. I always dispose of mine by putting them in an empty water bottle and securing the top tight.

    Our king mackerel bite at the artificial reefs as well as the live bottom areas at the Savannah Snapper banks has been very successful. I like pulling my sea witches also known as Judy Jigs on the surface that I have rigged with medium ballyhoo. One of my most favorite lures to pull behind a #3 planer is a 3 1/2 inch drone spoon. For leader I am using 30 feet of 80 to 100 lb test monofilament line. There is a couple of secrets to keep in mind when setting this trolling rig up. The first is the Drone spoon used normally when purchased does have two welded rings. But sometimes they do not. However, if they don’t have two rings the spoon with not work properly when pulled behind the planer. I am always suggesting have an assorted sizes of split rings available and you can add your own. https://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Fis...+fishing+lures Believe when I say, “An added split ring to any lure makes a big difference in the movement delivered when retrieved or trolled!”

    The second suggestion is to tie a 100 lb barrel swivel into your leader. I suggest cutting the 30 foot leader in half and attach the swivel, which will give you 15 feet on each side of your swivel. This addition adds a little more movement to the Drone spoon.

    Now for those fishermen that prefer live lining only for kings, well, this is the time for this kind of fishing. I suggest catching some live bait, rigging up with some duster king rigs, and give this a try. Go to this website http://kingmactak.com/custom-live-bait-rig/ (hit custom bait rigs button) for detailed information on rigging for kings when using live bait. It is very informative!

    There is another type of rig that I use to target a large king mackerel bite. I take this live bait rig pre-made or homemade by me, place the first live bait hook under the chin of a shinny ballyhoo. Then I put the stringer hook (small treble hook) in the ballyhoo’s side. Since I do a lot of drifting when bottom fishing this as my flat line. The best recipe for this rig is to cast out and let it fall down into the water column just until you can’t any longer see the shine from the ballyhoo. Then put in rod holder, select a light drag, and put clicker on. The rest is pretty darn generic! King mackerel comes by, can’t resist the shine, hits it, eat it, and then screams off with your bait with hooks embedded. As with any larger fish, they might hit the bait first, and then come back. Your choice at this time is to wait or pick up rod, drop bait the bait (controlled free spool) making it look as though it is falling in the water column, and the fish should turn to pick up the so called spoils! Last but not least is Fish On!

    September for us offshore fishermen is “Snag a gag month!” This just means the grouper bite is better, because things are cooling down causing more movement. During this month all grouper such as Gags, Scamps, and Red grouper are more likely to be up and about. Best places to look for one of these fish are the live bottom ledges at the Savannah Snapper Banks. I like to call the fishing cities, which are small areas that hold all types of fish from small to large at all depths. These are basically ledges that are surrounded with sand. Best baits are going to be live cigar minnows, Spanish sardines, which can be caught with Sabiki gold hook rigs. This bait is known for schooling over the structure at the artificial reefs. Baits such as these are known for triggering a serious grouper bite. However, a bigger fish sometimes wants bigger bait. Baits caught at the banks are normally those fish that have air bladders such as sand perch, rock bass, vermilion snapper, pin fish, and ruby red lips also known as tomtates. Before putting in live well I suggest deflating the air bladder with sharp pointed knife. These baits will bring on big time grouper bite. For those that prefer jigging for their gags, well this would be a great time to give this type of fishing a type. I suggest using any sort of butter fly or those less expensive jigs that “looks, acts, and works” like the same darn thing. When vertical jigging I suggest using 80 pound braided main line, 4 to 15 feet of fluorocarbon leader, and a jig (4 to 8 ounces) that has one or two hooks located at top of the lure. You want your main line attached and your hooks at the same end of the jig. Jigging during this month is great because the large bottom fish start to move a little further from the protection of the ledge. The secret to perfecting this style of fishing is to keep the jig moving erratically. This style of jigging does a great job of imitating a bait fish that’s trying to make a solid getaway move. Once you located the depth of the fish, drop your lure to this depth, and just jig. Do not reel and jig. You want your lure to stay in the strike zone. I love this type of fishing, because when you get a hit you are with the fish from the start to the finish!

    If you really want a big big pull I suggest giving shark fishing a try in this area. While bottom fishing the Savannah Snapper Banks we have been hooking up a lot of big bulls, tigers, nurse sharks and sand bar sharks. If you are going to kill one of these large sharks, please check regulations before heading out. Believe me the rules can be a little confusing! As far as getting hooked up, well that’s easy, any fish that you have just caught pan size or larger bleeding (cut tail off live fish) and set out on a beefed up rig. Most of our sharks are caught on a Carolina style rig meaning 8 ounce sinker on main line then tie on a 100 pound swivel, and then tie on leader. As far as leader I do not used any sort of wire leader instead I use 10 to 20 feet of 80/100 pound test monofilament line. To this set up I tie on either a 10/0, 12/0 or 14/0 circle hook directly on to my leader. This style hook pretty insures a behind the jaws in line hook up, which means the shark normally cannot use its teeth to cut the line. Once hooked up it is suggested to keep the line tight and not in-line with the shark. The roughness of the shark’s skin will fray your leader. Always situate boat so that main line is pulling straight off shark’s head. A large shark can be dangerous due to the fact it is so strong. Handle with care and always make sure that the shark that you are going to keep will fit in your cooler.

    During this time it’s not unusual to catch Mahi Mahi while bottom fishing at the banks. They are curious fish and swim right to the boat. Just remove your weight off bottom rig, loosen your drag, and float your bait (squid of cut fish) right to the circling Mahi Mahi. While doing this throw freely over the side a few pieces of bait …if they are hungry this will really get them going! Once this fish turn on their feeding lights on they will **** this bait in just like most of us do when ice cream is involved! (I love ice cream!) If there is more than on one Mahi Mahi leave the last fish caught in the water until the next fish is hooked up!

    This is not a great month for blue water trolling due to the fact that water temps are still about the same in the stream as they are to the waters to the west. However, if you want to get a full pulling bottom fishing deal now would be the time. The live bottom areas located in 150 to 220 feet of water are holding a lot of large fish. Just to name a few, which come in mostly large sizes: grouper (red, scamp, gag, snowy) sand tile, vermilion also known as b-liners, black sea bass, trigger fish, white bone porgy, knobbed porgy, red porgy, white grunt, cobia, and then there are those fish that you could catch that we really don’t know what the heck they are! Whatever you do don’t forget your fish identification book. So if you do make this trip to this area the best bait is going to be squid and cut fish. If you happen to have cigar minnows or Spanish sardines (fresh dead, live, or frozen) these bait will also work. These baits work great when used with a 2 to 3 hook bottom rig. Or you can skip the small baits and so straight to big live baits such as ruby red lips, pin fish, vermilion snapper, and tattlers. Best rig for these fish are going to be Carolina style rigs with long leaders (80 to 100 pounds monofilament) and large circle hooks (10/0 to 14/0). Now for those that want to do a little jigging this is definitely the right place for this type of fishing. The best lure to use is a Williamson deep water jig. We are now offering once again, 14 hours Gulf Stream bottom fishing trips.

    Thanks for reading!

    Captain Judy Helmey
    Miss Judy Charters Savannah, Georgia

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