September is turning out to the hottest month in waters near Savannah for tarpon! One fisherman reported landing four for six hook ups and six for seven on a following outing. Per Allen from River Supply, dirty water fish dead bait on the bottom. In clean water try live lining one on top and the other on the bottom. If the strikes are predominately on one then switch to one getting the hits. The likelihood of storms and rough conditions are the greater during September than any other time of all year. The opportunities to fish the outer sand bars will likely be limited but the chances of finding large tarpon are high. Small fish such as tomtates, pinfish, ladyfish and mullet all are excellent baits. Most fishermen prefer to fish large ocean pogies. Sometimes finding pogies can be difficult. The fall back baits can be just as productive or more. When surf conditions are rough try deep holes or the mouth of a slough. Water temperature is high per Wendell Harper, a great fishing guide out of Two Way Fish Camp, 82.6 degrees. It’s likely as temperature drops tarpon will vanish. For now there are still big fish off the coast with large numbers reported from Savannah to St. Catherine’s sound.
Don’t despair if you wait too long for your tarpon you can find stag bass running the surf! You can use the same or lighter tackle. The magic number for big reds in the surf, by most accounts, is between 72 and 74 degrees. Finger mullet and cut mullet make a great bait for stag bass. Some fishermen prefer to fish from the beach while others prefer to fish from their boat. Anytime around the surf the key word is safety. Fishermen need to position their boat near as possible to the breakers with out being in them. Anchoring is tricky to say the least. As the tide pushes in what was safe one moment can quickly turn unsafe. Keep a constant eye for changing conditions.
For fishermen who aren’t interesting in tangling themselves or their equipment in the surf there are lots 14 inch (legal size) redfish some 15 inches as well as some over and under the legal size (23 inch) in the creeks and rivers. It always a good idea to let redfish go or just keep a few. Lots of trash fish (little fish that steal your bait) so fishermen need to have plenty of bait. Having a pint or two of dead bait in addition to your live bait is a good idea. Redfish often seem to like dead bait more than live. To stretch your bait you might try putting a highly scented bait such as a Berkley Gulp or Bass Assassin Slurp under a float or on a jig. Little fish will still eat these baits but they can put quality fish in the boat.. Seatrout action has been sporadic. One day a good catch on drops in the Herb, Wilmington, or Bull river follow by not much on the same drop a few days later. The bite appears to be changing from a beach pattern to a river pattern. As shrimp become larger and more plentiful in the rivers and creeks the bite will likewise be mainly in these waters. With warm conditions lots of blue fish on the sand bars. Some bonnethead sharks but their numbers are lessening. Whiting are plentiful. As of last week lots small whiting, nine inches or less with plenty of keepers as well. Warm conditions not only means tarpon but sharks as well: spinners, blacktip and sand bar sharks. Until cool down anticipate small redfish to take center stage on the inshore bite. These fish are numerous and until they’ve been hooked they’re not too savvy.
Tides look good for the coming week. The big question is the weather. Thunder storms and wind can blow out fishing. When weather isn’t turbulent fishing could be good. Anticipate a sporadic seatrout bite laced with ladyfish, small trout and trash fish. In between all the bites there will be some nice trout. Redfish are plentiful and lots of them are legal. Incredible amounts of rain that fell last week near Savannah should have a positive impact on our fishery, washing out needed nutrients into the estuary and balancing salinity. On Thursday and Friday I had shrimp die in the bait well because the water was too fresh. This is pretty unusual. Nonetheless the rain was a good thing!
Hope this of help! Practice catch and release!
Good Fishing! Capt. Jack McGowan