The cold weather has finally broke on the Georgia coast! This is great news! With almost two straight weeks of sub freezing temperatures the first thought was we came out pretty much unscathed. Right now its wait and see. Terns can be seen feeding on lots of small fish that were stunned or killed. Some keeper size sea trout have been seen lying dead on the flats or floating. One forboding report of large number of dead sea trout in the sound just in front of the Savannah River. The extent of damage remains to be seen. Perhaps this is the worst of it. On a more positive note even in the bitter cold fishermen were still catching red fish. On Friday January 15th we caught and released several nice red fish while fly fishing. All flies aren’t created equal! We fished Chris Webber’s rattle shrimp with good results. Fish literally destroyed a couple of flies (some very good red fish action). Red fish can been seen tailing on the flats. With not much bait around porpoises are aggressively feeding on red fish. When fish are tailing try dropping the fly or soft plastic close by.. As conditions warm red fish should be hungry!
The report is the stirper bite has been a little better south of Savannah. Recent flood water will likely make fishing the Ogeechee a mess. Those fishing the Savannah River have had little or no success. The best red fish action has been on flats close to the sounds. Live shrimp is currently not available. As conditions warm Larry’s Bait Shop and Sand Fly Bait & Tackle should be restocking on shrimp. Although with water temperature as cold as it is once your shrimp hits the water it will die. The lowly mud minnow is a hardy superior bait to fish during the winter that can survive the cold.
Miss Judy’s first of two inshore clinics was held last Saturday at Tubby’s Tank House in Thuderbolt. A fun occasion with plenty of good food and good talk about fishing! The next school is February 20th at Tubby’s. To register or for information call Miss Judy at 912.897.2478 or go to www.missjudycharters.com Hope to see you there!
During the school I was asked what can we fish for now? The answer is sheepshead and red fish! One of the guides asked if I would say something about how to handle and release a fish. Prior to the extreme cold we were catching lots red fish 20 inches and larger, some sea trout but mostly red fish. The simplest most effective thing a fisherman can do is smash the barb on your hook with a pair pliers. This one thing will make unhooking your fish much easier and less stressful. Smaller fish seemed to be more resilient and can be dropped into the water. The larger the fish, the more care in releasing. Dropping a large red fish into the water could stun and perhaps kill the fish. Hold the fish by the tail, look for the dorsal to kick up. When this happens the fish should be ready to go. The only motion is a little side to side if needed. If the fish needs a few moments don’t rush it. Most if not all red fish can be released unharmed. Try to avoid putting a death grip on your fish. This means hold fish tight enough that its secure and no more. My trick is if looks like its going to take more than a moment to unhook the fish turn it upside down. This temporarily stuns fish and hopefully now you’ve gotten the hook out and he’s ready to be put back in the water.
Some fishermen reported catching nice sea bass on the near shore wrecks! Next week when tide recede into the five foot could be a good time to head up river and look for stripers. Often the best stripers days are when the currents in the Savannah River aren’t boiling. If stripers fail to show up fishermen will likely be able to catch some red fish along the banks.
This is winter time so manage your expectations accordingly. Sea trout action will likely be scarce. The red fish action will likely remain good! If conditions allow those venturing offshore could find good action on near shore wrecks. The striper bite is a little problematic. Todate the striper bite has not been strong but that can quickly change. Last year some of the best striper action was in February. Hope this of interest and help! Keep what you want to eat and release the rest.
Fish On! Capt. Jack McGowan