St Simons Island Fishing Report 3/7/15

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bite still strong, fishing report SE Georgia Dec 9-Dec 17, 2010

Mid-December brought us back to back cold fronts in the form of two clippers that saw temps drop to the low 20s.  For those who braved the wind and bone-chilling cold, the rewards were worth it.  We ran the entire gamut of inshore fishing during this period.  Limits of bigger than average Trout and slot sized Redfish were common.  Fortunately, we had favorable moon phases and clear water.  One of the better patterns was shallow diving and suspending lip divers.    One of the keys to enticing the Trout to bite on the twitch baits was to pause the bait sometimes as long as 5-10 seconds.  This naturally was preceded by two sharp twitches that are the custom way of working these baits.  As the Trout got repeated looks at the twitch baits and quit biting, we switched to slow sinking Mirrolure 52MR plugs. 
One of the best coastal Georgia Redfish opportunities is now upon us.  Midday low tides (10am -2pm) are the best windows for this type of fishing.  Typically, during the winter months, the Redfish will “sunbathe” on shallow dark-bottomed flats within the estuaries of the marsh.  Although as the tide recedes they may not be as eager to eat, and more inclined to warm themselves.  As the tide turns in, they will feast.  I like to nose my boat into these areas at the last of falling, or dead low, and locate the fish.  Once located, I will hunker down and wait for the incoming tide to get moving.  Many types of bait will work in this scenario, but as a rule try to keep your presentations fairly light.  A jig head and shrimp or small profile plastic will usually do the trick. 
A very well kept secret over the last few years is the amazing Flounder, Sheepshead and Black Sea Bass bite that occurs in 40-60 feet of water off the Georgia coast.  There are literally hundreds of nearshore structures that harbor these great eating fish.  The technique is very simple, and often over-thought.  My favorite way to fish these structures is to have the boat positioned directly over your target, and present your bait vertically—with as light a weight as possible, just enough so that the current does not move your line.  One of my favorite rigs for this type of fishing is the knocker rig.  This rig consists of a bead and an egg sinker placed directly on top of the hook.  Drop the rig to the bottom, lift up about a half turn, and hold on.  Many anglers often employ a dropper loop system with two or three hooks as well.  I like 40 lb braid on a conventional reel with a 7ft medium heavy blank.
Tip of the week:  When fishing the nearshore wrecks, upsize your synthetic bait (Gulp/Fish Bites) to a larger profile (5”-6”).  This will often entice the largest Sea Bass, Flounder or Sheepshead to fight through the pack.
You won’t know if you don’t go…

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wintertime tactics-the art of the jig....

The jig may possibly be one of the oldest and simplest fishing tools ever created.  The jig was so reliable that many armed forces survival kits included a buck-tail jig with some line.  The reason was simple, they work.  Whether tipped with hair or nylon like the original buck-tails, or one of today's many different colored and shaped soft plastics, the jig's versatility is virtually unmatched.  The jig (or jig head) can cover essentially every depth of water you will encounter.  Jigs are weighted from as small as 1/32 oz on up to 1/2 lb of lead poured over a hook.  For our purposes, we'll discuss options that are suitable for fishing inshore saltwater. 

Wintertime fishing for reds and trout here in coastal Georgia can be challenging.  When the water temperatures drop below 52 degrees, I turn almost exclusively to the jig.  I typically use 1/8, 3/16, 1/4, or 3/8 oz weights, using as light as I can get away with and still feel the bite and what the lure is doing.  The speckled trout and red bass typically school very tight during the coldest periods of the year.  Fortunately, the marshes along the Georgia coast offer many great places for these game fish to hide.  The trick is to present a bait to these often lethargic fish so as they will eat it.    As a rule, most of our inshore species hug the bottom part of the water column.  This is especially true in the winter, as they seek a warmer environment.  Hence, the jig.  The jig is the perfect weapon to get into their feeding zone. 

The techniques used for jigs are as varied as the weights and color combinations that you can use.  For now, we'll discuss wintertime presentations, which as a rule are generally slower.  My typical presentation is to bump the bottom in very small 1" hops, often stopping to pause before continuing on.   It is critical that you feel your jig making contact with the bottom.  Another variation of this retrieve is to slowly lift the rod tip and drag the jig, much as you would a plastic worm when bass fishing.  Sometimes I will hop the jig 6" to 12" and let it fall with the pause. This often will trigger a strike as it imitates a dying bait.  Additionally it may make your bait be more visible and readily seen, especially in deeper water as the small hops may not get you out of the silt or soft bottom.  These presentations work equally as well for both redfish and sea trout.  The re-occuring theme here is to slow down your presentation.

I would like to add - in the perfect world - I'm fishing the lower stages of the tide.  I will target the trout in deeper holes and redfish on the shallower mudflats.  A trick that works well for me on lethargic redfish is to dead stick, or just shake one of the new scented baits (Gulp or FishBites). This, as the description sounds, requires leaving the jig in one place.  Trust me, if you know the redfish are there-this will often trigger a strike.  This leads us to the strike.  The strike is usually not a strike at all, but a small tick, tap or pressure on your jig.  The real key here is to watch your line, as often the bite will be so subtle that you may only see your line move or jump a little.  On any of these occurrences, set the hook sharply, firmly and immediately.

Locating fish is an entire discussion of its own, and will be the subject of a later blog.  I would suggest that when winter fishing, you do not stay in any one spot more than 10 minutes if you are not catching fish.  My personal preference is to stay on the trolling motor and cover a lot of water.  If you do not have a trolling motor, you may have to re-anchor several times during the day to locate fish.

I personally think that it is critical to use a quality jig that has a premium paint and a black nickel hook.  I use a jig made by Slayer Inc.  The Slayer Inc jig head comes in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes that  will match any soft plastic you choose.  I usually experiment with different shapes and colors of plastics to see what the fish like.  Among the choices are minnow imitating paddletails, fluke style straight-bodies, and the old reliable, curly tail.  Typically I match the color of the head to the color of the body, but have also used contrasting colors as well.  That being said, I personally think many of the lure colors are made for fishermen and not for the fish.  I tend to stick to the more natural hues, including tans, browns, dark greens, greys and occaisonally something in a gold.  Slayer Inc's wide color selection helps me in making proven, successful color combinations.  I'd like to add that the double barb also holds your plastic from slipping down after repeated casts and hook ups.

When jig fishing, the rod and reel are very important.  I prefer a 7' - 7.5' high quality graphite rod.  I like a medium to medium heavy rod blank with a fast tip.  I like a reel that can handle small diameter braided line (10-20 lb test).  I use a flourocarbon leader (also 10-20 lb test) between 18" and 30" and always use a loop knot on my jigs.  This set up will provide you the sensitivity you need when jig fishing.   

Tip of the day:  I know I've mentioned this before, but try to bring your jig with the current and try to eliminate any bow in your line by casting directly into the wind, or having the wind directly at your back.  You can also lower your rod tip if the wind is not cooperating to eliminate the wind drag on your line. The idea is that you maintain constant contact with your lure, because the bite this time of year is usually very light. 

Get yourself a pair of Under Armor Base Layer, because you won't know if you don't go....

Capt. Tim Cutting
Coastal Georgia Inshore Charters
St Simons Island, Georgia

Friday, December 10, 2010

Still got shrimp in the freezer from this year's catch? Try Shrimp & Grits!

The original recipe is from Bill Smith, executive chef at Crook's Corner, the landmark Southern restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 21 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
2  bacon slices
1  pound  unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp
1/8  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  pepper
1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
1  cup  sliced fresh mushrooms
2  teaspoons  canola oil
1/2  cup  chopped green onions
2  garlic cloves, minced
1  cup  low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
1/4  teaspoon  hot sauce
1. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tsp. drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.
2. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper; dredge in flour.
3. Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings with oil in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly browned. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Spoon shrimp mixture over hot Cheese Grits; sprinkle with crumbled bacon.
Southern Living, FEBRUARY 2008

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Improving your winter catch...

Now is the time of year when cold front after cold front will come bearing down on us.  Naturally, the nicer days between these fronts can often yield spectacular catches. The only problem, of course, is that these perfect conditions present themselves less and less as we head into January, February and March.  Understanding the patterns of trout and redfish during the colder months is not that difficult.  Both of these fish will eagerly eat during the coldest of periods. 

Speckled trout seek many different habitats during the winter.  Two common factors however, is that they tend to school up very tight this time of year, and seek deeper water.  On of my favorite methods of catching winter trout is to seek out smaller tributaries at low tide.  When I'm in these systems, I will constantly check my depth finder looking for the deepest holes.  Often these holes are on the outside bends of these smaller creeks.  Work these spots thoroughly and slowly.  This is the time of year when I really enjoy throwing soft plastics.  The size of the trout are generally lower slot fish, but easy limits can be had once you find them.  Generally, groups of trout may migrate considerably further inland during these months.  I tend to use the same methods with low tide and deep water being the common factor further up the rivers as well.  Further inland also offers many lay downs, docks, bridges and other features that can add to trout habitat.  Once you find a winter trout, fish the area thoroughly as there are certain to be more nearby.  Naturally, your shrimp presentation needs to be deeper, and the traditional float rig may be more desirable than the popping cork.  Adjust your cork so that you are within 12" of the bottom.  I have found in the past, the larger trout seem to be furthest from the inlet this time of year.  Don't be afraid to switch to large, diving, suspending or slow-sinking artificials and you will often be rewarded with a true gator this time of year. 

Redfishing this time of year is one of my favorite things to do.  Upper slot and over slot reds will school up in large numbers.  My favorite scenarios are days with mid-day or afternoon low tides.  The tried and true method is fairly simple.  Enter a creek system very quietly with your electric motor or push pole.  You will be looking for larger mud flats with 2' or less water on them.  The darker the bottom, the better.  The redfish will seek these warm water refuges.  The problem is that they are very spooky--and you may not see them until they spook.  This is okay.  You have now found a spot that will more than likely hold these fish the entire winter, under the same conditions.  I can guarantee, there are quite a few of these spots near the areas you are now fishing.  Put away the corks and heavy sinkers and make as light a presentation as you can.  These fish will eagerly eat a plastic as well as a live shrimp, mud minnow or finger mullet if you can find one this time of year.  Move your bait very slowly and methodically.  I prefer 10 lb. braid with a 18-30" flourocarbon leader tied with a double uni or a surgeon's knot.  Soft plastic jerk baits (e.g. ZOOM Superflukes) rigged on a weighted worm hook will cast a mile and make very little disturbance when hitting the water.  If I'm using a live shrimp, I prefer to break off the tail and run a jig head through the back end of the shrimp.  This will accomplish two things: it will disburse more scent; and give you more casting distance with the head being forward.  This combination is usually deadly in this situation.  The same presentation works excellent with a 3" Gulp Shrimp. 

The areas around Cumberland, Jekyll and St Simons Island all offer outstanding winter fishing opportunities. 

Tip of the week:  If you're not already using flourocarbon leader underneath your floats or tied directly to the main line, now is the time to start.  The water during the winter becomes extremely clear, and the low visibility factor of flourocarbon will definitely make a difference. 

Don't let the cold weather stop you-you won't know if you don't go...

Capt. Tim Cutting
Coastal Georgia Inshore Charters
St Simons Island