Alright folks, now is the time. The Trout are starting to show in good numbers and size, Tripletails are beginning their annual migration to the Georgia coast, Cobia are on the wrecks and live bottom, the Redfish are returning to their warm weather haunts and the sharks are now here in full force. Oh, and let's not forget those fine eating flat fish--the Flounder, as they return to our waters in full force. Just thought we'd throw a few tips in that work for us, as the season gets into full swing.
The aforementioned popping cork with jighead also works great on Tripletails. One of the keys to Tripletails is to let the sun get up higher in the sky, and concentrate your efforts during the 10am to 2pm period. This will allow you 3 good hours in the morning to seek other species as well. A little chop or swell will allow you to sight fish the tails much better. Concentrate your efforts on looking for the Tripletails on the backs of the waves, as opposed to scanning large areas, and you may find that you see more fish. We like to tail-hook our shrimp, as long hard casts are often necessary and the shrimp seem to stay on the hook a little better this way. The head-forward position of the shrimp will also allow you a little extra casting distance.
Cobia fishing can be excellent if you make a good float plan before you leave. We like to put together eight or ten stops that are fairly close together. Typically, this is a mix of live bottom, wrecks and reefs in the 7-15 mile range. Give each spot a good look, and if you don't see the Cobia, don't be afraid to drop a livey two-thirds from the bottom. Cobia are notorious for hovering 10-15 feet above the structure if they are not right on top. Capt. Brooks Good gave me a great tip a while back concerning sharks and turtles. These two species will often signal the presence of Cobia.
Many Redfish will be found in the same areas as the Trout this time of year. One of our favorite ways to target them is to find shell bars that have 2-6 feet of water on them at low tide. Work these areas thoroughly with your favorite Redfish bait. A shrimp or a mud minnow pegged on a jighead will allow you to cover a lot of area, and keep your bait in the strike zone. If you are losing jigheads, you are in the right area. See our Blogs, "Best Redfish Lures" Parts I & II for additional information on various techniques.
For inshore shark fishing, we like to place our baits on shallow mudflats adjacent to the shore, between oysters. We prefer cut bait, especially mullet and ladyfish. For inshore fishing, you may want to add 100 lb mono leader to prevent cut-offs. Many of the smaller species of sharks are decent table fare, especially the black tips. There is never a reason to kill a shark, unless you are going to eat it. Often, handling a shark is not a wise idea--so carry a sharp cutting tool, and leave the hook in the shark's mouth. Do not use stainless steel hooks, as they will not decompose. The shark will be fine with the hook in its mouth as it will rust away. The best chance for a large shark is to fish in the vacinity of shrimp boats on the beach or nearshore. Look for the shrimp boats with heavy bird activity, working the by-catch. You will need to bump your leaders up to 200 and 300 lb. We don't keep or kill the larger sharks, and again cutting the leader is your safest bet.
As many of you already know, we love to specifically target Flounder now through the fall. Our favorite rig is a 1/4 oz jighead with a white 4" Gulp Swimming Mullet. Slow, one inch hops is our main technique. We very rarely cast more than 20 0r 30 feet from the boat. We target any and all structure we can find, including but not limited to docks, rocks, bridge pilings and laydowns. When we feel a tap, tick, thump or even just a slight snag, we immediately set the hook hard. This will get the point of the hook through the Flounder's face. A mud minnow is also a great bait, but when you feel the bite using live bait, give a full five to ten seconds before you slam the hook home.
We have a daily double on the tip of the blog this time. As most of you know, top waters really shine this time of year, especially in low light conditions. Surprisingly, what I have found is that there is often a top water bite around high noon. I think this is due to the glare factor, as the angle of the sun is easier on the fish and does something to the shadow of the silhouette of the plug.
The second part of the daily double pertains to the range of our inshore species. In periods of low rainfall, like we are experiencing now, you will find not only cleaner water but higher levels of salt intrusion. This often will push fish further up main river systems. We have found some really nice Trout, Flounder and Reds in the I-95 corridor and even further west.
Til then, you won't know if you don't go...
Capt. Tim Cutting
Coastal Georgia Inshore Charters
St Simons Island, GA