St Simons Island Fishing Report 3/7/15

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How Do I Work This Lure?!...Part III

The sub-surface lure may be one of the most underutilized lures on the Georgia coast, even by me.  This lure is a great mullet imitator for trout and reds and excels in water less than 3 ft.  I like to use this lure over submerged oysters where there is a lot of sparse or broken grass present. 

Sub-surface baits are truly finesse baits, as they are worked SLOWLY.  After casting, allow this lure to “settle”, as it will barely sink at all--usually remaining in the top foot of the water column.  Typically a slight pull and twitch is all that is needed, and then repeat the process.  Another popular retrieve that works well is to actually walk the dog below the surface.  Both the Rapala sub-walk and Sebile Stick bait work well with this retrieve.   In fact, one of my former tournament partners caught a 9.4 lb trout, winning a trout tourney using a sub-surface lure with a slow twitch and pause. 

One advantage of this lure is that it will cast a mile, and is very accurate.  Probing and picking out shallow pockets of grass can be very effective.  Earlier this spring, in Brunswick’s Turtle River, we had over 30 keeper trout (including three over 20”) throwing the Mirrolure Mirrodine.  The Catch 2000 from Mirrolure has been a redfish killer on the Redfish Tour for years.  The lures pictured, in order from left to right are:  the Rapala Twitchin’ Rap, the Rapala X-Rap Sub-Surface Walk the Dog, Sebile Stick Shad, Mirrolure Mirrodine, Mirrolure Catch 2000 and Mirrolure Catch Jr. 

St Simons Island Fishing Report 10-28-11

Headed out for another trip with Tim from Gwinnett County.  We left the Scout at the dock, and decided on Tim's Mitzi skiff to get us into some shallow water for tailing Reds.  We also skipped the live bait, and opted for all artificial today.  While waiting for the tide to rise, we threw jigs and plastics, corks and plastics and of course, the Bomber Long A.  We picked off a few nice Trout, including a nice 20 incher that Tim caught on the Bomber.  As the tide got right, we decided to look at some new flats that I've been scouting that look absolutely perfect.  Apparently the Reds didn't think so.  Now I'm kicking myself, as we missed the cleanest water of the day lookin for tailers!  Scrambling with plan B, we began firing corks and plastics over smaller run-outs created by the 9 ft tides dropping out.  Thank goodness the Trout thought this was a good place to be as well.  We ended up the day with 20 Trout, including 12 solid keepers for the freezer.  Thanks for a great trip Tim, I always look forward to fishing with you again.  Sorry for the postage stamp pic, I had the camera in video mode, and this was the only way Michelle could extract a still  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How Do I Work This Lure?! …Part II

If you don’t get a tad excited when a fish blows up a topwater lure…you might want to check your vital signs. Truth is, probably every one of you knows how to “walk the dog”.   The Heddon Spook was one of the first dogwalkers around and still is a killer today.  A big top water plug has got to be one of the best big trout lures ever made.  Period.  Redfish will crush them too, along with jacks, macks, blues, tarpon, gators and many other marsh inhabitants.

The easiest way for me to get that nice zig zag going is to point the rod downward straight in front of me at about 4 ‘o clock, and twitch down to about 5 o’clock, back up to 4, back down to 5 and so on.  The rod provides all the action, while the reel just gathers the slack. How fast or slow you twitch can make the difference though.  Sometimes a quick walk will work, while other times a slow sashay may be the trick. Typically I walk slightly faster than every second.  I like a baitcaster but have seen many anglers work a spinning outfit just as well.  Either way, back to the retrieve.   As with many artificials, let the fish tell you.  No matter what lure you are using, try to remember what you did to get bit. I typically keep the same cadence throughout the entire retrieve…unless I get blown up and missed--which will happen…a lot.   When it does, I’ll speed up my retrieve, and can often get another blast.  I have seen where just one twitch will work after a miss.  It’s worth mentioning that after a miss, if you are with someone who is throwing something that will sink, have them follow that miss as quickly as possible, and they might get bit.  It works.

There are a couple of little tricks that most of you know but are worth repeating.  First and foremost, don’t be tempted to set the hook on the initial blow up.  Just keep working until you feel the fish pull, then you can give him a good jab and put the pressure on.  Also, I like to let the lure settle before retrieving.   Don’t pass up a point, and don’t make a cast until you can throw past that point and bring it back.  If your plug does not have a split ring, tie a loop knot to help the action.  Many times I’ll remove the split ring and tie a loop knot.  Lastly, use the heavy weight of this bait to make long cast and stay as far away from your target area as possible, while still being able to hit it. (I like this philosophy for all fishing whenever practical).

Finally--shape.  I started out with the Johnny Rattler’s and Excalbur Spittin’ Images, then to spooks (supers and jrs.), and now the Rapala Skitterwalk (pictured).  A new lure on the market that resembles the spittin' image is the Badonk-A-Donk (my favorite-the speckled trout pattern pictured).

Monday, October 24, 2011

How Do I Work This Lure?!

How many times has somebody said we caught fish on so and so lure and you run right down to tackle central and pick up a few, only to get on the water and have no clue on how somebody could catch a fish on that thing. We will shoot out a few quick blogs on lures and how we get bit on them over the next few weeks.  Although many of our lure selections are popular in the bass arena, we will discuss marsh applications.

Today’s lure will be the ½ oz. lipless crank, or for many, the rattle trap--both floating and sinking.  Bill Lewis’ rattle traps have been around forever, but many manufacturers make them and they all work well.  Probably one of the original dummy lures, this bait catches fish.  
The sinking cranks work in all depths, but they are a countdown lure, and this is the trickiest part.  In water less than 5 feet, I start a steady retrieve without letting it sink.  In depths greater than five feet I will give it about 3 seconds before retrieving, and I will count it down deeper as I fish deeper, trying to stay fairly close to the bottom.  My favorite retrieve is as slow as I can while still allowing the bait to vibrate.  This lure casts a mile, works well in rough conditions, and trout and reds will hammer them--it may be one of the best search baits in the marsh.  I know a lot of old timers who actually troll them and do quite well.  You may need to vary your retrieve speed, but usually a steady retrieve gets it done.   In deeper water, I will yo-yo this lure-- I rip it up, and let it free fall.  Most of your hits will be on the fall, so be ready. This bait does sink, and will hang on oysters, so the trick around shell bottom is to work just above the shell.

One of the truly secret plugs for many redfishermen and trout pluggers is the FLOATING lipless crank. This lure only runs about a foot or so under the water and is great for swimming over submerged oysters on higher tides.  It is also a good low tide lure around shells.  Again, a steady retrieve works well.  I have caught plenty of nice trout on this lure by giving it a good sweep, let it float up and repeat. 
My favorite colors in both the sinking and floating are chrome and blue or gold and black, but many colors will work.  One of my ‘go to’ patterns for redfish in ultra clear water is Baby Bass.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

St Simons Island Trout Fishing 10-16-11

After a long week of bad luck, Charles, his wife Tilda and their grandson Buck changed my luck.  We set out this morning with fairly clean incoming water and corked our way to 15 nice keepers and weeded through about twice that in shorts.  Its still odd that we're having to fish 10-15 spots picking off two and three to get there.  We used DOA and live shrimp.  I would like to thank Charles and his family for entering the land of a thousand casts with me today.  Congrats Buck, I think you edged out Grandma & Grandpa for the aggregate!  Look forward to seeing you guys in November! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

All Artificial, All The Time...

St Simons Inshore Slam
Most of you probably know I love to fish the marsh with artificials, and with trips Tues thru Sat this week, that was the plan. The best bite this week was on Wed with Danny and his son Darren. The beginning of the northeaster had just starting showing, so we power fished with lip divers most of the day with a few plastics thrown in as well. The bite was pretty good, although we had to fish many areas to find fish. We ran the whole gammit from shallow to deep, incuding rocks, docks, grass and shell. As the day unfolded it was apparent that the bomber long a was providing the best bite. Danny and Darren both ended up with nice trout with one 19" and a nice 21" speck as well. Darren provided the highlight of the day completing his slam with a nice flounder on the lip diver...go figure?! Not really sure what was in the box when we returned, I was suprised to see 15 nice keepers in the box! Along with some throw backs, it turned out to be a great day with artificials. Danny and Darren, I had a blast, and look forward to seeing you guys soon. As far as all artificial all the time, for me I love to fish with bait too, but it is kinda fun just to chunk and wind and feel that fish when he whacks that lure!
Speckled Trout
Speckled Trout

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Catching Tailing Redfish in the Golden Isles: How, When, and Where 101

As an angler, there is probably no bigger thrill than seeing your quarry, stalking it, making a presentation, and watching the fish attack your bait.  A tailing redfish may be one of the most exciting guarantees in the arena of sight fishing.  Once that fish stands on his head to root out a meal, he literally becomes stupid.  Harsh words I know, but at that moment, any well placed bait put in front of him will almost certainly be inhaled.  Those tails are up there for ONE reason only--and that is to EAT.  That being said, where do we find said ignorant tailing redfish?
The first thing involved in “what and where” is to identify spartina grass.  One of the easiest ways to spot this type of marsh grass is height and coloration.  Spartina grass will often be slightly lighter in color and shorter than the tall lush green marsh grasses.  Often these grass flats are actually tan, gold or brown in coloration.  On higher ends of the tides where you can see above the marsh line, these patches often looked “mowed”.   These patches may be as small as a baseball diamond, or may extend for acres at a time, and can be accessed many different ways.  Generally, the edge will border a spot that you can anchor your boat up to close enough to step out.  The tall thicker green marsh grass is what you will avoid, as the bottom will be soft.  The method and timing of this type of fishing will eliminate any chance of getting stuck high and dry (more on this in the “when” section).   One of the best views of these spartina flats are along the Jekyll and St. Simons causeways.  These flats are large and do hold tailing fish, which are accessible quite easily by foot, kayak, or canoe for those who don’t have access to a power boat.  As a rule, the spartina grass environment is usually less than a mile and a half as the crow flies from the surf.
The timing or “when” is probably the most important part of the equation.  Look for tide heights of 7.7 or higher.  You will need to be looking for fish the last 2 hours of the flood.  Typically you will have, on average, about a two hour window in which to locate and catch these fish.  Once you have located a potential tailing flat, find a place where the flat touches up against deeper water via a feeder creek or even an edge right against the main body of water you are fishing.  Nose your boat a few feet into the grass and start looking.  As the tide floods to about 6-8” depth you will start to see a tail or two if they are there.  If you don’t see anything after 10 minutes or so, you may need to look at another area. Remember-- your window is only about 2 hours, so choose an area that may yield several flats fairly close to each other.  Once you spot a tail, slip the anchor over and walk it into the grass a bit. You will have deeper water coming so getting stuck will not be an issue--just be sure to vacate as soon as the tide turns. The redfish usually leave as soon as the tide turns as well.
There are many ways to catch a tailer, but my favorite bait is a tube with a specially rigged weighted, weedless tube bait hook.  These fish will eat just about anything, so the options are plentiful--but a weedless rig is just about a must.  One of the more popular rigs is a gulp shrimp on a weighted worm hook, but a live shrimp with a very small bullet weight pegged on top of the hook works well also.  When using this bait, I usually bury the point into the shrimp, so it remains fairly weedless.  Once I find a red working, or” tailing”, I usually approach the fish quietly but as quickly as possible until I get around 30-45 ft away.  Once I determine which way the red is feeding, I cast about 5 ft past the fish and slightly in front and then drag the bait back, trying to drop it in front of him.  Usually a slight twitch gets the job done.  You need to be 2 ft or less in front of the reds nose.  Be very careful not to “line” your fish.  If you make an errant cast and you haven’t spooked your fish, wait until the fish moves so your retrieve doesn’t cross his back, and make another cast. For the fly fishing enthusiast, this is nirvana as these fish are easy to approach with a little stealth, and will eagerly accept a sinking fly.
In closing, not all flats will hold fish.  Some flats will have fish today and not tomorrow, and vice versa. There are times when the flat becomes too deep.  As a rule, once water gets over your knee, you will not see the fish tail. When the water gets this high, a technical skiff with a platform will often have the ability to see these fish.  At certain angles you can see them on foot as well. There are many folks who pole these flats, and it works. For me, I always think walking is stealthier and works better--just one man’s opinion.
Here are some dates and times that should be good at the end of this month, providing water temps stay above 68.  Keep in mind these are approximate and may vary from spot to spot.
Sun 10/23               3:30pm-6:00pm
Mon 10/24           4:30pm-7:00pm
Tues 10/25          daylight until 8:00am and 5:30pm until dark
Wed 10/26          daylight until 8:45am
Thurs 10/27        daylight until 10:00am
Fri 10/28               daylight until 10:30am
Sat 10/29             8:00am-11:15am
Sun 10/30            9:30am-12:00pm
Mon 10/30          10:30am – 1:00pm