"Surface fishing tops the angling charts"

Fishing Update
By Capt. Judy Helmey


Everything that our area has to offer is biting. Take these few suggestions and run with them. The surf fishing is great at this time of the year. You can catch spottail bass by using cut mullet by casting into the surf. Either before or after the bass bite, sharks, whiting and blue fish should keep you busy. The best tide to fish for the bass is the incoming, but don't let the tide chart slow you down. If you are there and have time, go for it. The flounder fishing has picked up. You will need to get your minnow trap out of the garage. Flounder are born killers and are attracted by bait that's trying to escape. The best bait to use for this fish is a live minnow such as pollywogs or mud minnows. Also, the best way to get your trap filled quickly is to put in some saltines and a piece of raw chicken.


The midsummer bite is still on with the Spanish mackerel. However, the arena has changed a bit. The mackerel have been staying close to the bottom, feeding on schools of bait that are content with the dark green waters. This situation has made it hard to locate these fish without the aid of a fish finder. With the water temperature well over 80 degrees, the fish have decided to take to surface feeding, which is what we call "sight feeding." At this time of the year, Spanish mackerel push the baitfish to the surface and go into a feeding frenzy. This feeding stage gives everyone a piece of the catching pie. The advantages are that the birds now can help you locate the feeding schools. You can smell the oils that gather on the surface from the shredded baitfish, and you can present your bait offering on the surface. I have been using cagen poppers and small bird exciters with small Clark spoons in tow. With these surface rigs, you can actually see the fish hit at the bait and finally get mad enough to take it. For those of you who want to use light tackle and cast to the fish, now is the time to do so. All you need to do is to situate your boat up wind of the school and cast into them. Use your lure of choice, most all surface-pulling plugs will work.

The bottom fishing at the Savannah Snapper Banks has been hot and cold. The bottom fish are a bit more sluggish at this time of the year due to the fact that the less they move the less they have to hunt for food. Another problem fishermen are faced with is that there is plenty of bait. The bottom fish have a smorgasbord of bait at the fin tips, which means less movement and little hunting for food. It's as if they have called in for a "take out." Don't worry, this can only last for so long and the end is near. Soon the bottom fish will have to go back to working for their meals. The baitfish will start their normal cycle movement pattern, which means summer vacation for the bottom fish is over.

Use these few pointers for catching these sluggish bottom fish a try. The best time to catch them is on the slack tide, less movement for fish, which means they going to give feeding a shot. Use smaller hooks (2/0) laced with small pieces of cut squid. After locating the school, you should drop directly into the school, and reel in a few turns quickly. The larger fish have a tendency to hold and feed off of the smaller fish. The theory being that larger fish don't want to fight with a bunch of smaller fish over its intended meal.

Don't stay in one fishing area too long. Keep moving to different locations, this will take the edge off of scattering the school by drifting these small locations over and over.

Gulf Stream

I consider the Blue Water Trolling Fishing Season officially over around the middle of July every year. As you know, that date has passed us and the top fishing has slowed down as expected for this time of the year.

However, there are still plenty of big bottom fish to target on the ledges that are in 150 to 200 feet of water. Your best bait to target these fish is live bait. You will have to stop at the snapper banks and catch your own. Don't wait until you arrive to get your bait because they are not to be found in the deeper water. I have found that hardy bottom feeders, like ruby red lips, sand perch, bank sea bass, vermilion and Black Sea bass make the best bait.

Don't forget to put a flat line while you are drifting. We are still getting a few wahoo, king mackerel and dolphin hits.


Helmey operates Miss Judy Charters. For more information, call 897-4921.


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