CAPTAIN JUDY HELMEY
"Kicking Fish Tail Since 1956"
SAVANNAH, GEORGIA 31410
912 897 4921 912 897 3460 FAX
August 13, 2001
It has been very hot, but the heat has not stopped the die-hard inshore fishermen. With only a minor addition, such as a large beach umbrella you can fish in the shade with ease. Large trout are being caught on live shrimp with the traditional float rig. Trolling is another option that you have at this time. This method helps you cover a lot of area and also helps to keep the breeze up. It's best to keep a record of where you are getting hits and the tide stage. This will enable you to fish these spots sufficiently at a later time.
I have been seeing a lot of tarpon rolling on the beachfront by Warsaw Sound. I have received several reports of Grey hounding tarpon in the Back River at Tybee and around Ossabaw Sound areas. Your best bait to use is menhaden (porgies) or mullet, the livelier the better. Please use barb less hooks. These fish are so beautiful to watch, catching them is a luxury, please release unharmed.
Ladyfish usually show up around the docks at this time of the year. These silver colored fish act and look like a miniature tarpon. Ladyfish and tarpon are known for their aerobatics show that they put on while trying to throw the hook. However, their feeding habits are less demanding than a tarpon. All you need is a little shrimp and a small, but strong hook. As with the tarpon, this is another fish that hasn't any food value. Please release unharmed.
This is a great time of the year to practice all of your fishing techniques. The heat has a tendency to make the fish bite a little slow and erratic. This of course means that you might have to throw everything you have at them to get a little action.
For instance, the Spanish mackerel normally is straightforward when it comes to hitting a lure. They are either feeding on the surface or down deep. This situation is easy to address. Clark spoon with a small one-ounce weight or planers with spoon in tow. However, when the fish start slapping at the spoon at all depths this is when your headache begins. This is the time to start pulling out all those lures that you though would never work. Anything to get them to hit the bait head on. It's almost impossible to get a mackerel to the boat when it's hooked in the head, mid-ship, or tail. Don't forget your net.
The king mackerel can be found almost everywhere, but it's hard to depend on the same location and bite from day to day. The bulk of the snakes have been holding steady in about 100 feet on the live bottom areas and around the naval towers. The smoker kings could be found either real deep in 120 feet plus or in shallower water located in the Savannah River and Port Royal Sound areas. The are some kings starting to show up at the artificial reefs, especially the ones that are located in the southern portion. King mackerel of all sizes are being caught at the J Buoy, ledges east of the J, and Gray's Reefs. Live lining or slow troll with live bait is the way to catch the big ones, however the action can be slow. Trolling fast with spoons usually gets you lots of hits and smaller fish. Each method is known to catch either size, depending on the fish's discretion. There is plenty of bait holding at these places, so this could be the early beginning of a great fall mackerel run. I can only wish and hope for a carbon copy of last year's king fish extravaganza.
The bottom fish are acting like all of their relatives. You have to be what I call "bait Flexible." They will take your first bait offering and then they seem to become null and void. Believe me these fish can hurt your feelings and there is only one way to over come it, move on to the next spot. Here are a few examples of bait changes, cut squid with fish, cigar minnows, fillet fish, small fish head, fish tail, screw tail added to bait, or just plain dead shrimp. One of these combinations is bound to work. This ridiculous bait list should take in all of the bait jabbers and suckers. For the larger fish, use lively and colorful live bait. Hook placement could be important, you can either hook your bait in the lips, tail, or over the dorsal fin. Make sure you let the fish take the entire fish in its mouth before you set the hook.
The fishing has been hot and cold, which is pretty normal for blue water fishing at this time of the year. However, I still wouldn't rule out a chance to make that ride. It might turn out to be worth it. With all depth water bite patterns being so unpredictable all you need to add to the mix is flexibility. Any bait at anytime might work at this time of the year.
CAPTAIN JUDY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT!
I am always writing about the fish that we catch that are good to eat. I would like to tell you about one fish that we catch, but almost never eat.
The ugliest of them all is the poor misunderstood toadfish. I know its mother had to love it, but I am almost sure that as far as it goes. One of my customers had another name for this fish "The maw-in-law-fish." He told me why. I don't need to pass on his reasons. I am sure you can figure it out on your own. The fish comes in the shape of a club with two dark semi-protruding eyes and a large big lipped mouth. The toad is equipped with a set of jaws that can put a hurting on any of your fingers. In fact, those jaws are so strong that they can open oysters with them at anytime that they desire that particular shellfish taste. So beware, they do and will bite. They usually warn you with a croaking or grunting sound right before they bite. In fact, they also use these sounds to communicate with each other. At least that's what I think. They seem to talk the most at night. I frequently hear them conversing under my floating dock. I haven't figured out what they are saying, but as soon as I do you will be the first to know.
Here's one for you, the male toad fish is responsible for taking care of the eggs. He assumes responsibility as soon as the female passes them. The females usually deposit the eggs in a spot where they can't be disturbed by currents. The eggs have been found in empty cans and old shoes. The male's job is to guard the spot until they go into the hatch mode, which can be as long as 3 weeks. While the males are watching the eggs they don't eat or leave the area. They are very aggressive during this time.
The toad that we catch in the creeks and rivers are dark green in color. They aren't real large, but can still hurt you with their bite. However, the toads that we catch offshore are a lot larger than the ones inshore. I have caught
a few that were well over 4 pounds. You should see the set of teeth on these babies. The offshore toadfish's color is bright rust.
My father was known for his unusual supper surprises. It was not beyond him to skin, fry, and served toadfish to his company for supper. You have to understand my father not only did he serve toadfish at one time or the other he also grilled crow on more than a few occasions, but that's another story. Don't kill these fish. Please find a way to safely release them unharmed without hurting yourself.
Sea You Later,