CAPTAIN JUDY HELMEY
"Kicking Fish Tail since 1956"
SAVANNAH, GEORGIA 31410
912 897 4921
912 897 3460 fax
November 16, 2001
Sorry about the long Captain Judy's Believe it or not but I got started and couldn't stop!
If you have tried inshore fishing in our area you probably already know about the high northeast winds, extremely high tides and the muddy water. However for those who haven't you certainly haven't missed anything in the way of fishing. I won't say that these conditions have completely shut the bite off, but I might say "close." There were a few trout, Spottail bass, flounder, and striped bass caught the pass week. These fish were the hungry ones while the others stayed hibernated in their special areas. As we all know next week is another week and the windy conditions should have moved on.
I haven't been in ocean for over 6 days due to the fact that the Northeast wind has really been blowing offshore. However, a lot of the people that I fish with also surf so I guess you could say that the have had a bonus week. I have been in my office writing the fishing report on what should be biting when I return to the ocean. At any rate, the fishing has been very good offshore. Even though we have had one low pressure after another. The weather in between the fronts has been great. So I guess I will write about what I have been doing while waiting for the wind to stop blowing. I have been projecting my self to the other side of the front, which is by the way the aftermath of the front. This is when the wind calms down and the sea conditions are great. As you all know the water temperature is dropping which in turn makes fish move. While we are sitting on shore the fish are relocating to their new temporary homes. Now here's where I come in. I know where they are because I have records of their migration movements for over well let's say, "many more than 20 years."
Take for instance the Black Sea bass. As all of us fishermen know in the cooler months these fish migrate to the shallower water and usually end up holding at the artificial reefs. This is known by many fishermen, but there are those of you who are just starting out. Here are a few pointers to help the new comers get a rod bender.
Most all of the artificial reefs off of Georgia's coast that are located in less than 50 feet of water are holding an array of bottom fish. At this time of the year you can catch black sea bass, flounder, grouper, red snapper, black drum, spotted sea trout, ocean sheepshead, sheepshead, pig fish, grunts, trigger fish and blue fish. The good part about this time of the year is that all of those fish that I have listed are trying to eat at the same time on the same bait. This is due to the fact that they are all hungry and there is a lot of fish feeding. So therefore first come first serve. Hopefully your hook will be the first to arrive and be received by biggest of all of the fish listed. All of these fish will hit squid while others prefer the fiddler crab. However, don't worry once you get them eating they will take almost any bait that you throw at them.
When selecting a spot to fish pick the reef that is closest to you. Let's talk about the KTK Artificial Reef, which is located east of Blackbeard Island. This reef is full of fishing possibilities. It's made of mostly low relief bottom structure making it a great place for all of the migrating fish listed above. If you prefer to fish further north, the CAT, DUA, SAV, and KC artificial reefs are great areas to fish. All of these spots also have great bottom to support these migrating fish. If you are south of the KTK reef then try the ALT, F, A, and KBY artificial reefs. All information on reefs listed can be obtained free from Georgia DNR. Once receiving you package on the reefs spend a little time studying each reefs and decide which one is prefect for you.
To best locate the fish that I have listed you will need to pick the reef that has the best low relief program. All reefs that have locations that are made of concrete rubble, pallet balls, wharf rubble, or concrete boxes/pipes are the places that these fish will hold up to fed. Upon looking at the description of the reefs you will find coordinates listed. For those who aren't real familiar with GPS the description also gives directions and distance from the buoy. There is a yellow buoy that is place by the DNR to mark the area of each artificial reef. They make great reference points, which is another aid to helping you find these locations on each reef. When I first started fishing these small spots I made myself a personal throw buoy with a rope and weight connected. I put about 65 feet of line and a 4-pound weight on a quart Clorox jug. I wrapped the line around the jug and when I throw it on the spot it made a great reference point. This was rather I hit the exact spot of not. It gave me something that was stable to work with. At any rate, if I can learn you can learn how to catch a fish when you want too!
I have been reporting that the king mackerel are here, but only in 100 to 115 feet of water. We normally would be in our winter run of mackerel that brings these fish into about 60 feet of water. However the artificial reefs that are located in this depth have not seen many arrivals, but here's a news flash. Fred Bergen reported that his group while fishing off of Charleston in only 60 feet of water caught 15 kings all 30 to 35 pounds. According to Fred the bite started about 9:00AM and at 11:00AM they had their limit. However the bite never let up and they left the fish biting as they moved on to bottom fishing. These fish were caught on rigged ballyhoo and drone spoons. All fish were caught trolling at the normal speed of 4 to 6 knots. I would like to congratulate them on fine day! I know they must have had a great time and I know am jealous.
For those who are tired of reading about this and that here's the real deal! The artificial reefs are holding large black sea bass, blue fish, flounder, pig fish, ocean sheepshead, sheepshead, trout, grouper, and occasional red snapper. Please don't keep these fish if they are not of legal size and release back alive when possible. I have been catching all of the above on just plain old squidâ€¦
SAVANNAH SNAPPER BANKS
The Savannah Snapper Banks is holding it own. The red snapper season looks good. We have been catching a lot of 24 inches and over snapper. Once these fish start schooling over a ledge it's easy to catch them with just squid or cut fish. The other bottom fish are there too. The trigger fish, porgy, large male black fish, and vermilion are still hanging on the hard bottom ledges. Don't forget about the king mackerel and dolphin, because they are also in the area feeding on the small fish schooling under the Sargasso weed. So keep a flat line out while bottom fishing. I have been using a rigged ballyhoo dressed up with my favorite color skirt. I have been getting hookups while just drifting and when moving the boat back up to the ledge. Remember the fishing rule, without a line in the water you can't catch a fish. This is unless the fish just decides to jump into the boat! Well that's another story!
Captain Judy's Believe It or Not!
I guess it's true that when you get older, you remember the past a lot better than the present. I am one who can raise their hand on that one. I often think about the things that happened on my boat during the middle sixties. Boy have we come a long way. Not just in navigational technology, but also in boat manufacturing.
When I was in my early teens I had a wooden 30' boat. I can't remember the make. I think it was a custom built boat that was put together by a frustrated want-a-be boat builder. At any rate, I am still here, so it didn't come apart while I was offshore. The things I remember the most are instilled in my mind as if I just walked off this boat. It was long and had a very narrow beam. In fact, in a following sea you really had to be careful and not let this boat get broad side to the wave. That wasn't easy when all I had was a simple slant head six as power. Don't get me wrong, it cruised along at about 11 knots, but that was pretty much full throttle. Which meant having to get control of the boat was more of a leaning situation, than a power push. You had to be there when I instructed my group to move quickly from one side to another. They had to do all of this without falling out of the boat. You know, I never really though of that happening at all. No one ever fell over the side. I only had to resort to those customers moving tactics when it was real rough. And you must remember, back in those days, fishing was expensive, intriguing, and a dangerous past time. It cost a fishermen almost $6.00 per person to get the chance to be either throw over the gunwale on his ride out or back from the fishing spot.
My father purchased this boat from a colonel in the army that was being relocated to an inshore destination. I will never forget the colonel's wife she was gorgeous. She looked like a very young Sophia Loren. If I had to guess, my father just wanted to purchase this boat so that he could talk to her. In this case, talk was not cheap. The boat came as is and with an engine that needed replacing. This was not news to us, because my father already knew the engine was bad and had gotten quite a bit off of the asking price.
After purchasing the boat, my father arranged to have another engine delivered to the house. It was and it came complete with an exhaust stack that was 6 feet tall. You would have to know my father to understand this one. He loved to go shopping in weird and unusual places. He brought my new/used engine from a surplus guy who had six engines that were originally installed in amphibious vehicles that the army has used. He brought two, just in case he needed both to make one work. He never told me until the last minute that he was going to remove the exhaust stack. I thought all along that Daddy was going to have to cut a hole through the top of my cabin.
After removing all unnecessary parts, we put the new/used engine into my wooden boat. With just a few minor changes, it cranked, smoked, and sputtered as most gas engines do. Daddy pointed out a few direct changes that he had. He always drilled a hole in the top of all of our raw water intake pumps. This was the pump that supplied the seawater to the engine that kept it cooled. He them screwed a small cup and cap in the drilled hole. He filled the cap with water pump grease. This was my father's theory for this change, as the saltwater rushed through the pump, so would the heavy grease that was packed in the cup, lubricating the entire housing. At the time it didn't make any sense to me. However, now it's a different story, less friction means less wear. Back in those days water pump grease was much more accessible than a new saltwater pump.
I don't know where the name slant head six came from, because it wasn't slanted to me. It was flat on the head, which mean any water falling on the engine stayed and made its way to the spark plug holes. If the engine were running it would spit a little, depending on how much water and how many plugs holes were covered. If the engine was sitting, the water had time to start rusting in front of your very eyes. Either situation wasn't good, but I had to deal with both of them. The engine cover was split down the middle. It was held together by a long piano hinge. This hinge didn't stop any water at any time, but it did stop the floor from caving in on the engine. At least it was good for something. It certainly wasn't designed to shelter the water from getting on top of the engine.
After getting the mechanical end of the boat up to speed it was time to look at any other problems that we might have to deal with. Keep in mind that by this time I had already been dealing with wooden boats and my father for quite a while. And believe me, there is always a problem when it comes to dealing with these two. This particular boat hadn't been out of the water too long, so therefore it didn't almost sink immediately as soon as we re-launched it. The planks on a wooden boat start the shrinking process when they are removed from the water. So therefore, if you fill the boat with water while it is on the hill, your chances will be better that it won't sink quite right away. You still have to baby sit the boat until the plank seams are pushed back together. As you can see there are a lot of important things that you must remember about wooden boats. Especially, if you want to keep them floating.
As you have probably figured out, we got the boat in tip top condition and I started taking customers out fishing. The problems that I experienced then, such as taking on water, at the time seemed so normal. However, let me assure you that if I found my self in that situation now, I wouldn't be so cool as I was back in the good old days. I have to admit that back in days of wooden boats simply hitting a wave wrong could results in cracking any rib situated close to the bow area. This occurrence would usually lead to water running into the boat, which means in my book today that, "WE ARE SINKING!" How plain and simple can you get? I'm sorry, but that's not how it worked back then. You just dealt with it. I always carried certain so-called repair equipment on the boat to take care of this problem. In my repair kit was cotton, ice pick, and assorted sizes of brass screws. I was taught a long time ago how to put this special selection of tools to work. The cotton was to be packed by the ice pick into the hole. However, if the hole was to big to plug with the gobs of cotton then you started using the screws. This all sounds very simple and it was. I did this without even once thinking of what would happen if the boat were to sink. Boy, how things have changed.
Happy Holiday Fishing,