Fall 2010 Fishing Report for Coastal GA with a "Personal Twist"
Capt. TJ Cheek
November 21, 2010
St. Simons Island - Saltwater Fishing Report
11/19/2010 - Re-Cap and Report for Coastal Georgia Inshore Fishing
(With sort of a personal twist)
After all these years of ignoring inshore fishing, I have put my mind back into full swing on it yet again. This is a short story of my "return" to inshore charter fishing after a three year break.
People that know me on a personal level remember when there was a time when my passion was inshore fishing. During those years, it's all I wanted to do. Many people don't know that I grew up inshore fishing with my father 30+ years ago. My father didn't like "big water" fishing, so we fished only inshore for trout and redfish every time we went. So many people that follow my reports, videos and writing really don't know that side of my fishing story, but that is the ONLY fishing I did for over 10 years as I grew up and into my first few years of charter fishing as well in the early 1990's.
That went on for over a decade and then Redfish Tournaments came about back in 2004 that were being held in my neighborhood, so we started fishing in some of them as Team Redfish One. It was then, right then, I focused my full attention to Tournament Redfishing. No more Trout fishing. In a Redfish Tournament, Trout are just pests in your way as you work across a mudflat or a flooded grass area, so they are forgotten about and put in the history books for many, many fishermen during their personal Redfish Tournament era.
Finally, in 2005 a very good friend of mine to this day (Ricky Raleigh) signed our crew up to fish one of the first IFA Redfish Tournaments ever held in our area. The boat count was not good at a total of about 28 boats, so we knew our chances were high and I had been on some good numbers of upper limit slot Reds.
Ricky and I weeded through several short Reds and by 2 PM, we only had one Red that would qualify and we were beginning to worry and the tide was nearly high, but not yet on the grass. One of the guys with us was working a tree stump bottom pretty hard with a DOA Shrimp and finally... The rod bent over triple.
I thought he was hung on that stump for sure, but it ended up being a nice 26 inch Redfish that took the win along with a 23 inch fish to total our two largest reds for the day at around 11 pounds... Which is a low weight, but the pro guys that showed up didn't know the area. 90% of the field didn't weigh a fish, so we were hooked on it then! I could go on and on about Tournament stories, but we cashed a few checks, won lots of neat trophies and lost a few bucks too, but most of all... it was fun!
So back on point with the inshore fishing around Jekyll Island Georgia this season... It's incredible! I picked a great year for a return to inshore fishing. I now remember why I loved it so much.
I like to catch numbers of trout like everyone else, but I always liked having a 16 inch average, and that is still a chore no matter who you are. We probably have a 15 inch average if I had to guess. I have most of the fish from each trip written down from my inshore days and I have started to log it again, so when I put the pencil to it next month, I would like to see a 16 inch average, but we're not quite there yet... but hopefully we'll get there.
The water is cooling quickly now. Today, my Garmin was reading 61 degrees on the surface. In previous years, we caught our bigger fish on bucktails and in deep water in the high 50's.
My dad didn't use plastic very often. He made his own bucktail jigs with glitter, lead and deer hair. He would tune several different jig weights colors according to the depth of water he was fishing as well as the clarity of the water.
So, the short of that story is I have gone to my father's house and talked him out of a few of his old bucktail trout jigs, and tomorrow I plan on using them. A side note on this, the best way to make the transition to artificial is to leave your live bait at the dock. You will have no choice but to use your artificial jigs, bucktails, lures, etc.
Moving forward, this season has been one to put in the books for me on a personal numbers level. The worst day we had this year I remember distinctly. The wind was blowing 25 knots from the North West and the tides were nearly 9 feet in height that day and we were fishing on a new moon.
With every odd in the book stacked against me, there were still a handful of fish that were cooperative. I couldn't believe it. The crew insisted they go fishing and didn't care if they caught a single fish. I like that attitude, but at the end of the day, everyone actually does care…. Especially me. I didn't want to run that trip for any amount of money, but they were adamant about going, and we still managed to not get skunked.
Now, the best days looked more like dream days this season. I am not the only one with good fortune with trout and reds. Many other guides are catching their fair share of fish this season as well. Many of them will tell you it's just as good as any other year, but it just doesn't seem that way. Even though I wasn't trout fishing very much last season, I saw numbers and I was at that marina every weekend. I saw what came in and I know who caught it. A few good number days were had, but not like this season.
Catching limits of trout with two and three anglers on board has become a benchmark to achieve. A day of a hundred trout total is not a far out obstacle to reach this season. Batting average on keeper size fish is around 60-70% I would guess.
Honestly, this is about as good as I have seen it since the late 1990's. We can only hope and pray that the trout keep biting like this and to be blessed with another few weeks of big numbers of fish and maybe a great spring season for 2011. If it gets any better, I don't think I could stand it! It's really that good.
The fish are biting on anything you throw at them. We fish a lot of Bayou Bucks Popping Floats because of their spring loaded action and loud action and they have proven to be excellent on large trout. It's not my first choice for Reds if you're trying to be quiet, but cock your pistol if you're trout fishing with them. Fish live shrimp, minnows or Jigs under the floats and hang on.
These reports for the GA coast have been ringing from here to Savannah and all points in between. It's just one of those years where you can't do much wrong if you can find some structure and current. Not a hard chore on the GA coast, for sure.
We fish light but I wouldn't consider it ultra light on our spinning gear. We fish Ugly Stik Custom Graphite Inshore Rods (7 ft. light-medium action 8-12 class) and our reels are mostly Penn Sargus 2000 series loaded to the lip with 20 pound braid.
Our leaders are Berkley Fluorocarbon 12 pound test and we add an extra ¼ ounce of weight for extra noise and quick up-righting of the popping corks. If we're fishing a jig head, we'll Albright on a 7-8 ft. section of the leader mentioned above for a tippet and for oyster abrasion.
Take your weekends, get your kids and take them trout fishing before this is over. It won't last all winter, so now is the time. You will be surprised if you haven't been yet this season.
Good Fishing to all of you and tight lines!
Capt. Richie Lott
St. Simons Island Fishing Forecast:
If it gets any better inshore, I don't think I could stand it!!
Speckled Saltwater Trout
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