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Capt. Judy: Reefs offer good bites if you don’t overfish
Kathy Brown.jpg
This is a nice gag grouper that Capt. Kathy Brown of Miss Judy Charters is holding. This big bottom dweller is known for its amazing freight train pulling strength. Grouper season opens May 1.

For those fishermen that are looking for a short boat ride to the fish, the artificial reefs are great place to start. These areas, whether it’s the artificial reefs that are in less or more than 50 feet of water, are holding top and bottom fish. What does all of that mean?

Well, while looking at your fish finder, I suggest keeping an eye on all activity in the water column. Also, with water temps over 68 degrees, you most likely will have bait holding on the surface – which by the way are great places to find larger fish.

After you have selected an artificial reef to fish, I suggest giving it a solid chance before moving on.

It is a known fact that bottom fish, when in these areas, have a tendency to school, not everywhere but somewhere. What the heck does this mean? Over the many years I have come to learn that most of the time there will be some black sea bass somewhere, but not everywhere on the artificial reef. You have to look for them, and when you find them I suggest fishing a few times, catching a few and then moving on to your next intended spot. If you drop too many times on the spot that is holding the fish, you will disrupt the school and cause them to swim off in different directions. You can always come back to that spot again and again – just don’t over fish it.

As far as top water fish, we have got mackerel! I am talking about Spanish and king mackerel, which keeping or dragging bait wherever you go is going to be a very good thing.

As my father always said, “You got to drag them if you want to snag them!” And that, my fishing friend, is a very true statement, unless the fish just jump right into the boat – and they have, but that’s another story for another time.

Savannah Snapper Banks

For those that want to take a little longer boat ride, it is the time to set your sites on taking a more easterly direction towards the Savannah Snapper Banks. It’s a great live bottom area that we fishermen have been visiting for many years.

And believe it or not, it is a pretty exciting place to go bottom and top water fishing. When fishing in 100 feet of water you really never know what you might catch. Over the many years I have caught lots of interesting, as well as very large, fish in this area.

Now for the next question: your boat or ours? If it’s ours, please give us a call at 912-897-4921 to go out with Capt. Ken Kennickell, Capt. Deidra Jeffcoat, Capt. Kathy Brown, Capt. Ryan Howard and me, Capt. Judy.

Gulf Stream

Well Capt. Ryan Howard of Miss Judy Charter took the fishing crew from the Atlanta Sport Fishing Club this past week. Yep, it was rough.

Yep, there were pending storms. And yep, there were fish, too. All in all it was a successful trip. Some nice fish were caught, fought and released.

Believe it or not: A pig tail or two

In the old days things were different, especially in the cooking kitchen arena. My father loved fresh cooked collard greens.

He would bring bunches of them home that were fresh-picked from my Aunt Hattie and Uncle Forrester’s farm. I can still remember washing and washing them to get “the grit” out. Even a little grit wasn’t good when you were eating your greens. I heard one time that someone on Wilmington Island put their grit-ridden, unwashed greens in their washing machine.

I don’t know how that worked out, but my father did tell me not to try that one. I can only assume the spin cycle might have been too much for the greens. However, I bet the leftovers from this type of washing were the cleanest torn up collards greens ever.

While the washing was going on and water was going everywhere, I had the ham hocks just-aboiling away in the big pot. This cooking/boiling process of the hocks took at least a good hour.

You wanted them soften up a bit. And you wanted the juices leftover to season the greens.

So once the hocks were cooked, you started packing in the greens.

Believe me, I stuffed and stuffed them in the pot. Even what looked like a lot of greens, they still would boil down. So I had to really pack them in. Once in the pot with lid on, I boiled the greens in the water and steamed those on top until they were tender. All was good and the kitchen smelled great. I remember this one time that Daddy brought home some pigtails for me to use to season the collard greens with. I had never seen pigtails this “up close and personal.”

So I did quite a bit of looking before dropping them into boiling water.

I was to boil them until they were soft and then pack the greens into the pot. I preformed all the above without any problems, but was still a little confused on the part that the pigtails played.

I hadn’t though for one moment that we were going to eat them. However, it did occur to me that seasoning the greens with them wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

After the cooking was done, I have to admit it did smell pretty good.

However, boiled pigtails and greens still scared the heck out of me.

My father on the other hand wasn’t thinking the way I was. He picked up a big bowl and filled it with pigtails and greens.

I watched as he poured apple cider vinegar and ketchup on the pigtails and greens. Yes, he did eat them all! He offered me some, but I just wasn’t up for it. As he ate, he explained what he knew in regards to pigtails. Most pigs only have one tail each. I looked at Daddy with that first comment. He then said that Aunt Hattie had a pig one time with two tails.

At this moment I wish I could have been there to see that. After that comment, he ate some more and then he said, “The average pigtail weights about 4 ounces and 4 pigtails makes about a pound.”

When I heard this tale, I’m sure I left scratching my head. However, after thinking about it for many years I have come to this conclusion: Since my father ate all four pigtails, I guess he wanted me to know the norm when it came to the regular amount to be served. So when planning a dinner party and this was the main course, the grocery list would go something like this: Six guests equaled 24 pigtails removed from 24 pigs. That’s unless some of them had two tails each.

At the age of 8, it took me a while with the meal planning, since arithmetic at this time wasn’t was my strong subject. Cooking for one person wasn’t much of a problem.

However, when you added more dinner guests, “the tail count was certainly going to be different no matter how many pigs they came from.”

This just means that information shared back then certainly wasn’t worth much in the cooking department now.

However, now it pays off big in regards to “Tails from yesteryear!”

Thanks for reading!

Capt. Judy Helmey can be reached at 912-897-4921 and

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