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Cold weather fishing, and is it bait or is it lunch?
Capt. Judy day of fishing
Ben Friedle, 17. and Moshe Schacter, 18, of Savannah had a good day fishing with Capt. Matt Williams of Miss Judy Charters. They were using live shrimp for bait.

Inshore report:

The norm for inshore fishing this time of the year is simple, sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t.


With water temps being so cold fish go into the feed or not mode. And when this happens fish don’t feed as much during cold water times as they do when temperatures are above 65 degrees.

So, this could mean that if you happen to be fishing on their off feeding day then the bite will be non-existent. Believe me trying to figure out which day they are going to put on the old feed bag is very hard to do. So as always I suggest when you get the chance to fish and you have decent weather conditions to just go and forget the small stuff!

Bait Shrimp

The availability to purchase and or catch live shrimp is boiling down to a big maybe. Bait houses aren’t dependable, because the shrimp have left them hanging out to dry more than once.

So some bait houses have just quit trying to catch them. Where does that leave you?

Please always call first!

Well, we still got shrimp down under, but you got to work for them and try to keep up with their whereabouts. Yes, the shrimp are holding in deeps holes and yes they are holding in shallow holes and sometimes still in the grass. It is all about timing and temperatures that leads the shrimp.

Mud Minnows

Now, if you happen to be having one of those days where you cannot purchase or catch live shrimp be prepared to go into the mud minnow using mode.

There are several things you can depend on when it come the old mud minnow. The mud minnow is considered very good cold water bait. They still make moves that attract fish as well as trigger a bite. This hardy bait works even better when you switch to using two minnows at a time.

Artificial Reefs in less than 50 feet 

We are deep into sheepshead fishing season for sure!

For those fishermen that are looking for some great rod bending light tackle fun now is a darn good time! The best bait and I keeping driving this home is the old purple back fiddler! Now some fishermen are using green mussels, barnacles, shrimp, rock crabs, black flat fiddlers, and let’s not forget the time I used crickets. (That’s all I am going to say about that! Did it work? Yep for sure!) The bottom fishing in these areas is pretty darn interesting for sure! We have been catching some really nice legal keeper black sea bass! What does that mean? Black sea bass have to be 13 inch TL to keep and have a bag limit of 7 per person! Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a process to getting to the legal keeping when it comes to black sea bass. It normally works out for every 10 undersize black sea bass you catch you normally land one keeper. I guess you would call these 10 to 1 odds.

And here’s the thing....when you catch a keeper black sea bass, I suggest focusing on the area caught. Why? Where there is one there is likely more the same size of larger.

What is the best bait to use when targeting black sea bass? Small pieces of squid. For some reason it is their most desired thing to eat. My guess is that they don’t get a lot of squid in their diet. And it might be that they don’t have to chase our presented squid on the hook like they do the live ones. I have seen squid in the wild and believe me they can make some fast swimming moves.

Captain Garrett Ross of Miss Judy Charters has been catching some really nice slot red fish and mega spotted sea trout. According to Captain Garrett’s fish catching report, due to colder water temps the fish have not been staying at one particular depth. So he suggests, once arriving at your fishing spot that you fish different depths before moving. In other words, work the spot like you are planning on staying while!

Believe it or not:

Please meet my parents, Jerry and Captain Sherman I. Helmey! Here’s a short version of one of the business things that my mother and father did together! When my father built our floating docks, in the middle he added a tank capable of keeping shrimp alive. Now the shrimp were kept alive by the tide (current) not by any sort of electric pump. Daddy built them so that the natural current flowed through, keeping the shrimp very alive. Shrimp tanks were built out of plywood and in calculated spots he placed small holed chicken wire over narrow triangular cut areas. The tanks were attached under the docks and were accessed through a trap door located on top.

My father prepared a place to keep the shrimp alive, he caught the shrimp and my mother would sell them. What a team!

Is it bait or lunch?

My father never panicked about anything! However, he did get a little upset when his ice cubes melted in his drink. When it came to fishing he was a confident fisherman for sure. I can’t tell you how many times we forget our bait, but believe me it never really mattered to him at all.

According to my father there was always something on board to use for bait. Back in the old fish days plastic baits were used inshore, but I never remember him using them offshore. I have seen him on many occasions rip the tail out of his own white t-shirt so as he could cut it into strips. In some cases he would just get one of the customers to donate part of their white shirttail. This decision depended on my father demeanor on any certain fish day!

We never did much trolling at least not until the early sixties. So therefore before this time there weren’t any top water fish bellies to cut out unless the fishermen caught them on their two hook bottom rigs. However, I have seen my father drag bottom lines, because he forgot to reel it in or the customer didn’t hear him scream “pull them in!” In some cases this worked as “primitive trolling!”

The bottom line was if Daddy forgot the bait someone’s lunch was going to be used. So this is the first question that daddy would ask right off….”what did you bring for lunch?” The first fisherman that replied, “chicken, beef, sausage, or steak got their lunch confiscated right off. The peanut butter and any kind of salad sandwiches were safe for a lot reasons!

Since it was hard to keep a Vienna sausage or canned sardines on the hook we never used our lunch. However, we did eat what the fishermen put on their hooks especially on the days when daddy forgot the bait and our lunch!

Thanks for reading.

 Capt. Judy is a local captain. She can be reached at 912-897-4921 or

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