By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Fish fancy live bait on hot summer days
Capt judy catch
Hampton Grosch, left, Greg Grosch, Grant Grosh, Josh Moses and Rodney Meeks show off the king mackeral and amberjack they caught recently while fishing offshore with Capt. Judy, center, of Miss Judy Charters.

Inshore report

Well, I don’t have to tell you that the water temps are raging hot for the fish, and it is also hot above for the fishermen, too. I am not complaining, because we certainly need the rain, but when it rains buckets at once it sure does muddy the water. And we all know that muddy water conditions makes for a slow bite. Why? The fish can see the bait and the bait can’t see the fish, so there is no reaction on either end of the predator to prey situation.

However, during these hot times it is best to be prepared with a great live bait arsenal. That is the sincere secret to catching fish during hot times. So thinking like a fish is really going to help a lot.

What the heck do I mean by that? Well, during hot times you really don’t want to eat anything unless it triggers your taste buds. For us, food that tastes good and offers up a cool bite gets a lot of attention during these times. For me, it is ice cream. Heck, who doesn’t like an ice cream during hot times?

Now as I said, “Live and livelier bait is the ticket to this ride!” Live bait, such as shrimp, finger mullet, peanut menhaden, mud minnows, yellow tail and croaker, especially when they are at their liveliest stage, work for fish just like ice cream for fishermen.

When presenting these baits I suggest stepping outside the normal presentation box. Presenting any of these baits on the bottom or near the bottom is going to be a very good idea because it is cooler on the bottom than it is near the surface.

Please remember sometimes bait shops are not open, or if they are, they can run out of shrimp fast. Why? Half of it is purchased and other half is expiring just as fast. I ought to know, over the years, I have been in the bait business twice. And each time, I have asked myself, “Why I did this to myself?”

Tarpon bite

It is that time of the year where those big silver fish, better known as tarpon, visit our area. This fish’s most sought after bait is going to be the ever-popular, sometimes hard-to-find-and-thencatch ocean menhaden.

It is a known fact that if you find a spot in the sound that offers the old tarpon a target rich ambushing feeding situation, you would have found the best place to set up to catch this fish.

Another way to get your best chance at a tarpon hook-up is to follow the menhaden schools and basically drift with them. While in the basic drift mode, I suggest using a blue water popping cork as your floatation device, also known as the bait deliverer.

I would tie on about 3 feet of 60-pound test fluorocarbon leader and consider using either a 10/0 to a 14/0 circle hook or a 6/0 large extra strong Kahle hook. Now sometimes a large Kahle-like shaped hook is also called a “wide gap hook.”

Just a note: If you don’t happen to have any kind of fluorocarbon leader on board, don’t panic. Just go with what you have. I normally go with 80-pound to 100-pound test monofilament line. It’s not as abrasion resistance as fluorocarbon leader, but if you keep the line off the fish’s back you will win on the retrieve.

When you do hook-up you will need to have a bumper ready to tie to the end of your anchor rope. This is so that you can cast it off so as to be able to find your anchor after you fight, land and release your fish. Believe me, you won’t have time to pull your anchor up.

The old tarpon have their feeding quirks. When it comes to the feeding whims of a tarpon the secret is that your bait needs to be the right size.

A tarpon sucks your bait in and basically swallows it whole. If the bait used isn’t easy to swallow your window of hooking up might not happen. If the baits that you have are too big, I suggest cutting them up into chunks.

Tarpon eat both dead and live baits. The bait facts are it’s really all about what fits into their mouth and the smell that gets them there in the first place.

Another must when tarpon fishing is to be a good “chummer.” I am not talking about throwing up. You can cut up menhaden and toss over, or, if possible, grinding it up is the best method. Please remember the more scent dumped in the water, the more bite opportunity you are going to have.

During seasonal time for tarpon, you can bet that where you have shrimp boats dragging and dumping their by-catch you will have a prefect pre-chummed area for tarpon, as well as large sharks. So I don’t suggest adding swimming to your fishing day.

Artificial reefs

It is Spanish mackerel time! How do I know that? Well there are four reasons: No. 1 is it that time of the year. No. 2, the water temperatures are right. No.3, we can see them on the surface. And No. 4, it is after Aug. 6.

I am sure you understand all the above reasons with the exception of No. 4.

My father, grand fisherman that he was, always said, “The Spanish mackerel do not start jumping until after Aug. 6.” As you know it is now Aug. 13 and we are still catching Spanish mackerel.

According to my father, Spanish mackerel don’t spawn until the first of August. In my father’s case, he always said “Aug. 6.” As a small child and as an adult, I never wanted to question my father’s theories. Why? Because we certainly did catch the heck out of Spanish on Saturday, Aug. 8.

My father always told me that after the mackerel have spawned, they start jumping with joy. And believe me, that is exactly what these fish did. Big thanks go out to my father!

Savannah Snapper Banks

You never know what might be lurking right under the surface between the artificial reef area to about the back side of the snapper banks. While dragging a Banchee High Speed Trolling Lure, also referred to as cow bells, over the last week, we have had some interesting solid hits.

Now we have not seen nor caught what is hitting at, missing and basically destroying this lure. However, this is only a matter of time before one of these big fish gets hooked up.

Believe it or not: Glitter and all it attracts

Did you know that presences of glitter can make for a grand story? When you add glitter to any sort of fish chum, it certainly does make a difference – and that difference is paid off in more solid bites delivered!

So when I drag a bottle of menhaden oil or a bag of chum behind the boat, normally glitter is added for that additional tease. When sunlight hits glitter, it sends light flashes in all different directions. And these flashes bring on a serious fish interest – and you can count on that. Now, I like using silver glitter the best. However, all colors will work. And the next question everyone ask is,“How do you know if the glitter even works?” And the answer is so simple. Check you fish cooler out, if the fish in it have glitter on them, then it is definitely working.

Back in the blue water days, I used lots of glitter in my chum bags. And when I got on a yahoo wahoo bite there was no denying whether or not the glitter worked. The proof was on the fish and in the cooler.

On the lighter side – I had this happen a couple of years ago – I had a customer that wanted to pay his fishing charter in small bills. Well, in my case as well as most anybody, money is money, and the inshore charter was about $500.

As the customer counted the money out, which was mostly one and five dollar bills, I tried to keep up. I knew one count was going to be good with me. It was early morning, so I had my trusty flash light on as the customer counted the money.

The beam from the flash light caught a few shiny silver specks in his trunk. Then I turned the flash light on the money so that he could see better to count it. And sure enough there was glitter all over the money, my hands and somehow my Miss Judy Charters t-shirt.

Just like my fish box, this customer’s trunk, his hands, my hands and my t-shirt showing the presence of glitter certainly made for an interesting story.

Thanks for reading!

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

Sign up for our E-Newsletters