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Fish, fishermen adapt to weather, muddy waters
Capt Judy fishing trip
Roger Payton of California and Don Perry of Savannah stand with Capt. Justin Rahn of Miss Judy Charters and the red fish they caught recently during an inshore fishing trip. Photo provided

If you were around Savannah last week you already know we had one heck of a rainy situation lurking over us. Yep, it rained and rained causing very muddy water conditions. The water color in Turner’s Creek had a brownish color.

What does this tend to mean? Too much of a fresh water blend. However, even with these conditions our captains, while pre-fishing after the continuous pouring rains, still caught some prefect size bait shrimp while deep dropping. They also caught a few reds and spotted sea trout.

What does all of this boil down to? Fishermen, as well as the fish, seem to adapt to their surroundings no matter the change. So just keep fishing!

Artificial reefs

March has arrived, and what does that mean when fishing reefs in less than 50 feet of water? The sheepshead bite is almost over with.

Normally, by the end of March the bulk of the offshore sheepshead run is making their move back to the inshore waters. Once they arrive here, they will scatter to their appropriate feeding and schooling places.

Normally when the sheepshead departs these areas, the top water fish have either arrived or they are just around the corner.

With all of this talk about top water fish, it is just about time to give trolling over or pitching around the wrecks a strong try. Large Spanish mackerel and blue fish are the normal for this time of the year.

I suggest pitching or trolling anything that is shiny, such as a Clark spoon. It seems at this time of the year the color silver will get their attention.

For those that don’t want to troll but want to pitch only, I suggest Gotcha lures or Johnson minnow spoons. Why? Both type of lures are made of metal and are a little heavy so they can be cast while be tied naked on your main line.

What does this mean? No leader needed. Why? The shape of the lure and hook location almost insures a mid- to tail-end hit. (Please know that there is a blue fish season: https://coastalgadnr. org/georgia-recreational- bluefish-fishery-close-temporarily- march-april) In more than 50 feet of water, the bottom fishing in these areas can be real busy. There is lots of action to be had. While bottom fishing we have been catching black sea bass, trigger fish, white grunts, scup, flounder, ruby reds lips (tomtates), sand perch, rock bass and reef runners.

I know you are scratching your head with that list. I know most fishermen don’t want to keep grunts, rock bass, sand perch, reef runners, etc. However, no matter what, they are fun to catch.

And you have to admit that the reef runner, also known as the cigar fish, is high up on the list of one of weirdest fish we catch in this area. Why? How many fish that we catch have teeth growing on their tongue? I will stop there!


Everyone please check state and federal fishing regulations before heading out. There are a few closures for both. Visit: fishing/ georgia-recreational-bluefish- fishery-close-temporarily- march-april

World famous Swirleybirds

Now I have known veteran Bill Vanderford and fished with him for many years. And I know by saying this I am showing my age. However, sometimes when it comes to catching fish, age equals seasoned and also equals lots of darn acquired knowledge.

Between the two of us, well we are weighted down with fishing knowledge for sure. In Bill’s case, he knows freshwater and saltwater fishing like the back of his hand and any lure he invents or endorses works more than not. So give them a try, but don’t unless you want your best chance at catching fish! Just do it!

Veteran’s Fishing Lures is a veteran-owned and operated company selling high-quality super productive fishing lures. All lures are made by hand in the United States by veterans. Call or text 770-289-1543.

Gulf Stream

It is a great time to give blue water fishing off the coast of Georgia a try. Why? Well, this is the time of the year where you could find yourself getting the chance at catch tuna and “yahoo wahoo.” And you never know when a mahi mahi is going to show up.

For those that don’t remember, these fish made an early showing last year. Just remember – make sure the weather is right and send me the pictures!

Believe it or not

Capt. Judy’s famous 944 Blue Water Ledge was ‘90s blue water bottom fishing at its finest.

I used to tell my customers, when you fill up the fish box, we are heading home. Back in the day, while bottom fishing we caught football vermilion snapper, also known as b-liners, 5-gallon bucket size trigger fish, blue head black sea bass, large scamp and gag grouper, tile fish, porgy, (red, white bone and knobbed porgy), large genuine red snapper that we could keep, and even lots of fish we were not sure what they were. After a couple trips to this area I put a couple of fish identification books on the boat. And we actually used them too!

After a particular day of bottom fishing at the Gulf Stream, we had two coolers on the dock that were slap full of bottom fish. And we had top water fish in a pile too! I remember this fish day just like it happened yesterday.

It seemed on this day we could not do anything wrong. I believe it would have not mattered whether we baited our hooks or not, the fish would have still hit them naked.

This day we were at the B-Liner Hole, which is located about 55 miles off the Wassaw Sea Buoy in about 155 feet of water. It is an area that I fished about a 100 times a year for about eight years. This spot offered a little of everything from bottom fishing to trolling.

I especially loved fishing the 944 Ledge, which is located on east side of the B-liner Hole. You can find this ledge on the Maps Unique Loran Chart. And the numbers are 60944.5 45154.5.

When top fishing is slow, be ready to change up – you are out there, so you might as well get all the fishing/catching that you can.

The older you get, the more precious you understand how time is. Fishing is one of things that will come to you in the same way. You might have fished all of your life, but the appreciation factor will get higher as time flies by. I am what you young ones would call “the older fisherman.” However, that’s not a bad label when you have seen and caught all the fish that I have.

The good news about time is that you realize how important a fish day can be, because you don’t really know when you’re going to be able to get back out. So I suggest no matter what your age or your fishing experience, you try to get all you can out of every fish day, because they don’t come around but once.

I have been a charter boat captain for over 55 years, but I am still learning about different fishing techniques. I think that is why fishing is so popular – it’s never the same.

Thanks for reading!

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

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