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Having a fishing plan can pay off big
Capt. Judy fishing

While inshore fishing with Capt. Kevin Rose of Miss Judy Charters, Todd Martin and son Hunter of McDonough, Georgia, had what is better known to us locals as one fine fish catching day. After loading onboard Capt. Kevin’s boat, he explained the whereabouts of safety gear and where they needed to sit on the ride to the fishing grounds. And then according to Todd, which he found quite interesting, Capt. Kevin revealed his fishing plan for the day and it went something like this: Capt. Kevin had a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. This statement impressed Todd and Hunter! Why? It is great to have a plan in place, especially when fishing is involved.

Upon arriving at said fishing spot, Capt. Kevin explained his theory on cast placing, which means where to throw the cork, where to let it drift and how far. While Todd and Hunter fished the suggested spots, Capt. Kevin pre-fished all around the boat. What does that mean? Fish are known to move and not just stay in one spot. In Capt. Kevin’s situation, he knew the fish were holding somewhere around the boat. After reading the water, which means watching the flow of the current, surface ripple conditions, clarity and looking for any oil spots on the water, he put Plan A into high gear.

Why are oil spots sometimes referred to as cat paws? When fish are feeding, oils from their prey float to the surface, which produces a sheen on the surface. In some cases, this sheen is not very noticeable to most, but to a fisherman that fishes a lot, it certainly is.

So Capt. Kevin fished all around the boat looking for the bite and once he located it, he instructed Todd and Hunter where to cast into next. This father-son duo ended up having one heck of a flounder fish catching day – which is an accomplishment to be very proud of. After the fish day had ended, Todd remarked, “You had a nice fishing plan for sure!” Capt. Kevin replied that they never moved on from Plan A!

This fishing trip was taken in celebration of his son Hunter’s high school graduation and for his acceptance into college. After talking to both of them, I knew that they had made one heck of a memory on this fishing trip.

Fat Albert

Back in the old days,we called the little tunny Fat Albert.

Little tunny is sometimes referred to as a false albacore. Over the years, I have had customers love the fight that comes with catching little tunny, and some were even known to take a few home.

They are not the best table fare. However, according to some fisherman, this fish tastes pretty darn good when properly prepared and put on the old smoker. But for those fishermen that just want to get their light tackle line stretched big time, this is one fish that once hooked up delivers just that.

According to Ty Smith of Savannah, who fished with us recently, his young fishing team had a ball chasing, hooking up and fighting “Fat Albert” on light tackle. Ty’s children, Jonathan and Lana, figured out that if you cast a surface-pulled lure into the school, serious bites would happen.

So after Ty, their captain for the day, would situate the boat properly, the fishers would cast place, retrieve lure and get a solid hit as soon as the lure made tracks. It was just plain great light tackle, strong-pulling fun.

Where did they find the fish? According Ty, lots of schools were forming behind the dragging shrimp boats. Little tunny are one smart fish – they let the shrimp boats do the work of catching the fish, then discarding them overboard, and they get the spoils.

Talk about a big chumming machine!

Blue water report

We’ve still got fish!

This past week, Dr. Tanner and crew braved the blue water’s rough seas and, while trolling, caught some very nice mahi mahi. According to this fish catching report, the fish just might be moving and feeding a little closer to shore.

While trolling assorted size ballyhoo, some very nice mahi were caught, fought and landed. And what does all of this prove for sure? The blue water lights absolutely do not go out off Georgia’s coast during mid-June. What are the blue water lights? For many years, all I heard was that the blue water fishing, basically trolling for tuna, dolphin and wahoo, died about the middle of June every year. The bite normally started in mid- March and lasted until about mid-June.

And that was supposed to be the blue water catching ways. So your bite opportunity for blue water fish was ever so limited while having this small catching window.

When I started blue water fishing in the mid‘90s, I came onboard having all kinds of ideas, meaning when the top water bite stopped, these fish had to be somewhere. They certainly don’t just curl up on the bottom and wait for next year’s ridiculous bite pattern to commence.

So I started doing exactly what Dr. Tanner did, which was to start looking for fish long before I got to the ledges located in 150 to 180 feet. He found all of his fish west of the Triple Ledge in about 130 feet of water.

So here’s the thing that you ought to know – I found this out many years ago and Dr. Tanner just proved it again. So now you know it is always time to go!

Believe it or not: Capt. Sherman I. Helmey 1901-March 1993

You know the old saying a picture in some cases is worth a thousand words? In this case, this might just be true.

I have a photo of my father, Capt. Sherman I. Helmey, sitting on a bench that was made from the bottom frame of a chair. The hat he is wearing is one of those types that George Burns wore when he was in the 1977 movie “Oh God” with John Denver. The metal washtub sitting at his right foot was what we carried our ice down to the boats in.

I remember this one particular morning when Daddy had dumped the ice in the boat’s wooden cooler and decided that he would take the tub back to the car. Normally he would just leave it on the dock, but for some reason he wanted to take it back to the car. I remember watching as he walked up the dock just a swinging the tub back and forth. As he was taking this stroll, the morning sun was just breaking the horizon at the beach.

Even after 50 years plus, I can still have this grand memory of that sunrise. Now that’s something that you never forget.

On this particular day, the morning sun must have caught the swinging tub just enough to get the attention of the big rattlesnake that was lying on the ground next to the dock. As daddy walked by the snake, it struck the tub and hit it so hard that it made a noise that we heard all the way down to the end of the dock.

It kind of reminded me of the noise that an orange makes as it hits your windshield at 40 mph. (Another story for another time!) As we all looked up, we saw daddy bending over looking at the ground. Being the curious child that I was, I started walking up the dock toward Daddy.

I watched as Daddy picked up one of the biggest rattlesnakes that I have ever seen. He had it draped over large oar and each hanging section must have been 3 to 4 feet long. As I am writing now, as well as thinking about it, I still shiver at the thought of this big snake.

Well, my father, as you know, was quite a card and he did play his share of jokes on those he liked. He pointed and said, “Go get me that crab box.”

I headed towards the crab box knowing for sure I wasn’t getting close to that snake even if it was supposedly stone cold dead. I handed Daddy the crab box and he dropped the snake inside the box.

Then he laid a croaker sack across the top. He then told me I could go on back to the boat and he would be down there in a moment. I shook my head and started back down the dock.

When I got about half way down the dock, I saw Capt. Walsh drive up. As soon as he got out of the car, I watched as my father waved him over to the box. Although I couldn’t hear what Daddy was saying, I could only assume he was either playing a joke or showing off his rattlesnake find.

Both men leaned in and Daddy lifted the croaker sack. At this exact moment and also to my amazement they jumped higher than I have seen anyone especially while in the backwards mode.

When their feet finally did hit the ground, they were moving and kicking sand at the same time. A real sand storm appeared at their feet.

The large rattlesnake that Daddy thought was stone cold dead had in fact only has knocked it’s self out when it hit the tub. While lying in the crab box the snake not only woke up, but also was ready to escape at its first chance. At this point, those looking in were happy to oblige.

The moral of this story is when your snake looks stone cold dead, it just might be playing possum.

Thanks for reading!

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

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