For those inshore fishermen that just want to catch fish, I suggest purchasing or catching some live shrimp. This is the No. 1 bait that all fish like.
With that being said, your chances for hooking up when baiting with live shrimp are very good.
And the bottom line is that all fish like to eat shrimp because it’s easy for them to catch, it’s easy eat, and they are just like us – they just plain love the taste.
Our captains have been catching their own live shrimp for the last couple of months. They, of course, have their secret spots. But since there is shrimp in the creeks, you can most likely catch them, too.
Here are few tips about catching shrimp at this time of the year. As soon as the water leaves the grass is a great starting time. Most shrimp during this time are caught in less than 5 feet of water. Our captains are using a 6- to 8-foot cast net with 3/8 mesh for bait shrimp.
After polling everyone, I have found that the Betts Hi-Tider cast net is one brand that is preferred, especially at this time of the year. And it seems lighter weights on these nets are the way to go when targeting shrimp.
I suggest doing a little checking and talking with a Betts dealer so that you can find you a net that fits you prefect. Also I suggest checking all current state regulations making sure that your net size is legal for what you trying to catch and keep. Please know that there are different regulations for bait and food shrimp!
Now, if you can’t buy or catch live shrimp, you will have to go into the improvising mode, which means use what’s available. During this time the creeks are full of peanut menhaden. They can stay pretty healthy if you don’t try to keep too many alive in your well at once.
In the back of creeks there are schools of very small finger mullet and they are perfect bite size.
The mud minnows, especially during these lean live shrimp times, have really saved us. This bait can be caught using a minnow trap baited with bacon, cat food or saltines. I have one captain that swears that if you put a small McDonald burger in the trap the muds just can’t turn away.
Now what hits these improvised baits? The larger versions of spotted sea trout, flounder and red fish. The secret to using these baits is that you have to give the larger fish time to eat! When it comes to fishing with live shrimp, finger mullet, peanut menhaden or mud minnows, there are several good presentations.
There is the traditional adjustable float, which comes in all sizes from super large to mini sizes.
The ever popular popping cork, which when popped makes a sound just like a fleeing live shrimp.
The only downside to using this float is your length of leader used restricts you to depth of water fished. The leader shouldn’t be longer than 4 feet and can’t be shorter than 12 inches. I suggest using this float when fishing in depths from 2 to 6 feet of water.
Then there is “fishing naked.” Most fishermen want to do this, because the weather is so hot. No, I am not talking about taking your clothes off! When fishing naked all you do is tie on a short leader to your main line and then tie on a small Kahle hook.
Then I suggest placing the hook under the shrimp’s horn located on top of the head and letting the shrimp make its own way.
When it comes to using peanut menhaden, finger mullet or mud minnows I suggest lip hooking them.
Or another hooking up method is placing the hook right behind the dorsal fin. It’s a known fact that all baits once laced on a hook will try to go where they feel safe and it’s also a known fact that larger fish have already figured the bait’s game of hide and seek out.
Shark fishing is very good during this time of the year. Lots of sharks are being landed while fishing in the sounds, off the beach fronts, around surfacing schooling baits and while fishing all points east.
Since it is my opinion that it is shark mating season time, it seems that they are a little more lively and offering a longer/ stronger fight. As far as the tackle, it really doesn’t matter whether or not you are light-tackle fishing with smaller baits or heavy-tackle fishing with larger baits – your chances of having a great fish fight is very good.
Best baits to use when shark fishing is just about anything you got on hand. I have caught them on shrimp, cut fish, whole live and whole dead fish. My No. 1 bait used is what I call a fish steak. What is a fish steak? It is any size whole fish cut up like a loaf of bread.
Since sharks are free to roam any depth of the water column, fishing from the bottom to the surface are great areas to present your preferred bait. Why? A shark’s keen scense of smell is unbelievable. Even the smallest drop of blood or scent from bait, such as a fish steak, can be detected from very long distances.
For those fishing inshore or near-shore, I suggest picking up a copy of the 2020 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. This booklet is full of information that fishermen need when it comes to fish identification, explanation of rules/ regulations and some really interesting helpful reading facts.
For those that are reaching for the catching stars, I suggest checking out the current Georgia saltwater game fish records and deciding which one you want to personally break!
Our beachfronts and artificial reefs are holding some pretty interesting top water catching opportunities. I call the month of July the “If you can see the fish, you can catch them” month.
Top water fish such as Spanish/king mackerel, barracuda, little tunny, jack crevalle and cobia have arrived. All fish will hit anything from small trolled lures to a spoon being pulled slowly behind your boat. Another way to get one of these fish’s biting attentions is to cast right into the school of fish.
The best thing that I can suggest is that you “match the hatch.” This means you match the size of bait you use to the fish’s mouth that you are targeting.
For instance: Spanish mackerel, little tunny and jack crevalle have a favorite meal of glass minnows and juvenile squid. Small silver spoons in sizes 0 and 00 made by Clark are the best to use and do a darn good job of imitating the real thing.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are lots of different kinds of spoons on the tackle shelves, but the Clark spoon with the red ball is proven by fish many times over. When targeting the larger fish, such as king mackerel and barracuda, then I suggest using a larger spoon. The best spoon for this job is a 3 ½ inch Drone.
And if you really want to get a barracuda’s attention, try using a fresh dead or live Spanish mackerel. The secret when using a fresh dead Spanish mackerel is to pick the fish that looks the shiniest.
For those of you that like pitching to the schools of mackerel and little tunny, I suggest using a surface-pulled lure such as a Heddon Zara Spook puppy (I like white) or Mirror lure top pup lure (I like black/silver).
These style lures have much in common. When retrieved, they actually walk on the water, which is where walking-the-dog style came into play. This action triggers a grand bite. I like using light spinning tackle with 40/50 pound test braided, 18 inches 15/20-pound test leader, and then one of the suggested top water plugs. For leader material, I prefer using YoZuri disappearing pink fluorocarbon.
Now all you have to do is locate the school of fish, approach, shutdown your engine and start casting your lure into the school.
We got a cobia season! So if you catch, you can keep! When targeting cobia, which is the fish that looks like a shark or a large catfish in the water, I suggest using a 6- to 8-inch diving plug or a hair jig tipped plastic eel/ worm type.
Hands down the best jig for this catching job is called Cobia Candy Blue Thunder. Go to nutsandboltsfishing.com and order some today.
If you happen to have some live bait in your live well, anything from shrimp to small fish works like a charm on the ol’ cobia. It’s this fish’s delight to look it over before sucking it down. The secret to unlocking, or better yet “locking this bite,” is to give them time to eat!
Thanks for reading!
Capt. Judy can be reached at 912-897-4921 and missjudycharters.com.