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The Right Bait Wins the Catch

Please meet the ladies who don’t just fish; they catch too! From left to right: Deirdre Burford, Grace Knight, Boni Carstarthen, A J Crowe, and Vicki Hall. Each fisher is holding a fist-full of black sea bass!
Please meet the ladies who don’t just fish; they catch too! From left to right: Deirdre Burford, Grace Knight, Boni Carstarthen, A J Crowe, and Vicki Hall. Each fisher is holding a fist-full of black sea bass!

Inshore

Although the spotted seatrout has been a little unpredictable over the last few months, May is the month that changes everything! By the time May rolls around, the spotted seatrout bite is joined up with the flounder bite meaning two types of fish for one type of bait. As always, live shrimp under an adjustable float or popping cork works like a charm. However, if you’re wanting to get your bait closer to the bottom but not right on it, an adjustable cork will do just that. The reason is, you can adjust the depth fished (close to the bottom) so as to keep your cork floating properly upright. The bottom line when presenting bait this way is, spotted seatrout will find your bait and the flounder can see it. If it’s artificial lures you are looking to work instead, I suggest purchasing yourself some Berkley Gulp Alive baits, which come in all sizes and shapes. The old saying, “The secret is in the sauce” comes into play when using this line of artificial baits. These styles have been proven by fish, and whatever you do, don’t forget your dip net!

 

Artificial Reefs

The bottom fishing can be very good at this time of the year at the artificial reefs. Best bottom baits are cut squid and fillet of fresh fish. These baits, once put on or near the bottom, get the fish’s attention. The black sea bass, trigger fish, summer trout, flounder, and other bottom biters love the option of a free meal. As far as top water bite, the Spanish mackerel should have arrived. You might not see them, but they are here. Best places to troll are going to be over and around structure. If you happen to see a few Spanish catching air (jumping), I suggest working the area while pulling small to medium Clark spoons at different depths. You also could find yourself catching king mackerel, barracuda, or little tunny.

 

Savannah Snapper Banks

When the month of May rolls around, offshore fishermen get excited. The reason is, “Grouper Season” is in wide open mode. The season for our area (Savannah, Ga.), is May 1 until December 31. For more up to date fishery regulations please go to http://www.safmc.net/ (Always check for current regulations, because you would be surprised how much they change!)

This is the month where gags and scamps (grouper) exercise their right to make a move to feed. As far as what’s best to use for bait – I suggest the nervous bait such as live cigar minnows or Spanish sardines, which are easily caught on just about any type of gold hook sabiki rigs. The secret is to use sabiki bait rigs made with #6 to #8 size hooks laced with fish skin. Once this style hooks are dipped into the water, baits can not resist the gold flash or the secret smell delivered.  Another method for getting a solid grouper bite is “jigging,” which has been working quite well for me.  As far as best colors, cigar minnows or Spanish sardine “look alikes” have been the catching deal. The secret to jigging when it comes to catching big grouper is dropping to the depth where the fish are holding and then working your jig by raising and dropping your rod. This basically works your jig about 4 to 5 feet up and down at the same depth. I call this working the “strike zone!” Once hooked up, this area is better known as the “striking zone!”

As far as top water fishing at the banks, anything goes, from king mackerel to dolphin (aka Mahi Mahi). You really never know what might bite your hook. When moving from spot to spot I always try to put out some sort of a swimming lure. A ballyhoo rigged on three 5/0 “J” hooks in a row also works. I suggest pulling this bait naked, meaning no skirt needed.

 

Gulf Stream Fishing

The blue waters of the Gulf Stream can certainly offer lots of action during the month of May. Water temperatures to the west of the stream are still cooler, meaning the edge is still strong. The best way to find fish is to locate any temperature breaks. (Go here http://sstcharts.com/ for free online sea surface temperature charts.) The dolphin bite is normally the best during this month. You can catch them pulling small to medium rigged baits right on the surface. For those that don’t want to rig ballyhoo there is another option. I suggest pulling “old school” birds with artificial squid in tow. And last but not least, once you find a school of dolphin, I suggest stopping and pitching to them. You can use small jigs with screw tails, squid on a hook, cut ballyhoo on a hook, or use small live baits. Believe me all will work. Here are a few things to remember when it comes to catching and keeping school dolphins’ attention. If they come to the boat with their lights on (colorful attire), they are most likely going to eat just about anything you throw at them. To keep the school’s attention always leave the last fish hooked up swimming in the water right by your boat until you have landed the one before. Dolphins are very jealous fish and always want whatever their counterparts are eating.

 

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