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Fishing Report Hit Hibernating Trout in the Head

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Mike Maloney holding his nice scamp grouper.
Mike Maloney holding his nice scamp grouper.


By the time the month of January rolls around the inshore fish that are migrating have left and the ones that are staying have gone into the hibernation mode.

Spotted sea trout during this time are normally wintering in deep holes in the creeks, rivers or sounds. Best way to catch spotted sea trout when in the hibernation mode is to use small freshwater jigs with curly tails or super grubs while using 4 to 6 pound test main line. As far as main line, I am from the old school and like monofilament, because of the extra stretch and cushion it adds. For those who prefer braided type main line, it also will work.

However, you need to make sure the drag set matches the main line used.  Spotted sea trout have soft mouths and a hook can easily be pulled free.

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The best freshwater jigs that also work in saltwater are called Jiffy Jigs, which come in assorted sizes and colors. If these jigs aren’t available, select 1/16- to 1/24-ounce jigs dipped in red, white or black plastic.

Heck, if you can’t find jigs in any of these colors I suggest picking out the lure preferred by all fish, which is naked, unpainted lead. For some reason, a fish can’t seem to pass up a piece of lead when something such as a screw tail (any light color as long a white is involved works) or real shrimp is involved. And the best news is, if there is a hook involved in this rigging up equation, hook ups are likely to happen!

The best method is to cast in the deepest part or the hole, let your lure hit the bottom, wait, reel a few times, wait, and repeat. Then I suggest casting your lure to the sides of the hole and repeat this sequence. The secret to catching trout during cold times is to work your lure as slow as you can while still keeping it on the bottom. There is an old saying, “To get a trout’s attention during hibernating mode you almost have to hit them right on the on the head with the lure!”

Trophy Bull Reds Rule Offshore
For those fishermen looking to get their best shot at a trophy red fish – also known as “Bull Red fish” – now is the time. Please know that the red fish when caught offshore is on the catch-and-release-only list. Handle with care and release as quick as possible!

The Darndest Things!
I have to share this story with you. I call it “Customers Do Say the Darndest Things” for a very good reason. Mike Maloney was holding a nice scamp grouper, which he mostly would have not caught had I not listened to what he suggested. On Nov. 10, Mike brought a few of his fishing friends aboard and we headed to the backside of the Savannah Snapper Banks, about 40 miles offshore.

It was one those days where the winds didn’t match the sea conditions or the drifts. I call this a “Hoggly Woggly Ocean!” The reason being is you can’t stand up in the boat without fighting the movement. Not only that, but when you get off the boat and try to walk, one leg seems longer than the other.

This ocean, along with current action, makes it especially challenging to get your bait to the fish 130 feet down on the bottom. While I was moving from one spot to another, I explained to Mike my dilemma: “I have a 15 knots of wind straight out of the east and an outgoing tide that is moving at 1.5 knots to the west, which is pushing me a little to the southeast. To top off this already strange action, I also have a large swell coming out of the southeast and a short chop close together out of the east.”

As Mike listened I could tell that he had comprehended and now was computing what I had said. After a few seconds Mike said, “With your boat point facing, once you get over the spot that you want our baits to fall, turn your helm 10 degrees to the west and bump your engine into gear for three for seconds. This should put you right above the fishing spot allowing our baits to free fall right into the strike zone!”

With both of us showing true “game faces,” all suggestions were put into place and the result is Mike caught a big scamp grouper! And at this point he certainly did deserve it! Thanks to this great suggestion, this will forever be called “Mike’s two step ten degree three second move!”

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Capt. Judy Helmey
Capt. Judy Helmeyhttp://missjudycharters.com/
Captain Judy Helmey of Miss Judy Charters provides inshore light tackle, fly fishing opportunities, offshore bottom and trolling, and Gulf Stream fishing. Please feel free to contact her by phone 1 912 897 4921, by email fishjudy2@aol.com Her site missjudycharters.com features over 30,000 fish catching pictures!

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