Labor Day weekend was a busy one on the water as both pleasure boaters and boat anglers closed out the summer season.
A check at a couple of boat ramps in Chatham County from Saturday through Monday saw crowded parking areas to the point that many had to park their cars and trailers along the highways leading into the ramp areas.
And the few reports received showed a lot of fish being caught by the boat angling fleet, with some impressive catches noted, but also a ton of small fish being caught and released.
But before getting into who caught what, a correction to last week’s report needs to be noted. A photo related to the report on the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament telling of the winning catch and those on the team which included Savannah area resident Colin Oxnard was inadvertently cropped, leaving out Oxnard, who was shown standing on the left.
There wasn’t much to report from the offshore scene, but inshore action was on fire for many with yearlings far more plentiful than those of harvest size.
The strongest report on inshore action came from Marvin Metzger who operates Coffee Bluff Marina (912-231-3628). He said “fishing has been crazy good the last couple of weeks out of Coffee Bluff.”
He went on to add that “numerous boats are bringing in limits of trout — big ones.” He said the relatively new 14-inch minimum length regulation is a possible reason for more big trout being harvested , saying “I’m seeing larger trout than I have ever seen coming in regularly.”
Metzger said numerous anglers were hooking up with tripletails from the Ossabaw Sound waters, most of which are of legal size, and that many big reds are being caught and released.
He closed by saying that live bait, in particular shrimp, is now in good supply. The calls I have made this week to various fishing camps, marinas and bait suppliers shows plenty of shrimp available all along the coast, either through suppliers or for those who catch their own with cast nets.
From here and there
Earl Gant at Thunderbolt Bait House (912-667-1702) was closing up shop late Monday afternoon when I stopped at the boat ramp. He said that anglers were catching lots of fish, mostly trout and bass.
In a text message Monday, Jay Cranford (478-256-3422) www.coastalgafishing.com and said fishing has been excellent in the Sapelo Sound area waters with “several catches of keeper trout, reds and flounder.”
In a phone call Monday, Robert Bacot at Kilkenny Marina in Bryan County (912-727-2215) said inshore action was definitely picking up, with far more releases of both trout and reds reported than harvestable fish.
Bacot noted one group of anglers catching 58 trout, of which only eight were harvestable. Another reported hooking up with 25 and only able to keep three.
Capt. David Newlin (912-756-4573), who operates out of Fort McAllister Marina (912-727-2632) also in Brian County, said last week’s action was some of the best he has ever seen, particularly with keeper reds.
“Many times we would have the limit of keeper reds within 30 minutes and release a 100-plus more just to keep the fishing action going.”
Capt. David also said his clients caught a few legal trout, but far more were undersized and had to be released.
He went on to say that as the Labor Day weekend progressed the action started to slow down, as waters were beginning to become more muddy as tides start springing.
From Capt. Judy
Our single offshore report came from Capt. Judy Helmey (912-897-4921) who in her weekly web report (www.missjudycharters.com) told of a big wahoo being taken at the Snapper Banks last week by Capt. Ryan Howard of her team of guides.
Capt. Judy told of a client fishing the Snapper Banks with her in the 1970s and landing a state record wahoo – the angler was Tommy Earl Pope and the wahoo weighed 91 pounds, eight ounces.
The current record of 123 pounds, three ounces was caught by Michael Stefanick in 2000.
She also had an interesting report on catching live bait with Sabiki rigs. It is an interesting read.
Tides now are moving into the eight-foot range and will continue in that range through Sept. 21 relative to the up-coming new moon (new moon is Sept. 20.
Highest of these will be Sept. 17-19 when they are scheduled to peak at 8.4 feet.
More wide-spread muddying can be expected, particularly if wind conditions push waters higher.
Tide levels for the last eight days of September will be at more favorable fishing levels, again if weather conditions are also favorable.
About red snapper
There is growing optimism that the feds may decide to loosen the ban on harvesting red snapper and may even have a limited open season during 2017.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) will be holding meeting in Charleston, S.C. Sept. 11-15, where on opening day members will address a limited harvest, the first since 2014.
An amendment to the Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan is being considered, with the Counsel expected to request NOAA Fisheries to take emergency action which could allow limited red snapper harvest this year.
The weekend of Sept. 15-16 will see tournament action both in the Savannah area and also in McIntosh County.
In the Savannah area, the 2017 Leukemia Cup Inshore Slam and the Savannah Sport Fishing Club’s general tournament will be held out of the Savannah Yacht Club.
The Leukemia Cub event also is being called a “Low Country Slam” and is a fund-raiser that is open to the public.
Target fish are flounder, redfish and trout, one each of legal size with the aggregate weight to determine the top three boat awards. Individual awards also will be presented.
Competing anglers may opt to fish either of the two scheduled days.
For more information and registration, go on line to (www.leukemiacup.org/ga/localchapter/leukemiacupevents/fishing.)
Pine Harbor Marina in McIntosh County will be holding a two-day shark tournament Sept. 15-16.
Rocky Mallard tells us the event, which is open to the public, will be for the heaviest shark landed.
Entry fee is $40 per angler, with payout to the top three places, the amount depending on the number of anglers.
Weigh-in will be from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday, and 4-5 p.m. on Sunday.
All sharks caught and entered in the event will be food processed.
For more information and registration, contact Pine Harbor Marina at 912-832-5999.
John Burke can be reached at 912-655-8505, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.