Coastal Outdoors: Fall fishing season ‘as good as it gets’

Lots of fish being caught! Lots of big fish being caught! Fall fishing 2017 is proving to be about as good as it gets.


From the clear blue of offshore to the rivers and creeks inshore, the catch action is on, and even with spring tides this past weekend and widespread muddying, the reports indicate a lot of fish being harvested.

We won’t have a full report on the limited red snapper season harvest until the close of the season this coming Sunday. There has been very little said about what was caught during last weekend’s opening in this sector of the South Atlantic waters, although one report coming from Capt. Judy Helmey (Miss Judy Charters 912-897-4921) indicates some heavyweights have been landed.

One of Capt. Judy’s team of guides, Capt. Ken Kennickell, took a group of clients to the Snapper Banks where eight red snapper were harvested. When weighed several hours later by the Georgia DNR at dock on Turners Creek, the catch totaled 148 pounds.

“Had the fish been weighed when they were still alive they most likely would have weighed together at 178 pounds,” Capt. Judy wrote.

Chasing king mackerel

And while on the offshore scene, we received a report from Capt. Jimmy Armel, who with Capt. Brad Stewart, is now booking charters through their new website, and by phone at 912-786-7472 or cell 912-239-7309.

Capt. Jimmy told about “one heck of a week with fall fishing in full swing.” He said the offshore reef bottom fishing has been doing well and added that “I’ve spent all of my time chasing kings, and man has it been fun! I love the sound of the reel with a 40 pound king on the other end.” He also said the cobia also have been thick, and the big trick was staying away from them, as the season is closed.

Inshore bite

Inshore it has been mostly about the top three with bull reds leading the list, followed by limit catches of both reds and trout. The flounder bite also continues to be strong as does black drum and sizeable whiting.

Toss in an increasing number of sheepshead and it is easy to see the enthusiasm building for what is expected to be better days ahead as tides drop back into more favorable fishing levels this weekend and through much of next.

We have heard of a lot of big “slab” flounder being caught this year. Our latest report is of one recently caught by Savannah area angler Tony Reardon, who was fishing the ocean side of Daufuskie Island with Capt. John Middleton and landed one measuring 24 inches in length.

We had a report from Quyen Nguyen who forwarded a photo of Travis Tinfoy with a bull red measuring 42 inches that he caught and released while fishing Racoon Key in the Ossabaw Sound area.

Another came from Sam Peters of Release Marine, who sent a photo of seven-year-old Tyde Starling with a 47-inch red he not only hooked but also single-handedly brought to the boat while fishing with his dad, Capt. Matt Starling (catch up with Matt Starling on Facebook).

In a follow-up phone call, Capt. Matt said Tyde, at age seven, is no newcomer to fishing. “He has been fishing with me ever since he could walk,” Matt said, adding Tyde was using light tackle and “the only help he got from me was when it was brought into the boat.”

He also said the overall bull red bite has been terrific and that limit catches of both keeper reds and big trout have been regular.

Capt. Brian Woelber (One More Cast Charters 912-898-1331) made a similar report, saying he and Captains Eric Traub and Greg Davis teamed up to accommodate a full slate of clients, who harvested limits of both reds and trout.

A similar report came from Marvin Metzger who operates Coffee Bluff Marina (912-231-3628). He told of some exciting action last week, in particular before tides starting springing. “Even after the tides got up, I still had numerous anglers with limits of reds,” he said in an email that included several photos of fish caught.

Trout trolling

Trolling action is also picking up. Area anglers John Adams and Mike McCullough fished waters in the Vernon View area on Friday.

Adams described the bite steady, the two keeping 16 of the largest and releasing the rest. He said they lost count on how many were released, the bite was so steady. He also said the bait of choice was a quarter-ounce red jighead dressed with bright chartreuse screwtail soft plastics and trolled on eight-pound mono line. “If it ain’t chartreuse, it ain’t no use,” Adams quipped.

Our single fresh water report came to us from Tamalynn Diotte who forwarded a photo of her grandson, Isaiah Allen, 4, with his first fish ever – one he caught while on a recent trip to the North Carolina mountains. Seems young Isaiah was getting some instruction from his “Popa,” Jerald Jameson, as the two were fishing from a cabin porch that overlooked a mountain lake when he dropped his line over the rail and pulled in his catch.

Leukemia Inshore Slam

The 2017 Leukemia Cub Inshore Slam, postponed due to Hurricane Irma, has been rescheduled for Dec. 2 out of the Savannah Yacht Club.

Tournament director Chris Shantz says the format of a boat tournament and a “Low Country Slam,” consisting of the heaviest aggregate weight of one each of legal-size redfish, trout and flounder remain the same, but the option of an angler being able to fish one of two days has been changed to a single day of fishing.

A captain’s meeting and registration is slated for Nov. 30, also at the Savannah Yacht Club from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

On tournament day weigh-in will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Yacht Club. Boat cash awards will be three places. Individual awards will be for the heaviest of each three species weighed in, plus lady and youth angler awards for individual slams.

Entry fee is $75 per person for adults and $50 for youth anglers. All proceeds benefit the leukemia and lymphoma society- Georgia Chapter.

For more information and advance registration, go online to website

John Burke can be reached at 912-655-8505, or by email at


Sat, 11/18/2017 - 3:41pm