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Cane syrup, famous lures are secrets to some better fishing
Capt. Judy
Will Dillon, 6, with his grandparents Cornelia and Mike Dillon of Isle of Hope, show off a spotted sea trout they caught recently while inshore fishing with Capt. Garrett Ross of Miss Judy Charters. Photo provided.

Editor’s note: While it may seem the world has come to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s always time to read about fishing and boats. We offer the columns on this page as a break from the news of the day. Enjoy.

Inshore fishing report

With mid-March knocking at our door, things in the fish catching department are just about the change. I am always saying, “When the water temps reaches 65 degrees, everything’s alive!” 

Well, this for sure is a statement that means a lot, especially when it comes to turning the spring fish bite on. And what fish are we talking about? Red fish, spotted sea trout, flounder, whiting, sheepshead and black drum.

As you know, especially if you have been following my or any of my inshore captains’ fishing reports, you are already know we have had one heck of a fish bite over the last couple of months. 

For those that fished a lot, you also know the fish bite when the water temps are below 65 is just not as predictable as they are going to be now. 

And here’s the thing, it is not exactly a solid 65 degrees at this time. However, it has maintained a solid 60 degrees or more. And when low tide occurs mid-day and the sun shines, it gets darn close. And if close is all we have now, I will take it! 

The whiting are biting!

For those fishermen that don’t care to look for – much less purchase – live shrimp, you have now officially got baiting up options. Why? The whiting are biting in the sound and they are plentiful. The best news is they are fun to catch on light tackle. 

Now most folks want fish fillets not the whole fish. However, those that know how good a just-caught fresh-fried whiting tastes just might change their minds. 

A recent group with Capt. Matt Williams knew how good they taste and asked for whole scaled, gutted whiting with heads removed. All you need now is to roll them in some meal and drop them into skillet full of hot grease. Don’t forget the tartar sauce, or in my case the Georgia cane syrup.

As a child I loved to eat fried fish. However, I found that if you poured Georgia cane syrup over it, it certainly tasted a whole lot better. I mean who doesn’t like a breakfast taste for dinner? I strongly suggest trying this. And of course you certainly don’t have to tell anyone! 

Artificial reefs 

Reefs located in less than 50 feet of water are still holding the interest of sheepshead, black drum, flounder, a few legal and lots of illegal black sea bass, flounder, blue fish and trophy red fish. 

If you want to target offshore sheepshead, I suggest doing it before mid-April. After that time, the sheepies head to the inshore waters where you can catch them for the rest of this year. However, they spread out searching for the prefect vertical feeding opportunities.

Reefs in more than 50 feet of water are holding some very nice black sea bass. And when I say nice, I really do mean it. 

So if you are looking for a steady bite, I suggest using two hook bottom rigs laced with small pieces of squid. Another good bait is to take a small fish, cut it up like a loaf of bread, remove any hanging appendages and put it on your hook.

Please always check all inshore (state) and offshore (federal) fishing regulations before heading out.

Believe it or not

My father’s famous float rig has already been hit and has been retired. I have caught tuna, dolphin, king mackerel, little tunny and lots more fish.

This is one of those lures that will work to your advantage, because it’s proven. Heck, you can pull this lure anywhere at any time. 

Here how you make your very own famous float rig. All you need is one 90- to 100-pound test swivel, 3 feet of 40- to 80-pound test single strand wire, one 8- to 12-inch traditional trout float, and 4/0 to 6/0 treble hook.

Attach the haywire twist wire to swivel, stick through trout float, and haywire twist treble hook. Now you have the perfect slow trolled lure. 

The secret to this lure is you need to keep it moving no matter if you have fishing jumping over it or not. I suggest always purchasing enough tackle to make at least two floats because once your first float is cracked up you are going to want to change up. 

This was my father’s famous “secret lure” of all times. My father thought this one up while sitting on the dock just watching boats coming in from their fishing day. 

It seems that inshore fishermen stick their rods in the rod holder while leaving the cork just flying in the wind like a flag. According to my father, this alone once noticed by a fish would drive them crazy. So after rigging it up he used it and passed this notion down to me. 

Since he’s not around any longer, because he has gone to that big fishpond in the sky, you will have to take my word on it. It definitely does work in a big way.

The best way to use this lure is to pull it at about 4 to 6 knots. The speed allows the lure to do its job properly. When pulling it, the water rushes through the tube in the float, which makes the float dart about in an irregular manner, which makes the fish go wild. 

I use this lure a lot because there is no preparation to rigging it, which means no bait added. It’s best, when available, to pull from outriggers or center rigger. However, it works pulled right behind the boat, but you need to keep it out of the prop wash. 

Just remember when you stop the float does what it is made for, which is float on the surface. This is the lure that I pull when I am looking for bottom fish, because it’s hard to catch a fish when you don’t have a line in the water. 

I have tried adding more than one treble hook to the float, but this causes it to pull funny and not real like. So it’s possible a fish might hit the lure several times before actually getting hooked up. The entertainment factor alone is worth getting your float flat ripped up. 

I suggest taking more than one float. I have caught tuna, wahoo, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, little tunny, and jack crevalle with this great invention. I pull it frequently in both green and blue water.

Thanks for reading!

Capt. Judy can be reached at 912-897-4921. and

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