Summer Trout Along the Georgia Coast

by Bill Vanderford, Georgia Fishing Editor

"Never call them 'weakfish'. Try 'specks', 'trout' or, with big females 'gators!'"

A common mistake made by many anglers is their perception of coastal saltwater fishing opportunities and the costs. Often fishermen who would like to indulge in coastal fishing envision the extravagance of huge boats, fancy hotels and specialized equipment. The summer fishing trip of a lifetime, however, only requires a short drive to the Georgia coast, and the cost is a lot less than one might imagine.

Numerous species of excellent eating and fighting fish inhabit the fertile waters of Georgia's barrier islands and inland, tidal rivers and creeks during the summer months. Any one of these might convert even the most dedicated freshwater angler.

Nice "speck" from the Georgia Coast.

The most prevalent, one of the best eating and easiest to catch of the available species is the spotted sea trout or "speck" as it is often referred to by locals along the Georgia coast. These saltwater trout, which are really spotted weakfish, can be caught inexpensively by anyone. In fact, a boat isn't even required if the ...where, when and how... is known.

A true estuarine species, the trout's life cycle is spent in the bays, sounds and creeks near the fertile marshes where it can feed on the abundance of shrimp and minnows. Provided enough food is available, sea trout seldom migrate very far from where they were born.

One of the largest concentrations of easily accessible public fishing areas suitable for sea trout fishing is in the Brunswick and Golden Isles area of Glynn County. Since I-95 runs right though the heart of this fishing paradise, many connecting highways make it easy for Peach State anglers to get there.

Thanks to some far-sighted planning by local and state government officials, when the new causeways were built to the Golden Isles, the bridge stubs of the old causeways on either side were left to be used as fishing piers, and on Little River, a catwalk was provided for fishing. In addition, easy access is available to parking areas. Also, several fishing piers have been built out in the islands.

Some of the best trout fishing in the Golden Isles occurs where the St. Simons Causeway crosses several of the tidal rivers, especially if one knows which side is the best. For instance, on the Back River crossing, the stub on the eastern side is the most productive. At Little River, both sides are good, but only the eastern side is suggested on the McKay River.

Excellent sea trout fishing from the bank is possible at the point where Goulds Inlet meets the ocean on St. Simons Island. Another good place to cast from the shore is along Blackbank Creek near the causeway from St. Simons to Sea Island. Boots should be worn, however, when fishing there, and extreme caution should be taken not to get into any sort of soft mud. It is possible to sink to the waist in the gooey stuff. Usually other fishermen can be seen fishing this area, so to be safe, follow their paths to the water.

In addition to these daytime areas for sea trout, some good after dark opportunities are available in the Golden Isles. In fact, a lantern could be hung down near the water at the "T" end of the St. Simons Pier and it's possible to catch "magnum" sea trout at night. The same method works well at the Jekyll Island Pier.

Since sea trout feed primarily on shrimp and minnows, the methods used to catch them are fairly simple. In fact, the most used and effective bait for "specks" is their natural food...live shrimp. When this bait is presented to them several feet below a float, it proves to be very productive.

Though finding and catching sea trout is much easier than one might have expected, always check on conditions and the latest local regulations before starting a trip. The best source of up-to-date fishing information is the Georgia DNR Coastal Resources Office in Brunswick, Georgia (912)264-7218.