The coast of Georgia near St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island provide some of the most exceptional live bait fishing opportunities on the East Coast. For those that really like to fish the rivers for Trout, Redfish, Flounder, and the other species, live Shrimp lead the pack as the unrivaled bait of choice.
There are several ways to rig for fishing with live Shrimp. The most popular way for fishing St. Simons with live Shrimp is the tried and true Pole Float. The idea behind this fishing rig is to suspend your bait at a desired depth, while still being able to easily adjust the depth. This is accomplished by tying a “stop knot” above the cork on your main line. The cork slips freely until it meets the knot, meanwhile, the sinker that is attached between your mainline and leader sinks down carrying your bait with it.
Most fishermen that fish with a slip cork or pole float use a long rod and a conventional bait casting reel with a level wind. Heavy braided line, or dacron line is used not so much for strength, but because it floats. The long rod allows you to take up slack much faster than a shorter rod, and the conventional reel makes it easy to engage the reel quickly from free-spool. The braided or dacron lines also offer virtually no stretch, which makes connecting with your fish a lot easier when you set the hook.
The second most popular way to rig for Trout Fishing in coastal Georgia with live shrimp is the popping cork. This method is quickly gaining popularity and I fish with popping corks almost exclusively myself. This rig is typically set up to fish only one depth, that is, it is usually not adjustable like a slip cork. (I do know of a way to make them adjustable without buying the combination corks that I will reveal in another article.)
I like to make minor modifications to my popping corks to suit my fishing style. I crimp a small clam shot on the bottom of the wire below the brass beads to help with casting distance and to make the cork react faster when I pop it. I also add a small clam shot to the leader itself to help hold the bait down and to keep the leader from fouling on the cork.
Fish the popping cork in depths of 3 to 7 feet in areas with a gradual slope. I don’t recommend fishing them in spots that drop off quickly into deep water. You can still catch fish, but there are more efficient ways to rig for that.
The last method that I am going to write about in this article is free lining. All this is, is tying a hook to the end of your main line and hooking your shrimp and letting it swim away from the boat. Sometimes people will put a split shot several inches above the shrimp if they want the shrimp to stay a few feet below the surface. You can also tail hook the shrimp, cast it, and work it slowly back to the boat. Either way is very effective, and I like to do this when the bite is slow, or on quiet morning when I don’t want corks splashing the surface.
There are as many way to fish live shrimp for Trout in Georgia as there are fish in the sea, but these are some of my favorite ways and they work for me.
Until next time… Tight Lines!
Capt. TJ Cheek