The most prominent piece of the coast in this area is Cumberland Island. This barrier island runs from the St Marys River entrance north to the Satilla River and St Andrews Sound. The inshore side of Cumberland provides myriad rivers, creeks and flats that really hold fish.
The first thing I noticed when we fished this area was literally a lack of fishing pressure. All the pristine creeks and oyster bar laden shorelines were almost void of other anglers, making the day one that left us alone to find fish. And, find fish, we did!
There were eight specific places we fished, and we caught fish in all of these locations. You can do the same thing in the same locations the entire month of April.
Armed with tackle, some live shrimp, and a GPS unit, we launched at the public ramp in St Marys, Georgia. On a beautiful, warm Saturday morning, we were greeted by only three other anglers launching their boats. Two of them were headed offshore. It was so uncrowded that it made me wonder about the fishing prospects!
We followed a plan and hit various locations, the order of which was determined by the tide. Here, in the order we fished them, is our fishing day.
Location Number 1 (30°4220.39N, 81°2717.80W)
First stop was the groins, or rock outcroppings, that lie along the beach in front of Fort Clinch at the mouth of the St Marys River. Actually on the Florida side of the St Marys River, these groins protect the fort from crashing waves in heavy weather.
We fished with jigs heads and a saltwater Bass Assassin tail, looking for seatrout. The preferred color early this morning was a green and pink one named Electric Chicken. We cast the jigs up close to the rocks and between the groins, and worked them back to the boat in a bouncing motion. Three vertical jerks of the rod were followed by two turns of the reel. This action made the jig move up and down in the water column several times before it moves toward the boat.
The tide was high and moving out, and we used the trolling motor to keep us parallel to the rocks. Anchoring will work for those boats without a trolling motor, and you can anchor in a position that will allow you to work three of the groins from the same anchored location.
In addition to the trout we caught here on a high tide, redfish can also be caught. Look for redfish in this location as the tide moves to low and begins coming back in.
Location 2 (30°4226.20N, 81°2423.47W)
From the groins we moved on out the river toward the jetties that line the channel on the north and south. We fished along the inside of the jetties, as noted by the GPS coordinates, and we caught some sheepshead. We chose the inside of the south jetties simply because of the direction the of the wind. In April, sheepshead can be found all along the jetty rocks. They will sometimes move from one area of the rocks to another on any given day, and you may have to try several spots to find them, but they are there.
We used fiddler crabs, a bait that is currently in short supply. We also caught some on small live shrimp. Fresh dead shrimp will also work, but they must have the heads on them. Larger shrimp really do not work very well, and the sheepshead tended to leave them alone. This time of year, the live bait shrimp are local shrimp, and they are large.
We took the large shrimp and broke them into smaller pieces, and did manage to catch a few that way. But by far, the smaller, whole shrimp did better.
Use a short leader, small hook, and a weight only heavy enough to get the bait down. Fishing vertically just off the bottom works best, but sometimes the fish are close in on the rocks and you must cast to them.
Location 3 (30°4700.91N, 81°2848.64W)
From the jetties, we moved back into Cumberland Sound, and turned north, moving along the eastern shore of the waterway. To our left, beyond several marsh islands, was the entrance to Kings Bay Naval Base, The north end of the middle marsh island at this location proved to be very productive for seatrout. With the tide about half way down by now we fished with the current, tossing our jigs and grubs to the edge of the marsh. The color preference at this location was a white grub with a pink tail. The vertical jigging motion was again the favorite retrieve and it quickly generated a number of strikes.