Fly Fishing Georgia's
St. Simons Island
article and images by Bill Byrd.

St. Simons Island, a part of the Georgia Golden Isles virtually is an unknown saltwater fishery, just a 5 1/2 hour drive from Atlanta. Its inshore waters, tidal creeks, estuaries, passes, and bays offer an exciting and quietly unique destination for a variety of excellent salt fly fishing and opportunities to relax. The entire island teems with a rich history beginning in the early 1700s. Its historic sites and quaint beauty will call you back. To fish St. Simons call Captains Michael or Larry Kennedy III (right), at the Bedford Sportsman south (912 638-5454). Being two of this areas most knowledgeable and active fly fishers, the Kennedys can take you to productive water throughout the year.

Gear

On my recent November trip, I packed a 4-weight and 6-weight outfit with weight forward floating line, clear intermediate sinking line, and 150 grain sinking line for spotted seatrout, and small red drum. I carried similar lines for my 8- and 10-weights for stronger fish species plus windy conditions normally encountered on the coast. I carried a spool of Monic clear intermediate sinking line for my 7/8 large arbor reel and 8-weight rod to test its performance on the coast. The Monic intermediate sink clear line readily cast my wind resistant flies straight into the 20 mph wind. Its hard, slick finish and weight forward taper made casting much easier on my 8-weight rod in these windy conditions. Everyone who tried casting it was impressed.

Captain Larry Kennedy III recommends that you bring the ever-popular Clouser minnow in chartreuse/white, orange/red, orange/white, pink/white, white/white, and gray/white. Flies that emulate local white shrimp or bay minnows, anchovies, or glass minnows, and any other good small bait fish imitation may work. The full selection of flies is available at the Bedford Sportsman south, the Kennedy's Orvis Fly Shop in St. Simons.

The Trip

Captain Larry Kennedy III and I fished two interesting days in the St. Simons, Little St. Simons island area during early November. The day I arrived, a big front blew in bringing fifteen to twenty mph wind, cool temperatures, and overcast skies.

Next morning we launched at Hampton River Club Marina, and headed directly to fish tidal creek mouths and oyster beds adjacent to deep water on the outgoing tide.

We watched for sea gulls and terns crashing balls of minnows, and probed the area for spotted seatrout and red drum. Though conditions weren't in our favor, we caught spotted trout and red drum scattered about the area.

When normally good producing fly colors weren't working as well as expected, I pulled out my new secret weapon, a size-8 gray/white Clouser minnow pattern that I tied to emulate a Georgia white shrimp, or a glass minnow. I cast it into the mouth of a tidal creek, counted it down to about 6 feet and began to strip retrieve it slowly in 2 inch strips. It was nipped four times on the way back to the boat, so I cast to the same spot and stripped a little faster. A fat spotted trout smacked the fly immediately.

The trout were holding 6 feet deep on dropoffs, and although I didn't have many gray/white Clousers, Larry and I caught several trout, and had fun with the new pattern. On our 6-weight outfits, we fished the gray/white Clousers subsurface with 200 grain sinking lines help get the flies down to the trout. The 200 grain line also cast well in the wind.

Red drum were scattered on windward edges of grasses in shallow water feeding. We had to make accurate forty to fifty foot casts right to the grass to get our flies in front of them.

Preparations

Bring your equipment and flies, but I recommend that you book the Kennedys to introduce you to fly fishing St. Simons. Having the right boat, knowing tides and fish holding structure, and having the right tackle will help you focus on catching the many species available in this area. Kennedy Charter vessel licenses will cover you while on their charters.

From Atlanta, expect about a 5 1/2 hour drive to the area. In the area is Brunswick, Little St. Simons, Kings Bay Submarine base, and many other history rich sites to visit. All around you'll find good seafood.

The St. Simons fishing calendar:

January and February: Spotted seatrout will hold in deep water pockets, and red drum will be congregating on mud flats, or in schools just off the beaches.

March: Spotted seatrout will be in tidal creek mouths, in deep water around docks and grass lines, and red drum will be on mud flats and oyster beds.

April/May: Catch spawning tripletail on small minnow imitations. Red drum are way back in tidal creeks chasing minnows, and large spawning spotted seatrout are available. By late May the bluefish show.

June/July/August: Bluefish, ladyfish, and Spanish mackerel are active off beach. Georgia tarpon and Jack Crevalle are active.

September-November: Twenty five pound plus spawning red drum are available in good numbers, and spotted seatrout are moving back into deep water in tidal creeks.

December-January: Spotted seatrout are back in deeper water around docks, deep water grass lines, and mouths of tidal creeks. Puppy drum are in-shore on mud flats and oyster beds.

_________________________________________________________________

Top guide service from: Captain Michael Kennedy or Captain Larry Kennedy, III.
Charters/guide service: The Bedford Sportsman South, St. Simons Island: 912 638-5454

Excellent rental condos available from: Atlantic Land Development
St. Simons, GA.For information/reservations: 912 634-2800

For dockage/boat launch/supplies: Hampton River Club Marina, St. Simons Island: 912 638-1210

Monic lines by Flow Tek: 303 530-3050 or emailto: info@monic.com

Georgia fishing license by phone: 1-888 347-4356


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