John's Journal...

Fishing with Captain Greg Hildreth on the Georgia Coast

Use Jerkbaits

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Captain Greg Hildreth of Brunswick, Georgia, fishes Georgia’s Atlantic Coast for speckled trout, redfish, flounder and tarpon. That’s right, tarpon. Most people don’t realize that Georgia has a saltwater coast. Few people even know that this is a tarpon hotspot during the heat of the summer. It also has some tremendous marsh and beach fishing and one of the most-unusual tripletail fisheries in the nation. Boaters and sailors up the East Coast sail down to Sea Island and Jekyll Island for tennis, golf and high-dollar resort living. Most people never consider the outstanding saltwater fishing available just off the fairways. This week, we’ll look at some of the finest saltwater fishing in the nation that receives little fishing pressure.

Question: If we were to come to Brunswick, Georgia to fish off the Barrier Islands, what else could we catch?
Hildreth: I like to hunt as well as fish. Last year, I bought a 17-foot poling skiff that will float inClick to enlarge about 5 inches of water. I love to go sight-fishing for redfish in the marsh, especially on a low tide. I catch these fish on Spike-It jerkbaits. The fish are in 7 to 12 inches of water. The only way you can get to them is with one of these small poling boats that doesn’t draft too much water. We’re getting to see and stalk every redfish before we cast to them. We can get so close to them that besides fishing for them with Spike-It jerkbaits, we have some anglers who fly-fish for them.

Question: What jerkbait are you using?
Hildreth: I like the Spike-It 5-inch Fire Tiger jerkbait with a No. 3/0 Mustad hook that has a weight on it.

Question: How are you catching the fish?Click to enlarge
Hildreth: We cast past the redfish and reel the jerkbait up to them to drop it in front of them. We’re fishing the jerkbait on the bottom. This is one of the advantages to the Spike-It jerkbait. Although it’s designed to be fished on the surface or just under the surface, because of the design of the lure and the action of the lure with that leaded hook, the Spike-It jerkbait is an excellent bottom-fishing bait that can be fished like the Boot- Tail minnow, yet it has a different look and a different action. You have to remember that the redfish is a bottom feeder.

Question: When do you strike redfish?
Hildreth: The redfish, unlike the tripletail, is not a timid feeder. He’s a very-aggressive feeder. Therefore, when he takes the jerkbait, he attacks savagely. As soon as you feel the bite, you need to set the hook. When you set the hook on a redfish, the fish has you instead of your having him. Most of the redfish we’re catching are bigger than the legal limit. These fish will be 26- to 32-inches long and will weigh between 5- and 14-pounds each.

Question: What pound-test line are you using?Click to enlarge
Hildreth: We use Shakespeare braided line in 15- and 20-pound-test line. We attach the braided line to 2 or 3 feet of 20-pound-test Shakespeare monofilament.

Question: How are you fishing the jerkbait?
Hildreth: We cast it past the redfish and try to time our retrieve so that the jerkbait runs right in front of the nose of the redfish. Most people don’t fish the jerkbait on the bottom. I learned to fish jerkbait like this by fishing it without a weight and having the redfish chase the lure down. I’ve found out that I get more strikes and catch more fish by using the weighted hook and keeping the bait down on the bottom. Because they feed on the bottom, redfish are more likely to see and attack the jerkbait if it’s on the bottom than if it has to fall from the surface to the bottom.

Question: Where are you catching these big redfish?
Hildreth: We only have about three hours to fish for the reds. I start fishing about one hour before the tide hits a dead low. I have about one hour when the tide is all the way out. Then we have one hour when the tide starts coming in toward the beach. Those three hours are the magic time to catch redfish using this tactic. We have to time our trips based on the tide. When the water comes up, the fish move out of the grass and scatter out. Then, they’re harder to see and harder to catch.

Question: How many will you catch in one day?
Hildreth: Remember, we’re not fishing all day long. We’re only fishing for three hours. We usually catch three to 12 fish during that three-hour period.

You can contact Captain Greg Hildreth at 912-261-1763, or visit

Tomorrow: Once-a-Month Reds


Check back each day this week for more about " Fishing with Captain Greg Hildreth on the Georgia Coast"

Day 1: The Mystery of the Tripletail
Day 2: Look for Trout in the Cuts
Day 3: Use Jerkbaits
Day 4: Once-a-Month Reds
Day 5: The Tarpon Are Coming


Entry 355, Day 3