August 18, 2023 Capt Judy inshore offshore fishing report and Almost sinking of the Miss Judy Story

Magic Ian! Who showed him the catching way?  Captain Jake Ross Miss Judy Charters

While inshore fishing with Captain Jake Ross of Miss Judy Charter Magic Ian Holler visiting from Zebulon, Georgia caught his first saltwater Georgia red fish!  And it was a nice one too!

Hot Water Blues

Inshore Fishing Report!

I am not going to lie on this one, but the air, the sun, the wind, and the water is a little on the warm side!

What does all of this boil down too? We have had Augusts’ normal heat in July! And we fishers are hot and so are the fish.  And it seems that when the water temps are overly warm the bite isn’t as right as it should be.  We sometimes call it “The hot water blues!”

Now don’t get me wrong our inshore captains are still catching, but they are doing a lot of moving and looking to do so.  The best news is while you are riding and looking the hot breeze delivered is better than none! My suggestion, just keep it moving!

Captain Matt Williams Shrimp Ahoy

As far as best baits …

Well, the old standby as well as most liked bait by most fish “is the delicate easy to eat shrimp!” However, unless you are catching your own this choice might be costly! This bait life line has been cut short by the hot water situation.  The bottom line is this, “Keeping live shrimp alive and well is a hard thing to do!”  And as we fishers know the livelier the bait the quicker the hit.  Well, in this case the shrimp even with half alive are not too spunky!  However, I will make a suggestion; it is always good to have some frozen or fresh dead shrimp in your bait inventory!  Plain old bottom fishing with a piece or even a whole shrimp can prove to be very catching interesting!

I always suggest removing all perished shrimp from you live well as soon as possible.  Where to put them?  An empty water bottle is a perfect holder for this job!  And there is better news your wife might even let you put this bait bottle in her freezer.  Why?  No smell here!

So therefore after removing live shrimp from your bait arsenal it is time to break out the old cast net and bait up the mud minnow traps!  Why? You are going to need it for this next suggestion!   It is time to give catching finger mullet, peanut menhaden, and assorted sizes of mud minnows a serious baiting up try!   There is a rule of thumb when the water temps are well over 85 degrees and it goes like this:  Big fish aren’t moving a lot, but when they do and when they feed they prefer a mouth full over a small piece of something.  So I suggest giving them what they want and don’t forget your camera or dip net!  Both of these things are going to be a hot water biting time essential!



While inshore fishing with Captain Jake Ross of Miss Judy Charters Uncle Tim Deason Barnesville, SC, Magic Ian Holler age 14 and his mother Amanda (Zebulon, Georgia) has an afternoon of fish catching fun!  What was on tap or should I say, wanting to get on the hook.”  Red fish red fish and more red fish!



Here are some prefect size mullet steaks in the making.  All you got to do now is to let the sun do is grand job of sealing in the juices.

Big Bulls in the Wassaw Sound, OH MY!

Plain old bottom fishing in the sound near the sandbars can be kind of interesting!  Why? During this time of the year you really don’t know what might bite your hook!  And that is a big for sure!  What’s the best bait?  Well, that dead shrimp that you saved and froze in your plastic water bottle.  Another great bait is live/half or dead dead finger mullet.  Or whiting or mullet steaks with scales intact.  I suggest any bait that is used that you let them sun dry out a bit before using!  Why? Sun drying bait is a great way to seal in that great smell that all fish love to hone in on!

Inshore Fishing Report

Well, guys I got to tell you that live bait is the ticket that’s if you want to get a more solid consective hit.  However, this passed weekend proved that purchasing or catching your own live bait wasn’t the only problem that inshore fishermen had to deal with.   The problem was in keeping them alive.  Most live shrimp and finger mullet, at least by those fishermen around my dock, experience a 75% loss in bait. And what stayed alive wasn’t very lively!  I guess you can say and I will, “It’s that time of the year where water temps are extremely warm and in some cases have way too much fresh water mixed in with the salt.”   Now what?  It’s going to be a dead bait using kind of an experience!  I say use them anyway!

This is where artificial shrimp and finger mullet patterns (soft baits) come into play.  Just to name a few: Gulps, DOA, Vudu, Z-Man, and etc!  All of these are proven and there are dozens more on the tackle shelves that are more or less expensive that will also work like a charm!  The bottom line is that you have to believe in the bait that you are using! The best news about these types of artificial baits is the fact that they can be fished tied directly to your main line or fish under a cork.  (adjustable or a popping cork!)  The secret to getting catching results with going artificial is to make sure you keep this bait moving, but not erractically!  In other words think like a shrimp, think like a finger mullet, and make those moves!

So what the heck if you bait dies, use it anyway!  During these times plan old bottom fishing with Carolina rigs work great with live and fresh dead baits.  Also using an adjustable cork to present your bait is also a great idea.  Suspended live/dead bait presented right above the bottom is defintely a fish attractor.  It seems that when the water is as hot as it is fish just want to school deeper in the cooler water.

What does this boil down too?  I always suggest dedicating a line that you just fish in the deepest spot where you happen to be fishing.

Captain Garrett Ross of Miss Judy Charters is looking qutie sharp!  So if you want to do some inshore fishing?  Give us a call 912 897 4921 at Miss Judy Charters

Did you know that a barracuda prefers to wear a sun visor over a ball cap?  Yes, I had no idea!

Artifical Reefs

I will be honest..the top water bite at the arficial reefs in less and in more than 50 feet of water can be good one day and bad the next!  Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and barracuda is the main catching affair.  (Don’t forget the cobia) When targeting Spanish I suggest pulling Clark spoons or spitching small shinny lures.  Live linning for kings or barracuda is a good time to be had by all.  The best baits for these fish are going to be gunts, ring tail perch, and just caught shinny live spanish mackerel.

And if live linning is something you don’t preferred the larger fish love to hit a pulled Drone spoon! (3 ½ inch size is the fish getter for this area)  How fast do you pull a Drone spoon?  I like to starte at about 5 to 6 knots or until it start working the tip of the rod.  When you are trolling the right speed your Drone spoon will cause your rod to bounce at the very tip.   I am pulling my Drone using a 30 feet leader behind a #3 planner (3 inch).  My 30 foot leader  is normally made from 80 to 100 pound test monfilament line. I always cut my leader in half and tie in a 90/100 pound test barrel swivel.  So here the break down:  #3 Planer with 100 pound test snap swivel, 30 feet of 80/100 pound test monfilament line with 80/100 pound test swivel in the middle, and then I bacically tie on the Drone spoon driectly to this leader.  Almost forgot to mention, what color Drone spoon?  Silver on silver or silver with silver flash or blue with silver flash or just use the color that your prefer.  I like silver on silver!  Why?  It old school and that is all we had to use back in the old days!  So I go with what I know!  And there is one more thing to take into consideration and that’s your Drone spoon in order to work properly has to have two rings.  Now if it does not I suggest adding one to make two, but only if you want to get a better chance at a fine king mackerel hookup!

The bottom fishing in these areas is good, great when using light tackle, (small hooks and bait) and small jigs.  However, prepare yourself for being over whelmed with 90 % undersize  fish and 10% keeper sizes.   What the heck, fishing on the bottom in this situation with a Hopkins lure or or any sort of naked lead jig head with get you some pretty good rod pulling action! Just act like a kid and every time you pull in a fish no matter the size just give a BIG SMILE!

Talk about a blast from the past…many years ago Captain Roger Straight of Miss Judy Charters caught this beautiful flounder while using live finger mullet on a Carolina style rig!  Captain Roger was known for taking our customers on a serious fish finding mission. While doing so he shared his grand local knowledge of Savannah’s history!  We miss seeing our Captain Roger out on the water, but we are always find ourselves looking out for his smiling face!

It is flounder possible catching time!  Small live fish, fished on the bottom is a great way to get this bite going.  Don’t forget your dip net or your camera!

Now this is a nice “Smoker” king mackerel!Captain Kathy Brown and Captain Alli DeYoung are sporting what is better known as big fish catching and holding smiles!

Savannah Snapper Banks

If you are looking to do a whole lot of bottom fishing, catch some really nice big fish (keepers or not) and have a lot of action I suggest taking a boat ride to the Savannah Snapper Banks.  Your possibilities for catching as well as keeping are very good!  Why?  Because fishing on the bottom with cut squid and cut fish is a lot of fun!  Why?  You really never know what you might might catch! But we have been catching trigger fish, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, porgy (white bone, red, and knobbed porgy) white grunts, almaco jacks, banned rudder fish, grouper, cubera snapper, amberjack, large almaco jacks, and geniune red snapper.  (Geniune red snapper season is not open at this time.  However, there are plenty of fish to catch and keep from the sea!)

This is indeed and old picture that I took many years ago.  This was and still is a great light tackle rig, which can be used with a shinny ballyhoo or a live fish.  However, I have made a few changes.   The green Milar skirt that I have always used, which by the way is the best, when is comes to getting a king mackerel’s attention, are hard to come by.  And it is not that tackle distributors don’t want to stock their shelves with them either.  For some reason, no one is making this same color rig. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of look-a-likes but no no real deals.   (Or at least I can’t find them and neither can the tackle shop owers. At least the ones I know.)  Once again this is another great fishing lure that has bit the dust.  If you have some keep them, but if you want to sale them call me 912 429 7671 (Captain Judy’s cell) My next call is going to be Sea Striker!

So let me finish describing the rig that I am now using to catch large king mack.  I am still making the rig above, but I am adding an extra treble hook. The extra stinger hook, which is always located on the bait near the tail seems to be the deal breaker when it comes to hooking up the fish that wants to eat it.  As far as the leader wire used I am now using 90 pound single strand.  Whereas before I was using lighter pound test single strand such as 40 to 60 pound test.  Lighter wire is harder to work with and doesn’t seems to hold up to well when hooked up with a large king mack! However, in my defense for those tournament fishers that are shaking their heads NO on this suggestion, let me explain.

Those fishers that are engaged in fishing tournaments normally do have quite a bit of know how and experience.  In my case I am taking fishers that do know how to fish, but it is not their expertise. And my custom rigs do have a tendency to attract large kings and normally do hold up for the fish at one end and the fisherman at the other!  So it is a win win, but not so much for the fish!

My heavy duty set up along with the second triple hook allows my customer to get a stronger fight from the hooked fish. Since most of king set ups have 30 pound test monofilment this allows my customers to really get the feel of the pull from the fish.  Why?  I can tighten the drag a bit more!  Believe you me that while using 20 pound main line I had way too many break offs.  Whether it was angler error or fish craziness that accomplish this it makes no matter.  Beefing up my main line and my rigs used did the catching trick!


This is Captain Kathy Brown of Miss Judy Charters holding a nice Spanish mackerel!  What do we want you to think about when you look at this picture?  First, you need to call Miss Judy Charters 912 897 4921 and consider booking a fishing trip with us!  After that, you then should considerate taking your fish to the Fly Fish Bar and Grill to have them cooked!  However, if you don’t want to go fishing I strongly suggest going to the Flying Fish!  Why?  Great food, great service, great ice tea, cold adult beverages, and you don’t have to dress up too much! A lot of my customers go to eat there right off the boat!

Little Miss Judy’s Believe It or Not!

The almost sinking of the 1975 then new Thompson T-Craft boat named Miss Judy!

What does this picture show us?  Well, this is the Miss Judy boat that my father had built for me in 1975 at Thompson’s T-Craft, which was located in Titusville, Florida.  I can’t tell you how many times my father and I stayed at the Rocket launch Inn over looking Kennedy Space Center.  My father had about 6 t-craft custom boats built from 1970 to 1981.  To top this off, he took many customers to Thompson’s T-Craft to show them the boat building way.  On the stern stands Captain Ida Knight whom is holding a stringer full of red snapper.  If you notice I wrote “stringer,” which most likely would not be in my vocabulary much less in my fishing report for this day and time.  Captain Ida had her own boat, but decided to jump onboard with me on this almost sinking date to be my first mate.  Yes we caught lots of fish and had a great time.  However, for all the times Captain Ida was onboard the story you are about to read has to be the most exciting time for all the wrong reasons, because it was almost offshore sinking time for the old Miss Judy!


Before departing the dock now days, I always…

Before departing the dock I always give my safety briefing speech.  It goes like this: The life jackets are located in the front on the starboard and portside. While pointing to the cabinet, I explain where the raft is and how to get it out in the event it’s needed.  I also tell my customers that the raft is always updated yearly.  On this particular day, I explained the customers that I had just purchased and installed a new raft onboard!    When an older gentleman heard this he had to ask…“Have you ever had to use the raft?  And exactly Miss Lady, how many boats have you sunk?  Now I can tell you my story!


In 1975….

As I untied the Miss Judy from the dock… ….My first mate on board on this particular fish day was Captain Ida Knight.  We had a trip out of Harbor Town Marina, which was about a one-hour ride from my dock. While riding over to Harbor Town, to pick up our customers Captain Ida and I talked about the pending fish that we were going to catch.  We also talked about the cooler full of beer on board that we were going to drink on the way home after we dropped our customers off.  After about one hour boat ride to the customers and a four hour fishing trip I think we deserved a beer or two or three each on the ride back home.


As soon as we arrived at Harbor Town Marina located right across the South Carolina/Georgia line we picked up our customers.  There were about 6 other charter boats involved, some from South Carolina and others from Georgia.  During the severities we ran a lot of trips out of Harbor Town Marina. The fact of the matter is we all loved it, because it was a treat to meet different people.  (And since we both loved beer there always plenty leftover and it with the real Coors, deal, which we could not purchase in Georgia!) Well, on this particular fish day our group couldn’t speak any English.  French was their language and even though I took French in high school I was basically lost for the most part. So therefore, we did a lot of hand signs and pointing, which may or may not have made any sense to them.  After a few hellos and waves we were off on what would soon turn into an unforgettable fishing adventure for all the wrong reasons!


My boat “Miss Judy” at the time was a brand new boat.  My father had it custom built for me in 1975 as a gift.  It was a “T-Craft,” which was the boat used by most charter companies in our area in the seventies and eighties.  Believe it or not, some of these boats are still being used even today.  All of these T-Craft boats that are still being used were either built in the seventies or eighties. The reason being is that the T-Craft boat manufacturing plant burnt to the ground in 1981.


When my father had this particular Miss Judy built he had them to add a keel.  It was Mr. Thompson’s newly designed keel.  It wasn’t a solid one, but one that the water could travel through while making less drag.  The bottom line was it was a fiberglass keel that was made supposedly to with stand all the perils that the sea could offer.  The meant if you hit something   the keel it was supposed to protect the shaft while pushing the object away from the wheel.  All of our others boats always had struts not keels.  Struts are metal brackets that hold the shaft in place as it spins. A keel, solid or not, basically covers the entire shaft except where the prop is attached.  There are all kinds of reasons for using one application over the other.  After you read this story you will find the reason behind why our boats now only having struts and not a keel!


On this particular fish day the sea conditions were very rough.  So therefore hitting something down under could have gone undetected.   This is due to the fact that when it’s rough a wave hitting the bottom or the side of your boat sometimes sounds like you have hit something.  After a while, especially during these times, you just get use to these crazy underwater bumping sounds.


Apparently unnoticed to Captain Ida as well as myself we had indeed hit something.  When this impact took place a lot of damage was sustained, but it was not instantly noticed.  We immediately started hearing strange noises coming from under the boat.  These noises were new to the both of us.  So therefore an immediate red flag went up in both our minds. I slowed down, took the boat out of gear, pulled the first hatch, which showed us as well as our customers, that there was a lot of water in the boat.  The fact of the matter was we were sinking!  The waves had gotten bigger and now they were breaking.  There was more bad news; the boat had so much water in it that it had become what I call “heavy in the water!”  So therefore when at a standard drift even in semi rough sea conditions your boat basically gets in step with the waves.  In our current situation, the boat had so much water in the bilge that it was impossible for us to get in step with the waves.  We were being overtaken by every third wave, which means water coming in from the bottom as well as over the gunnels.


It was the first time in my life as a captain that I knew that I had to get my customers off the boat, because it was sinking. It wasn’t bad enough that we were sinking, but now I realized that no one could understand me.  This didn’t turn out to be a problem, because they could see what was going on.  I issued a “MAYDAY,” which certainly got everyone’s attention and quick.  While talking on the radio I watched as all boats in the areas turned and headed my way.  While all of this was going on Captain Ida was busy getting the life jackets on the customers.


The stern of the “Miss Judy” was close to be engulfed by the breaking waves.  However, when the tons of seawater shifted forward the bow dropped deeper offering more free board in the stern.  When this took place I knew that customers would have to be removed from the bow.  Since I hadn’t experienced anything like this before I was making it up as I went.  You think you know what you are going to do when the boat is sinking.  However, there isn’t any rule of thumb at any time especially when it comes to the boat sinking. So therefore my main goal was to get my passengers safely off and then figure out how I could save my boat.  As soon as Captain Billy Shearin of Neva Miss Charters placed his stern to my bow we safely off loaded our passengers.  Of course as we were off loading our charter, Captain Billy was pleading with us to abandon the boat!   At this time the thought of abandoning never entered our minds.  After off loading our customers Captain Ida and I went back into saving our boat mode!


As we looked better into the stern hatch we found light green water showing through the hull.  This meant you could see the ocean through the hole in the bottom of the boat.  Once we found the hole we plugged it with the first thing we could find, which was a thick beach towel.  We had at least for the moment had stopped the inflow of ocean water, which allowed our bilge pumps to catch up.  As they pumped I knew they were getting ahead.  The bad news was we had a large hole in the bottom of the boat.  However, there was good news to go along with this….this seemed to be the only hole in the boat’s hull!


Captain Ida could comfortably stand on the hole holding the stuffed towel in place.  The engine never shut down even though it was almost completely covered with water.  After situating my human bilge plug holder, Captain Ida, I put the Miss Judy in gear and started making way slowly towards land.


While all of this was going on boats were talking with the coast guard, which then they contacted my father.  At this point all he heard was the customers had been removed, but Judy was still on the sinking boat.  Please remember during this time cell phones hadn’t been invented and VHF radio communications were very primitive. You really never got to good of reception.  So therefore you had to basically know what the one on the other end might want to say so that you could understand the transmission in the first place.


Daddy AKA Captain Helmey had already pushed away from our dock located at Wilmington Island and was making way to us.  Once departing it was full throttle all the way.  It didn’t matter whether or not areas he was traveling were considered “no wake” zones!  The bottom line was all docks and boats tied to them “rocked big time from his wake as he passed!” After it was all done, I heard one residence remark, “they had never seen such a high rooster tail trailing from a boat!”  Although I was not in my father’s boat as he headed to my aid I would like to tell you what I think he was doing.  Most likely his cigar’s end was fire engine red and his exhaling smoke was circling around his head.  This was in spite of the fact that the winds from traveling at speeds of over 25 knots should have scattered it.  However, continuous puffing can cause quite a smoke screen.   The throttle on the fiberglass 30 foot Thompson T-Craft named Miss Jerry was pushed to the wide open mode.  He most likely straightens out St Augustine Creek by making the least amount of turns as possible.  If you haven’t been in this creek, let me tell you, it is a crawling snake shape of a creek.   However, with a high tide situation and being knowledgeable of the area my father was able to take some cornering out.  The fact of the matter is I bet he did a little marsh cutting and dredging on the way. This all boils down to the fact that the high rooster tail that he was producing most likely had marsh grass and mud in it more than a few times!


Back in the ocean we were making way a little and still not taking on much water.  The pumps seem to have control on the situation meaning they were gaining, because the water level was falling.  It was very rough and under my current conditions maneuverability wasn’t great.

Miss Judy was still a little heavy in the water.   A few times I went over and down a wave the packing in the hole was sucked out.  On the lighter side of what was going on “another towel bit the dust!”  When this happened the water started flowing into the boat meaning temporarily sinking again.  However, knowing the problems at hand we just stuffed another towel in the hole.  As time went on and “making way” wasn’t at its height more towels were sucked through the hole.  After about three hours into “the saving the boat game” we ran out of towels. The next thing to go was our clothes.  I ran down grabbed our sea bags and started throwing what we had to the stern of the boat.  Captain Ida stuffed the shirts, jackets, and anything she could find in the hole.  Then once again she stood strong on the packed hole.  As soon as the boat moved a certain way the packing again would be sucked and would disappear through the hole.


As soon as I could see daddy’s boat “Miss Jerry” round the bend, things seemed much better although they hadn’t changed much.  Darkness had dropped and visibility wasn’t good.  However, with daddy as the lead man all was well.  Daddy had called before departing and made arrangements to have my boat pulled out of the water. Six hours later, at about midnight we reached Tidewater Marina, which was located in Thunderbolt.  One of the owners, Pat Sancomb had been waiting to pull the Miss Judy out of the water.  As Mr. Pat lifted my boat water rushed out of the large hole in the hull.


We all rode home in Daddy’s boat quietly, because all on board were basically worn out.  Ida and I was shirt-less, because it had gotten down to that.  We had already run out of towels, rags, and clothing in our sea bags. When the last thing we had went through the hole our shirts were all we had left.  So both of us were in our shorts and bras!  Thanks goodness when this happened we were close to being hauled out!


Once arriving to our dock, Ida stepped down on the deck and felt like she had something stuck to the bottom of her shoe.  She lifted her shoe up while trying to wipe this foreign object off.  However, when she bushed the bottom of her shoe she felt rough edges.  Captain Ida then removed her shoes and it was truly amazed what we all saw.  Her one-inch thick topsider deck shoes had several real deep cuts and lots of other embedded scratches.   We both looked at each other with amazement and at this moment we both knew what had happened.  A cold chill ran over me when I quickly though about this strange occurrence with Captain Ida’s shoes.


From reading the story you know that Captain Ida stood on the hole so as to hold the packing down tight. You also know all packing was sucked out of the hole from forces down under.  I never once thought about this and neither did Ida.  The shaft holding the prop, which was supposedly supported inside the keel, had come loose allowing it to move up and down. As the boat was pushed forward the shaft was free to move up and down, because the keel was completely split.  The spinning blades from the prop pulled the packing out of the hole.  On more than a few occasions the blades actually cut the bottom of Captain Ida’s shoe as she stood on the packing.


As I write this story I remember this day as if it happened just yesterday. To this day I know how lucky Ida was to not have had her feet severely cut and sucked through the hole in the boat.  I will know what to do next time if a hole is ever cut through the hull at this spot!


The bottom line to this story is communications with our French speaking only customers opened up, we evacuated the passengers safely from the sinking vessel, we didn’t drink any beer on the ride home, and we didn’t use the raft, because we didn’t have one on board!  During this time era, my answer would have to be to the older gentleman’s question of   “have you ever had to use the life raft?”  During this time frame I had not!   Have I ever been on boat that completely sunk? Not so far, but oh so close.  After this incident, have I ever left the dock without a suitable raft?  Absolutely not!    Would I?  Absolutely not! Why? Having been there and almost needing one and not having one certainly did teach me a very big lesson!


Thanks for reading!  Captain Judy