John's Journal...

Fishing with Captain Greg Hildreth on the Georgia Coast

The Mystery of the Tripletail

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: Greg, what are you catching off Georgia’s Coast at this time of year?

Hildreth: We’re catching speckled trout, redfish, tripletail and tarpon. As the weather becomes hotter, the tarpon fishing will get better.

Click to enlargeQuestion: Where are you finding tripletail, and how are you catching them?

Hildreth: We have an unusual tripletail fishery off the Georgia Coast. You can catch tripletail with live bait or artificial bait. Tripletails will swim freely from 1/2- to 2-miles off Jekyll Island. Many people believe tripletail come inshore during June to spawn. I like to use a Cajun Thunder cork with a Spike-It Boot-Tail Minnow under it. My favorite color is chartreuse. To catch tripletail, we simply ride up and down the beach. The real secret to catching tripletail is once you spot them, stay well away from them, and then motor your boat so that you’re upwind of the tripletail. As you cast past the tripletail or in front of them as they approach, pull the Cajun Thunder cork right in front of them. When you jerk the line, the cork makes a clacking sound, which seems to trigger strikes. The tripletails take the Spike-It Boot-Tail Minnow slowly. Many times, they come up, take the bait in their mouths and then begin to ease off. Tripletails don’t typically make violent strikes, so as the fish starts to ease off with the bait, set the hook and hang on to your rod.

Click to enlargeQuestion: How many fish will you cast to in a day?

Hildreth: Generally we’ll cast to 12 to 18 tripletails during a day of fishing. The good news about tripletail fishing is that you don’t have to get up before daylight. The best fishing is in the middle of the day. I don’t leave the dock until 9:00 am when I’m fishing for tripletail because they don’t come to the surface where they can be seen until the sun comes up.

Question: On a typical day, how many fish will you see?

Hildreth: In our region, we’ll see 25 to 40 fish that usually will weigh anywhere from 3- to 18-pounds each. On one of my best days, we caught and released 28 fish. The biggest tripletail we ever caught weighed 22 pounds. Most of the fish are tagged and released to learn more about tripletails. There’s little information available about the tripletail. We don’t know where tripletail come from, where they go, how fast they grow, or what’s their lifespan.

Question: How many tripletails do you usually tag in a season?

Click to enlargeHildreth: We generally tag about 120 tripletails every season. Many of our tagged fish are caught the same year in the same location. However, this season (2006), we caught one tagged fish that was tagged the previous July that was 18-inches long. That same fish was recovered the third week in May, 2006 and was 26-inches long. The fish was caught in the same place where it had been tagged the year before, Jekyll Island. This fish was the first one recovered that had been out for at least one year. The tripletail is an unusual-looking fish. It’s also a great sport fish, and it’s delicious to eat. However, we hope more anglers will tag and release tripletail so that we can learn more about them.

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

Tomorrow: Look for Trout in the Cuts


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 1