A number of factors make Georgia’s Cumberland Island a place apart. To begin with, it is the state’s most southerly and largest barrier island and only accessible via boat. The isle also is home to the 36,416-acre Cumberland Island National Seashore that includes 9,800 acres of federally mandated wilderness area.
A population of wild horses roams Cumberland, and the ruins of the Carnegie family mansion named Dungeness are locates on the island’s southern end. Near the middle of the isle another Carnegie family mansion called Plum Orchard has been restored and is open for tours.
But most important to anglers is the abundance of game fish that inhabit the waters around Cumberland Island. Many of those are inshore gamesters such as seatrout, redfish, flounder and whiting, but on the ocean side tarpon, mackerel and sharks also abound.
Let’s have a look at three places that offer good options for crossing paths with some of these fish.
BIG MARSH ISLAND FOR REDFISH
Big Marsh Island is an expanse of sand and Spartina grass that sits in the middle of Cumberland Sound, which separates the island from the mainland. Big Marsh is directly west of the Dungeness ruins and to the southwest of the National Park Service Dungeness Dock.
This small island is laced with tiny tidal ditches that fill and drain with the changing tides. Redfish move into these on the rising tides and often are found around the mouths of the drainages when the water is filtering back out.
Tossing live shrimp under popping corks is a favored tactic for catching these reds. Or you can use Gulp! Alive! plastic baits on the same type rig.
CHRISTMAS CREEK FOR SPANISH MACKEREL
Christmas Creek is the tidal flow that separates the north end of Cumberland Island from privately owned Little Cumberland. It has a large inlet on the Atlantic Ocean, then winds into island’s interior to connect to much smaller Brockington Creek. That flow branches out into marshes that eventually reach the western side of the isle on Cumberland Sound.
The creek is noted giving up seatrout, redfish, flounder and whiting. But, as a bonus, the region around its mouth on the ocean often attracts schools of Spanish mackerel in the summer months.
If you spot a school of mackerel busting bait fish pods on the surface, the fishing can be easy and exciting. Tossing virtually any shiny artificial bait into this melee generally provokes strikes.
Be aware that using a wire leader is good idea for this fishing. Spanish mackerel have a mouth full of razor sharp teeth!
BEACH CREEK FOR SEATROUT
Beach Creek is a sizable tidal flow draining the southern end of Cumberland Island. Its mouth is on Cumberland Sound, just north of the southern tip of the isle. From that point it snakes back into the marshes to the area just southeast of the Dungeness ruins.
Along that course the Spartina lined western shore holds seatrout that feed on moving tides. Tossing jigs tipped with plastic curly-tailed grubs can attract these fish during periods of clear water. When the flow is more turbid, live shrimp work better.
Also, the trout can be found around the downed trees in the waters on the eastern shore, particularly on the deeper outside bends of the creek.
A good jumping off point for getting to Cumberland Island in a private boat is the St. Marys City Boat Ramp on the town’s waterfront, adjacent to the National Park Service building. From there it is roughly a 45-minute run down the St. Marys River to Cumberland Sound.
JIMMY JACOBS OUTDOORS ADVENTURES