By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
Altamaha River – Connie from Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle said the only thing to report from the high rivers is a few channel and flathead catfish in the backwaters. Goldfish and rooster livers have fooled them. The river level was 15.7 feet and rising at the Baxley gage, and 11.9 feet and rising at the Doctortown gage on July 16.
Satilla River – Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle said the only reports were from anglers fishing for catfish with bush hooks in the backwaters and lakes off the river. Everyone is waiting with grand anticipation for the river to get back down, as the fish will be fat and sassy after all the high water. The river level on July 16 at the Waycross gage was 15.3 feet and falling and the level at the Atkinson gage was 15 feet and falling. Both were record highs for the date.
Local Ponds – Big bream have been eating crickets at Lake Ware. Bream and catfish have been biting well early and late in the day, and I saw an angler swing a nice bream to the bank at a pond on July 15 on my way home from work. Crickets have fooled most bream. Michael Winge also reported good bass catches on topwaters in local ponds just before dark.
The summer crappie pattern is in full swing. We recommend fishing the deepest part of lakes early in the morning and swimming a curly-tailed grub or live minnow through suspended schools of fish (you can see them on your depth finder). The bite is often short first thing in the morning, but the fish are usually easy to find.
Okefenokee Swamp – Big bream continued to be caught from the Folkston side of the swamp, and crickets were the ticket. Anglers also caught a lot of warmouth from creeks draining into the swamp. The current seemed to attract them. Pitching yellow, pink or orange Okefenokee Swamp sallies were fooling fliers, but their bite is a little slow right now because of the high water. It will pick up as the water level drops.
Waycross anglers fishing the St. Marys jetties have had success catching seatrout and redfish.
The tripletail bite off Jekyll beach is winding down, but you can still likely see a few fish per trip off the beach. There are better tripletail reports inshore from the Shellman Bluff area. Look for them around Intracoastal Waterway channel markers. Drifting a live shrimp past the piling around slack tide is an effective presentation. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said big flounder are here! There are quite a few 5-pounders and bigger! Lots of whiting and croakers and a few yellowtails have also been caught. Sharks, mostly 4 to 6 feet were caught on cut bait, and big blue crabs graced the baskets and nets of those targeting them from the beach and pier.