By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
The Satilla and Altamaha are still a little high, but they’re closer to fishable than last week. Ponds and saltwater are where it’s at again this week, and the first quarter moon is August 14th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – We might see some sandbars for the first time this summer by the end of the week. That is good news for mullet fishing! Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that bream and crappie were caught from the oxbows last weekend. A few big catfish were also caught. The water is still fairly muddy and swift, but it’s now within the banks. Expect the catfishing to pick up through the weekend. The river level on Aug. 6 was 7.6 feet (it dropped nearly 4 feet this week!) and the level is falling at the Baxley gage. The level is 9.5 feet and also falling at the Doctortown gage.
Satilla River – Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said catfishing has picked up. They were caught on shiners and shrimp fished on the bottom. Some redbreasts were caught in the 158 Bridge area on Gaines Jets (chartreuse and white have been the best colors). Some bass were fooled on buzzbaits and black worms. Water levels have been rising one day and falling the next, as localized downpours flush into the river. The river level on Aug. 6 at the Waycross gage was 11.5 feet and cresting, and was 12.1 feet and rising at the Atkinson gage.
St. Marys River – Anglers reported catching some huge redbreasts and bluegills on beetlespins. The catfish bite has been steady for those fishing shrimp on bottom rigs. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 7.8 feet and falling on Aug. 6.
Local Ponds – Laura Walker State Park Lake continued to produce nice bluegills and a few smaller bass. I’ve had my best success this time of year by fishing buzzbaits and plastic topwater frogs around weedlines. Michael Winge reported that local anglers were catching bream on crickets and pink worms at Waycross area ponds. The bass bite was best for those fishing shiners and plastic green pumpkin worms.
Okefenokee Swamp – Fliers continued eating yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies this week, which should continue to improve throughout the fall, especially if the water level drops. Warmouth and bluegills were also caught from the Folkston side. Catfishing has been good on the west side (Fargo entrance) for those fishing shrimp on the bottom.
Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Waycross saltwater anglers reported an improved flounder bite over the weekend. The flatfish were caught inshore around creek mouths (primarily on the outgoing tide). Whiting and a few black drum were reported from the Brunswick area. Brentz McGhin and a friend had a slow go of it at Crooked River on Tuesday. They caught eight trout with only one keeper. The water that day was very muddy, and other anglers fishing that day reported a slow bite as well. The bite on Friday for Don Harrison, Justin Bythwood and Ed Zmarzly fishing out of Crooked River was better. The trio caught 15 trout with a dozen keepers and a throwback redfish. They had three trout over 20 inches. Two of their giants ate plastic sea shads fished under floats, while the third inhaled a minnow plug. They caught fish on several colors of sea shad, but their most consistent colors were purple canary, electric chicken, and Calcasieu brew.
The water temperature inshore has crept upward over the last week (into the mid to upper 80’s) to the point where the trout are sparse in the shallow bays. You’ll likely have your best success adjacent to the main channel in the Intracoastal Waterway or on the Cumberland Beach. I’ve had some great trout trips on the Cumberland Beach in August.
Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said flounder, trout, redfish and croakers were caught in good numbers over the last week. Mudminnows fooled most of the flounder, but finger mullet produced some of the bigger fish. A few Spanish mackerel were also caught. On Monday night, an angler caught 36 whiting using dead shrimp on the bottom. On Sunday evening, a 7-foot tiger shark was caught and released from the pier. Blue crabs have also been abundant recently.