By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
The rivers are dropping nicely and should start producing some really nice catches this weekend. The water is still a little high in most upriver stretches, but it is fishable. Saltwater has also been producing good reports. I love this time of year….take your pick! I will be conducting Teen Bass Fishing Excursions during the Outdoor Adventure Day/J.A.K.E.S. Day at Paradise Public Fishing Area near Tifton on Sept. 28. If you have a teen (ages 12-16) who wants to learn to bass fish, have them sign up for the free, 1-hour slots that morning. We will be fishing from a boat in a pond that has a good population of bass. I will teach how to use various lures for bass. Call 912-285-6094 for more information or to sign up. First quarter moon is today, Sept. 12. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – The upper river is fishable, especially for catfish. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle said that some redbreast and catfish were caught this week. Some mullet were also reported (good news for thinning out my worm bed!). The river level fell 4 feet this week, and was 6-feet and falling at the Baxley gage, and 8.5 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on Sept. 10.
Satilla River – Dickie Winge and I fished the upper Satilla above the 158 Bridge on Friday evening from 5 p.m. to dark and whacked some awesome redbreasts. We boated 14 redbreasts, and 10 of them were over 8 inches. Our biggest was a whopping 10-inch rooster redbreast. We also caught four crappie (all about 10 inches) and jumped off a small bass. The lures of the day were black/yellow and white/red Satilla Spin Spinnerbaits. We caught almost all of the fish (of all species) on those two colors. Dickie caught a couple redbreasts and a nice stumpknocker (spotted sunfish) by pitching an orange “bug” (topwater fly), but they weren’t hitting it well. The water was way up, muddy, and very swift, but the fish were in the current breaks. The fish were extremely fat, which is to be expected with the water level being so high all summer.
Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that redbreasts, bream, shellcrackers and catfish were caught this week. One angler reported catching over 40 shellcrackers by bottom fishing with pink worms in the Jamestown area of the river over the weekend. Big redbreasts were reported on crickets and worms. Catfish bit rooster livers and shrimp fished in the deeper holes. The river level at the Waycross gage was 8.2 feet and falling and at the Atkinson gage was 10.4 feet and falling on Sept. 10.
St. Marys River – The river produced some good catches of redbreasts for those using crickets and catfish for those using shrimp and worms on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 5.9 feet and falling on Tuesday evening.
Local Ponds – Michael Winge reported local anglers catching big bream on crickets and pink worms. Bass ate buzzbaits again this week. Unweighted Senko-type worms produced some daytime bass. Watermelon-red and junebug have produced well for me over the years. The crappie bite was not as good this week, but a few were caught early in the morning with minnows.
Okefenokee Swamp – The trails out of Kingfisher Landing were cut the last couple of weeks, so you can get out to Bluff Lake and Double Lakes on that trail. There are blowups that shift around, but they are generally passable. When you get to your destination, expect to catch fliers by pitching Okefenokee Swamp Sallies on a bream buster pole. Other species will eat the little fly, but fliers are partial to it. Yellow and pink have produced best this summer. The catfish bite has been great in both the swamp and Suwannee River. I heard one person say that you can catch a catfish wherever you drop it in the Suwannee right now.
Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – flounder took top billing this week. Surf anglers at St. Simons Island caught some nice flounder on mudminnows and shrimp. In the Crooked River area, anglers caught the flatties in the 16-18-inch range on mudminnows. The Jekyll Island Pier produced some excellent flounder catches this week, as well. Capt. Andy Gowen continued his torrid catch rates of redfish this week. Mid-sized fish are inshore and will usually take live shrimp if they will not eat artificials, while the big bull redfish are eating cut baitfish on the bottom at the St. Marys Jetties. Cast-netters did well again this week, but they are having to pick through some bait-sized shrimp to get the eating-size mudbugs. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said whiting, flounder, trout and some sharks graced the pier this week. Trout are biting best at night under the lights for those fishing live shrimp. Blue crabs were caught in decent numbers.
Best Bet: It’s Satilla Time! The upper river above Waycross is not right yet, but the fish are so numerous (not to mention fat and sassy) that you should have very good catch rates, whether you pitch crickets or fish artificials. Satilla Spins, beetlespins, and topwater flies have been catching some rooster redbreasts as the river falls.