By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
The winds continued on saltwater, but those who went were rewarded with good catches. The rivers rose and cooled this week, but the warming trend and falling water late this week should fire the fish right back up by the weekend. First quarter moon is Dec. 9. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – I spoke with a friend who fished the lower Altamaha in the winds this weekend and caught close to a limit of nice crappie. He fished backwaters with minnows to do the damage. With the warming trend, expect the big bluegills and redbreasts that have been eating it up over the last month to be hammering Satilla Spins, worms, and crickets again by this weekend. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that in the Jesup area, the crappie bite has remained strong, and both minnows and jigs have worked well. The river level was 3.6 feet and barely rising at the Baxley gage, and 5.4 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on Dec. 3.
Satilla River – Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the redbreast bite improved with the higher water. The bream bite also improved, with worms producing the most. Beetlespins and Spin Dandy spinnerbaits also worked well for both species. The crappie bite remained strong, with minnows producing the best catches. A few catfish and bass were caught on shiners. The warming trend this week should fire up the fish activity, and the water should be high enough that you can get around in motorboats. The river level on at the Waycross gage was 7.4 feet and falling and at the Atkinson gage was 6.3 feet and falling on Dec. 3.
Local Ponds – Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle said that in Waycross area ponds crappie were again the top species. Anglers reported whacking them on minnows. Some real slabs were reported this week. Bream were also caught on worms. With the warm temperatures late in the week, you should be able to catch fish in both the mornings and afternoons as the light gets low. You will see the tell-tale flip of crappie as they inhale minnows during low light conditions.
Okefenokee Swamp – The number of anglers fell off significantly this week with the cold temperatures. Staff at the state park (west side) reported that the anglers who went did very well on fliers. Orange Okefenokee Swamp Sallies worked best. There were quite a few catfish caught on the west side by those fishing shrimp on the bottom. The flier fishing should be awesome this weekend with the warming trend. Go on a warm afternoon and pitch yellow, pink, or orange Okefenokee Swamp Sallies suspended under a small balsa float. If you are not sure what to use, get an Okefenokee Swamp lure kit from Winge’s. I put them together with exactly the same lures that I use when I go into the swamp.
Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – The winds remained strong over the weekend, but several folks braved the elements. Justin Bythwood, Ed Zmarzly, Michael Deen and I fished in the Brunswick area on Saturday. We looked for calm water (very little of it existed), and we caught 25 sheepshead and about a dozen black drum by vertically fishing crabs and shrimp. Several mangrove snapper and yellowtails ended up in the boat, also. Brentz and Alex McGhin headed to Crooked River on Saturday and put it on the sheepshead. They had a couple 3-pounders along with some other smaller convict fish. Mark, Krista, Logan, and Matthew Youmans fished around St. Simons Island on Saturday – trying to duck into protected places. They could not find many calm areas, but they found some nice trout and a 30-inch redfish. Shrimp skewered on a jighead and suspended under a float fooled their fish. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that sheepshead and whiting provided most of the action this week from the pier. On Sunday, an angler caught 8 sheepshead on fiddler crabs. The fish ranged in size from 3 to 6 pounds. Lots of whiting were caught with shrimp fished on the bottom.