By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
Reports were a little better this week, especially from ponds. Crappie and bass fishing was decent last weekend. Some trout were caught on Saturday when the weather warmed up. Last quarter moon is Jan. 22. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – The river is still too cold and too high to expect a good catch. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that very few anglers fished this week, but a few anglers caught crappie from Morgan Lake on Sunday. The Darien area could produce some channel catfish if you are so inclined. The river level was 12.1 feet and falling at the Baxley gage, and 11.4 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on Jan. 14.
Satilla River – The river is still high and cold. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross reported that very few people fished the river this week. The catfish and crappie should start biting in the Highway 158 portion of the river when the water starts to recede. The river level at the Waycross gage was 11.1 feet and rising and at the Atkinson gage was 11.4 feet and falling on Jan. 14.
Local Ponds – The pond fishing was good for the few who went over the weekend. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle said crappie provided the best catches. On Sunday, several anglers reported catching crappie on minnows in the warm afternoon sunshine. I love fishing for bass this time of year with hard jerkbaits (minnow plugs). Work them as deep as they will run, then alternate with twitches and pauses to fool quality bass on warm afternoons.
Okefenokee Swamp – Staff on the west side at Stephen C. Foster State Park reported that no one fished this week. Okefenokee Adventures staff at the Folkston entrance said several anglers caught some nice fliers over the weekend, but it’s not wide open yet. Expect the next extended warm snap in 3-4 days (temperatures in the 70s expected) to produce some awesome flier fishing for those pitching sallies underneath small balsa floats. The flier population is very strong.
Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – An angler fishing from the bank at St. Simons Island caught a half-dozen nice trout (all keepers, biggest was about 18 inches) in a couple of hours by throwing artificials (electric chicken) on light jigheads and light line. He worked them painfully slowly to fool the trout. On Sunday, anglers reported catching black drum, redfish and sheepshead from pilings in the Brunswick area. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said anglers caught whiting from the pier on the calm days. Trish reported an angler caught 10 keeper black drum, trout and redfish fishing pilings in the Frederica River. He returned the next day and caught 15 keepers. Choose the better weather days, and you can make some nice catches in saltwater.
Best Bet: The cold is supposed to return by the weekend, but it’s supposed to be sunny. Fish local ponds and lakes (like Laura Walker, Lake Ware, or your favorite private pond) for your best chance of success. The Okefenokee will give up some nice flier catches even in the forecasted 50-degree weather if you fish slowly.