By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
The fishing is on fire, especially crappie and bass. The rivers are still too high, but it will be awesome when the levels come back down. New Moon is March 1. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – The river is still too high for fishing. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle said the bite slowed. The only reports came from Morgan Lake, an oxbow on the Long County side of the river. Anglers caught a some nice crappie there this week. Dannet at Altamaha Park said the bite slowed this week with the rising river. The river level was 13.8 feet and falling (58 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 11.2 feet and falling (58 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Feb. 25.
Satilla River – The river is still high, and the bite is overall slow. On the lower river, anglers reported catching about a dozen crappie per trip. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the bite slowed. There were a few good reports of crappie being caught in the extreme upper river, and a few folks reported decent catfish catches on rooster livers and shiners in the Hwy 158 Bridge and Jamestown areas. The river level at the Waycross gage was 11.1 feet and falling (60 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 10.9 feet and rising (62 degrees) on Feb. 25.
Local Ponds – Ponds and lakes are again where the best fishing was this week. I received some excellent bass reports from several different ponds. Buzzbaits started producing fish during the latest warming trend. By the time you read this, the cold will likely put that bite off. Expect it to pick back up after several warm days. A friend reported slamming the bass several days this week from a pond near Brunswick. He whacked them on a Keitech swimbait (silver flash minnow and AYU) fished on a 1/8-oz. Flashy Swimbait Heads. Another angler using a ZOOM swimming fluke on the same type head caught a 9-lb., 4-oz. bass on Monday. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle said that anglers reported catching coolers full of crappie on both minnows and jigs. Tennessee shad was the best color of curly-tail grubs. Rooster livers produced some good pond catfish during this warming trend.
Okefenokee Swamp – As predicted, this warming trend fired off the flier bite. I took my family (four of us) into the Folkston entrance on Thursday afternoon, and we caught 79 fliers in just 2 1/2 hours of fishing. We anchored in the shade and ate lunch, and I caught 18 fliers on sallies while waiting about 10 minutes for the kids to finish their lunch. I tried fishing the little fly without a float and had absolutely no luck. They wanted it suspended under a small balsa float. We started catching them on orange #8 sallies, but later in the afternoon they showed a preference for pink #10 and yellow #10 sallies. As the fish get more active later in the spring, the fly will work well without the float. We did not catch any warmouth or pickerel. You will be able to fool them once the water starts pulling off the prairies, but the fliers are the prime target right now.
Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Capt. Andy Gowen of St. Marys said that the trout have started moving toward the Intracoastal Waterway, and he caught them well on shrimp this week in Crooked River. He also reported the whiting bite is on fire in the St. Marys area. A few whiting were caught by Waycross anglers fishing the Brunswick area over the weekend. A few black drum were caught, also. Under the bridges in the St. Simons area, redfish and sheepshead were caught. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the whiting bite was “on” for those fishing from the pier. On Tuesday and angler reported catching 30 whiting on dead shrimp in less than 3 hours. The average size of his fish was 14 inches. Some black drum and a few trout were caught, also.
Best Bet – The bass fishing should rebound well by the weekend after a couple cold nights. Expect subsurface lures like swimbaits and crankbaits to fool them in the morning and then slow-moving plastics like wacky worms or Texas-rigged worms or jigs to fool them once the sun gets high. The hottest bite this weekend will probably be fliers in the Okefenokee. The big females are shallow and eating.