By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
The Satilla River is the big story again this week. The upper and middle river areas produce some excellent catches this weekend. The first quarter moon is June 5. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – The river is approaching fishable, but could stand to drop another couple of feet. Bass have been biting jigs, buzzbaits, plastic worms, and crankbaits fished around cuts and the mouths of oxbow lakes. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that anglers caught redbreasts, bream, and some big flatheads this week. Crickets produced most of the panfish, while goldfish produced the flatheads. Dannett from Altamaha Park reported some huge shellcrackers were caught by anglers fishing pink worms over the weekend. Big bream and redbreasts ate beetle spins and crickets. Channel and flathead catfish were caught in good numbers with shiners and goldfish. The timing appears perfect for a new panfish tournament sponsored by Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club scheduled for June 14. First place is a guaranteed $500. The tournament will be based out of Jaycees Landing in Jesup. The winner will be determined based on the weight of their biggest 10 panfish (bluegill, warmouth, redbreasts, and shellcrackers are the species to be weighed). The entry fee is a modest $20 per angler (children under 16 years of age can compete free of charge with a paying adult). For more information, contact the Wayne County Board of Tourism at 912-427-3233. The river level was 6.6 feet and falling (78 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 8.5 feet and falling (77 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on June 3.
Satilla River – I can’t begin to tell all the stories folks have told me this week about the awesome fishing on the Satilla. Most of the ramps I stopped by had at least a half-dozen trucks and trailers in the parking lot, even during the weekdays. The DNR folks certified four Angler Award-sized redbreasts this week (that takes at least a 1-pound redbreast to qualify). Many people say they’ve caught a 1-pound redbreast, but few have actually weighed them on certified scales. A 1-pounder is a MONSTER. The biggest this week was a 1-pound., 3-ounce “rooster.” The rains late last week and during the weekend muddied the water from Waycross to Hwy 301, but folks still reported catching about 12-20 redbreasts per trip.
The best report I heard was from Dane Clements. Dane and his friend fished the river above Waycross on Sunday and caught almost 200 redbreasts, keeping 90 of the biggest fish. They started off catching them on crickets early while the temperatures were cool, but the redbreasts started eating artificials as the sun warmed the water. Dane whacked most of his fish on crawfish Satilla Spins fished around cover. Several of their fish came from cover and current breaks in the middle of the river, so make sure to not overlook unusual spots. Many of the other anglers reporting to me caught their fish on black/yellow Satilla Spins. Anglers in the upper river are switching over to 1/16-oz. models, primarily, while middle river anglers are still using the 1/8-oz. because of the stronger current. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the redbreast bite has been awesome. Beetlespins, Spin Dandys, Satilla Spins (red/white), crickets, and worms are producing the most fish. Bass are being caught on buzzbaits and baby bass colored Rattling Rogue jerkbaits. According to the DNR biologists, the electrofishing sampling is showing that the bass population is very high (compared to typical) in the Satilla. Catfish were caught in good numbers by those fishing bush hooks baited with shiners and those fishing bottom rigs baited with worms, rooster liver, or shrimp. The river level at the Waycross gage was 7.3 feet and falling (74 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 6.9 feet and steady (76 degrees) on June 3.
St. Marys River – Redbreasts, bream, and catfish are tearing it up, especially on the upper river. Worms, crickets, and beetlespins are working best. Some bass were reported from those fishing topwater plugs. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 6.5 feet and falling on June 3.
Local Ponds – Warren Budd continued whacking bluegills this past weekend on black/chartreuse Satilla Spins. His biggest was short of his monster last weekend, though he still landed some well over a pound. Michael Winge reported that bass were eating bubblegum Trick Worms. Most of the impressive bream catches were made by those fishing crickets.
Okefenokee Swamp – The yellow flies have picked up, and I typically let them have the swamp in June. If you want to brave the bugs, the flier bite is great. You can pretty easily catch over 100 fliers per day pitching sallies.
Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – The tripletail bite has remained decent this week during the fishable days. Hunt for them off the beaches of Jekyll Island. I heard one good report this week for the beach trout. They were using live shrimp. Another group of anglers fishing the Brunswick area got into some nice trout fishing artificials (Sea Shads). The water was fairly clear for them. Inshore, trout were caught this week from the St. Simons Island Causeway bridges. A Waycross angler landed a big (about 8 pounds) black drum from a Brunswick pier this weekend. On the beaches, whiting were the best bite, with dead shrimp producing the most. Michael Winge reported some good catches of whiting by Waycross anglers fishing around the King and Prince. Dead shrimp fished on the bottom was the deal for them. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that the whiting bite has been on fire, with lots of full coolers leaving the pier. Most whiting have been 10-15 inches. Trout have been hitting live shrimp and artificials and a few flounder have been caught using mudminnows around the pilings. Sharks were fooled this week with cut bait. Blue crabs are increasing in numbers as the water warms.
Best Bet – The Winge’s/Coca-Cola/Georgia Wildlife Resources Division Kids’ Fishing Event will be held this Saturday at Brentz McGhin’s Pond in Blackshear. There will be lots of catfish caught and prizes given away. For more information, call the Waycross Fisheries Office at 912-285-6094. The Satilla River is on fire, and the middle river should get cranked up this weekend. The stained water of this week should be a thing of the past pretty much up and down the river. The upper river is getting to the point where a float trip will be your best option. In saltwater, the trout fishing on the Cumberland Island beach should be on fire, but you have to choose your days when the wind is from a westerly quadrant.