By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
The Altamaha River is the river to fish. Check out the Wayne County Grand Slam Tournament this weekend if you like fishing tournaments (more information below under Altamaha River section). Saltwater has been hit-and-miss, and ponds have been steady. Last quarter moon is August 17th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – The water level should be perfect for the Wayne County Grand Slam Tournament held this weekend, Aug. 16-17. They will be paying out $3,000 for the biggest aggregate weight of three species and thousands more for various categories. For more information, visit www.waynetourism.com. My prediction is that it will take 62 pounds to win the aggregate prize. I’m guessing that will be comprised of a flathead catfish, a bowfin, and a bass. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that quite a few flathead catfish were caught by those using goldfish over the weekend. Some bream and redbreasts were caught by those pitching crickets. Several folks have been catching gar on rope lures. The odd thing about fishing for gar with rope lures is that the lure does not have a hook on it. When a gar bites, you let slack in your line so that the fish shakes its head and gets its teeth all tangled in the rope. After a few seconds, you just tighten up and reel the fish in. Gar are hard fighters, and they often jump. Connie has the lures in stock at the tackle store at Jaycees Landing in case you want some for the tournament this weekend. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the flathead bite has been on fire. Goldfish have fooled most of the big catfish, and most of the whiskerfish have been between 15 and 40 pounds. Lots of bream and warmouth were caught this week, as well. The river level was 2.5 feet and falling (87 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 4.2 feet and rising (85 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Aug. 10
Satilla River – With the low water, wading was a great way to approach the river this week. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that redbreasts were caught in good numbers on crickets by bank anglers and those wading the river. Anglers reported catching some big “roosters” out of the deeper holes. Topwater plugs and buzzbaits caught quality bass. The river level at the Waycross gage was 5.5 feet and rising (83 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 3.4 feet and falling (86 degrees) on Aug. 10.
St. Marys River – Redbreasts continued eating crickets well this week, and some were caught by those pitching topwater flies to shady areas. Catfishing was good for those fishing pink worms and shrimp on the bottom. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 2.8 feet and falling on Aug. 10.
Local Ponds – Michael Winge said that bream continued hammering crickets late in the evenings. The bite was great after pop-up thunderstorms this week. The crappie bite continued for those dragging minnows over the deepest water in the pond. Bass were caught with shiners and ZOOM Trick Worms.
Okefenokee Swamp – The warmouth bite was excellent for those fishing (primarily from the bank) below the Sill on the west side. Bullhead catfish and warmouth were caught in the swamp. On the east side, anglers reported catching fliers in huge numbers. Pitching pink or yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies was the best approach for fliers.
Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Scout Carter and Josh Alvarez fished with a friend at the St. Marys Jetties over the weekend, and the bite was slow. They pitched Assassin Sea Shads rigged on Jetty Jigheads toward the rocks and bounced them back to the boat. They caught two keeper trout and a giant whiting, along with several big black sea bass, and several other random species. They saw some tarpon (their target) at high tide, but were unable to get them to eat their artificial offerings. Gynni Hunter of Waycross caught a couple of nice flounder while fishing on St. Simons Island on Sunday evening. Her flatfish ate finger mullet. Flounder fishing in the Hampton River and around the St. Marys Jetties has also been very good this week. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that from the pier the flounder bite was tops again this weekend. Both jigs and mudminnows fooled them. The whiting bite was fair this week for those fishing shrimp on bottom. Spanish mackerel were still prowling around the pier, and they ate Gotcha plugs cast near them. Spadefish and sharks were caught in big numbers. Some trout hit curly-tailed grubs and live shrimp – one of the trout caught Friday weighed 6 pounds!
Best Bet – The Okefenokee is my top pick this week. The flier bite is the deal on the east side (Folkston entrance), while warmouth and catfishing should be tops at the Sill and in Billy’s Lake on the west side. Don’t hesitate to pitch a sally around the expansive lily pads in Billy’s Lake for fliers, as there are lots of them at all the entrances. If you want to fish for tarpon, they are thick in the Altamaha Sound and St. Andrews Sound right now. They are also starting to move into their more inshore haunts in the saltwater rivers.