By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist

(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)

Bill Hickox of Waycross fished an Alma pond over the weekend and caught this whopper largemouth bass.

Bill Hickox of Waycross fished an Alma pond over the weekend and caught this whopper largemouth bass.

The Outdoor Adventure/J.A.K.E.S. Day will be held at Paradise Public Fishing Area near Tifton this Saturday, Sept. 27 on National Hunting and Fishing Day. I will be conducting free bass fishing trips to teach teens how to bass fish. Each person will fish for an hour from a boat and will learn how to cast artificial lures for largemouth bass. Pre-registration is required, and there was still one slot open as of Wednesday. To sign up a teen (ages 12-16), call the Waycross Fisheries Office at (912) 285-6094. Saltwater fishing has been very good this week, as have the rivers and ponds. The cooler nights have fish feeding, and it should only improve over the next month. First quarter moon is October 1st. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.

Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that the crappie bite picked up this week for those fishing minnows. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that lots of crappie were caught on minnows, even during the rain storms this weekend. Bream and redbreasts were caught on worms. The catch of the week, though, was made by a young man fishing from the dock. He cast a pumpkinseed tube lure and brought back a 2 1/2-pound flounder! Boy was he surprised! While typically a saltwater species, the flatfish can wander up into the freshwater. I’m aware of them being caught as far upriver as Jesup on the Altamaha. The river level was 3.1 feet and falling (79 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 5.1 feet and falling (80 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Sept. 23.

Satilla River – A group of anglers fished out of an upriver landing late last week and caught just shy of 60 redbreasts, 19 bream, and two crappie. Crickets worked well for them. Some of their fish were true “roosters.”  Another group of anglers fishing upriver caught several bass on topwaters. Their biggest was just over 3 pounds. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the river fishing has been excellent for those fishing from the Blackshear Bridge and above. Crickets and worms produced most of the bream and redbreasts. Bass catches were good, with fire tiger Rattling Rogues working. The crappie bite picked up this week with the cooler temperatures, and the usual minnows worked best. The river level at the Waycross gage was 5.4 feet and falling (78 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 6.2 feet and falling (78 degrees) on Sept. 23.

St. Marys River –  The river is fishable again after flood conditions over the last couple weeks, and the catfishing is your best bet. Put a shrimp on the bottom to fool a good mess of whiskerfish. Rooster livers fished on limb lines and trot lines have been producing catfish, as well. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 8.6 feet and falling on Sept. 23.

Okefenokee Swamp – The cooler nights are exactly what we need to fire off the flier bite. Pitching pink or yellow Okefenokee Swamp Sallies on bream buster poles is my favorite way to catch them. I usually do best in September without a float, but after the first major cold front, I start using small balsa floats more frequently. On the west side, the catfish bite is still strong. Shrimp fished on the bottom is the best presentation.

Local Ponds – Bill Hickox of Waycross caught an 8-pound, 3-ounce trophy bass over the weekend from a pond near Alma. He caught it on an artificial lure. Michael Winge said that a fair number of crappie were caught during early morning hours on minnows. The catfish and bream bites were good for those fishing worms.

Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Saltwater fishing has been excellent for most anglers this week. A couple of Waycross anglers fished from the St. Simons Pier on Friday night in the nasty weather and caught five bull redfish up to 42 inches. They also caught some sharks, stingrays, and Spanish mackerel (before dark). Other anglers that same day caught a cooler full of Spanish mackerel on Gotcha Plugs during the middle of the day.  A group of Waycross anglers reported catching 40 flounder with mudminnows in the Brunswick area. The sheepshead bite has improved. A couple of anglers brought home 13 nice sheepshead to 4 pounds and various other bottom fish on Thursday. They were using fiddler crabs for bait. The Village Creek and Hampton River area has been good this week for flounder and trout. Tripletail were caught inshore on live shrimp fished around Intracoastal Waterway markers. Look for the shrimping to pick up with the cooler temperatures. Practice throwing your cast net to make sure you are prepared when they arrive. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) said that from the pier, it was a redfish weekend. Bull reds from 30 to 45 inches were caught on cut bait (remember, you have to release redfish over 23 inches). Trout and flounder were caught with live shrimp and mudminnows. Lots of Spanish mackerel were caught all week, and on Tuesday the whiting bite was good for those fishing dead shrimp on the bottom.

Best Bet: The Outdoor Adventure/ J.A.K.E.S. Day at Paradise PFA near Tifton is an excellent event. Gather up the kids in your neighborhood and introduce them to fishing, shooting sports, and lots more outdoor fun. For more information, call the Waycross Fisheries Office at (912) 285-6094. This Saturday is the National Hunting and Fishing Day, and there are lots of events spread around the area. Fishing licenses are not required this Saturday, so it is a great day to fish at a Public Fishing Area (PFA), such as Paradise PFA, without the need to purchase a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) stamp. Once you fish on one of Georgia’s awesome PFA’s, you will want to go ahead and purchase the stamp so that you can fish there all year.