By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
The crappie bite is the big news this week. Saltwater has been solid, but the bigger tides late this week will probably muddy the water and slow the trout. Redfish should still bite through the muddier water, though. New Moon is Oct. 23. 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 has been impressive. Folks are blistering them with minnows fished 5-6 feet deep underneath a float. Some catfish were caught on limb lines baited with goldfish. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that the crappie bite on the lower river has been awesome. Minnows were the bait of choice. Some big bream were caught on crickets, and the bass bite has been fair (no details on what they’re biting). The river level was 3.1 feet and rising (71 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 3.4 feet and rising (72 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Oct. 21.
Satilla River – The river is getting tough to get around in a johnboat. It is float-trip or bank fishing time again. Bill of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said the fishing was good this week, with bream and redbreasts hitting Satilla Spins and Spin Dandy spinnerbaits, as well as pink worms and crickets. Pink worms and rooster livers fished on the bottom accounted for most of the catfish. Shrimp fished on limb lines worked for catfish, as well. The river level at the Waycross gage was 4.9 feet and falling (70 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 4.1 feet and falling on Oct. 21.
Okefenokee Swamp – On the east side, Okefenokee Adventures staff reported that nobody fished this week, so they did not know what was biting. On the west side, Stephen C. Foster State Park staff said effort was low, but anglers still caught about 25 catfish per trip. Nobody reported catching fliers, but I’m sure you can catch them if you try. I usually catch about 10-20 fliers per hour this time of year by pitching yellow or pink Okefenokee Swamp Sallies on bream buster poles.
Local Ponds – The crappie bite picked up significantly this week in ponds. Michael Winge said most anglers caught between 10 and 20 crappie from local ponds this week, and minnows worked best. Bream were caught with pink worms, crickets, and red wiggler worms. Bass were fooled with buzzbaits, plastic worms and shiners. The fish were not picky on plastic worm colors, as they pounced on “almost any color thrown at them.” The catfishing held up well in the cooler weather, with shrimp, rooster livers and pink worms producing the best catches.
Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – Capt. TJ Cheek reported that trout fishing was great this week. Lots of slot reds were caught in the same places as the trout. He expects the trout to slow a little with the bigger tides late this week, but the reds should keep feeding. Most of the trout ate live shrimp, but he recommends switching to DOA shrimp when you find a concentration of trout, as you can put them in the boat more quickly and stay on them better with artificials. The bull redfish bite has remained good for him around the sand bars and sounds. Chunks of mullet, whiting, or live pogies produced the best. Michael Winge reported that Waycross anglers caught whiting, black drum, and croaker ate dead shrimp fished on the bottom in the Brunswick area. Trout were caught in good numbers on live shrimp and Bass Assassin Sea Shads. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle (912-634-1888) said that the bite on the pier is on fire. Trout, reds, flounder, and Spanish mackerel were caught in good numbers this week. Gynni Hunter caught her first bull redfish, a 43 1/2-incher, from the pier on Monday evening. Congratulations, Gynni! Two local anglers fishing from the pier on Monday limited out on trout 14 inches and up. Whiting are still being caught on dead shrimp, and a few sharks are being caught on cut bait. Shrimp are thick under the lights at night, and cast-netters are catching them.
Best Bet – The bull redfish are a great option this weekend if the weather allows access to them. If it is rough, try them from a pier instead of a boat. Put a piece of cut mullet or whiting on the bottom and hold on. In freshwater, it will be hard to beat crappie fishing this weekend, unless a cold front rolls in right before your trip. Crappie usually shut down for a day or two after a strong cold front.