By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
I’ve been amazed at how few people are fishing. It seems that if you want a great bite to yourself, all you have to do is hitch up the boat and head to a lake, river, pond, or saltwater. Saltwater is on fire right now with trout and redfish tearing it up. The crappie bite in ponds is very good, as well (and some of them have been true slabs!). New Moon is Nov. 22. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported that crappie provided the best bite, and minnows were the bait of choice. Some bream were caught on Sunday afternoon by anglers fishing with crickets. Dannett from Altamaha Park said that crappie were still biting both minnows and curly-tailed grubs. Tennessee shad color was tops. Catfish bit shrimp fished on the bottom in the deeper holes. The river level was 1.6 feet and falling (55 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 2.3 feet and falling (60 degrees) at the Doctortown gage on Nov. 18.
Satilla River – Michael of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said that the crappie were hitting both minnows and jigs. Just like last week, Tennessee shad Jiffy Jigs worked best in shallow water, while John Deere Green was the top color in deeper water. Bass ate dark colored worms fished VERY slowly. An angler reported catching several 2-3 pound bass on Rattling Rogue minnow plugs. Bank anglers caught whiskerfish on pink worms fished on the bottom in deep holes. The river level at the Waycross gage was 4.7 feet and rising (60 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 2.7 feet and falling on Nov. 18.
St. Marys River – On the warmer days this week, anglers reported catching redbreasts, bream, and catfish on crickets and pink worms. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 3.2 feet and rising on Nov. 18.
Okefenokee Swamp – The effort was extremely low again this week on the swamp. Anglers are missing out on some great flier fishing. This is one of my favorite months for fliers. I typically start by pitching pink Okefenokee Swamp Sallies under a float. If I have several anglers in the boat, I will start each of us with a different color and change to whatever the fish prefer. With the cooler weather, suspending a sally underneath a small balsa float usually produces more strikes, as it keeps it in front of the fish a little longer than fishing it without the float.
Local Ponds – Chad Lee fished some Alma area ponds over the weekend and landed 33 nice slabs. From the photos, the biggest ones appeared to be a little over a pound, but most of them were in the pound range. He worked for them but fooled them with Assassin 2-inch Curly Shads. Michael Winge said that lots of crappie were caught on Tennessee shad Jiffy Jigs and minnows. On Lake Ware, nice-sized crappie bit minnows. Laura Walker State Park Lake is closed to boats, but a pair of local anglers walked the bank on Saturday evening and caught several big bowfin (up to 8 pounds) and a pickerel (jackfish).
Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – I fished out of Crooked River on Thursday with Wyatt Crews and Don Baldwin. We caught 49 trout and a yellowtail, all on artificials. Our best rig was an Assassin Sea Shad rigged underneath a 3-inch Equalizer Float. We caught a few trout by swimming Flashy Jigheads without the float and also with the same bladed jighead suspended underneath an Equalizer. Our best colors were goldfish in clear water and Calcasieu brew in stained water. The most productive color so far this year (Texas roach) would not even draw strikes, but a very similar color, morning glory, produced well during the last of the outgoing. That trip is a great example of why you keep changing colors until you dial in what they want. Check out the December issue of Georgia Outdoor News for an article detailing my approach to fishing artificials for seatrout. On that same day, another group of Waycross anglers fished live shrimp while fishing out of Crooked River and caught over 100 trout, keeping their limit. They also caught a few trout on the new Voodoo Mullet lure. Michael Winge reported that Waycross anglers caught trout well in the St. Marys area on electric chicken Assassin Sea Shads. Another angler reported good catches of trout on goldfish Sea Shads fished on electric chicken jigheads. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that sheepshead, whiting, a few trout, and good numbers of blue crabs were caught from the pier. On Sunday an angler caught 31 yellowtails on shrimp. Some legal redfish and flounder were also landed. The torrid bull red bite has slowed, but they are still around.
Best Bet – Wind can be a tough thing this time of year, but trout fishing is your best option on days when winds are light. Crappie fishing will likely be tops again this weekend in area ponds. With schools being out next week in many counties, load up a kid and take them crappie fishing to a local pond or lake. A bucket of minnows and some floats, hooks, and split-shot weights are all that is needed. Catching fliers on the Okefenokee should be an easy option over the weekend with the forecasted warming trend. Look for the catfish bite to pick up on the lower Altamaha (Darien area) during the winter months.