By: Bert Deener, GA DNR Fisheries Biologist
(Deener’s reports can also be found in the Waycross Journal Herald on Thursdays)
The Satilla will be within the banks by the weekend, but it and the other rivers are still not anywhere near peak. Pond fishing and the swamp have provided excellent fishing. Whiting fishing is picking up in saltwater. The first quarter moon is April 7. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website.
Altamaha River – The upper river is still swift and out in the floodplain, but it is dropping. Connie at Jaycee Landing Bait and Tackle reported catfishing to be the only thing going on. Anglers fishing trot lines and limb lines upstream from the landing caught some nice channel cats, blue cats, and a few flatheads. The flatheads ate mainly goldfish, while shiners and cut bait produced most of the other species. Dannet at Altamaha Park said some catfish were caught upstream of the park. Limb lines produced mostly channel and blue catfish. Some crappie were caught with minnows in the oxbows this week. The river level was 11.4 feet and falling (62 degrees) at the Baxley gage, and 10.4 feet and falling at the Doctortown gage on April 1.
Satilla River – The significant rains dodged us here in Waycross, and the river is falling well. It’s still up in the floodplain in Waycross at the time of writing this, but should be about within the banks by the weekend. While still too high for peak fishing, folks will catch some fish this weekend, especially in the upper river above Highway 158. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle in Waycross said the fishing has started in the extreme upper river. Anglers reported catching some big redbreasts in the Telmore portion of the river on red-white Satilla Spins. The average catch was 20-40 fish per boat already. Red-white dot beetle spins also produced some fish. Catfish hit rooster livers, shrimp, and shiners fished on limb lines. An angler reported catching a giant blue catfish (probably a channel catfish that has lost its spots) in the tidewater portion of the river. For more detailed information about fishing the Satilla River, check out my article in the April issue of Georgia Outdoor News. The river level1 at the Waycross gage was 10.9 feet and falling (61 degrees) and at the Atkinson gage was 12.4 feet and falling (62 degrees) on April 1.
St. Marys River – Dickie Winge reported that the river rose some this week as the St. Marys basin got more rain than the Waycross area. The catfishing has been good. Channel cats were caught on limb lines and trot lines baited with shrimp or rooster livers. The river level at the MacClenny gage was 11.5 feet and falling on April 1.
Local Ponds – Last weekend, Zion Hill Baptist Church held their second annual bass tournament. Most bass were caught from local ponds. First place was Yancey Mixon with 23 pounds. The second place team was Lance Berragard and Seth Melton. They had 22.5 pounds, which included the 7.5-pound big bass of the tournament. Proceeds went to the Catch a Dream Foundation. Bass are on still on beds in Waycross area ponds. Michael Winge of Winge’s Bait and Tackle said lots of crappie were caught this week by anglers fishing minnows and Jiffy Jigs. Bream started biting well with the warmer weather, and they ate crickets and worms. Anglers reported sight-fishing for and catching bass with red or pink worms. Catfish started biting well this week, and most were caught with pink worms fished on the bottom. Expect the first wave of bluegills to spawn later this month.
Okefenokee Swamp – I took a couple of friends on Thursday evening to the east side for a 2-hour trip. The flier bite was excellent, as we caught and released 64 fliers during the short time. Surprisingly, the bite slowed as the sun dipped (usually that is when they bite like crazy). The quickly falling temperatures must have put the fish in a neutral feeding mood. We might have pushed 100 fish if the last half-hour were as good as it usually is (we only caught a couple of fish the last half-hour). Pink #10 and orange #8 sallies fished under a float produced the best catches. A pink #8 sally fished without a float produced well for the first hour. Yellow did not fool them for us that evening. At the Folkston entrance, warmouth have started to bite crayfish and pink worms. Several good catches were reported. Fliers were caught in good numbers on #8 yellow sallies from that entrance (every day is different!).
Saltwater (Georgia Coast) – The whiting bite is still on fire. Anglers reported catching all they wanted to clean on dead shrimp. The Mackay River produced some good trout catches this week. Lots of folks on spring break went, so there should be a bunch of reports next week. Mike and Trish Wooten of St. Simons Bait & Tackle said that from the pier anglers caught black drum and whiting. From the beaches, the bite is all whiting, and dead shrimp has been the best bait. The average creel was 30 to 40 fish with a size range of 10 to 17 inches.
Best Bet – The whiting bite is hard to beat if the weather allows you to get out to the sounds. You cannot go wrong with pond fishing this weekend. Bass are still shallow and bluegills and catfish should bite well in the warmer weather forecasted for late this week. The Okefenokee bite should be awesome this weekend for those pitching sallies (fliers) or fishing shrimp on the bottom (catfish).