Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – April 12, 2024

Capt. Bert Deener | April 12, 2024


Brentz McGhin, of Blackshear, broke the warmouth and white catfish river records on the St. Marys River recently. The warmouth weighed 1.09 pounds, and the white catfish was 1-lb., 8-oz.

Rain was the story mid-week, and all our rivers are likely going to rise into the floodplain again.

Satilla River: Because of significant rains and the fast-rising river, the annual Satilla Riverkeeper fishing tournament has been moved to May 3-12. Get the details on the Satilla River Facebook page.

St. Marys River: Brentz McGhin set two GON River Records this past Friday and had them certified at the Waycross Fisheries Office. His 1-lb., 1.44-oz. warmouth was fooled with a plastic crawfish. His record white catfish weighed 1-lb., 8.32-ozs. and was 14 1/2 inches long. He had a total of eight keeper warmouth, two redbreasts, a couple bluegill and the record white catfish during the trip. Plastic crawfish and crickets worked best.

Okefenokee Swamp: I had some good trips on the east side this week, even with the high water. Rusty, Billy and Emma (three generations of anglers) fished with me on Saturday, and we caught about a dozen fish by trolling Dura-Spins. The best colors were lemon-lime, crawfish-brass blade, jackfish and firetiger-chartreuse blade. They had two, 5-lb. bowfin, and their biggest pickerel was 18 inches.

I checked out a new area with my wife Teresa on Monday, and we learned that it wasn’t worth fishing that area on my guide trip Tuesday! We only had one flier (it was a big one) on a prototype Dura-Spin.

On Tuesday, Wade (from Atlanta) and Alan (from North Carolina) fished with me. Wade works for the Fish Hawk fly shop in downtown Atlanta and loves fly fishing. He tried it a good bit, but the fish were too spread out for the long rod to be effective. He did fool a really nice 18-inch pickerel with a Game Changer fly. I believe he said it was his first pickerel on a fly.

As the morning progressed, Alan switched to a Dura-Spin, and then Wade did, also, when we realized that covering water was going to be the ticket. We caught a couple of really nice fliers by pitching chartreuse sallies and then locked in to chasing the larger fish. About a third of the fish ate the in-line spinner cast to shoreline cover, while two thirds ate it trolled down the middle of the canal. We had several 4- to 5-lb. bowfin (biggest was 5-lbs., 15-ozs and the biggest pickerel was 21 inches).

The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 121.60 feet Thursday after the hard rains on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.   

Dodge County Public Fishing Area (near Eastman): An angler reported catching four bass in five hours of fishing during a trip this week. His biggest two were 4.5 and 5.5 pounds. A crankbait was his top lure.

Local Ponds: The biggest bass I heard of being caught this week was a 10-lb., 1-oz. monster caught by Jimmy Zinker while throwing a “Squeaker” Trophy Bass Buzzbait (designed by Pat Cullen). He caught an 8 1/2-pounder on a topwater this week, also.

Larry Hobbs caught a really fat largemouth bass on a plastic worm in a pond near Brunswick this week. It pulled the scales down to 5 pounds.

Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson had a great week bass fishing. They fished several different trips to Alma-area ponds and caught almost 60 bass—most right around 2 pounds—and several dozen crappie. Christie Craws worked great for the bass, while white tube jigs fooled the crappie.

Joshua Barber fished a Manor-area pond on Saturday and caught seven crappie, a bass, three bluegill and a bowfin. The fish in our area are in trouble now—he is now a licensed driver!

A Blackshear angler and a friend fished a Tifton area pond on Saturday and caught 54 bass up to 7.38 pounds. Their best five fish weighed 28.5 pounds. The majority of their fish were caught on plastic worms, but they had a few on swimbaits and live bait.

I missed a report last week. Wyatt Crews caught 20 bass up to 4 pounds by Texas-rigging a gold-flake Keitech Mad Wag worm in a Waycross area pond.

St. John’s River (Astor, Florida)/Crescent Lake: Zack Murray and a couple of friends had a great weekend trip to the Astor area. They had 20 and 41 keepers on Friday and Saturday. Several of their fattest crappie were pushing 2 pounds apiece. Two-inch Keitech swimbaits fished on Zombi Eye jig heads fooled almost all of their fish. Zack’s favorite was the chartreuse head and bluegill flash body.

For the latest fishing information or to reserve a room or cabin in Astor, you can call Kerry at South Moon Fish Camp at 386.749.2383.

Saltwater (GA Coast): The big tides, wind and rain kept most anglers out of the brine, but some did well. Capt. Greg Hildreth got to the nearshore reefs with the Monnig family from Missouri on Monday, and they caught some nice sheepshead on fiddler crabs. A couple Waycross and Brunswick anglers went offshore of Brunswick on Sunday and jigged Capt. Bert’s bucktail jigs and flutter spoons. They used a few prototype colors and caught red snapper, black sea bass, amberjack and a couple other jacks and a gag grouper. They released the fish that aren’t in season or undersized. They said it was rough seas.

Capt. Tim Cutting said his charter on Saturday had six trout and six redfish, but he didn’t fish much this week. The giant tides kept him from forcing an inshore trip this week.

Wat-a-melon Bait and Tackle in Brunswick is open Friday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. each week. They have plenty of lively shrimp and fiddler crabs and also have live worms and crickets for freshwater. They’re on Highway 303 just north of Highway 82. For the latest information, contact them at 912.223.1379.

First quarter moon is April 15. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website. For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on April 11 were:
Clyo on the Savannah River – 11.3 feet and rising
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 10.6 feet and cresting
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 10.4 feet and rising
Waycross on the Satilla – 14.6 feet and rising fast
Atkinson on the Satilla – 13.3 feet and rising
Statenville on the Alapaha – 20.5 feet and rising fast
Macclenny on the St Marys – 7.5 feet and rising
Fargo on the Suwannee – 11.6 feet and rising

Capt. Bert Deener guides fishing trips in the Okefenokee Swamp and other southeast Georgia systems and makes a variety of both fresh and saltwater fishing lures. Check his lures out at Bert’s Jigs and Things on Facebook. For a copy of his latest catalog, call him at 912.288.3022 or email him at [email protected].

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