Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – Dec. 5, 2023

Capt. Bert Deener | January 5, 2024

Tommy Davis, of Baxley, caught these two slabs Sunday afternoon, Dec. 31, while trolling 2-inch Keitech swimbaits rigged on 1/32- and 1/16-oz. Zombi Eye jig heads.

Happy New Year, everyone! The whole key right now is to find fish and fish slowly. During winter, there are usually lots of fish in small areas and lots of areas with no fish. I have personally had great and tough trips so far this week. Rivers are running hard, but a few folks reported decent catches from flowing water. Ponds, lakes and saltwater are probably your best bets this week.

Ocmulgee Rivers: A couple of anglers reported catching a handful of bass in the lower Ocmulgee River on Wednesday. They fooled them on Texas-rigged plastics. This is the river in the best shape for fishing right now, so give it a try if you want to fish a river.

Savannah River: Jay Turner fished backwaters off the river and had a blast on Friday. He pitched 2-inch Keitech swimbaits on Zombi Eye jig heads and caught lots of bass and warmouth and about a dozen crappie. He had a blast with his ultralight tackle!

Okefenokee Swamp: The effort picked up on the east side this week, and bowfin and pickerel were the top catches. Dura-Spins and other in-line spinners worked. Black/chartreuse and jackfish were top colors. Matt and Zeb Rouse fished the east side Saturday and fooled 16 bowfin up to about 3 pounds with Dura-Spins. The best color for them was the jackfish color. The water temp was 56 degrees that day. On the west side, the water is really high, flowing hard and surprisingly cold (44 degrees on Wednesday). I went on the west side Wednesday for a few hours and could not fool bowfin or pickerel with artificials. I caught a couple of big fliers on pinks Sallies, which were the only fish separating me from being skunked. I will fish the shallower east side next time we have an extended cold snap. They usually bite better in the shallower water on that side when it is cold. The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 121.30 feet. At this level, you should not have trouble motoring around the canals and trails.

Local Ponds: Harry Beverley took his grandkids fishing on Saturday, and they had a blast. They had a cooler full of crappie and a few hybrid bass, as well. I did not ask him, but he usually fishes live minnows. Chad Lee and I rung in the New Year with our traditional pond-hopping in the Alma area. Our first pond produced a few bass up to 3 1/2 pounds, but we thought the water was a little too stained for a good crappie bite. We fooled three of the bass on blue-silver Rat-L-traps and one on a crawfish Dura-Spin. We switched to a clearer blackwater pond and immediately Chad landed a 1 1/2-lb. crappie. We caught a couple dozen nice crappie in the hour before dark on chartreuse Assassin Tiny Shads and bluegill flash 2-inch Keitechs rigged on 1/32- and 1/48-oz. Zombi Eye jig heads.  Chad Lee and Daniel Johnson fished an Alma-area pond Tuesday evening and fooled six big crappie and three bass about 2 pounds apiece. Tommy Davis and I fished a Waycross area pond Sunday afternoon and trolled up 25 big crappie and a couple of bluegill. Our biggest five specks weighed 9-lbs., 5-ozs. We fooled them with chartreuse shad, sight flash and bluegill flash 2-inch Keitech swimbaits rigged on chartreuse and black 1/32- and 1/16-oz. Zombi Eye jig heads. Another angler reported catching about 30 crappie on Wednesday evening by drifting minnows over the deep part of the pond.

Capt. Travis Harper caught this gator trout on Monday in the Brunswick area.

Saltwater (GA Coast): The cold wind this week kept most folks off the water. Jay Turner checked one of his bank-fishing spots near Savannah and the trout were still there. He bounced plastics for the fish that he caught and released. Capt. Tim Cutting said that he fished a few days this week and it was all about trout. They had a pair of limits Monday, a limit Wednesday and one and a half limits Thursday. They used a lot of DOA 3-inch shrimp and Slayer 3.5-inch Sinister Shads rigged on Zombi Eye jig heads built with a spring keeper. All of the fish were caught by dragging the jigs along bottom in 8 to 15 feet of cold water. 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.

St. John’s River (Astor, Fla.)/Crescent Lake: The bite on the St. Johns fired off this week. Jamie Hodge and friends fished the river, Crescent Lake and Rodman Reservoir this week and did great. They “scoped” fish and dropped and pitched to them, as well as longline trolling and pushing. They caught fish on lots of presentations and caught some really nice crappie. The biggest Jamie sent me a photo of was a 2.26-pounder, but the biggest of the trip was a 3.1-pounder. For the latest fishing information or to reserve a room or cabin in Astor, you can call Kerry at South Moon Fish Camp 386.749.2383.

Keaton Beach, Fla.: I missed an awesome report from Keaton last week. Billy Pillow fished with Capt. Pat McGriff of One More Cast Guide Service last Friday before the cold, and they absolutely slammed the trout with artificials. They caught and released lots of legal fish, and some were gator trout. This past week, Capt. Pat had some great trips with the new Assassin P&V plastics (laguna shrimp was their best color) rigged on a 1/16-oz. Capt. Bert’s round jig head with a spring keeper. They bounced the little plastic slowly to entice the trout.

New Moon is Jan. 11. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website ( For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on Jan. 4 were:
Clyo on the Savannah River – 4.5 feet and falling
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 3.6 feet and falling
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 8.1 feet and falling
Waycross on the Satilla – 10.5 feet and falling
Atkinson on the Satilla – 11.3 feet and falling
Statenville on the Alapaha – 7.1 feet and falling
Macclenny on the St Marys – 9.0 feet and falling
Fargo on the Suwannee – 11.4 feet and falling

Capt. Bert Deener 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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