Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – Dec. 8, 2023

Capt. Bert Deener | December 8, 2023

Wayne Huntley, of Leesburg, caught this 2-lb., 10-oz. crappie while using a minnow at Paradise Public Fishing Area last week and earned an angler award from the Wildlife Resources Division.

Warm, cold, warm, cold… get used to it. Winter is almost upon us. The bite can be fantastic if you find them and pretty poor if you don’t. We have gotten just enough rain to raise the rivers but not blow them out yet.

Altamaha/Ocmulgee Rivers: A Fitzgerald angler and his fishing buddy fished the Ocmulgee this week and caught a few nice bass—mostly on worms. But, they saw a bunch of fish on their graph that they could not get to bite. They switched to small crappie-sized lures (Satilla Spins and curly tailed grubs) and caught several nice slabs and even a couple really big bluegill. One of the oddest catches I heard of this week was a hybrid spotted/shoal bass that was caught out of Altamaha Park. Both species are in the upper Ocmulgee River, but this is the farthest downstream that I’m aware of them being caught.

Okefenokee Swamp: A Waycross angler fished the east side on Friday. He said that the cypress needles were blanketing the surface, so casting was a struggle. He was able to manage seven bowfin up to 5 pounds and a 22-inch pickerel on Dura-Spins (firetiger-chartreuse blade). He also caught two big fliers in the boat basin after taking his boat out. The fliers ate pink sallies fished under a small balsa float.  The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 120.80 feet.

Paradise Public Fishing Area (near Tifton): The crappie bite always takes off when the cold gets here, and this year is no exception. The first angler-award sized crappie (over 2 pounds) was reported last week. Wayne Huntley of Leesburg, caught the 2-lb., 10-oz. slab from the Lake Patrick pier while using a live minnow.

Local Ponds: Noah and Sophie fished a Moniac area pond with their grandparents and caught yellow bullhead catfish one after another on shrimp fished on the bottom. Chad Lee put it on crappie and bass this week. He and Daniel Johnson fished an Alma-area pond on Sunday and caught 40 crappie up to about 1 1/2 pounds and kept 25. They also had a couple bass—one pushing 4 pounds. They used white jigs on chartreuse Zombie Eye heads and live minnows. Harry Beverley and a friend put it on the crappie again this week. They fished minnows in a pond for a limit of slabs. Crappie fishing should be very good this weekend with the warmer temperatures behind the current cold snap.

Saltwater (GA Coast): I fished the Brunswick area for just a couple of hours on Sunday evening and caught a bunch of trout and redfish. I started by pitching live shrimp on a shrimp hook and caught seven small trout (all throwbacks) from a point. I switched to a small creek, and the redfish were biting. A 24 1/2-inch red started the melee by eating a rootbeer-chartreuse back Keitech rigged on a 1/16-oz. Zombi Eye jig head. I then switched to live shrimp tail-hooked on an 1/8-oz. shrimp hook and caught five slot-sized reds in eight casts. The next fish was a 24-incher that I tagged before moving spots. I caught a few more scattered trout and pulled into the ramp right before dark. It was a fun trip, and I ended up with 11 trout (one keeper), seven redfish (five keepers), a black drum and several pesky yellowtails. The yellowtails reminded me why I rarely fish live bait…. Cason Kinstle got on some good trout using artificials in the Ogeechee River on Thursday. His trip was the perfect example of winter fishing for trout. He fished Thursday morning trying this spot and that spot to no avail. Most were stained a little more than he preferred, so he thought that he would try to find some clearer water. After trying a half-dozen spots, he figured out the key to the puzzle and caught (and released) keeper trout after keeper trout up to 18 inches. The key was the 10- to 15-foot depth range. He tried an 1/8-oz. Zombi Eye jig head shallow but couldn’t fool them. His switch to a 1/4-oz. Zombi Eye jig head and fishing slightly deeper was the ticket to his catching dozens of nice trout in the same spot. His plastic was a shad color with a green back, but color may not have mattered once he figured out the other details of the bite. Capt. Tim Cutting ( said that the trips this week were basically a “feast” (play on the feast or famine saying). He’s put folks on both trout and redfish this week. They’ve been eating plastics very well, and the big trout have started showing up. Wat-a-melon Bait and Tackle in Brunswick is running a special this Saturday. They will give a free shrimp hook to the first 25 people who purchase a quart of live shrimp. They are 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 in the same location as the previous J&P Bait and Tackle. For the latest information, contact them at 912.223.1379.

St. John’s River (Astor, Florida) / Crescent Lake: I heard some good reports this week from some of the lakes off the St. Johns near Astor. Several folks caught slabs well over 2 pounds. Some were on artificials, and some on minnows. Get ready for some giant crappie from the Astor and Crescent areas over the next couple of months. 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.

New Moon is Dec. 12. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website ( For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on Dec. 7 were:
Clyo on the Savannah River – 3.6 feet and rising
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 2.0 feet and falling
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 5.2 feet and falling
Waycross on the Satilla – 7.6 feet and rising
Atkinson on the Satilla – 5.4 feet and rising
Statenville on the Alapaha – 3.8 feet and falling
Macclenny on the St Marys – 10.3 feet and falling
Fargo on the Suwannee – 8.3 feet and cresting

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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