Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – Feb. 2, 2024

Capt. Bert Deener | February 2, 2024

Kenny McClain, of Knoxville, Maryland, fished a Brunswick area pond on Friday and caught this nice 5-lb. bass on an 1/8-oz. Capt. Bert’s Shaky Head and stick worm.

The stable (but colder) weather this week produced some good catches. The rivers are still high, but they are coming down to fishable levels. Lakes, ponds and saltwater had the best catches reported this week.

Savannah River: Mark Vick took his youngest son, Waylon, to the river on Saturday, and they had a blast! Waylon caught his first flier and crappie (both qualified for youth angler awards from the GA Wildlife Resources Division). Live minnows and white crappie jigs fooled their fish. They kept enough for a meal and released the rest. Jay Turner fished the backwaters in the lower river this week and had a great trip. He pitched small Keitech swimbaits of various colors rigged on 1/16- and 1/32-oz. Zombi Eye jig heads around shoreline cover for lots of nice crappie, warmouth and fliers. He caught them on both bright (chartreuses) and subdued (electric shad and other shad hues) colors.

St Marys River: Matt Rouse fished the extreme upper St. Marys this weekend and fooled some absolutely giant warmouth. He said they’re some of the biggest he’s caught anywhere. He pitched Texas-rigged bluegill flash 3-inch Keitech swimbaits to shoreline cover. The fish were all roed-up and feeding ahead of the spawn.

Okefenokee Swamp: The water level is still high and fish are spread out in the prairies, but the water level is falling. This warm spell will increase the activity level of all species. I didn’t get any good reports this week, and I struck out on a short trip to the east side on Thursday afternoon. The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 121.33 feet.

Dodge County Public Fishing Area (near Eastman): Ken Burke caught and released a 10-lb. bass on Friday at the area. That is the first 10-pounder reported to area staff this year. He also fished a day this week and had a total of 20 1/2 pounds in seven bass. His biggest three fish were 4.75, 4.25, and 3.75 pounds that day. He caught them all on crankbaits in less than 6 feet of water. The number of 4- to 6-lb. bass in the lake is very impressive.

Paradise Public Fishing Area (near Tifton): The best reports from the area were for crappie this week. Lake Patrick (as always) seemed to be the hot lake. An angler fishing Wednesday caught close to a limit of nice specks with a few other panfish mixed in his creel. I received another report from an angler who caught three bass but had to work for them.

Local Ponds: Shane and Joshua Barber fished a south Georgia pond on Saturday and threw plastic crawfish rigged on a Toad Hook during the afternoon. They had about a dozen bass up to 2 pounds and a decent pickerel (jackfish). They had nine keepers and kept seven of the bass. Kenny McClain fished with me in a Brunswick area pond on Thursday during the warm-up. We targeted bass and were not disappointed. It started out slowly, only catching one during the first hour. But, by midday, the bite picked up as the water warmed. We found the fish in 3 to 6 feet of water and chewing both moving baits and shaky-head worms. I paralleled the bank with a Tennessee shad 4-inch Keitech rigged on a 1/8-oz. natural-colored Zombi Eye jig head (silver holographic-red eye, 2/0 Hook) and caught most of my fish (up to 4 pounds) on that rig. My biggest bass (5 pounds) ate a copperfield vibrating jig at the end of a treetop. All of Kenny’s bass bit a Canada craw-colored stick worm rigged on an 1/8-oz. black shaky head I build with a 4/0 Gamakatsu flat-eye hook. Just as quickly as the bite started it stopped about 2 p.m., but we had already caught 21 bass up to 5 pounds during the bite. Our biggest five fish weighed just under 22 pounds. Jay Turner fished some Savannah area ponds this week, and it was all about the crappie. He flung 2-inch Keitech swimbaits and curly tails on 1/16-oz. Zombi Eye jig heads and caught some giants on Saturday and Wednesday evenings. He had fish over 15 inches each evening, and had a 16-incher on Wednesday. Cason Kinstle fished a couple Savannah-area ponds this week and caught big crappie about every trip he went. He flung 2-inch junebug/chartreuse tail plastics for 37 slabs that went up to 2 pounds one afternoon. One of his young friends got up early the next day and had a couple dozen big crappie at the same location by mid-morning on the same lure. Chad Lee fished a pond on his lunch break Wednesday and fooled a fat 6-lb. bass with a big shad-looking crankbait. I love his lunch breaks!

Saltwater (GA Coast): Capt. Tim Cutting put it on the trout and redfish during his trips. Wednesday he had a really good bite with Keitech Easy Shiners and Berkley Power Swimmers rigged on Zombi Eye jig heads (spring keeper version). Trout, reds and flounder were chewing it! On Thursday his charter worked harder for 10 keeper trout, seven redfish, a couple sheepshead, and two flounder. Shrimp fished under Harper Super Striker Floats produced the fish on Thursday. Wat-a-melon Bait and Tackle in Brunswick is open Friday through Sunday from 6am to 4pm 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, Florida) / Crescent Lake: I had several groups of friends head south for crappie during the warm-up the end of last week. The Crescent bite was excellent, and the Astor bite was slower. Mike Harrell and friends pitched to shallow cover with chartreuse jigs and fooled the big females moving up to spawn at Crescent. A group with Jamie Hodge also hammered them on Crescent— catching their limit or close to it each day. They had multiple fish over 2 pounds, and Jamie’s biggest was right at 2-lbs., 8-ozs. He mostly long-line trolled for them, but he Livescoped some and cast to them, as well. The folks fishing the canals and river at Astor cast for shallow fish moving up to spawn. They had about a dozen to 20 per day per boat and used curlytail and boot-tail plastics, as well as minnows for their fish. Waves of big crappie will continue pushing shallow and moving back offshore 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 386.749.2383.

New Moon is February 9th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website ( For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on Jan. 11 were:
Clyo on the Savannah River – 7.5 feet and rising
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 10.4 feet and rising
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 9.3 feet and falling
Waycross on the Satilla – 10.0 feet and falling
Atkinson on the Satilla – 10.3 feet and falling
Statenville on the Alapaha – 6.4 feet and falling
Macclenny on the St Marys – 7.5 feet and falling
Fargo on the Suwannee – 10.5 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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