Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – Feb. 23, 2024

Capt. Bert Deener | February 23, 2024

Dan Prewitt caught this bowfin in the Okefenokee Swamp.

The cold kept the bite depressed this week, for the most part, but the forecasted warm-up next week should get the fish in the Okefenokee, ponds and lakes chewing! Crappie and bass fishing should be great next week!

Okefenokee Swamp: Naaman Headrick came down from Tennessee and fished with Dan Prewitt and me on the east side on Friday. The water level is still high, and fish were still spread out in the prairies, but we found two areas that had a concentration of pickerel. Casting was the ticket again for the second trip in a row. We only had one warmouth trolling, and the rest of the fish were caught by casting. Dan started the fun, catching a 3-lb. bowfin on a crawfish-brass blade Dura-Spin. They quickly added a few pickerel with the same lure. Seeing that the bowfin bite was slow again with the high water, we targeted the shallower, weedy pickerel habitat and picked up some. Toward the end of the trip, they were reacting to smaller, finesse prototype spinners, and we caught the last several on those. White body with a gold blade was the best color late in the trip. We ended up catching eight pickerel up to 17 inches, a bowfin and a warmouth. On Wednesday, Wyatt Crews fished with me on the east side. We only caught three pickerel and two bowfin, but one of the bowfin was a trophy. Wyatt fooled it with a crawfish-brass blade Dura-Spin, and it pulled the scales down to 10-lbs., 13-ozs. We tried for fliers the last little bit of the trip and fooled 32 fliers (up to 7 inches) in 45 minutes. We pitched chartreuse Sallies and pink Sallies under a small balsa float for the fliers. The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 121.22 feet again this week. The water did not come up after this week’s rains, so that is a good thing for the bite.

Dodge County Public Fishing Area (near Eastman): Seth Carter made the trek up to Dodge this weekend for the first King of the Kayak Tournament Trail event. He caught a solid 4-pounder on an Alabama rig. The winner by a mere 1/4-inch was Ryan Mason (total 73.50 inches – big fish 16.25 inches). Second was Davey Allen (73.25 inches – big fish 16 inches). Thomas Humphrey rounded out the top three with big fish of 15.75 inches and a total of 61.75 inches. The biggest bass of the tournament was a 20.5-incher. The 31 tournament anglers ended up averaging about two bass submitted per kayak. The next event is on Banks Lake, and there is still time to sign up if you are interested.

Local Ponds: Jeremy Robertson swung by Satilla Feed and Outdoors on the way to the lake and bought a 6 1/2-inch glide bait, then headed to Laura Walker State Park. It didn’t take long before he was setting the hook into a chunky 3-lb. bass. He also caught a nice pickerel (jackfish) on the same glide bait. A Baxley angler fished a pond Wednesday afternoon and had a great trip for crappie. He trolled chartreuse back pearl 2-inch Keitech swimbaits on 1/16-oz. black-green eye Zombi Eye jig heads for 22 slabs up to 1 1/2 pounds. He thought that was a good trip until he went the next morning. That day he made one lap around the pond and caught a limit of crappie with four right at 2 pounds, and his biggest pulling the scales down to 2.4 pounds! He released all the crappie over a pound. The same chartreuse back pearl Keitech on a 1/16-oz. Zombi Eye jig head trolled at about 0.8 miles per hour was the ticket again. Chad Lee got away to a local Alma area pond for just a short half-hour trip and caught six really fat crappie (one was pushing 2 pounds!) and two bass (2 pounds apiece) on a shad-colored, straight-tail plastic. Jimmy Zinker fished some Valdosta area ponds this week and had some good catches. He lost a big fish Wednesday on a spinnerbait but landed a 6-lb., 2-oz. bass on a 6th Sense glide bait on Tuesday. He also caught a 5-lb, 2-oz. old-looking (big head, big eye) bass on a Shad Rap on Thursday. The crappie and bass bites in ponds should be incredible this week with the forecasted warm-up. Time to go if you have permission at a good pond.

Saltwater (GA Coast): Rodney Jones had a good saltwater trip in the Savannah area. He fooled a bunch of trout about 20 feet deep with a 1/4-oz. round head with a spring keeper (Medusa Head) and a sight flash 3-inch Keitech swimbait. Capt. Tim Cutting had a good trip on Friday. They caught 37 trout (four keepers) then got on a bunch of slot-sized redfish. On Monday, they caught a limit of trout and a bunch of shorts by dragging jigs along the bottom. Keitechs rigged on 1/8-oz. Zombi Eye jig heads worked best. On Tuesday, they roped the redfish, catching a limit and some trout. Half were fooled with plastics and half with live shrimp under a Harper Super Striker Float. On Wednesday, the bite slowed with slightly more stained water, and they had to work for them. They ended up with six keeper redfish, six keeper trout and a flounder. The water turned nasty on Thursday, and they did not catch fish at several drops until he found some clearer water. They caught all of their fish at that stop, and had several trout and reds. 

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.

Last quarter moon is March 3. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website ( For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on Feb. 22 were:
Clyo on the Savannah River – 13.0  feet and rising
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 12.5 feet and falling
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 12.9 feet and rising
Waycross on the Satilla – 13.4  feet and falling
Atkinson on the Satilla – 13.2 feet and rising
Statenville on the Alapaha –14.8 feet and rising
Macclenny on the St Marys – 7.4 feet and falling
Fargo on the Suwannee – 8.9 feet and falling

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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