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

Capt. Bert Deener | January 12, 2024

Harry Beverley took his grandkids fishing last weekend, and they had a blast catching a cooler full of crappie and hybrids by drifting minnows.

Weather and building new moon tides ruled the week. But, folks who braved adversity made some really good catches this week. With the big tides this weekend, saltwater probably won’t be the best option. I would fish ponds and lakes since the rivers are blown out and are going to probably get even worse with the forecasted Friday rains. Every river in southeast Georgia was falling last week, and every one is rising this week.

Okefenokee Swamp: The water has come up almost a foot in the last couple of weeks with the incessant rains. That usually makes fishing tough, and I confirmed that in the past week at both entrances. You saw in last week’s report where I only caught two fliers on the west side. This week I fished the east side, and it rose another 2 inches right before my trip and spread out even MORE into the prairies. I fished the canals for two hours and caught nine bowfin up to 5 pounds. I could not fool any casting—they all ate a trolled Dura-Spin. The best colors were black/chartreuse-chartreuse blade, firetiger-chartreuse blade and blood red (the 5-pounder ate that one). I believe trolling is more effective because they’re so spread out that the technique covers water better than just casting. Carter fished the east side boat basin before work on Saturday and caught five bowfin on a black/chartreuse Dura-Spin. Craig and Colt James fished the boat basin and canal over the weekend and caught a handful of bowfin by fishing plastic crayfish slowly on the bottom. They didn’t do much in the canal but did best in the boat basin. The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 121.40 feet.

Local Ponds: Chad Lee fished an Alma area pond for an hour or so after the bad storms came through on Tuesday evening and put it on the crappie. He fooled 22 of them with a chartreuse jig. He fished earlier in the day ahead of the storm when they should have bitten well, but he didn’t catch any bass.

Saltwater (GA Coast): The cold and winds this week kept most folks off the water, but a few folks still caught them. Capt. Tim Cutting had a great early week before the water muddied. Monday was an outstanding bite for his charter. They had 20 reds, including a couple of oversized fish and 20 keeper trout. They also had three good flounder that day. They dragged plastics and threw live shrimp pinned on 1/8-oz. Shrimp Hooks suspended under Harper Super Striker Floats. On Wednesday, the water started off dingy, but the trout fired off as the tide dropped out and the water cleared some. They caught a limit of trout on dirty-tequila Southern Shads by Down South Lures rigged on Zombi Eye jig heads with spring keepers. Capt. Tim threw a chartreuse Gulp at a few targets and managed a really nice flounder (it spit up a 5-inch mullet— we often use lures smaller than we could for flatfish!).  I did something I have never done before on Thursday. I INTENTIONALLY got myself trapped in a small creek as the tide went out. I’ve heard of folks doing it but couldn’t make myself stare at the same real estate for hours. But, I decided that I would do it in a creek where I’ve been catching some redfish. The bite started slowly—only catching two before I had to make a decision as to whether to get out or stay. The very last cast before I HAD to make a decision produced an 18-inch red, so I stayed. It was exactly as I had imagined—three hours staring at the exact same scenery. But, I caught 30 redfish and a 17-inch trout during the stint, so it was fun. The bite was very spread out—a fish or two about every 10 to 15 minutes. Every fish hit live shrimp tail-hooked on one of my 1/8-oz. Shrimp Hooks or body-hooked on a 3/16-oz. Redfish Wrecker jig head. It was fun but not something I plan to do every trip! Sheepshead fishing was great this week. Dane Clements dabbled fiddler crabs around docks, wood and rocks in the Darien area for a cooler of convict fish up to about 6 pounds. A couple fishing the Brunswick area on Thursday was cleaning about 30 nice sheepshead when I took out. He said that they caught them by fishing fiddler crabs against docks and rocks. 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, Florida) / Crescent Lake: Jamie Hodge and friends stayed in central Florida and fished the St. Johns and nearby lakes all week. Late in the week the bite was unreal for them. Jamie pitched a Tennessee Shad 1/32-oz. Specktacular Jig and caught a 2.87-pounder on Friday. They also caught some slabs on the popsicle version. On Friday, their biggest eight fish weighed 16 pounds. Warm spells over the next couple of months are great for pushing fish shallow for casting, and cold snaps push them off where you can catch them better by trolling or drifting/pushing minnows. A Brunswick angler did just that and longline trolled on Crescent on Wednesday behind the cold front and caught them well offshore. He had over a dozen big, fat slabs when I talked with him mid-afternoon, and they had just started a couple hours before. 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.

First quarter moon is Jan. 18. 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 – 6.7 feet and rising
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 4.3 feet and rising
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 8.6 feet and rising
Waycross on the Satilla – 13.6 feet and rising
Atkinson on the Satilla – 11.1 feet and rising
Statenville on the Alapaha – 9.7 feet and rising
Macclenny on the St Marys – 13.0 feet and rising
Fargo on the Suwannee – 11.7 feet and rising

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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