Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – July 14, 2023

Timely info on where and how to catch fish on various rivers and waters of southeast Georgia.

Capt. Bert Deener | July 14, 2023

Don Harrison, of Waycross, fooled this giant Spanish mackerel at the St. Marys Jetties by pitching bucktail jigs.

The dog-days of summer are here, and as my buddy Shane reminded me, one or two waters won’t cut it. Make sure to take plenty of water and stay hydrated during summer trips. Lots of bites are fired off right now, and the rivers are getting right again.

Altamaha River:  The river was falling back out, but it’s rising again from weekend rains upcountry. The best trip I heard of was a couple of anglers fishing the tidal river backwaters for panfish. They had 35 (mostly nice bluegill) by pitching crickets to shoreline cover. The upper river and Ocmulgee are fairly off-color but are still fishable.

Satilla River: It’s go-time if you like fishing from a motorboat. You should be able to get around pretty well, and the water isn’t too stained. I heard reports of a few anglers catching some nice redbreast and bluegill this week from all up and down the river. The extreme upper river is in the best shape (water clarity and level), but it’s all fishable. In the lower tidal river, put shrimp, worms or cut bait on the bottom for channel and blue catfish and live bait for flatheads.

St. Marys River:  The last Shady Bream Tournaments points event of the year was  held Saturday, July 8. Troy and Chris took first place with a 10-panfish limit weighing 12.20 pounds. They had the big fish of the tournament (1.10-lb. bluegill) to anchor their catch. Mark and Destiny came in second with 9.62 pounds, while 8.43 pounds earned Ernie and Allen third place. Check out Shady Bream Tournaments for more details.

Okefenokee Swamp: I heard from a couple of anglers this week that some warmouth were caught on the east side this week. Most were on the small side. Jigs, crickets and crawfish produced the warmouth. Brantley and Ava Wester fished with me on the east side on Saturday morning and ended up catching 109 fish (one pickerel, two gar, and the rest were bowfin) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. They fooled all of their fish with Dura-Spins, and most were caught trolling. Their biggest that they landed was a 6-lb., 12-oz. whopper, but they had about a dozen fish over 5 pounds. They broke off two giant bowfin that were double-digit class fish when the drag on their pushbuttons worked less than optimally. Dura-Spin color didn’t really matter—they caught some on all colors they tried. The most effective colors, though, were lemon-lime, crawfish-brass blade, red/white and fire tiger-chartreuse blade. Yellow flies were not bad, but I still recommend covering up if you don’t want to get aggravated by the little nasties. The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 120.40 feet.

Local Ponds: Chad Lee went night fishing for bass this weekend and did well on all-black buzzbaits. He had several 4-pounders on Saturday night and fooled three fish in five casts at one point. Over the entire weekend, he caught 15 bass on buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and stick worms. His biggest was a 5-pounder on Monday evening. Jimmy Zinker also caught some big fish this week on buzzbaits at night. He had a 5-lb., 3-oz. bass at 4 a.m. on a black Gurgler buzzbait. A group of young adults fished the Lions Camp for the Blind pond on Monday and caught a bunch of bluegill and catfish. The bluegill ate worms fished on a drop-shot, while the catfish ate cut bluegill. Each angler caught about a dozen fish and had a blast doing so. Lauren had the biggest catfish, a 3-pounder.

Rickey O’Berry caught this 5-lb. sheepshead while fishing fiddler crabs in the Brunswick area on Saturday.

Saltwater (GA Coast): Don Harrison, Charles West and a friend fished the St. Marys Jetties on Friday and worked for bites. They pitched bucktail jigs (electric chicken and mullet colors) and broke off two bull redfish but did not land any. Don fooled a giant 6-lb. Spanish mackerel on a bucktail. Steve and Brenda Hampton fished with Capt. Jaime Bracewell in the Brunswick area on Friday and had a fun morning. They caught a bunch of short trout and reds, two small sharks and a couple jack crevalle and ended up keeping five trout and two reds. Steve had a nice flounder come unbuttoned at the boat. They caught their fish on mudminnows and paddle-tail plastics. Jaime had a trip on Saturday where they caught sharks and jumped a big tarpon. The tarpon are scattered right now, and you can’t really depend on where they will be from day-to-day (welcome to tarpon fishing….). Rickey O’Berry fished the Brunswick area with fiddler crabs on Saturday and caught a 5-lb. sheepshead. During the trip, they caught nine sheepshead and a trout. Brentz McGhin fished the St. Marys area on Saturday with shrimp (he went through 4 cups!) and caught a ton of fish— over 100. He caught about all the different species on that part of the coast, but the ones destined for the cooler included mostly croakers, mangrove snapper and whiting. He fooled two undersized black drum and also had two small redfish on a Gulp. Shane and Joshua Barber fished the St. Marys area on Wednesday and had a great catch. They ended up keeping 11 sheepshead up to 4 pounds. All of them were fooled with fiddler crabs (they were able to get them from Buccaneer Bait and Tackle in St. Marys). They also caught two small redfish on plastic grubs. It looks like there is another good year-class of redfish that will hit legal size this fall. Capt. Tim Cutting ( said that he had to work for fish this week. The bigger redfish are still in the deeper water—6 to 15 feet. He caught a lot of small trout and reds this week shallow. He had a couple nicer trout Thursday morning on topwaters (Super Spook Jrs.). The water is murky and hot, and the tide swing will remain fairly high around the new moon through early next week.

Keaton Beach, Florida: Capt. Pat McGriff, of One More Cast Guide Service (850.584.9145 out of Keaton Beach, had the best story of the week. Here it is verbatim—my paraphrasing would just mess it up. From Capt. Pat, “Last Thursday I had Ed Walters, of Tallahassee, and his son Shane and his pal Stanley (sorry I forgot his last name) out and we managed… oh I forgot to tell you Ed is 95 years old. Well, the first bait I casted out there for Ed his adrenaline got the best of him and when the Back Bay (float) went under he started reeling, now he was counting (and those who’ve fished with me know you count with the bail open to give the trout a chance to eat the bait after he kills it) well he promptly took it away from the trout I am yelling (what I do best) ‘Stop Stop Stop.’ The trout nor Ed were listening and the trout took the float down again. I am trying. ‘Let him have it !let him have it!’  forgetting that if you are not in front of Ed so he can read your lips (95 years old you remember) well to put it nicely, he can’t  hear thunder. Ed snatches again, while counting… the trout let’s go again, Ed stops reeling turns to look at me and the trout takes it down again, he turns back around and reels again and jerks only to have the trout release the pinfish again. Ed starts to reel it in figuring it’s over the trout tries again, Ed tries again… another miss now the float it 6 feet from Ed’s rod tip and we all four saw the trout swing up and eat the pinfish and Ed (doing what Ed does best) sets the hook a fifth time and after my Jai Alai looking net job, we land a 23-inch trout on the fifth sinking.  I immediately looked up overhead to see how many angels it took to give that man that beautiful trout.” Ed went on to catch his limit of five trout, and that 23-incher was the anchor for the boat. They also had a pair of 25-inch reds. They fished 2.8 to 4.6 feet of water. He expects the bigger tides this weekend to greatly improve the bite. The usual artificials will work, but he will be fishing live pinfish under Back Bay Thunder Floats.

New Moon is July 17. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website. For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on July 13:
Clyo on the Savannah River – 9.2 feet and rising
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 5.6 feet and falling
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 7.8 feet and rising
Waycross on the Satilla – 6.1 feet and falling
Atkinson on the Satilla – 6.1 feet and falling
Statenville on the Alapaha – 3.9 feet and falling
Macclenny on the St Marys – 5.6 feet and rising
Fargo on the Suwannee – 5.3 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 e-mail him at [email protected].

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