Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – June 16, 2023

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

Capt. Bert Deener | June 16, 2023

Ashley Cullicut caught this big shellcracker on a worm while fishing the middle Altamaha River this week.

Wow, what a difference a week makes! We’ve gone from the upper rivers clearing up and dropping lower than you can get motorboats around in to rising fast again. The bigger rivers will take a little longer for that to happen, but the last couple of days of rain will probably push all our rivers to full-bank again. Because it’s been so dry in southeast Georgia over the last month, some of the wetlands have dried up, so some rivers will respond more than others to the current multi-inch rainfall event.

Altamaha River: Jamie Hodge and Ashley Callicut fished some backwaters in the middle river and caught a bunch of bluegill and shellcracker (a few were over a pound). They put worms and crickets on the bottom and ended up catching 53 nice panfish on Saturday. Shane Barber fished the lower Altamaha on Wednesday and managed eight bass with three keepers. Spinnerbaits and worms fooled his fish. He said that the water was still stained, and the bass were really fat.

Ogeechee River: The bite picked up significantly with the level dropping out well. Brad and Karen Phelps fished Friday and caught 23 redbreasts along with a giant shellcracker and a big crappie. Black/chartreuse and crawfish Satilla Spins fooled their fish.

Satilla River: The water was just getting right before the late-week torrential rains. Dane Clements caught the biggest redbreast I’ve heard of so far this year. He weighed the 1-lb., 4.3-oz. rooster at Googe’s in Hazlehurst, so it’s a certified weight. He caught about 60 fish total on the trip. Most were on a crawfish or red/white Satilla Spin, but he caught a few bass, mudfish and the giant redbreast on a small crawfish crankbait. Steve Nettles and Nathan fished the upper Satilla this week, and Nathan caught his first crappie ever and his biggest bowfin to date on black/chartreuse Satilla Spins. Together they caught about 15 fish total, and Steve caught all of his on a black/chartreuse-silver blade Dura-Spin. Their catch also included some nice pickerel (jackfish) and several nice warmouth. A half-dozen members of the Sumter County Kayak Club floated several different locations on the upper Satilla right before this week’s heavy rains, and they caught fish. One of their members fished hard and caught 20 panfish on Monday. They threw both artificials and crickets for their catch. One of their biggest redbreasts ate a lime-colored Bert’s Bug.

Savannah River: Tyler Finch fished the river on Friday and caught a mixed bag of 55 panfish and catfish. His bluegill and redbreast ate white Satilla Spins tipped with a cricket, while his channel catfish ate Sandy’s Catfish Soap.

St. Marys River: The last Shady Bream Tournaments points event of the year is coming up on July 8th. For the event, a team can weigh in 15 fish and live bait is allowed for this tournament (usually it is an artificial-only format). Check out Shady Bream Tournaments on Facebook for more details.

Okefenokee Swamp: Teddy and Mattie Elrod fished the east side on Saturday and set the hook a bunch of fish. They trolled firetiger and jackfish Dura-Spins in the canals and caught 25 bowfin up to 3 pounds. Teddy had a really nice 20 1/2-inch pickerel (jackfish). Jimmy Guess had a great trip to the west side this weekend. He put shrimp on the bottom at the Sill and caught catfish on almost every drop. He then walked the bank casting Dura-Spins and caught bowfin after bowfin with some nice pickerel mixed in. He wore them out on the crawfish color until a big jackfish cut that one off, then he switched to a jackfish color. The fish didn’t miss a beat, and they kept eating that one also. He ended up catching about 30 bowfin, a few warmouth, and about a dozen pickerel. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.18 feet, but I’m sure it’s come up with current rains (it was raining hard when I talked with them about the level). Yellow flies are pretty bad right now, so cover up if you don’t want to get aggravated by them.

Dodge County Public Fishing Area (near Eastman): Ken Burke fished the area on Monday morning and caught six bass for a total of 11.5 pounds. He had four fish that were just over 2 pounds apiece. All of those fish ate a plastic worm on a shaky head. The water temperature rose to 84 degrees by midday.

Hugh M. Gillis Public Fishing Area (near Dublin): Ken Burke fished the area Tuesday morning and caught four bass that weighed 4 1/2 pounds. They were all small, and he fooled two with a crankbait and two on a shaky-head worm. The water temperature was 84 degrees.

Local Ponds: It was a good week for bass and panfishing in local ponds. A Baxley angler pushed Tennessee shad Specktacular Jigs tipped with minnows around a pond and caught 27 big crappie up to 1-lb., 13-ozs. on Friday morning. I fished a Waycross area pond on Friday morning for a couple of hours and caught 38 bluegill on a lime Bert’s Bug with a white Okefenokee Swamp Sally trailer about a foot behind the popper. It was a hoot! A Waycross angler trolled a pond on Saturday morning for a couple hours and caught 24 crappie up to 14 inches and nine big bluegill on 2-inch Keitech swimbaits (chartreuse pearl, green pumpkin-chartreuse, and sight flash) rigged on 1/32-oz. Zombie Eye Jigheads. Wyatt Crews and Scout Carter fished a Waycross pond on Sunday evening and caught five bass between 2 and 4 pounds by throwing Keitech Noisy Flappers on Toad Hooks overtop of submerged vegetation. Scout had a monster—definitely would have been his personal best—on for awhile and it jumped at the boat and threw the hook back at him. Chuck and Hunter Dean fished a Brunswick area pond on Sunday and caught three largemouth bass around 2 pounds on vibrating jigs. The chartreuse/white version worked best for them. A couple anglers managed six bass up to 5.5 pounds from a pond. A Baxley angler fished a local pond on Tuesday and caught his limit of crappie—almost all 11 to 13 inches long. He spider-rigged a 1/16-oz. Tennessee Shad Specktacular Jig tipped with a minnow for all of his fish. Paul Williamson fished with a friend on a pond Wednesday morning for just 1 1/2 hours before storms chased them off. They fooled three nice crappie by trolling 2-inch Keitechs (chartreuse shad and sight flash) on 1/32-oz. chartreuse Zombie Eye Jigheads. They also flung Satilla Spins (cracklehead crawfish color) on spinning tackle and lime-colored Bert’s Bugs on fly rods around the shoreline for nine fat bluegill up to 10 inches. Chad Lee worked buzzbaits for a few hours on Saturday in an Alma-area pond and caught five bass up to 3 pounds.

Paul Williamson caught this nice bluegill on a cracklehead crawfish Satilla Spin while fishing in a pond on Wednesday.

Saltwater (GA Coast): Saltwater has been off and on. A few folks found them and did well, but overall the trout fishing has been slow inshore from the reports I received this week. The trout fishing off the Cumberland beach has been good on the few days when the wind will allow you to get out there. Capt. Tim Cutting ( had one of the better saltwater reports this week. The end of last week had some of his better trout charters with around a dozen per trip with some sheepshead, flounder, reds and drum mixed in. He caught them on both jigs and live bait this week, and it seemed like one day they had a preference for one and the next they preferred the opposite. The highlight of the weekend was a 5-lb. flounder. On Monday, he fished hard for flounder and caught 19, but he decided to clean only seven of them. Two of them that day were big. During the weekdays, he’s had trouble getting on a good bite until the tide dropped out a good bit, but then he caught a bunch of redfish. Most have been upper slot and oversized reds. As a rule, most of his fish have been coming in the 6- to 12-foot depth range. Trout fishing has slacked off for him the last few days. Mark Vick and some buddies fished the Savannah area on Friday and caught some really nice sheepshead and flounder. Fiddler crabs fooled the convict fish, while pink VooDoo Shrimp tricked the flounder. Capt. Greg Hildreth ( said that his main bite this week has been catching big sharks behind shrimp boats when the wind allowed him to get out. One group of experienced anglers found some decent reds and small trout while using mud minnows in the creeks.

New Moon is June 18th. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website ( For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on June 15th were:

Clyo on the Savannah River – 5.7 feet and falling

Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 3.1 feet and rising

Doctortown on the Altamaha – 5.3 feet and rising

Waycross on the Satilla – 7.3 feet and rising

Atkinson on the Satilla – 5.2 feet and rising

Statenville on the Alapaha – 3.1 feet and rising

Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.8 feet and rising

Fargo on the Suwannee – 2.7 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 e-mail him at [email protected].

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