Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – June 23, 2023

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

Capt. Bert Deener | June 23, 2023

Steve Williamson, of Jesup, caught this fat shellcracker on the Altamaha River this week. It ate worms fished on the bottom in the backwaters.

The rivers are back to full bank or in the floodplains for the most part. The exception is the St Marys River. It’s very fishable.

Altamaha River: Paul and Steve Williamson fished the middle river on Friday and did well for panfish. They had a few catfish, but the shellcrackers were the prize. They put worms on the bottom and caught several nice ones. Paul’s biggest was 1-lb., 7-oz., and Steve’s biggest was just a little bit smaller than that. They had a couple fish straighten their hooks, as well.

Ocmulgee River: A Fitzgerald angler who fishes the river each week no matter the level (unless it’s extremely flooded) had a great trip late last week before it started rising significantly. His best trip was 17 bass, including a 3 1/2-lb. spot and 5 1/2-lb. largemouth. That trip his biggest five fish would have gone 19 pounds. He had another trip right after it when he thought he would kill them, but he and a buddy only caught five fish. Pretty much all of his bass were on Texas-rigged plastic worms (junebug or green pumpkin). The river has jumped and muddied since his trips, so expect slower fishing.

Ogeechee River: Mark Vick, of Guyton, fished the river on Saturday and had a good morning, despite the rising water. He and his friend David Brodmann kept 15 nice redbreasts, a bluegill and a catfish. They caught a bunch of fish but only kept the biggest. Their hot Satilla Spin colors were bumblebee (black/yellow) and crawfish. It was the first time his friend had ever fished the Ogeechee, and he caught his first redbreast during the trip. Their big channel catfish ate the crawfish-colored spinnerbait rigged on a 5-foot ultralight outfit, and it took a while to land it.

David Brodmann caught his first redbreast this week while flinging a bumblebee-colored Satilla Spin on the Ogeechee River.

Satilla River: The river came back up into the floodplain this week and is off-color. You can catch some catfish in the backwaters, but you’d do better to spend time on other waters this weekend. Garrett Harrison, of Hazlehurst, took his family to the river just before it started rising hard this week and they had a blast in their Creek Boats. They caught about 20 redbreasts and bluegills during their several-day trip, with most of them eating worms on the bottom (while they were targeting catfish on the rising river). Garrett’s trophy redbreast ate a red/white Satilla Spin, wrapped him around a log, surfaced, dove, and broke him off, so it was a trophy only in his memory. They had a couple catfish, as well. They will be back when conditions improve.

St. Marys River: I fished the upper river for just a couple of hours on Monday evening and had fun. I ended up catching seven fish (two bowfin, four warmouth and a bass). The bass hit a crawfish-gold blade Dura-Spin, but all the other fish ate a white-white blade Dura-Spin. Three of the warmouth were over 9 inches and really chunky, with the biggest weighing 11-ozs. I was just playing that evening and released them all. The river was off-color from the rains but still very fishable. The St Marys is our only local river that I would fish because of the rains over the last couple of weeks. The last Shady Bream Tournaments points event of the year is coming up on July 8. 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: I didn’t get any specific reports this week, but I’m sure the bowfin, pickerel, fliers and warmouth are still biting. You have to work a little harder for them when it’s warm, but they bite. Yellow flies are still around but their numbers have been declining. I still recommend covering up if you don’t want to get aggravated by them. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.60 feet.

Dodge County Public Fishing Area (near Eastman): Ken Burke fished the area on Tuesday morning and caught eight bass for a total of 12.25 pounds. His biggest was a 3-lb., 5-oz. fish. He caught all but 1 of his fish on a shaky head and plastic worm. The water temperature rose to 84 degrees by late morning.

Local Ponds: Pond fishing was great between the storms this week. The brother-sister duo of James and Paisley caught matching warmouth this week from a Tifton area pond that earned them each youth angler awards from the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). They fooled their fish and several others with worms. Gilbert Ellis Jr. fished some of the ponds and small creeks in the Nicholls area on Sunday and Monday and caught some fish. He had seven hand-sized bluegills on Sunday that ate red worms under a float and a crappie that inhaled a white Rooster Tail spinner. On Monday he fooled six bluegills on the same set-up before the rain set in. He broke off two good fish that day that he presumes were bass or catfish. Chad Lee fished in Alma area ponds on Monday and caught 22 bass up to 3 pounds on a combination of buzzbaits, swimbaits and stick worms.

Saltwater (GA Coast): Hunter Dean had one of the most unique catches of the year and the first tarpon report I’ve heard of this summer. He fooled a baby tarpon in a pond in the Brunswick area by floating a live mullet. Tommy Sweeney had a good day Monday behind Jekyll Island. He caught a bunch of short trout and ended up keeping six trout up to 19 inches, three redfish and three flounder. He caught his fish on Keitech Swimbaits and live shrimp. Despite brutal winds, Don Harrison and friends braved the aggravation and caught five keeper trout in the Crooked River area on Thursday. Their biggest was just over 20 inches. Electric chicken Assassin Sea Shads worked best for them, but they caught a couple on candy corn, and they fooled a bonnethead with the candy corn Sea Shad, as well. All their offerings were under Equalizer Floats. Capt. Tim Cutting ( said that the fishing was good this week even with the overall poor weather conditions. He said the quality of the redfish bite was surprising, and the key was deep water next to shell mounds. Gulp lures and live shrimp fooled them. Trout have been hit-and-miss, but when he caught them they were good ones—most from 18 to 22 inches. Live shrimp and Assassin Elite Shiners produced his trout. Flounder are showing up everywhere, but most are small males. Tarpon are here, and he may take a look at some next week. Steve and Brenda Hampton fished with Capt. Jaime Bracewell in the Jekyll Island area on Friday and had fun catching a bunch of fish on live shrimp. Brenda had her first shark, ladyfish, and pinfish in the mix. Steve had a letdown as a 24-inch class trout jumped and threw the hook back at him. For the frying pan, they brought back three keeper trout and a nice whiting.

Hunter Dean fooled this baby tarpon this week in a pond in the Brunswick area. It ate a live mullet.

Keaton Beach, Florida: Capt. Pat McGriff , of One More Cast Guide Service, 850.584.9145, out of Keaton Beach, said that it was a week of running from the weather, but the trout still bit. On Saturday his charter had a limit of trout, and their big fish was 23 inches. They also had two redfish—biggest was 26 inches (they released the biggest one). All of their fish ate live pinfish under Back Bay Thunder Floats. His charter Sunday brought in seven keeper trout and a red on live pinfish. They threw artificials but couldn’t get the keepers to commit on that day. He said that the best trout fishing was the last two hours of the rising tide, and they are biting best in 4.0 to 4.9 feet deep in stained water. His reds came from water around 3.0 feet but not the deeper areas during the same tide stage.

First quarter moon is June 26. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website ( For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on June 22nd:
Clyo on the Savannah River – 8.1 feet and rising
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 6.1 feet and rising
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 8.3 feet and rising
Waycross on the Satilla – 13.1 feet and rising
Atkinson on the Satilla – 8.2 feet and rising
Statenville on the Alapaha – 9.7 feet and rising
Macclenny on the St Marys – 4.9 feet and rising
Fargo on the Suwannee – 7.8 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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