Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – March 1, 2024

Capt. Bert Deener | March 1, 2024

Capt. Tim Cutting caught the Okefenokee Swamp record flier—an 8-oz., 9-inch fish that ate a prototype small in-line spinner made by Capt. Bert Deener.

Happy Leap Year! The fishing has really picked up this week with the warmer weather. Winds have been pretty crazy mid-week, but the bites in the swamp, ponds and saltwater have been good. Crappie and bass are shallow thinking about their spring spawning ritual. Give it a try!

Satilla River: Wayne Johns has been running lines in the Satilla while it has been up. He’s caught 60 catfish this week, and the 26-lb. flathead he weighed in at Satilla Feed and Outdoors was his most impressive. Catfishing is your best bet in the Satilla right now. It’s falling out and is about in the banks at Waycross. You should be able to catch some panfish in the next few weeks in the upper river if the forecasted rains don’t jump it back up.

Okefenokee Swamp: An angler walking the east side boat basin on Tuesday caught some nice warmouth by dabbling a crawfish-colored jig around the pilings and docks. It won’t be too long before the warmouth move in and start spawning.

I fished the east side on Tuesday and caught 18 fish total. The biggest bowfin was a 6-lb., 1-oz. fish that I watched slam the crawfish-brass blade Dura-Spin. I was casting for that fish, but I caught the biggest pickerel of the trip (3-lb., 15-oz.) by trolling a jackfish-colored Dura-Spin. Both fish hit within about 100 feet of each other but 2 hours apart. I found some really nice fliers by pitching a crawfish-colored, 1/16-oz. Warmouth Whacker Jig. The wind was terrible, and it was a good thing that the fliers were hitting hard or it would have been tough to feel the bite. All eight of the fliers I caught were between 8 and 9 inches.

On Wednesday, I had a guide trip with Capt. Tim Cutting and his friend Tom Lanyi from Pennsylvania. We had to deal with very strong winds again, but the fish cooperated. Tim had a memorable cast early in the trip when he caught the Okefenokee Swamp record flier—an 8-oz., 9-inch fish that ate a prototype small in-line spinner that I make. We ended up catching 16 fish total—mostly fliers and pickerel. Again, the fliers were all over 8 inches, and we even had an 8-inch bluegill in the mix.

The best lure for the panfish was the small, white in-line spinner, but Tom caught a big flier on the crawfish Warmouth Whacker (1/16-oz.). We caught everything by casting early in the trip, but toward the end we started catching some pickerel up to 18 inches by trolling crawfish-brass blade and white-white blade Dura-Spins. Water level makes a HUGE difference! Last year when the water level was almost a foot lower I was catching 50 to 100 fish per trip instead of the couple dozen fish per trip this year. The fish spread out into the prairies when the water is high. But, the water is falling, and fish are starting to pull off into the canals, so the bite is about to take off. The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 121.13 feet.

Okefenokee Swamp Record Fish

Spotted Sunfish5.85-ozs.Bert Deener4-27-2023
Flier7.92-ozs.Tim Cutting02/28/24
Chain Pickerel2-lbs., 15-ozs.Silas Kight03/02/24

Dodge County Public Fishing Area (near Eastman): The Wildlife Resources Division staff did some electrofishing samples this week, and both the crappie and bass have started moving shallow. It’s time to beat the bank for some nice fish.

Paradise Public Fishing Area (near Tifton): Same as at Dodge County PFA, the crappie and bass have started moving shallow on the area, and you should expect to catch some nice fish in the next few weeks. Work shoreline cover with plastic worms, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwaters for some quality fish.

Local Ponds: Larry Hobbs read an article about night fishing with buzzbaits and decided to try it in a Brunswick area pond over the weekend. He loved it, and caught a 3 1/2-lb. bass for his efforts. Ed Zmarzly went bass fishing at a local pond late last week and ended up catching eight big crappie on jerkbaits while he was bass fishing (and the bass DIDN’T cooperate). So, he went back armed with his crappie gear a few days later and caught a good mess of fish up to about 2 pounds.

Wyatt Crews fished a Waycross area pond this week with some prototype Satilla Spins and caught some nice bluegill and a big flier. Tim, Chad, Taylor and Riley fished an Alma area pond over the weekend and had a blast catching bass. They used plastic worms and fooled 14 bass up to about 2 pounds. Jackson and Cooper fished an Alma area pond with their Aunt Kathy on Saturday and fooled a dozen crappie and a bass in just a short time at dusk. They caught them on a chartreuse jig and a spinner with a plastic cricket.

Saltwater (GA Coast): Cason Kinstle and his dad fished the Brunswick area on Monday morning and caught about 25 trout (kept six). They caught them all on artificials, and the key was light spinning gear and paddletail grubs with chartreuse tails. Capt. Tim Cutting had a good trip on Tuesday. He used live shrimp under Harper Super Striker Floats and on Redfish Wrecker jig heads. They also caught some on Assassin Sea Shads. They had a total of 22 redfish (four oversized fish), 11 trout (six keepers) and a handful of small black drum and sheepshead.

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.

Orange Lake, Florida: Shane and Joshua Barber made a road trip to the lake this week and had a good time. Other than fighting the strong winds, it was a great day. They had 10 bass up to 3 1/2 pounds and a half-dozen chain pickerel (jackfish) up to 21 inches. The bait of the day was a Strike King Rage Swimmer. They also caught a few on a Whopper Plopper topwater and a plastic crawfish.

St. John’s River (Astor, Florida) / Crescent Lake: I heard a few good reports of folks catching some big fish in the Astor area by trolling the mud lakes and dabbling in the lily pads. The best report was from Crescent Lake where Neil and Arlene Jones fished on Thursday and Friday and brought home 34 and 50 crappie.

They fought the wind and rain on Thursday but still caught some big fish. They caught them all on artificials—pitching both jigs and plastics. They caught some of them on 2-inch Keitech swimbaits. 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).

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. 29 were:
Clyo on the Savannah River – 9.3 feet and falling
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 6.9 feet and falling
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 11.2 feet and falling
Waycross on the Satilla – 9.9  feet and falling
Atkinson on the Satilla – 11.2 feet and falling
Statenville on the Alapaha – 11.5 feet and falling
Macclenny on the St Marys – 6.6 feet and falling
Fargo on the Suwannee – 7.9 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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