Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – May 19, 2023

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

Capt. Bert Deener | May 19, 2023

Tripp Vick, of Guyton, and his family had a great time fishing Okefenokee late last week and into the weekend. He caught this nice warmouth and bowfin on Saturday. Warmouth, pickerel, fliers, and bowfin are biting in the Swamp right now.

It should be another great week of fishing, but afternoon thundershowers are starting to factor into the equation. The Satilla didn’t get quite warm enough and it’s headed back up again. Other rivers are in pretty good shape, and the Swamp is still great for pickerel and bowfin. The saltwater weekend weather forecast is pretty good at the time of writing this. 

Alapaha River: I didn’t get any specific reports from the Alapaha this week but saw a few photos of decent catches. It’s low, so expect to drag. Paddle crafts are perfect for the river now. Take note that the Highway 129 Bridge boat ramp will be closed beginning May 30. It will be closed for a couple of months while the ramp and parking area are rebuilt.

Altamaha River: Jamie Hodge put it on the panfish again Friday in the middle river. He fished the backwaters and caught 22 big bluegill and shellcrackers with pink worms and catalpa worms. The river is still a little off-color, but it’s fishable. Some bass are still spawning in the backwaters of the Altamaha and its tributaries, so look for activity near the edges and cast to the disturbance. 

Ogeechee River: I got a great report from the Ogeechee this week. Even with the high, off-color water, an angler caught 70 redbreasts by flinging a 3/16-oz. Satilla Spin (not sure which color). In the swift water, it took the larger size to get the lure down to the fish.

Satilla River: Reports were good from the Satilla and its tributaries this weekend but not really on fire yet. Most reports I had were 15 to 20 fish per trip. John and Lisa Morgan fished Wednesday in a tributary to the Satilla and caught 15 nice redbreasts by pitching lime green bugs. They fished Thursday and caught seven panfish before the thunderstorms ran them off.

Savannah River: Tyler Finch fished the river this week and didn’t get anything going for panfish yet again, but he did catch some catfish on Sandy’s Catfish Soap. The water has fluctuated and just has not warmed up to produce good panfishing yet. 

St. Marys River: The river is still in great shape (but very low in the upper end). A couple of anglers fished the middle river on Saturday and had a good catch. They fished the bottom with shrimp and caught a dozen channel catfish up to a couple pounds, then switched to pitching for panfish. They used Beetle Spins and crickets to catch seven big stumpknockers, two crappie, eight big bluegills and a redbreast. Chuck Dean fished the middle river on Monday and flung a fly. He caught eight slab bluegills and missed another dozen or so that rolled on it but didn’t take it. He used a stone fly imitation and also an orange popper with a San Juan worm as a dropper. Shady Bream Tournaments will hold their fourth points tournament of the season this Saturday (5/20). They will be holding a co-ed tournament on May 27, so check out Shady Bream Tournaments on Facebook for more details.

Okefenokee Swamp: The pickerel and bowfin bites were great this week. A Waycross angler flung firetiger-chartreuse blade and crawfish Dura-Spins in the canals on Friday evening for just an hour and a half after the deluge and caught 44 bowfin and pickerel. His biggest was an 8-pounder. I took my son fishing on Saturday morning and lots of folks were fishing. The anglers we talked to only had a few warmouth each, and they caught them by pitching jigs. Mark and Tripp live up near the Ogeechee, and they came down with friends and fished the east side on Saturday. They had a handful of warmouth, and Tripp wore out the bowfin flinging a plastic worm. My son and I ended up catching 64 fish (mostly bowfin) by casting and trolling Dura-Spins. We fooled more jackfish by casting and more bowfin by trolling. The best colors were fire tiger-chartreuse blade, crawfish-orange blade and black/chartreuse-chartreuse blade. Our biggest jackfish was 18 inches and biggest bowfin 7-lbs., 14-ozs., and we released everything. Another angler fished Wednesday mid-day before the storms and caught 16 fish (four pickerel to 18 inches, the rest bowfin) by flinging fire tiger-chartreuse blade and jackfish Dura-Spins. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.40 feet. The yellow fly numbers have started ramping up, so cover up when you fish the Swamp. I loathe those little flying nasties…..

Local Ponds: Jimmy Zinker caught a 6-lb bass this week from a Valdosta area pond by flinging a Shad Rap. He has started night fishing hard-core this week with buzzbaits, so expect some big fish reports in the near future. A Brunswick angler fished Tuesday from 1:30 to 5 in the afternoon and whacked the bass. He caught 30 bass up to 6-lbs., 15-ozs.. His biggest five fish were 28 pounds. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits worked best for him, and worms did not produce well. The key for him was to bump the bottom with the moving bait and then slow it way down to get bit. 

Saltwater (GA Coast): Steve and Brenda Hampton fished with Capt. Jamie Bracewell on Friday and had a great day. Brenda caught a 16- and 17-inch trout and a 19 1/2-inch flounder. Steve caught 17- and 28-inch redfish. His big red was on a Hoodwink plastic, and the rest were on mudminnows. Tommy Sweeney fished behind Jekyll Island this week and had a good trout bite. He fished the flooded grass during the high tide and caught some trout and redfish on 4-inch Keitech Swimbaits (mullet looking color). I got reports of quite a few reds back in the creeks on low tide, and also some reports of tailing reds on the flats being caught with both flies and conventional lures. Some Brunswick anglers fished inshore this week and fooled trout with mudminnows. They also caught a 16-inch flounder with a Space Guppy Sea Shad fished on a Zombie Eye Jighead. Capt. Greg Hildreth ( looked around for tripletail on Wednesday and saw a few. They were able to catch a 22-incher. He said that whiting reports were pretty good from the beach and sounds (when the winds allow you to get out). Capt. Tim Cutting ( said that his best bites were redfish and flounder, and the trout have scattered from where he was catching them the last couple of weeks. Water temps in his areas hit 80 degrees this week. His best presentation was a Gulp on a Zombie Eye Jighead fished around live shell in 1 to 3 feet of water. An angler reported catching eight flounder from the Jekyll Pier this week, and another person caught four flounder. 

Keaton Beach/Steinhatchee, Florida: Capt. Pat McGriff of One More Cast Guide Service (850-838-7541; out of Keaton Beach said that the overall fishing was improved this week with the better winds. His charters caught a limit of trout on Tuesday. Four of the trout ate a violet moon Assassin 5-inch shad on an 1/8-oz. jig head. The others ate live pinfish under Back Bay Thunder Floats. They had a great limit with five of them over 18 inches and a big one. They also managed to fool a nice slot red and a big Spanish mackerel on the pinfish. They fished 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet early in the tide, then finished their limit in 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet. He said that several nice cobia were caught on the channel markers and bird racks this week. Live pinfish and big bucktail jigs fooled them.

The new moon is May 19. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website ( For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on May 18, 2023 were:

Clyo on the Savannah River – 8.2 feet and rising

Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 5.5 feet and rising

Doctortown on the Altamaha – 8.6 feet and falling

Waycross on the Satilla – 7.5 feet and cresting

Atkinson on the Satilla – 6.5 feet and falling

Statenville on the Alapaha – 3.4 feet and steady

Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.3 feet and falling

Fargo on the Suwannee – 1.9 feet and steady

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].

Capt. Bert Deener fishes all over southeast Georgia and is very connected with the fishing community.

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.