Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – May 24, 2024

Capt. Bert Deener | May 24, 2024

Fishing has been great in the flatwaters of southeast Georgia this week. Our rivers are mostly still high, but we have a dry forecast for the next week. I hope you have a great holiday weekend and are able to work some fishing into your plans.

Taylor Lee caught these giant shellcracker on the Altamaha River this week.

Altamaha River: Taylor Lee had a great day on the river this week. He had several shellcracker, including a couple of monsters on crickets. The biggest was about 1.7 pounds. The river is high but fishable in the backwaters. Find places where the water is not flowing through the woods for your best chance at some fish. Bass or bluegill and shellcracker are what I would target this weekend.

Satilla River: Nope! It’s in the floodplain and rolling! Please don’t try to paddle the upper river this weekend. It’s fine when you’re in the middle and floating along, but when you get to the edges, you’re flying past the trees, and it’s easy to flip a paddle-craft!

St. Marys River: This is the river to fish this weekend in southeast Georgia, as far as the water level goes. But, everyone else knows that and will turn the small, blackwater river into a washing machine with the boat traffic over the holiday weekend.

Cecil Jennings and Don Harrison fished with me on the St. Marys on Wednesday, and we caught 44 fish during the morning and midday. Black/chartreuse Satilla Spins were the ticket, but we caught a few fish on bruiser, copperfield and red/white. Most of the fish were redbreast, and a few of them were pushing 10 inches.

Arnold, of North Carolina, fished with Capt. Bert Deener on Tuesday on the west side of Okefenokee Swamp and caught three warmouth bigger than his personal best. He then went out Wednesday and caught one even bigger—this 1.04-pounder. An orange plastic fooled his monster.

Okefenokee Swamp: Even with the rains over the last couple of weeks, the warmouth bite has picked up some. It’s not on fire, but you can catch some. Shannon and his daughter fished both sides of the swamp during their visit last week. They dabbled worms around cypress trees and managed 22 warmouth during their three-day trip, a few big bowfin and a 20 1/2-inch pickerel.

On Friday, Bill Stewart fished with me on the west side, and we caught a 1-lb., 0-oz. warmouth on a crawfish-colored Warmouth Whacker Jig (bouncing it—not under a float). We caught a couple other smaller warmouth on Warmouth Whacker Jigs, and even one on a full-sized crawfish Dura-Spin (that one was aggressive). Our total fish count was 22, and most of them were fliers. We had about 10 warmouth.

Arnold came down from North Carolina and fished with me on Tuesday. We threw plastics and fooled 19 fish. Arnold caught three warmouth at 13, 13 and 14 ounces (his personal best), and all three of the big ones ate a 2.8-inch Keitech FAT Swing Impact swimbait. We caught one warmouth on live crayfish and several others on small plastics.

Arnold fished by himself the next day and caught a 1.04-lb. warmouth on a little orange PowerBait plastic. He had about a dozen warmouth that second day.

I heard reports of anglers catching as many as 25 warmouth during a day of fishing over the last few weeks. The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 121.25 feet.   

Local Ponds: Teddy Elrod and a buddy had two awesome days this week in a Brunswick area pond. The first trip they fished offshore cover for a few hours in the evening with shad-colored crankbaits and spanked 35 bass up to 7 pounds (released them all). They also hooked a couple of bigger fish that pulled off. On the other trip, they fished in the middle of the day and fooled 28 bass up to 5 pounds on shad-colored crankbaits.

Joshua Barber fished a couple of ponds in the Manor area on Monday and fooled 10 panfish and about 25 bass up to a couple pounds. He caught them all on minnows, shiners and gold Mepps spinners.

David Montgomery fished a pond and had a great day for bass. He fooled 21 of them up to about 3 pounds with buzzbaits and vibrating jigs.

A Blackshear angler has been tearing up the fliers in small backwaters around the Waycross area this week. He’s been pitching No. 10 yellow sallies on a bream buster and catching lots of them. He caught his personal best this week—a 9-inch, almost half-pound flier. On Sunday afternoon, he caught 15 fliers from a Ware County creek.

Jimmy Zinker fished a southwest Georgia pond at night this week and caught five bass between 4 and 5 1/2 pounds on a Jitterbug. He expects the nighttime bite to pick up as we get closer to the new moon, as he prefers dark nights.

I messed up his report last week about his double-header. He caught TWO over 10 pounds before the alligator took his Jitterbug from him, not just one over 10 pounds. I mistakenly thought the gator was the second one.

St. John’s River (Astor, Florida) & Crescent Lake: The panfish bite is good on the middle St. Johns River. Jesse and David Hildebrandt fished the river backwaters with firetiger Satilla Spins and caught 38 bluegill and warmouth that they kept, and they released a couple dozen smaller ones. They also caught a couple big bowfin that inhaled the small spinnerbait..

Jeremy Robertson caught these sheepshead and others by dabbling fiddler crabs around hard structure in the Brunswick area this week.

Saltwater (GA Coast): Quinton McMichael and Seth Carter put it on the flounder, trout and reds this week. They had five keeper flounder, a mess of trout and six oversized reds that they released. They fooled most of them with CrushCity paddletails rigged on Silverback Lure jig heads and others on a prototype lure that Seth has been working on.

Tommy Sweeney got on a really hot flounder bite this week in the Brunswick area. He was using one of my 1/8-oz. prototype weedless jig heads with live shrimp under a popping cork.

The trout bite was good on Wednesday and Thursday. Numbers were not huge, but the size of what has been caught was really good. Local charters have caught fish on live shrimp under slip floats. A Monday charter had a good mix of redfish and trout. The same folks fished Tuesday through Thursday and did well for trout, flounder and redfish. They released a bunch of slot and oversized reds and kept a few trout and flounder. Gulp! Shrimp and swimming minnows rigged on Zombi Eye jig heads fooled fish this week.

Robert Pitman and Jeremy Robertson whacked sheepshead on fiddlers they got from Wat-a-melon Bait and Tackle. They dabbled them around rocks and pilings in the Brunswick area for eight keeper convict fish up to about 5 pounds. They even got on some mangrove snappers. This is early because I usually don’t catch them until late summer. 

I got a report of folks catching some blue crabs and a few flounder from a dock in the Brunswick area. The piers will be busy this weekend, but you should be able to catch whiting, flounder, a few trout and some small sharks from the various piers on our coast.

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.

Last quarter moon is May 30. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website. For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on May 23 were:
Clyo on the Savannah River – 11.1 feet and falling
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 6.5 feet and falling
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 9.4 feet and rising
Waycross on the Satilla – 16.4 feet and falling (record high for the date)
Atkinson on the Satilla – 14.3 feet and rising
Statenville on the Alapaha – 20.7 feet and rising (record high for the date)
Macclenny on the St Marys – 4.2 feet and falling
Fargo on the Suwannee – 11.1 feet and cresting (record high for the date)

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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