Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – May 26, 2023

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

Capt. Bert Deener | May 26, 2023


The Satilla almost got right before this week’s rains put it back into the floodplain. John Morgan caught these two giant redbreast on lime-green bugs. They both weighed 15.45 ozs.

I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend and are able to work some fishing into your plans. Saltwater will be rough early in the weekend with very strong winds forecasted, but it should calm down late into the weekend. The Okefenokee and ponds are your best bet for the holiday weekend, but a few rivers are fishable. Some are flooded, so check the gages near where you want to fish if planning to fish a river this weekend. Be safe and have a blast on the water!

Alapaha River: Don Harrison paddled around and fished out of a middle river landing on Saturday. He caught eight redbreasts, two bluegill and two spotted sunfish. Two of the redbreast and one of the bluegill were big fish. Bruised banana gold and crawfish Satilla Spins produced his fish. It appears from the gauges that the Alapaha basin did not get much rain. It came up just enough to make it decent to get around in a boat but is falling out again. Expect some off-color water, but the river should be fishable. Paddle crafts are perfect for the river this weekend. Take note that the Highway 129 Bridge boat ramp (near Lakeland) 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:Ocmulgee Rivers: The rivers are barely within the banks, but I got good reports of bream fishing back in the oxbow lakes and  bass fishing, as well. A Fitzgerald angler fished twice and caught 14 bass one trip and eight bass another trip. Texas-rigged plastic worms were the ticket for him. He fished junebug in the more stained areas and green pumpkin in the few clearer backwaters that he found. He had a 4-pounder on one trip, but most were 1 to 2 pounds. Another angler fished some backwaters way up a creek and wore out the big bluegill with crickets. He caught a few with worms on the bottom, but crickets were best. A pair of anglers fishing the lower Ocmulgee around Lumber City eased up into a small creek and caught a great mess of bluegill, shellcracker and redbreast sunfish on Satilla Spins and crickets. The main river is swift, but you should be able to catch some fish in current breaks and backwaters. For bream, try spinnerbaits, but you may have to resort to pitching worms and crickets if they’re not active enough to chase. Fish are shallow, so you should be able to find some panfish, catfish or bass willing to bite.  

Satilla River: The numbers reported this week were not high, but I heard of some really nice fish being caught, especially redbreast. John and Lisa Morgan came down from Alabama to fish, and they had a total of 48 good-sized fish (30 were over 10-ozs.) in three days of fishing. On Friday, they had two big fish that weighed 15.45-oz apiece. They caught most of their fish by pitching lime-green bugs but had about a quarter of their fish on Satilla Spins. It wasn’t the numbers of fish they’re used to catching, but they had a blast and enjoyed the big fish. Capt. Kyle Meyer and a friend fished the middle Satilla on Wednesday and caught 20 panfish and bass on Satilla Spins and some on poppers (with a fly rod). Their biggest was a 10-inch rooster that ate a catalpa Satilla Spin. I learned that Steve Nettles caught a 6.91-lb. bass on a jackfish-colored Dura-Spin in the Satilla backwaters along with a few warmouth.

Capt. Kyle Meyer fished the middle Satilla before the slug of water got there and fooled 20 panfish and bass, including this big bluegill. This one ate a chartreuse popper.

Savannah River: Tyler Finch fished a smaller tributary to the river on Friday and did well for panfish before the river came up fast. He had 45 panfish on 3/16-oz. Satilla Spins tipped with crickets.  

St. Marys River: The only report I got this week was from the Shady Bream Tournaments event on Saturday. They had 14 boats entered, and Chris and Troy won it with 8.77 pounds (10 panfish). Second was Daniel and Darwin with 8.40 pounds. Ernie and Charlie placed third with 8.33 pounds. Big fish was a 1.34-lb. crappie caught by Bo and Clay. They will be holding a co-ed tournament on May 27, so check out Shady Bream Tournaments on Facebook for more details.

Okefenokee Swamp: Chuck Dean fished the east side on Friday and only took his fly rod. He flung a chartreuse streamer and caught five bowfin to 3 pounds and two chain pickerel (jackfish). He went back with a friend on Sunday from 10 until 1:30 with spinning tackle and Dura-Spins and caught 65 bowfin and a big jackfish during the short trip. Their best colors were firetiger-chartreuse blade, crawfish-brass blade and red/white-silver blade. They trolled until one of them hooked up, then the other cast around while the original person fought the fish close to the boat to net it. They caught fish both casting and trolling, and often they were both hooked up before the first angler could get the fish close enough to the boat to net it. Their biggest fish was 5-lbs., 4-ozs., but they had a dozen right at 5 pounds. They said the yellow flies were bad in some areas. Cover up when you fish the Swamp from now through about the Fourth of July. If you can avoid thickly wooded areas and stay in the open, it will be more pleasant. Steve Nettles reported catching warmouth, bowfin and jackfish on both the east and west sides on Dura-Spins in the jackfish color. This weekend on the east side, he had 40 panfish (warmouth and fliers) and 10 jackfish. The latest water level (Folkston side) was 120.50 feet. 

Dodge County Public Fishing Area (near Eastman): Ken Burke fished the area on Friday and caught seven bass. His biggest was 3 pounds with a couple more 2 1/2 pounders. His fish ate plastic worms rigged on a shaky head. The water temperature climbed to 82 degrees during the day. He also fished the lake on Wednesday and caught six bass up to 5 pounds with three others in the 2- to 2  1/2-lb. range. Crankbaits were the key to getting bit that day.

Hugh M. Gillis Public Fishing Area (near Dublin): Ken Burke reported having a good trip to the area on Saturday. He caught 16 fish total (14 bass). The oddballs were a 3-lb. pickerel and a 2.5-lb. brown bullhead. His biggest bass was 2 pounds. He caught all but two fish on a crankbait, and those two ate a shaky-head worm. The water temperature was 82 degrees.

Local Ponds: Bud Gray came down from Nashville, Tennessee to fish visit Chip Lafferty, and they fished a Brunswick area pond on Friday. Bud caught his first bass ever during the trip. They caught 17 bass up to 4 pounds in two hours of fishing, and a copperfield vibrating jig was their best lure that day. Lily fished with her dad in a Blackshear area pond on Friday, and they caught six crappie (kept three of the larger ones) and a bass by trolling minnows. Another pair of anglers fished a pond on Saturday and trolled minnows and pitched crickets for nine crappie up to 14 inches (1 3/4 pounds) and a handful of big bluegill. Tommy Davis fished a Waycross area lake on Tuesday and caught nine crappie (slow for his standards). Six of them were good fileting size, but three were topping a pound. He caught them by spider-rigging a Tennessee Shad Specktacular Jig tipped with a minnow. A couple of anglers fishing a Baxley area pond flung Satilla Spins and pink worms and caught exactly 50 bluegill up to 9 1/2 inches and a 1-lb. shellcracker. The pink worms were suspended about 18 inches under a float and the best color Satilla Spins were cracklehead crawfish and black/chartreuse. They tipped the small spinnerbaits with green pumpkin magic 2-inch Keitech swimbaits. Chad Lee caught four bass this week while fishing in a Camden County pond for a short time. He had a couple 2-pounders on Senkos and a couple 1-pounders on Red-Eye Shad lipless crankbaits. Tripp Vick, of Guyton, caught a nice bass in his pond on Sunday by flinging a 4-inch green pumpkin Zoom lizard.  

Bud Gray was visiting family in Brunswick this weekend when he caught his first bass ever. He fooled it in a Brunswick area pond while casting a copperfield vibrating jig.

Saltwater (GA Coast): Tommy Sweeney fished the Brunswick area but only caught small trout this week on artificials. He did have a big tripletail inshore on one trip. It ate an electric-chicken Keitech on an 1/8-oz. prototype Capt. Bert’s jig head. Some Brunswick anglers fished inshore with live shrimp and caught a few big trout in the Brunswick area around current breaks. Steve and Brenda Hampton fished the Jekyll Island Pier on Saturday and caught an 18-inch redfish, three keeper flounder (12 1/2, 13 1/4 and 19 inches) and a big whiting. They caught them on Hoodwink plastics and mudminnows. Brenda’s big whiting had three, 8-inch long eels in its stomach. Capt. Tim Cutting ( said that the winds were terrible this week, but he was able to duck into some backwaters and find trout, redfish and flounder. They caught 10 to 12 keepers per trip this week and caught them on Keitech swimbaits and live shrimp under Harper Super Striker Floats. Most of the fish were caught near or in fallen trees, but a few oyster-shell mounds produced, as well. Tides this weekend should be a good height, but the wind forecast is terrible early in the weekend. It should improve some late in the weekend, but check the forecast before heading to the big water.

Keaton Beach/Steinhatchee, Florida: Capt. Pat McGriff of One More Cast Guide Service (850-838-7541; out of Keaton Beach had some great trips this week. They had limits of trout on Thursday and Friday with some big fish along the way. They released two over the slot on Saturday and Sunday and one over the slot on Monday. Each day was tough getting bites when it was slick, but the fish started chewing as the breeze picked up. During the slick times, they found trout would eat pink-ghost Assassin 5-inch Shads bounced on 1/8-oz. jig heads in 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet of water. When the wind picked up, they moved in to 4 to 4 1/2 feet with some stain and caught trout to 22 inches on live pinfish under Back Bay Thunder Floats. They found reds on Monday in 3 to 3 1/2 feet and caught four up to 26 inches (four anglers onboard). The biggest fish they landed (and released) was a 35-inch cobia on Monday. They jumped the first tarpon of the season this week, but the fight didn’t last long on 10-lb,. test. It was basically a good jump then bye-bye. 

First quarter moon is May 27. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website ( For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on May 25 were:

Clyo on the Savannah River – 10.5 feet and rising

Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 6.0 feet and falling

Doctortown on the Altamaha – 8.8 feet and falling

Waycross on the Satilla – 12.5 feet and rising

Atkinson on the Satilla – 7.7 feet and rising

Statenville on the Alapaha – 5.5 feet and rising

Macclenny on the St Marys – 5.1 feet and falling

Fargo on the Suwannee – 3.8 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 e-mail him at [email protected].

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