Southeast Georgia Fishing Reports With Capt. Bert Deener – Oct. 5, 2023

Capt. Bert Deener | October 6, 2023

Michael McClain of Walkersville, Maryland, had a great visit with his cousin in Waycross this weekend. He bagged a 9-ft., 1-oz. alligator, his first flier and bowfin, and his personal best chain pickerel (22 inches).

The bite is picking up significantly in many places with the cooler weather. The Ocmulgee and Altamaha rivers are in good shape, so give them a try while they are right. The Okefenokee bite is good and saltwater has much-improved weather forecasted this weekend and much better tides.   

Altamaha/Ocmulgee Rivers: Both of these rivers are getting in good shape. Hitch up your river boat. A Fitzgerald angler bass fished the Ocmulgee three times over the last week and caught around 30 bass each trip. One of the trips they caught a 9-pounder, a 6-pounder and several other nice fish over 4 pounds. A couple of Waycross anglers fished the middle Altamaha on Saturday and stopped fishing when they caught their 40th bass. They had a 6-pounder, a 5-pounder and several over 3 pounds. A couple anglers fished the Ocmulgee below Hawkinsville on Thursday and caught 10 bass (two shoals, two spots, and the rest largemouth). They pitched Texas-rigged Keitech Mad Wag and Zoom Speed Worms for all of their fish. They tried moving baits, but the fish would not hit them that day.

Okefenokee Swamp: My cousin Michael McClain from Maryland visited this week and had a trip to remember. He was selected for the Altamaha River Zone, so we hunted there right after he flew in on Thursday night and got a 9-foot, 1-inch gator. We cleaned it Friday morning then fished the Okefenokee on the east side on Friday and Saturday afternoons. The bite was very good, and we caught 32 fish in just a couple hours of fishing Friday. We fished the canals, casting and trolling Dura-Spin in-line spinners for most of our fish that trip. Lemon/lime and red/white were the best colors. We pitched some sallies and fooled eight fliers with the little yellow No. 8 flies by pitching them on a bream-buster. We had pickerel to 21 inches and bowfin to 5 pounds. Our biggest flier was 8 inches. On Saturday, we mostly cast Dura-Spins and fooled a total of 38 fish in about four hours of fishing. The biggest pickerel was 22 inches, and it ate a crawfish-brass blade version. An 8-lb., 2-oz. bowfin was our biggest, and it ate a fire tiger-chartreuse blade model cast to the edge of vegetation. About a dozen fliers up to 8 inches inhaled a pink No. 10 sally late in the trip. One thing we noticed on Saturday is that the fish would follow the cast and if we killed the retrieve and let the spinner flutter and spin on the fall, the fish would slam it. Catfishing was good at the Sill and in Billy’s Lake on the west side. The most recent water level (Folkston side) was 120.7 feet.

Local Ponds: The crappie bite was the best in ponds I heard of this week. Drifting minnows and casting curly or paddle-tail grubs on 1/32- or 1/16-oz. jig heads produced the best catches I heard of. Bass fishing was good, and fish started chasing some lures in the cooler water.

Saltwater (GA Coast): The giant tides, flooding and winds were the story this week, and consequently there were not many reports from the weekend from the brine. However, mid-week the weather and tides started improving, and there were a few good catches. Jay Turner fished the Savannah area backwaters and caught lots of small slot redfish on Saturday. He had a few short trout and a big flounder, as well. He used red, 1/8-oz. Zombie Eye Jigheads and Keitech swimbaits (male perch and chartreuse were the best colors). On Wednesday, he fooled 16 flounder (some big) and three redfish. Capt. Tim Cutting ( got back on the water Wednesday and had a great trip. He fished the backs of creeks and caught 14- to 17-inch reds on every cast for awhile. On Thursday, it was a red on every other cast. A few black drum were also mixed in their catch. Capt. Greg Hildreth ( said that the bull redfish have started biting in the sounds and on the bars. With the 20-plus knot northeast winds all week, getting to them has been challenging. He’s excited about next week’s tides and forecast for both the bull reds and inshore fishing. The new bait shop in Brunswick named Wat-a-melon Bait and Tackle is now 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 in the same location as the previous J&P Bait and Tackle. For the latest information, contact them at 912.223-.1379.

Last quarter moon is Oct. 6. To monitor all the Georgia river levels, visit the USGS website ( For the latest marine forecast, check out

River gages on Oct. 5 were:
Clyo on the Savannah River –  4.3 feet and rising
Abbeville on the Ocmulgee – 1.0 feet and falling
Doctortown on the Altamaha – 4.7 feet and falling
Waycross on the Satilla – 9.6 feet and falling
Atkinson on the Satilla – 10.4 feet and rising
Statenville on the Alapaha – 3.6 feet and steady
Macclenny on the St Marys – 2.8 feet and falling
Fargo on the Suwannee – 6.9 feet and falling

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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