New State-Record Redbreast Comes From Satilla River

The Satilla River maybe the hottest river in the country right now, with three redbreast records falling this month.

Craig James | May 8, 2022

The Georgia state-record redbreast fell yesterday on the red-hot Satilla River, arguably one of the hottest fishing rivers in the country right now. The 1-lb., 12.32-oz. rooster caught by Lester Roberts beat the old state record, a 1-lb., 11-oz. redbreast caught in a Coweta County pond in 1998.

Lester’s state-record redbreast is the third time in recent weeks the Satilla River record for redbreast has been broken on GON’s Georgia Lake & River Records.

Lester Roberts with the new state-record redbreast caught from the Satilla River. Lester’s fish weighed 1-lb., 12.32-ozs.

Lester’s fish was caught on May 7 while he fished a bass tournament with long-time friend Whitey Hendrix. They were competing out of Burnt Fort Landing on the Satilla.

“We had put in that morning and started fishing upriver. We had a couple good bass in the livewell and were hoping to pick up a few more,” said Lester.

Lester was beating the banks with a Bandit crankbait looking for a big bite from a hungry bass when the boat approached a deep bluff wall with a laydown with several limbs running out from it. 

“I cast up in the limbs in the swift current and was bringing my crankbait back out. That’s when he slammed it,” said Lester

Lester fought the fish with Whitey looking on, both anglers thinking they had a pretty good bass on the line until the moment the fish broke the surface.

“I swung him in the boat, and we couldn’t believe just how big he was. We’d never seen anything like it,” said Lester.

With more than a hundred years of combined experience on the water, and neither of the anglers ever seeing a redbreast that big before, they were certain it had to be a new river record for the Satilla.

“We fished the rest of the day and managed to finish second in the tournament. A friend of mine had some hand-held digital scales at the ramp so we put the fish on them. The scales read 1-lb., 12-ozs. At that point I’m thinking I might have the state-record fish.”

“Later that afternoon around 5 o’clock, we took the fish to the DNR where it was certified as the new state-record redbreast.”

The redbreast’s certified weight was 1-lb., 12.32-ozs.

The first Satilla River redbreast record this spring came on April 26 when Will Steed, of Hortense, caught a  1-lb., 7.2-oz. fish, beating the old record of 1-lb., 5.92-ozs. set back in 2015.

Will Steed, of Hortense, with the 1-lb., 5.92-oz. redbreast that broke the new Satilla Record, at least for two days.

However, Will’s record would be short lived. A 1-lb., 9.44-oz. fish caught April 28 would beat Will’s brand-new record, a fish he said he was waiting his whole life to catch. The person to break Will’s record was his 15-year-old son, Carter.

“On April 28, me and my dad were fishing that afternoon in the Brantley County area of the Satilla River. He had caught the new river record redbreast two days earlier, and I was hoping to beat him,” said Carter.

Carter was throwing a crawfish-colored Satilla Spin, while his dad was pitching a bug in the front of the boat. The anglers were having pretty good luck, having already caught a dozen fish, including a couple of fish around the pound mark.

Around 7 o’clock in the evening, the pair were fishing around a deep-cut bank they felt would be holding some good fish.

“We were pitching to a spot that was hard to throw in, I threw in there a couple of times, and Dad tried it with the bug. On my third cast I got it where I wanted it. As I retrieved it, I felt my lure come across a log, and as soon as it did, he nailed it.”

Carter fought the fish and finally managed to grab his line and swing the fish in the boat. As soon as the fish hit the floor, the hook came out of its mouth.

“My Dad was like Good Lord that’s a giant. We couldn’t believe how fat it was. We immediately put the fish on ice and headed to the house,” said Carter.

The next morning Carter took his fish to the Waycross Fisheries Office where it was certified at 1-lb., 9.44-ozs., big enough to steal the river record from his dad by more than 2 ounces, and setting a new record on the river that seemed nearly impossible to beat.

Carter Steed, 15, with a1-lb., 9.44-oz Satilla River redbreast. He held the river record from April 27-May 6.

Could we see another state-record redbreast before the run of record-setting fish is over? Sure wouldn’t be a giant surprise to local anglers, but for now Satilla anglers are thankful to have state-record bragging rights.

“Me and Whitey were sure excited once it was certified. We’ve been fishing together in tournaments for over 40 years and Whitey is like a dad to me. Having him with me in the boat that day sure made it special to catch that fish.”

Lester went on to say that he was mighty proud to bring the state record home to the Satilla River, one of the greatest fisheries in the world in his opinion.

“I’m also planning to fill out an application with the IGFA to apply for the world-record redbreast. My fish weighs approximately 103 kilograms more than the current world record, so I’m looking forward to trying and getting it confirmed as a world record,” said Lester.

While Lester awaits the IGFA’s decision, it makes you wonder just what might come out of the Satilla River’s blackwater next?

Lester’s record redbreast is already the fourth state record fish for Georgia in the past five months. Rachel Harrison, of Adairsville, was fishing for white bass at the Lock & Dam on the Coosa River in Rome on March 19 when she caught a 31-lb., 2-oz. longnose gar that was certified as a new Georgia state record.

Just two months ago, a state-record hickory shad was caught in the Ogeechee River, and five months ago a state-record shoal bass was caught from the Chattahoochee River near Columbus.

Satilla River Records

Largemouth Bass 12-lbs. Kevin Mullis 03/27/15
Striped Bass 11-lbs., 9.76-ozs. John Geiger 03/15/06
Channel Catfish 32-lbs., 3-ozs. James Lentz 10/30/77
Flathead Catfish 45-lbs. 15-ozs. Larry Linker 10/10/18
Shellcracker 1-lb.,10-ozs. Joseph Boyett 05/03/87
Chain Pickerel 4-lbs., 14-ozs. Virgil Chaney 1996
Redbreast 1-lb., 12.32-ozs. Lester Roberts 05/07/22
Warmouth 1-lb., 4.64-ozs. Michael Lott 05/10/22
Bluegill 1-lb., 6.35-ozs. Zach Johns 03/04/22
Spotted Sunfish 10.08-ozs. Ron Adams 05/30/21
Black Crappie 1-lb., 10-ozs. Cameron Smart 03/17/17
Bowfin 9-lbs., 10-ozs. Layne Williams 05/01/22
Longnose Gar 18-lbs., 6.56-ozs. Larry Linker 05/20/2021

See all of GON’s official Georgia Lake & River Records here.

Requirements For Record Fish

• Fish must be caught legally by rod and reel in a manner consistent with state game and fish regulations.

• Catch must be weighed on accurate Georgia DOA certified scales with at least two witnesses present, who must be willing to provide their names and phone numbers so they can be contacted to verify the weighing of the fish.

• Witnesses to the weighing must be at least 18 years old, and they must not be members of the angler’s immediate family nor have a close personal relationship with the angler.

• Catch must be positively identified by qualified DNR personnel.

GON’s records are compiled and maintained by GON, to be awarded at GON’s discretion. Additional steps may be required for record consideration.

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