Okefenokee Swamp Bluegill Sets Benchmark

Craig James | June 25, 2024

Josh Forsythe, of Homerville, established a new Okefenokee Swamp bluegill record while fishing with outdoor writer Craig James for a GON article.

On June 15, Josh Forsythe, of Homerville, managed to catch a big bluegill in the Okefenokee Swamp that has now been certified as the official GON Lake and River record for the area. Like many other record fish that are caught, failure turned to fortune on the trip.

“I was fishing with Craig James, and we were actually working on a story for the July issue of GON,” said Josh. “The original plan was to do a float trip on the Suwannee River and take out at Griffis Fish Camp. Once we got there, the water was a little higher than I like it, so we decided to go on the other side of the Sill and fish the canal instead.”

Things were not looking good for the anglers as they tried to fish the grass-filled canal that runs parallel to the dam.

“I had my son, Kaden, in my boat with me, and Craig had his son, Colt. We were trying some different things, but due to the grass, topwater lures we’re about the only good option,” said Josh.

All of the anglers began fishing a Swamp Spider, each working the foam bug around grass edges and exposed cypress roots in hopes of getting bit. After about 20 minutes or so, the fish turned on.

“When they started biting, it seemed like it was one behind another. At one point, I thought I heard Craig and them hook into one. When I turned to look and then looked back, a big fish hammered my spider. I knew the way he was pulling, he had to be a good one,” said Josh.

Josh wrestled with the panfish, finally winning the tug-of-war battle with the big bluegill.

Sensing it may very well be a record-caliber fish, Josh weighed the fish on some digital scales he had in his boat.

“When I saw it was over a pound, I knew it would be a benchmark record for GON, and I was pretty excited to have caught it,” said Josh.

The team of anglers fished a few more hours in the canal and caught a total of 30 or so fish between them, most of which were warmouth. Surprisingly, there were several more big bluegill in the mix that barely missed the pound mark themselves.

After fishing, Josh took the fish to a meat market to be officially weighed, but not sure if the scales were officially certified, he made the wise decision to take the fish to the WRD Waycross Fisheries Office.

The big bull pushed the scales down to an impressive 1-lb., 1-oz. and was measured at 10 inches long.

“It was nothing but God and a whole bunch of luck that caught that fish. I’m blessed to have caught him. It was even better that I was able to have my son in the boat when it all went down,” said Josh.

GON’s Official Okefenokee Swamp Record Fish

Spotted Sunfish5.85-ozs.Bert Deener4-27-2023
Flier7.92-ozs.Tim Cutting02/28/24
Chain Pickerel2-lbs., 15-ozs.Silas Kight03/02/24
Warmouth15.36-ozs.Bert Deener05/17/24
Bluegill1-lb., 0.96-ozs.Josh Forsythe06/14/24

Catch A Lake or River Record? Requirements For Record Fish

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

• Catch must be weighed on accurate Georgia DOA certified scales with at least two witnesses present.

• 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 can correspond with DNR when high-quality, multiple photos are taken of the fish and emailed to GON. All record submissions and photos must be sent to [email protected].

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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