Satilla River Bluegill Record Broken Twice In Two Days, From The Same Boat

Craig James | March 14, 2022

With rivers falling out quickly and water temperatures on the rise, it’s a common occurrence for new record fish to hit the scales this time of year. 

What’s not common is when a new river record is set two days in a row out of the same boat. However, for Zach Johns, of Brantley County, that’s exactly what happened. 

Zach Johns with a record-class Satilla River bluegill.

“On March 3, me and Barbara Jean Shirley, owner of Live Hooked apparel, were fishing the river down in the Waycross/Blackshear area trying to catch a good mess of fish to eat. Though the bite was slow, the fish we were catching were pretty solid,” said Zach.

A little while into the trip, Barbara was fishing a cricket under a cork about 2 1/2 feet deep when it suddenly disappeared from the Satilla’s black surface. After a brief struggle, the anglers pulled the biggest bluegill either of them had ever seen into the boat.

“We weighed the fish later that night on digital scales, and it was 1-lb, 11-ozs. We decided to keep it alive so we could get it certified the next morning at the Waycross Fisheries office. When we got it certified, it weighed in at 1-lb., 5.8-ozs. The biologist explained to us that fish kept overnight can lose a significant amount of weight from the stress of being kept. We were bummed but still proud to have the new river record.”

Barbara Jean Shirley held the Satilla River record bluegill for about 24 hours.

The record bluegill prior to Barbara’s weighed 1-1b., 4.48-ozs. and was caught in 2014 by Max Martinkoski.

After getting the fish certified, Zach decided to go back to the river and see if any more luck might swim his way. It didn’t take long. Around 9:30, his styrofoam cork wobbled and sank out of sight. After a few tense moments, he hoisted another giant bluegill in the boat.

“I knew right away that it had to be another record fish. I just couldn’t believe it.”

Zach fished a while longer, also catching a giant redbreast, before heading back to the WRD Fisheries office. The scales confirmed the bluegill record had indeed been set again, this time with a 1-lb., 6.35-oz. fish. His giant redbreast also pushed the scales down to a very impressive 1-lb., 1.41-ozs. The current Satilla River redbreast records weighs 1-1lb., 5.92-ozs.

Story Of The 2015 Record-Breaking Satilla River Redbreast

“I’m still in disbelief, I’ve spent many a days on the Satilla and I never thought I’d catch a record-book fish. To do it on back to back days was really cool and something I will definitely remember,” said Zach.

Satilla River Records

Largemouth Bass12-lbs.Kevin Mullis03/27/2015
Striped Bass11-lbs., 9.76-ozs.John Geiger03/15/2006
Channel Catfish32-lbs., 3-ozs.James Lentz10/30/1977
Flathead Catfish45-lbs. 15-ozs.Larry Linker10/10/2018
Shellcracker1-lb.,10-ozs.Joseph Boyett05/03/1987
Chain Pickerel4-lbs., 14-ozs.Virgil Chaney1996
Redbreast1-lb., 12.32-ozs.Lester Roberts05/07/2022
Warmouth1-lb., 4.64-ozs.Michael Lott05/10/2022
Bluegill1-lb, 6.88-ozs.Gunter Thrift04/07/23
Spotted Sunfish10.08-ozs.Ron Adams05/30/2021
Black Crappie2-lbs., 1-ozs.Steven Todd02/06/24
Bowfin14-lbs., 10-ozs.Brandon Corbitt04/01/23
Longnose Gar18-lbs., 6.56-ozs.Larry Linker05/20/2021
White Catfish2-lbs., 15.52-ozs.Chris Royer12/21/15

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 DNRpersonnel.

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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