South GA River Bass Special

April is when bass fishing in the rivers heats up.

Craig James | April 2, 2023

If you fish the Satilla around Highway 84 this month, you’re liable to run into Seth Carter. He fishes the Satilla 12 months out of the year, and April is his favorite time to be on the river.

After one of the warmest early springs I can remember, a series of mini cold fronts have blanketed the state for the past couple of weeks. Currently, as I’m typing this, I can see the last bit of frost melting off the hood of my pickup truck in the backyard. But, on the TV in the living room, I can hear the weatherman on the morning news forecasting highs near 90 by the end of the week. Springtime is here, and that’s good news for me, and the south Georgia rivers I like to fish.

When GON first assigned me this story, I began researching what southeast Georgia rivers look to be most productive and hold the most promise for bass fishing this spring and summer for both numbers and quality of fish. Some of these rivers have been featured numerous times in GON, and some don’t regularly receive much press. I reached out to local anglers who frequent these rivers to get their take on where to go and what to throw this summer. Here’s a breakdown of what I found out.

Canoochee River

At roughly 108 miles long, the Canoochee River cuts and turns and  makes its way from around Claxton and flows down and dumps  into the Ogeechee River around I-95.

Stephen Lewis frequents the Canoochee several times a week and says it’s his favorite river to fish.

“I’m 47 now, and I’ve been fishing this little river my whole life. The biggest bass I’ve ever pulled out of it was a 6-pounder, but this place is a petting zoo for fish in the 3- to 5-lb. range,” said Steven.

Depending on river conditions, Stephen likes to fish both the tiny upper section of the river near Claxton and the tidal-influenced waters near where it feeds into the Ogeechee.

“The Canoochee is basically a ditch river when it gets low, and it gets tough to get around and fish. But, you’ve always got that bigger tide water you can hit when the river bottoms out,” said Stephen.

Stephen says the area around Claxton offers up pretty good fishing when the water level is reading around 3.5 to 4.5 feet on the Claxton gauge. He accesses the river at the Highway 280 bridge near Groveland that sits on the Bryan and Evans county line.

When water levels are too high or too low, Stephen makes the drive down to Kings Ferry on Highway 17, puts his boat into the Ogeechee, and makes the short mile or so run back to the Canoochee. 

“The tidal water can be some really good fishing. Time your trip around low tide, and make sure you’re fishing moving water. Creek mouths and any structure you can find are where you’ll get bit,” said Stephen.

Stephen keeps his lure selection fairly simple on the Canoochee. He mostly sticks to a few basic lures to fish both the upper section and the tidal waters. Zoom Trick Worms fished weightless in bruised banana and black yellow swirl are some of his favorites, as are Zoom Super Flukes in white or bubblegum. He also likes to throw Speed Craws in both black and black/blue color patterns.

Stephen Lewis spends most of his summer fishing the Canoochee and Ogeechee rivers.

Ogeechee River

Stephen says if it’s numbers of fish you’re after, then look no farther than the tidal portion of the Ogeechee, where it joins forces with the Canoochee.

“When they are biting good down there, you can catch a bunch in a hurry. Spend your time fishing the banks and key in on any structure you come across,” said Stephen.

Stephen also likes to fish the non-tidal portion of the Ogeechee around Steel Bridge.

“It’s a good section of river through there. When you put in, head toward Dashers Landing. That’s where you’ll find some good ones,” said Stephen.

Stephen says the same lures that he uses in the Canoochee will work well in the Ogeechee. He added that as summer temperatures soar, it’s hard to beat a bubblegum-colored Zoom Super Fluke fished weightless around structure.

Savannah River

The Savannah River is definitely worth a trip this summer and anglers will do well fishing the river’s tributary creeks. According to Stephen, the area around Abercorn and Bear Creek has been red hot the past couple of summers.

“The Savannah River is a place where you can catch a bunch of fish in a trip. It’s not hard to go down there and catch 20 or 30 fish in a hurry. All that tidal water in and around Bear and Abercorn creeks is where you want to be,” said Stephen.

Anglers will do well fishing a spinnerbait with some chartreuse in it around fallen trees, creek mouths and along the river’s muddy shoreline.

“The big tide swing down there really muddies up the water, but even with it dirty, the fish don’t have any problem finding that spinnerbait. 

Stefan Carter says the Altamaha is the place to be this month.

Altamaha River

Stefan Carter has been fishing the Altamaha River for close to 20 years and is no stranger to the river. He regularly fishes tournaments on the river and usually manages several good finishes on the river each summer. If you recognize the name, we did a GON Altamaha River story on Stefan a few years back that subscribers can read in the online GON archives.

Stefan says that 50-fish days are still common in the river, and plenty of fish in the 3-lb. class are waiting to be caught. Stefan’s biggest fish on the river was a 9.84 monster, but he’s certain there are some in there that are way bigger.

“There are some big ones in the Altamaha. I’m still looking for one over 10, but I know she’s in there,” said Stefan.

For anglers new to the river, the Williamsburg Landing is a good place to put into the river. From this landing, anglers can head down river and fish a tidal pattern or run upriver away from the tide.

“If you run down to fish the tide, be sure and time your trip around the low tide. The two hours before to two hours after low tide will be the best fishing,” said Stefan.

For anglers who want to make an upriver run, lakes and slough mouths will be holding spawning fish in April, but by May and June, those same fish will move out to the backside of sandbars and along the banks under willow trees.

The Jaycee Landing near Jesup is also a good launching point for anglers preferring not to fish the tide. Anglers will find a multitude of lakes and sloughs in this section of the river that will be holding fish this month.

Stefan says a wide variety of lures and techniques will catch fish in the river during summer months. Some of his favorites include, crankbaits, Devil’s Horses, buzzbaits and floating worms. 

“If you make a trip down to the Altamaha this month, you’re gonna catch some fish. April and May offer up some excellent Altamaha fishing,” said Stefan.

Satilla River

For those who know me, I’ve spent 30 years fishing the Satilla, and the past year or two have been some of the best I can remember.

Early in March, I managed my best fish ever on the river, an impressive fish that measured just shy of 24 inches and hadn’t layed out yet. With no working scales in my kayak, I watched her swim way wondering just how heavy she truly was. To see the catch, you can visit my YouTube Channel GA BOY OUTDOORS.

I reached out to long-time friend Seth Carter for his take on how to target the Satilla this summer. Seth, who is the owner of Satilla Feed and Outdoors in Blackshear, spends a bunch of time on the Satilla near Blackshear experimenting with new techniques and tactics on the river.

“Since I carry so much different stuff in the store, I’m always trying new stuff. I feel like since I’m fishing different than most anglers, I’m showing the fish something new, and that helps me get bit,” said Seth.

Seth most often puts into the Satilla at the Highway 84 bridge between Blackshear and Waycross and likes to make an one-hour run up or downriver in his Hobie Kayak before he starts fishing.

“To consistently catch better fish, you’ve got to get away from the heavily pressured water near the boat ramp. By late April and May, the river is usually running pretty low, and boats can’t get far. When you make an hour run in the kayak, you’ll have the river to yourself,” said Seth.

Seth targets slack water in sloughs and lakes, as well as deeper water along bluff walls in search for fish. He says as long as you’re fishing near timber, you will get bit.

Seth’s favorite lure as of late is a finesse jig that he makes called the SFO Silverback Jig. He likes it in several weights and color combos but says that a 5/16-oz. in junebug with a junebug Speed Craw as a trailer is his favorite setup. 

“The ball-shaped head comes through timber really well. It’s an easy lure to fish. Throw it out, hop it back, and vary your retrieve until you figure out what the fish are wanting that day,” said Seth.

He also likes to throw a black buzzbait with either a black, purple or gold blade on the river. He says it’s a big-fish lure and will usually produce a few quality bites.

Another fairly new technique Seth has been using on the river is known as a free rig. It’s similar to a Texas rig but involves using a open-ring drop-shot weight in place of a normal bullet weight. Seth says that if you YouTube search it, you can find several videos on the technique.

For those interested in more of Seth’s techniques on the river, you can visit his YouTube Channel, Satilla Feed and Outdoors.

GON Cover Girl Alexis James with a very nice Satilla River bass.

Alabaha River

This is my wildcard pick for this story. Not to be confused with the Alapaha River, the Alabaha is a tiny tributary to the Satilla. The river is better described as a tiny creek, and during summer months, it becomes nearly unnavigable, even by kayak. However, this is the very reason it holds some giant bass.

The Voight Bridge landing in Pierce County is the best place to access the river, and anglers should head downriver for the best fishing. Be sure and load your kayak only with the essentials to avoid having to lug all the extra weight. In many parts of the Alabaha during summer months, you can expect to have to lift your kayak over logs in nearly every bend, all the while dodging water snakes and moccasins.

But… for those who accept the Alabaha’s challenges, the fishing can be phenomenal. Buzzbaits and Trick Worms are your best bet, as they will come through and over timber the best. Be sure to spool up with braid or heavy mono, as wrestling a big one from the timber can be quite tough to do.

Hopefully by now you’re headed to hitch up the boat or slide the kayak into the back of the truck. The river fishing in south Georgia is gonna be red hot this month, and you don’t want to miss it!

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