Two years ago, bait shops were quiet…eerily quiet. Why? Because the cricket bins were empty. That year marked one of the best fishing seasons ever on the Satilla and other South Georgia rivers. 2016 looks to rival that year for anglers seeking sunfish, so start stocking up on crickets now.
South Georgia rivers are poised to provide large catches of panfish as river levels drop within the banks after extended flooding of surrounding land occurred this past fall and winter, according to personnel with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
“Our past research has shown that redbreast sunfish grow extremely fast whenever the river is out in the floodplain, so I expect to see some of the biggest river bluegill and redbreast we have seen in years,” said Don Harrison, fisheries biologist. “This spring should yield some fantastic panfishing on the Satilla and other south Georgia rivers.”
Fishing tips for panfish, such as redbreast sunfish and bluegill, include pitching crickets suspended underneath a small float around shoreline cover. Those anglers that can make pinpoint accurate casts can sling artificial lures into shady haunts to pull out some true “rooster” redbreasts. Some of the more effective artificial lures for these species include small spinnerbaits with rubber band skirts or small plastic beetle bodies, in-line spinners, and popping bugs.
Get a reward for fishing? You sure can! The Wildlife Resources Division offers Angler Awards (frame-able certificate plus a custom-embroidered hat) for trophy fish that meet specific criteria. There will be plenty of Angler Award-sized panfish of several species caught from rivers this spring – so be sure to check out the requirements at www.georgiawildlife.com/fishing/anglerawards.
Safety while fishing on rivers is important. Anglers are encouraged to wear a life jacket. Flood events change rivers by moving logs and sandbars in river channels, so be careful while boating.
Anglers needing a fishing license can purchase one online or find a list of retail license vendors at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes , or buy one by phone at 1-800-366-2661.
South Georgia rivers fishing information is available at www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/Rivers. For real-time river level readings, visit the USGS River Gauge website at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ga/nwis/rt.