There is nothing better that being an avid angler living in Southeast Georgia. I should know, because I am one. The St. Mary's River is just a cricket's chirp from my home and it's a superlative site for catching redbreast sunfish, bluegill, bullheads and catfish. It's also one of the better kept secrets among the locals -- until now. Here's some insider information to help you plan your next fishing trip:
Where to Launch Your Boat
Feel free to bring your own watercraft because there are innumerable places to put your boat in. Three of my favorites are Trader's Hill Park, St. George Landing and Camp Pinckney Landing in Charlton County. Charlton County is where the headwaters are and it's situated on the Georgia Florida border.
Boat Rentals and Bait Shops
The river is ideally suited for canoes, kayaks and small john boats. If you don't have one of your own, there are several places where you can get one on loan. The St. Mary's Fish Camp is one and the Okefenokee Pastimes out near the swamp is another. Depending on the outfitter, expect to pay around $20 or more per day for the convenience.
You can pick up supplies and a fishing license on either side of the river. The St. Mary's River Fish Camp and Canoe Country Outpost are on the Florida side in Hilliard and the Okefenokee Sportsman is on the Georgia side in Folkston. If you opt to put in at St. George, Rook's General Store is the way to go. When it comes to bait your best bets are crickets, small shrimp with the heads still on, chicken livers and grubs. Beetle spins also work well. Be on the lookout for gators though. They tend to love the tasty morsels just as much as the fish.
Where to Eat
Speaking of tasty morsels, you can't pass through Charlton County without hitting up Smoking Butts on Route 1 for some good old fashion southern cue. You'll recognize the place from the wafts of hickory smoke coming out of the smokers that are decorated with large graphics of a pig's behind. Get the ribs with the sauce on the side, you won't regret it.
Where to Stay
Camping is available along the river at Trader's Hill and the St. Mary's Fish Camp. You'll also find camp sites at the Okefenokee Pastimes and the Newell Lodge. Personally, I'd go for the Newell Lodge. It has cabins and campsites. The place is beautiful and the hospitality is unparalleled.
Killeen Gonzalez enjoys fishing and has been to the St. Mary's River. She has also traveled extensively.
More from this contributor:Fishing on the Delaware River: An Insider's Travel Guide