Apalachicola Area Fishing Report
Your decision not to join Mike and I for our Florida panhandle fishing trip was probably for the best. I’ll explain why in a bit.
I apologize for not posting a report last week. I did get out three days, but between Maxx and Cat being here (They’re getting married in May!), twenty people here for Thanksgiving, and packing for the trip, there weren’t enough hours. The best things about last week were, the water in the Indian River Lagoon was pretty clear and I found some fish (they were not at all bitey), and Maxx and I went bass fishing on the Econ for an afternoon, getting five between us on Culprit worms. We saw a couple of otters, too. That was nice.
Maxx fishing the Econ.
OK, about the trip. We left Sunday morning for the drive up to the panhandle. We drove through rain produced by a passing cold front. Check-in time at Indian Pass Campground
wasn’t until three PM, so we moseyed to avoid the $10 early check-in fee. What is up with that?
Our campsite was waterfront, at the lower right corner in the screen shot.
The wind was blowing hard enough that setting up our tents was difficult- everything wanted to fly away. We were the windbreak for the breeze coming across Indian Lagoon, so it wasn’t like we could hide from it. Even though the water was mocha colored, I tried casting from the beach for a while, but did not see (!) nor touch a fish. There were lots of dolphins playing though.
All that night the wind blew hard. My tent was all a-flappin! In spite of that I slept soundly.
Come morning I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag. It was about 40 degrees and we were still the windbreak for a 20 mph wind. While I went there planning on fishing the oyster bars and flats of Indian Lagoon, there was no way to do it. We did talk to a guy who had been there for five days, fishing in the Gulf with his wife from a big Carolina skiff. He’d gotten two flounder in five days.
We spent the day looking for someplace we could fish, without success. St. Joe Bay looked like a wedding cake. Apalachicola River was running fast and brown, covered with whitecaps. I don’t think it went above 50 degrees all day. Our timing was terrible.
The sky was clear and at night the stars were awesome. I could actually see the Milky Way running through Casseopeia to Cygnus. It was too cold to stay up and stargaze very long though.
Do you remember that -20 degree rated sleeping bag you used to have? Mine is rated to 40. I wore everything I had to bed- wool socks, long underwear, fleece pants, fleece shirt, hoodie, fleece jacket, buff, wool hat- and barely was warm enough. It was like that every night, all week. Mike was lucky- he had the warm dog to cuddle with.
Because of the cold there were no early morning starts.
The next morning we checked out and instead of going to Little St. George Island, the original plan, we changed it up and went to Ochlockonee (pronounced o-CLOCK-nee, don’t know why) River State Park
and set up camp. From there we drove to Bald Point State Park from there to check out the fishing potential. There was no good way to launch a kayak there, so after being in the panhandle three days we still hadn’t gotten the boats wet or caught a fish.
Yay! A fish!
That changed on Wednesday. We launched the kayaks at the ORSP boat ramp and paddled about six miles down the river to where it dumps into the bay. On the way Mike got a redfish on a Vudu Shrimp. Yay! A fish! River Dog the Fish Hound was curious, and surprisingly well behaved considering he was stuck in a kayak all day.
On a flat at the river mouth we got a few more fish- Mike, a couple nice trout, and I, several trout, a small red, and a few ladyfish, on a Clouser Minnow. Then of course we had to paddle back up the river to the campground. The sun was warm and there was no wind, so it was a nice paddle.
Americans are afraid of the dark. While we were at the state park we had a first quarter moon. It was bright enough to throw shadows. The only people not using electric or flashlights were Mike and I. Heck, the RVs had motion detectors to turn the exterior lights on, which were exceptionally annoying. Darkness is beautiful! Embrace it!
Thursday was another long paddle day. We launched at the Ochlockonee Bay Bridge boat ramp, and paddled to Bald Point, about five miles. The water was clear. The bottom was mostly bare sand. The sun was shining and there was barely a breeze, just beautiful. We spotted the occasional redfish on the way, running them over first. The sun was right in our faces.
At a creek mouth Mike hit several redfish. Around an oyster bar he hit several trout. I was fishless and frustrated.
I came around a little oyster bar point and spooked several reds. Casting a plastic shad at them I got an immediate eat and got my first fish of the day, a slot red. After releasing it I grabbed the six-weight and went wading. There was a clump of fish. The slider fell among them and got immediate gratification. The entire clump followed my hooked fish right up to me, at which point they all spooked off. So out of maybe 30 fish at that spot, I got two.
The slider got immediate gratification.
At the next point there were more redfish, and I spotted them before running them over. Using the slider I got four slot fish, all by sight casting, for the best 30 minutes of fishing I had on the trip.
The water was beautifully clear.
Friday we went to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The water was spectacular! You could see stuff (like seagrass!) on the bottom in eight feet of water. In a shallow cove we got 15 or so fish, reds and trout mixed. Mike was still on the Vudu, and I was using a light jig. It was the only place we got fish there, in spite of hours of searching.
River the fish hound inspects Mike’s redfish.
After fishing all day we drove back to the campsite, broke it down and loaded it up, and headed home. I got in at 11 last night. Mike still had an hour and a half to drive.
So we caught some fish. There were no easy ones. We worked hard for every one. In spite of the cold and the tough conditions we had a good time fishing in places we had never been. It just makes me want to go back when the weather is a little warmer.
Sorry this was so lengthy. Thanks for reading it!
Life is great and I love my work!
Every day is a blessing. Don’t waste it- Go Fishing!
John Kumiski, author of Fishing Florida by Paddle- An Angler’s Guide
Purchase Fishing Florida by Paddle- An Angler’s Guide at http://www.spottedtail.com/fishing-florida-by-paddle/
All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2019. All rights are reserved.