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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Horseshoe Beach

2017 bay scallop season in Dixie/Taylor counties set

by on Feb.11, 2017, under Hernando and Pasco Gulf Coast, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, Shell Point to Lanark, Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Yankeetown and Waccasassa

The 2017 bay scallop season for Dixie County and parts of Taylor County will be open from June 16 through Sept. 10. This includes all state waters from the Suwannee River through the Fenholloway River. These changes are for 2017 only and are an opportunity to explore regionally-specific bay scallop seasons.

These changes were discussed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting on Feb. 8, where staff was directed to work with local community leaders on selecting potential 2017 season dates and to adopt changes by executive order.

At the Feb. 8 meeting, staff also updated the Commission on the status of bay scallops in St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County, and set a July 25 through Sept. 10 recreational bay scallop season off Gulf County, including all waters in St. Joseph Bay and those west of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County, through the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

A prolonged red tide event in late 2015 negatively impacted the scallop population in St. Joseph Bay, which led to modified local scallop regulations for 2016 that included a shortened season and reduced bag limits. FWC researchers conducted a scallop restoration project last year within St. Joseph Bay to help speed the recovery of the scallop population. These efforts have been going well and the scallop population has shown signs of improvement. Staff will conduct similar restoration efforts in 2017.

All other portions of the bay scallop harvest zone will be open from July 1 through Sept. 24. This includes all state waters from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the Suwannee River Alligator Pass Daybeacon 4 in Levy County and from north and west of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.

Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone will be 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.

At the December 2017 Commission meeting, staff will review public feedback on these changes and make a recommendation for future management. To submit your feedback on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

For more information on these changes, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings,” then click on the link below “Next Meeting.”

For information on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”

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Four Florida Counties Open April 1, 2015 for Gag Grouper Harvest

by on Mar.25, 2015, under Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee

From:  The Fishing Wire

State waters off the coast of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties will open to recreational harvest of gag grouper starting April 1.

This regional season will remain open through June 30, with the first day of the closure being July 1. The season also includes all waters of Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, including those in Gulf County, and all waters of the Steinhatchee River, including those in Dixie County.

Gag grouper caught in state Gulf waters (from shore to 9 nautical miles out) off the four counties can be landed on the Gulf County side of Indian Pass and the Dixie County side of the Steinhatchee River, but may not be taken ashore in other areas that are closed to harvest. For example, a gag grouper caught April 1 in state waters off Jefferson County cannot be taken ashore in Levy County or parts of Dixie County outside of the Steinhatchee River. To see maps of these areas, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing and select “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”

In the remainder of Gulf of Mexico state waters, anglers will be able to keep gag grouper from July 1 through Dec. 3, with the season closing Dec. 4. State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties will not be open during the July-through-December season. Monroe County state waters follow Atlantic grouper rules.

The season in all federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico also opens July 1 but closes Dec. 3, with the last day of harvest being Dec. 2.

In the Gulf, the gag grouper recreational harvest minimum size limit is 22 inches total length and the bag limit is two gag grouper per person. Recreational anglers targeting groupers in the Gulf may harvest no more than four grouper per person per day (within this four-fish limit, anglers may keep only two gag grouper).

To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”

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Cross City’s Historic Putnam Lodge to Re-Open in April 2014

by on Mar.13, 2014, under Horseshoe Beach, Steinhatchee

If you’re planning a fishing trip to Horseshoe Beach or Steinhatchee, consider making The Putnam Lodge your headquarters.  Yes, it’s a few miles from either port, but the accommodations are first class, with a touch of Florida history.  And on April 1, 2014 you can expect the lodge to be operating in full gear.

Here’s some history of the Putnam Lodge:

Putnam Lodge, built in 1927-28 by the Putnam Lumber Company, is part of a bygone era in Florida’s forestry history. Here, beside the old Dixie Highway, Putnam Lodge, part of the “company town” of Shamrock, accommodated tourists, transients and company executives and clients. The lobby and the dining room of the 36-room lodge were decorated exclusively with the still preserved, artfully stenciled “pecky cypress,” a now virtually extinct lumber product. In its day, the Putnam Lumber Company, founded by William O’Brien, a timber magnate of Irish descent, and associates including E. B. Putnam, employed hundreds at its two state-of-the-art sawmills in Shamrock. The mills annually produced and shipped worldwide millions of feet of “deep swamp tidewater cypress” and “dense Florida longleaf yellow pine” lumber, products that are now rare because the old growth trees are gone. Shamrock provided its residents and employees with comfortable homes, a commissary, a store comparable to “any city department store,” two schools, two hotels, the Shamrock Dairy Farm, and an ice plant producing 18 tons of ice daily. The lodge is representative of a time of local timber supremacy and economic prosperity.

And here’s what to expect from new owners, Ed and Beverly Pivacek, when the Putnam Lodge opens in April, 2014:

The restored and modernized Putnam Lodge will offer 25 guest rooms (kings, queens, suites–and even a bridal suite!), meeting facilities for groups of 25-30, facilities for weddings and parties of up to 250, and a full service restaurant and bar.  There are even plans underway for a paintball course on an area adjacent to the lodge.

Guests at the Putnam Lodge will be impressed by the quality of the restoration.  The dining room is almost in its original state, with hand-painted pecky cypress walls, ceilings and columns.  The dining room opens onto a newly-constructed deck designed to handle overflow from the dining room during special events.  The comfortable lobby and lounges also retain the original design of the Lodge.  Modern upgrades like central heating and air conditioning and plumbing make the guest rooms as comfortable as those found in upscale “big-city” hotels.  Along with the upscale restaurant offering the finest dining in the area, the Putnam Lodge facility is perfect for small meetings, family reunions, weddings or other social gatherings.

To contact the Putnam Lodge, email putnamlodge@gmail.com or call: (813) 390-4489

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2014 Steinhatchee Community Fishing Tournament, March 15

by on Mar.10, 2014, under Cedar Key, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Yankeetown and Waccasassa

The 13th Annual Steinhatchee Community Fishing Tournament is coming up on March 15.  With a relatively inexpensive $30 entry fee, this popular tournament attracts anglers from all over Florida’s Big Bend and Nature Coast.  The event is co-sponsored by the Taylor County Tourism Council and the Steinhatchee Community Projects Board.

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Cross City’s Historic Putnam Lodge to Re-Open in Early 2014

by on Jan.17, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Steinhatchee, Suwannee

Ed and Beverly Pivacek are excited about tourism in Dixie County and the Florida Nature Coastline.  As a result, they’re re-opening the historic Putnam Lodge in Cross City.  Licenses have been obtained and it will open its doors for business by early February, with its kitchen and restaurant likely opening by early March.  If you’re heading to Steinhatchee, Horseshoe Beach or Suwannee on a fishing (or summer scalloping) trip, this will be THE place to stay inshore of those ports.  Ed can be contacted at (813) 390-4489.

Putnam Lodge “Then”
Putnam Lodge “Now”

Here’s some history:

Putnam Lodge, built in 1927-28 by the Putnam Lumber Company, is part of a bygone era in Florida’s forestry history. Here, beside the old Dixie Highway, Putnam Lodge, part of the “company town” of Shamrock, accommodated tourists, transients and company executives and clients. The lobby and the dining room of the 36-room lodge were decorated exclusively with the still preserved, artfully stenciled “pecky cypress,” a now virtually extinct lumber product. In its day, the Putnam Lumber Company, founded by William O’Brien, a timber magnate of Irish descent, and associates including E. B. Putnam, employed hundreds at its two state-of-the-art sawmills in Shamrock. The mills annually produced and shipped worldwide millions of feet of “deep swamp tidewater cypress” and “dense Florida longleaf yellow pine” lumber, products that are now rare because the old growth trees are gone. Shamrock provided its residents and employees with comfortable homes, a commissary, a store comparable to “any city department store,” two schools, two hotels, the Shamrock Dairy Farm, and an ice plant producing 18 tons of ice daily. The lodge is representative of a time of local timber supremacy and economic prosperity.

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New (2013) Artifical Reefs off of Horseshoe Beach – GPS coordinates

by on Nov.12, 2013, under Horseshoe Beach

Thanks to the great volunteer efforts of Old Town resident, Charlie Fornaciari, with the support of the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners, Suwannee, Horseshoe Beach, and Jena/ Steinhatchee fisherman and women will enjoy a boost in our ability to offer great offshore fishing.  This improvement is based on the create and expansion of a artificial reef in the Gulf.  Here is a note from Charlie Fornaciari :

“Enclosed please find the coordinates for 5 of the nine new reefs. We are still refining the accuracy of these coordinates but I’m sure you will not have trouble finding the reefs.

Additionally we have now started the mapping on the 4 remaining new reef sites. It will be up to the seas and weather.

There is a lot more structure in the area than expected. Most likely they are reef balls from previous deployments back in the mid ‘90s and ’05. The dives of September 9th prove some of that out.

We use a letter / number pattern to lay out the entire project plan. Location D3 is the very most center of the reef building project and the coordinates are provided as follows for location D3.

We will be refining the coordinates over time and we will provide the coordinates of everything else on the project area, such as reef balls, hard bottoms, etc.

Although plant life and fish are starting to show up it will take about 18 months for the reefs to mature. This allows for the marine plant life and invertebrates to colonize the limestone and pipe that has been placed.

All reefs are made up of approximately 30 tons of limestone and culvert pipe.

Some of the people working on this project, Horseshoe Beach Artificial Reef, believe the reef will attract Sheepshead this winter. If you are a diver or a fisherman please let me know what you can via email. Photographs are always welcome and some will end up on the Dixie County Tourist Development website and the artificial reef site when set up. Keep your clothes on when taking pictures of the fish! We do not want to scare anybody.

The other reef site coordinates so far:

D2: Lat. 29°19.682’ / Lon. 83°26.313’

D3: Lat. 29°19.692’ / Lon. 83°26.252’

C3: Lat. 29°19.720’ / Lon. 83°26.247’

C4: Lat. 29°19.750’ / Lon. 83°26.192’

E2: Lat. 29°19.624’ / Lon. 83°26.299’

All material height is between 3’ and 5’ off the bottom.”

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Scalloping and Fishing Report, Steinhatchee, FL, July 8, 2013

by on Jul.08, 2013, under Horseshoe Beach, Steinhatchee

Anglers and scallopers hoping to be on the water at Steinhatchee during the 2013 July 4 holiday weekend were met by rain squalls on both Thursday and Friday.  However, by Saturday the humidity fell,  the skies (and the water) cleared, and limits of bay scallops, sea trout and redfish were seen at the cleaning table at the Sea Hag Marina as early as 11AM.

Don't want to clean your catch? See the "scallop cleaning crew" at the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee.

As is usually the case during the early days of the recreational bay scallop season, snorkelers find that they often have to move around to find concentrations of the tasty bivalves.  Several areas within easy reach from the mouth of the river are considered “trustworthy” and those were the sites of huge gatherings of boats flying dive flags.

To the north, the grass flats near the Big Grass Island bird rack were busy.  This area is about 9 miles northwest of the Steinhatchee #1 marker.  Here, reports for the past weekend  were of better catches in the deeper cuts, with the scallops on the small size, with smaller muscles.  Water clarity was good, depending on the tidal flow.  The weekend’s pre-new moon tides were strong, and did affect water clarity.  The upcoming weekend’s neap tides will be slower, making sighting your prey easier.

To the south of Steinhatchee, there were three areas that attracted scallopers this past weekend.  Most popular was the area of grassy flats north of the Pepperfish Keys.  The run to Pepperfish is about 9 miles from either Steinhatchee or Horseshoe Beach.  This past weekend, snorkelers reported “hundreds” of boats in this area.  Other options for Steinhatchee scallopers are the areas off Rocky Creek or Hardy Point, just south of the river mouth.  At the southern spots, scallops seemed to be larger and more mature, with a higher yield of meat. The waters to the south were more clear and than those to the north.

For a detailed story on scalloping, please see:  Bay Scallops–The Gulf of Mexico’s Tastiest Treat.

Scallopers don’t usually get very close to shore, so anglers targeting reds and seatrout have lots of shoreline all to themselves.  Capt. Rick Davidson and I fished the weekend, and found the fish hungry and eager to eat topwater lures.  Floating grass was an issue in some areas, but the best bite seemed to be in  shallow water (1 to 2- feet), right along the grass, at the bottom of the tide, after the grass had washed away from shore.

Capt. Rick Davidson with a nice mid-summer redfish.

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2013 Bay Scalloping Season to Open Early–June 29!

by on Jun.26, 2013, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee, Suwannee

The FWC has just announced that the season for harvesting bay scallops has been extended and will now open on June 29, rather than July 1.  That means there will be an extra weekend to have a great time and bring home some good eats!

If you’re not a seasoned scalloper, you might want to read “Bay Scallops–The Gulf of Mexico’s Tastiest Treat“.  Just click HERE

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NOAA’s latest mobile app provides free nautical charts for recreational boating–Public is invited to try beta version of ‘MyNOAACharts’

by on May.20, 2013, under Apalachicola, Carrabelle and St. George Island, Cedar Key, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, Horseshoe Beach, Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Yankeetown and Waccasassa


NOAA’s latest mobile app provides free nautical charts for recreational boating
Public is invited to try beta version of ‘MyNOAACharts’

As recreational boaters gear up for a summer of fun on coastal waters and the Great Lakes, NOAA is testing MyNOAACharts, a new mobile application that allows users to download NOAA nautical charts and editions of the U.S. Coast Pilot. The app, which is only designed for Android tablets for the testing period, will be released today.

MyNOAACharts, which can be used on land and on the water, has GPS built-in capabilities that allow users find their positions on a NOAA nautical chart. They can zoom in any specific location with a touch of the finger, or zoom out for the big picture to plan their day of sailing. The Coast Pilot has “geotagged” some of the major locations–embedding geographical information, such as latitude and longitude, directly into the chart so it is readable in the app–and provides links to appropriate federal regulations. The app can be downloaded from the Google Play™ app store.

“Easy and workable access to nautical charts is important for boating safety,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA Office of Coast Survey. “I’ve seen a popular t-shirt that has a ‘definition’ of a nautical chart splayed across the front: ‘chärt, n: a nautical map that shows you what you just hit.’ As creative as that is, a boating accident can kill. Keeping a nautical chart on hand – to avoid hitting something – can save lives.”

The beta test for MyNOAACharts will expire this Labor Day, Sept. 2. Coast Survey will then evaluate usage and user feedback to decide whether to release a finished version of the app.
The NOAA Charts for Florida’s Big Bend and Natural North Florida are:

11404 40,000 Intracoastal Waterway Carrabelle to Apalachicola Bay;Carrabelle River
11405 80,000 Apalachee Bay
11406 15,000 St.Marks River and approaches
11407 80,000 Horseshoe Point to Rock Islands;Horseshoe Beach
11408 80,000 Crystal River to Horseshoe Point;Suwannee River;Cedar Keys

“Expanding the app across a multitude of platforms, ensuring easy accessibility to over a thousand charts and nearly 5,000 pages of U.S. Coast Pilot, will take considerable resources,” Glang said. “We can do it if the boating community likes the app. We truly want the users to let us know if the app meets their needs.”

Boaters without an Android tablet should not despair. The Office of Coast Survey provides free BookletCharts, which are 8 ½” x 11″ PDF versions of NOAA nautical charts that can be downloaded and printed at home. The U.S. Coast Pilot is also available in a free PDF version. Those products, and information for purchasing other nautical products, are available at www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov.

Important notice for commercial mariners: The mobile app MyNOAACharts and the BookletCharts do not fulfill chart carriage requirements for regulated commercial vessels under Titles 33 and 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, originally formed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807, is the nation’s nautical chartmaker. Its hydrographers survey the coastal seafloor, respond to maritime emergencies and search for underwater dangers to navigation. Join Coast Survey on Twitter and check out the NOAA Coast Survey Blog for more in-depth coverage of surveying and charting.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Twitter, Facebook and our other social media channels. Visit our news release archive.

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Fishing and Boating Yard Sale and Flea Market, 4/6/13, at Mangrove Creek Outfitters, Chiefland

by on Mar.12, 2013, under Cedar Key, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Yankeetown and Waccasassa

Don’t miss this event if you’re interested in some real deals on boating and fishing gear.  Expect lots of folks to be cleaning out their closets, with rods, reels, lures, line, trolling motors and all sorts of goodies.  It’s free to attend, and only $20 to have a table or a display of any goodies you want to sell.  It’s on Saturday, April 6, from 8AM ’til 4PM. Click on the link below to see the list of things I’ll have at the sale.  My loss at Spring Cleaning is your gain!

FOR SALE by Tommy Thompson

Mangrove Creek Outfitters

1109 N. Young Blvd.

Chiefland

(352) 493-0071

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