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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Steinhatchee

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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Tips For Successful Scalloping During Rainy Season on Florida’s Big Bend, 2015

by on Aug.17, 2015, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, Steinhatchee

In the late summer, water visibility can hinder and slow the harvest of bay scallops.  This year, they’re plentiful along our big Bend coastline, but are often hard to see.

You may not catch thousands of scallops in murky water, but if you work hard, you'll come home with a nice dinner!

You may not catch thousands of scallops in murky water, but if you work hard, you’ll come home with a nice dinner!

We’ve had more than our fair share of rain on the Big Bend, too. Mornings have been calm, but with high humidity and high air temperatures, thunderstorms have been building up every afternoon. Usually they form on shore, but some can eventually drift off the coast in the late afternoon, depending on the strength of the east coast sea breezes. What that means for you, the scalloper, is that you need to take your trips early, watch the radar (use the Weather Bug app on your smartphone!), and try to get back to port by mid-afternoon at the latest.

Snorkeling for bay scallops is a fun, family adventure!

Snorkeling for bay scallops is a fun, family adventure!

Despite the amount of rainwater we’ve seen in ditches and pastures miles from the coast, the visibility of the Gulf waters isn’t as bad as I expected.   Scallopers north of Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach are doing well, especially off Piney Point and off Dekle Beach.  The only thing I can’t predict is just how long the visibility will be good. It usually takes several weeks for the leaching cycle to complete.

Don't let thunderstorms like this one come between you and your home port!

Don’t let thunderstorms like this one come between you and your home port!

 

 

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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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Greater Amberjack–Florida’s “Reef Donkeys”

by on Jan.01, 2015, under Cedar Key, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, Steinhatchee

Amberjacks are plentiful and with the 2015 season now open, fair game for Gulf anglers

Amberjacks are plentiful and with the 2015 season now open, fair game for Gulf anglers

Amberjack are found throughout Florida’s offshore marine environment. The species is very strongly associated with wrecks and artificial reefs in waters that exceed 60 feet in depth. Amberjack swim in schools and feed on baitfish, squid and crabs. Anglers typically use 50 to 100 pound tackle, but lighter tackle can also be used in many situations. Amberjack are not shy or picky, so you can make all the noise you want, and almost any lively baitfish will be readily accepted. Commonly used baitfish species include blue runners, pinfish, pigfish, grunts, cigar minnows and sand perch. Because amberjacks like to swim around above the reef, it’s a good idea to use just enough lead to keep the bait in the middle of the water column. When amberjack get excited, they will also come to the surface and explode on top-water plugs, jigs, spoons and diving lures. Amberjack are extremely strong fighters with great endurance. To avoid lost or broken tackle, it’s important to have the drag pre-set to match the strength of the angler and the equipment.

When you hook up on an amberjack, expect fun--and a good fight!

When you hook up on an amberjack, expect fun–and a good fight!

Greater amberjack reopens in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico beginning Jan. 1. 2015  On Florida’s Big Bend, most “AJs” are caught in deeper Federal Waters, beyond the 9-mile limit.   The season is closed June 1 – July 31 in the Gulf of Mexico.

There are several charterboat captains specializing in reef species such as amberjack.  Let them “hook you up”!

Capt. Brian Smith, www.bigbendcharters.com   Capt. Smith docks his boat at the Sea Hag Marina,Steinhatchee

Capt. Steve Hart, www.legallimitscharters.com   Capt. Hart docks his boat at Good Times Marina, Steinhatchee

Capt. Phil Muldrow, Native Son Charters, 352-543-9930  Capt. Muldrow docks his boat at Cedar Key

 

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Updated Steinhatchee Guides List, October 2014

by on Sep.30, 2014, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Steinhatchee

Looking for a good fishing guide?  Here’s a recent list from Steinhatchee:

Big Bend Guides, Members of Florida Guides Association

Capt. Pat McGriff  (Keaton Beach)

(850) 584-9145

One More Cast Charters

onemorecast@gtcom.net

Type of Fishing : Inshore

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Capt. Bob Erdman

(352) 356-2554

Something’s Fishy Charters

captainboberdman@yahoo.com

Flats, Inshore, Nearshore, Light Tackle, Backcountry

Trout, Redfish, Flounder, Cobia, Black Bass, Spanish mackerel

Steinhatchee, Jena, Deadman’s Bay

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Capt. Brad Riddle

(352) 318-2138

FIN ACTION CHARTERS

captainbradriddle@cox.net

Inshore, Inshore, Nearshore, Flats, Artificial Lure, Live Bait, Group, Private, Scalloping

Trout, Redfish, Black Sea Bass, Pink Mouth Grunts, Spanish Mackerel, Cobia, Flounder, Sheepshead

Steinhatchee, Big Bend Area

River Haven Marina Guides, Steinhatchee


Captain Steve Kroll’s Pepperfish Key Charters (352) 322-4085
USCG licensed Captain Steve Kroll is your host and guide for a great day of near shore and flats fishing, or scalloping, on the beautiful Big Bend region.

On The Mark Guide Service
Captain Mark Lord, a Florida Flats Fishing Guide, is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, with years of experience fishing and guiding in the Steinhatchee area.

Sea Hag Marina Guides, Steinhatchee


Captain Randall Hewitt 386-208-3823  http://www.hookedonreds.com/

Captain Steve Rassel 352 359-5902 http://www.lastcastras.com/

Captain Scott Peters, Jr 352-356-7502 http://badtothebonefishingcharters.com/

Captain Rick Davidson http://bitemefishing.wordpress.com/

Captain Brian Smith 877-852-3474 http://www.bigbendcharters.com/

Good Times Marina Guides,  Steinhatchee


Capt. Mark Brady (contact thru Good Times Marina, 352-498-8088

Capt. Steve Hart, (352) 498-0299

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Steinhatchee River Designated Florida’s 50th State Paddling Trail

by on Sep.19, 2014, under Steinhatchee

With the addition of the Steinhatchee River, Florida now has 50 state paddling trails. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Greenways & Trails designated the Steinhatchee River during the Taylor County Commission meeting on Sept. 16.

Whether touring or fishing, Steinhatchee offers great access for paddlers from either the Dixie or Taylor County side of the river.
Whether touring or fishing, Steinhatchee offers great access for paddlers from either the Dixie or Taylor County side of the river.

The Florida Paddling Trails Association also presented signs designating the communities of Keaton Beach and Steinhatchee as “Blueway Communities.” “We are proud to add the Steinhatchee River as our 50th designated state paddling trail,” said Florida State Park Director Donald Forgione. “Designation of the river creates well-deserved recognition of this excellent destination for paddling, fishing and wildlife viewing and will promote sustainable tourism and boost the economy for the local communities.” The scenic Steinhatchee River is the latest of Florida’s outstanding waterways to be designated a state paddling trail. The river’s spring-fed, tea-colored water meanders through a shady corridor of moss-draped trees flanking the river. It widens gradually as it flows through the colorful fishing villages of Steinhatchee and Jena before joining the Gulf of Mexico. The roughly eight-mile designated portion begins just below the historic Steinhatchee Falls, which has been an accessible river crossing for countless travelers through the ages. Wagon ruts can still be seen today where Native Americans, Spanish explorers and early settlers crossed the shallow limestone shelf that creates the low, cascading waterfall. Steinhatchee Falls offers a pleasant picnic area and hand-launch access for small fishing boats, canoes and kayaks. There is also a three-mile, multi-use trail that can be enjoyed by hikers, off-road cyclists and those seeking vibrant seasonal wildflowers and wildlife. Fishing from a boat or kayak is an interesting prospect for anglers, as both freshwater and saltwater species may be encountered depending upon the stretch of river. Delicious “pan fish” abound in the upper stretches of the Steinhatchee, while saltwater species appear as the river mingles with the Gulf waters. Improved boat ramps on both sides of the river in the towns of Steinhatchee and Jena mark the lower end of the paddling trail and provide good access for all types of boaters. Visitors are urged to bring binoculars and a camera to capture photos of the wildlife frequently seen along the river corridor and the Gulf coastline. In the fall, colorful monarchs and other butterflies feed upon wildflowers as they migrate southward. Spectacular flocks of white pelicans and other migrating birds are supported by vast tracts of public conservation land that bracket the Steinhatchee River, providing critical habitat for an array of wildlife species inland and along the coastline. For maps and information about the new paddling trail click here

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Get ready for Steinhatchee- Jena area Paddling Adventures October 2-5, 2014

by on Aug.18, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Steinhatchee

Steinhatchee/Jena Florida • $100 for 100 participants maximum
October 3-5, 2014 with early bird trips October 1st and 2nd

4 more paddles have just been added due to the heavy registration so far

Registration is open here NOW

and here’s what we’re giving you – – – – –

  • Access to 27 guided paddles in the area, a kayak fishing tournament and a power boat cruise on the beautiful Steinhatchee River. One of these for the early birds is an approximately 5 mile paddle Wednesday from Shired Island through scenic marshy islands, just off shore in the Gulf of Mexico, to Butler Island for an overnight camping experience, returning the next morning.
  • A get-together for early-birds Thursday evening including 2 drink coupons.
  • Primitive camping absolutely free.
  • Friday breakfast and a bag lunch if you want one.
  • A great dinner Friday night including an informative program.
  • Saturday breakfast and a lunch if you want one.
  • Entry to the kayak fishing tournament Saturday.
  • Saturday night you’re on your own but there will be discount coupons to the area’s best restaurants.
  • Sunday Brunch at the beautiful 3 story Dixie County owned Freeman House overlooking the marsh and the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Best of all – you get to enjoy a stay in the Steinhatchee/Jena, Florida area with people who love the outdoors just like yourself – it’s different here – where the wild places are ! !

Registration is open here NOW

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Steinhatchee/Taylor County Scallop Report, July 23, 2014

by on Jul.23, 2014, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Steinhatchee

The first month of Florida’s 2014 recreational scallop season has been a busy one at Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach.  Scallop season is always the busiest time of the year for these Gulf ports, with record sales at marinas, busy motels, waits for tables at restaurants, and busy boat ramps.  Rental boats are sometimes available on short notice, but for the most part, they’ve been reserved for months.  The same goes for lodging.

kroll-4

rentalboat-5

scalliops-6

Scalloping isn’t hard work.  About all you need to be able to do is snorkel in 3 to 6-feet of water and to scoop them up by hand.  This year, you’ll spend a bit more time catching your 2-gallon (in the shell) limit, but the scallops ARE there.  Scallopers leaving from the Sea Hag, River Haven and Good Times marinas seem to be having the best luck to the north, off Clay Creek, Fishermans Rest, Big Grass Island and Piney Point.  And unlike last year, the scallops are close to shore in very clear water.

The best time to scallop is during the lower phase of the tide, and while the sun is overhead.  The sunlight draws the scallops to the top of the grass, making them easy to spot and the low tide makes reaching down for them from a swimming position easier.

For a general look at scalloping, take a look at “Bay Scallops, The Gulf of Mexico’s Tastiest Treat“.

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Scallops “In The Raw”….Try Ceviche This Season!

by on Jun.27, 2014, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Ozello to Crystal River, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, Recipes and Food, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee

Scallop Ceviche is easy to make--and very tasty!Scallop Ceviche* is easy to make–and very tasty!

A sophisticated approach to eating freshly shucked scallops is to ‘cook’ them in a marinade and serve them as a salad.  Scallops prepared as a ceviche have been pickled, in a sense, and are delicious.

Scallop Ceviche

2 individual limits of shucked scallops (about 2 pounds or 2 pints), drained

For the marinade:

1-1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

4 small Serrano peppers, seeded and very finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small red onion, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

fresh cilantro leaves,  for garnish

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a zipper-style bag.  You can refrigerate this marinade for a day of so, if necessary.  Two hours before serving, add the scallops and mix.  Drain away the excess juices and assemble the ceviche over salad greens or an avocado half.  Touch everything off with a garnish with cilantro leaves.  Dinner is served.

A meal of fresh bay scallops, no matter how they’re prepared, is perfect way to end the perfect day on the water with the family.

*Eating uncooked seafood has its risks.  Always consult a medical professional regarding your personal situation before eating uncooked seafood.

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Citrus and Taylor County Scalloping Guide Available, Summer 2014

by on Jun.25, 2014, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Steinhatchee

The new Citrus County guide features completely updated boat ramp and marina locator that Florida Sea Grant has published for the last several years.


And don’t forget about the companion, the Taylor County scalloping guide and marina locator map.

Both guides feature historically abundant scalloping areas, boat ramp and marina locations, rules and regulations, and recipes!

Readers can order one free copy of each brochure by emailing us at info@flseagrant.org, or calling us at (352) 392-2801, or downloading the whole thing at  https://www.flseagrant.org/fisheries/scalloping/

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