Keaton Beach to Fenholloway
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.
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“.
The new Citrus County guide features completely updated boat ramp and marina locator that Florida Sea Grant has published for the last several years.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling us at (352) 392-2801, or downloading the whole thing at https://www.flseagrant.org/fisheries/scalloping/
Gag Grouper Season Opens Soon! April 1-June 30 in state waters off of Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties
by Capt. Tommy Thompson on Mar.26, 2014, under Apalachicola, Carrabelle and St. George Island, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Shell Point to Lanark, Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee
GPS Boundaries: Franklin-Taylor Regional Season
|Indian Pass||85 degrees 13.76 minutes west||29 degrees 40.71 minutes north|
|Offshore Indian Pass||85 degrees 13.71 minutes west||29 degrees 30.32 minutes north|
|Offshore Steinhatchee||83 degrees 34.52 minutes west||29 degrees 31.62 minutes north|
|Steinhatchee River||83 degrees 24.53 minutes west||29 degrees 40.03 minutes north|
Taylor County, on Florida’s Big Bend, “gets it right” when it comes to access to the Gulf Waters. The public boat ramp at Keaton Beach is one of the best, easily accessed with good facilities and parking. Now, with the addition of a huge new parking lot for cars and trailers, just across CR361. In the past, when the parking lot filled, boaters were forced to park alongside the roadway, often as far away as a quarter-mile.
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.
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.
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.
The second deploymentent consisted of concrete culvert pipe and concrete material, donated by the local Florida Department of Transportation. Total weight of this deploymentwas 75 tons. This second deployment was made possible by the contributions of local Taylor County organizations and private citizens. The collective group included the Florida Departmentof Transportation (Cindy Dunkle), the Taylor County Tourism Development Council (Dawn Taylor), the Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club(Lou Graf, Richard McDavid and Jay Peacock), theTaylor County Reef Research Team (Jody Courtney and Mike McKinney), and land ownersGeorge Edwards and John Taliaferro who permitted the group to stage and load the materials. The coordinates for this reef are 29 38.441 North, and 83 54.748 West
The waters at Steinhatchee have cooled (to the high 50s) and cleared! That means “silver” or “sand” trout have invaded the 5 to 6-foot flats between Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach. These fish are better fighters than their spotted seatrout cousins and are actually better to eat. Generally, they’re smaller, but we’ve seen some 18-inchers come to the docks. And, in my opinion, they are better table fare, as they have no “protein deposits” (worms). Silver trout are also easy to catch, with most anglers using simple jig head/grub tail combinations, worked slowly along the bottom or under corks.
Trout are also showing up in the local deep-water trout holes. Anglers have caught a few spotted seatrout in Dallus Creek, north of Steinhatchee and in the river holes near marker #26 in the Steinhatchee River. In those places, plugs (MirrOlure TTs or Paul Brown Devils) or live shrimp moved slowly across the bottom work well.
The silver trout invasion should last a few more weeks, and the deep-water trout fishery will last through the winter month.
Great news from Keaton Beach in Taylor County! Keaton Beach Marina and Motel is now under the management of Steinhatchee’s Sea Hag Marina. The Sea Hag has long been the “gold standard” for Big Bend marinas, and this move will certainly help bring things up-to-par at Keaton Beach. Changes may be slow for a month or so , but you can count of the addition of fuel to the services at Keaton Beach, as well as upgrades to the Ship’s Store and the general upkeep of the marina, the motel and the adjacent RV campground.
If you’re not familiar with Keaton Beach, you’re missing some pretty good inshore and offshore fishing. Located about 18 miles north of Steinhatchee and about 20 miles from Perry, this coastal community is small–but the fishing is BIG. Some of the most unspoiled coastline in the U.S. lies to the north of town, offering some excellent seatrout and redfish angling.
Keaton Beach has an excellent public launching ramp that’s at the end of a short canal leading to the main channel. And the soon-to-be-upgraded marina is on the west side of the canal as you motor to the Gulf.
by Capt. Tommy Thompson 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!