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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Keaton Beach to Fenholloway

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

Location Longitude Latitude
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

Gag Big Map Lat Long.

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Boat Ramp Parking Expanded at Keaton Beach in Taylor County

by Capt. Tommy Thompson on Mar.25, 2014, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway

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 Keaton Beach Public Boat ramp is at the point where CR361 turns south towards steinhatchee
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2014 Steinhatchee Community Fishing Tournament, March 15

by Capt. Tommy Thompson 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 Capt. Tommy Thompson 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 Buckeye Artificial Reefs Coordinates Off Steinhatchee, Keaton Beach in Taylor County, FL

by Capt. Tommy Thompson on Jan.14, 2014, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Steinhatchee

From: Geoff Wallat, UF / Taylor County Marine and Natural Resources Agent
During this past summer and fall, Taylor County deployed 2 new artificial reefs on the
permitted Buckeye Reef site. This site is approximately 26 nautical miles off Keaton Beach. The
first reef deployment consisted of 120 constructed concrete cubes. The cubes were placed in
patches of 4 cubes per patch, for a total of 30 patch reefs. The center coordinates for this
deployment are 29  38.879 North, and 83 54.767 West. The additional patch reefs were
spaced at approximately 200 feet between each patch, in a cross pattern. The cubes extend out
North and South, and East and West from the center coordinates. This deployment
was funded by a cooperative grant agreement funded bythe Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) with a match from the Taylor County Board of County Commissioners

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

.
Both artificial reef coordinates will be posted to the Taylor County Extension  webpage, at
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Artificial reef systems have shown to have positive impacts on natural fish populations
by providing additional habitat for marine life. The artificial reefs support new reef
communities of marine life, which serves to promote the conservation and management of
several relationally important fish species such as gag grouper and red snapper. The artificial
reefs also provide increased angling and diving opportunities, which have positive economic
impacts for local businesses in Taylor County
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Sand Trout/Silver Trout Invade the Flats of Taylor County!

by Capt. Tommy Thompson on Nov.12, 2013, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Steinhatchee

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.

It doesn’t take a big boat to fish the flats at Steinhatchee–especially on calm fall days.

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.

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Keaton Beach Marina, Motel and RV Park Under New Managment, November 1, 2013

by Capt. Tommy Thompson on Nov.05, 2013, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Steinhatchee

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.

Aerial View of Keaton Beach, FL

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.

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2013 Bay Scalloping Season to Open Early–June 29!

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!

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

by Capt. Tommy Thompson 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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Taylor County Fall Trout Tournament, Keaton Beach, 9/8/12

by Capt. Tommy Thompson on Sep.03, 2012, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway

You don’t want to miss this event!  With a guaranteed $3000 payout, there will be lots of competition but there are plenty of chances to win.  Categories include the heaviest 5-trout stinger, big trout, big redfish, redfish with the most spots and heaviest “mystery” fish.  The event kicks off with a 6:30PM Friday, September 7 Captains’ meeting at the Keaton Beach Marina.  Fishing starts at safe light (30 minutes before sunrise) and weigh-in is scheduled for 3PM.  Host marina is the Keaton Beach Marina.

The entry fee is $30 per angler, with registration from 5AM until 7AM at the marina.  You may register at the Perry-Taylor County Chamber of Commerce the prior week.  For more information, or to register, call either Capt. Ashley Mock (850-843-0566) or the Chamber of Commerce (850-584-5366).

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