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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Keaton Beach to Fenholloway

Just One Point North–Rocky Points Along Florida’s Big Bend

by on Oct.29, 2017, under Cedar Key, Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Yankeetown and Waccasassa

Big Bend Action Spotter, Florida Sportsman Magazine

October 2017

 

There are many rocky points along Florida’s Big Bend. And I suppose there are many places labeled “rock point” along the United States’ coastlines. After all, it’s not a particularly innovative name. But there’s only one Rock Point near Steinhatchee, in Taylor County.   And it’s one you should know about if you’re interested in some pretty good inshore fishing.

Unlike local Sponge Point, that has no sponges, and Sand Point, which has no sand, Rock Point DOES have rocks. Lots of them. While its rocks offer good cover for redfish and the adjacent flats and backwaters can also add good numbers of spotted seatrout, getting there can be a tedious exercise. Rock Point is only about 3 miles north of the Steinhatchee River channel, but to get there, especially on low water, you need to dodge some offshore sand bars and shallow inshore grass flats. My advice is that you take a northwesterly course from Marker #7 in the channel, staying outside the bars, and SLOWLY and CAREFULLY head towards Rock Point when you’re offshore of it. The shoreward approach towards Rock Point isn’t especially rocky, but it’s important you respect the integrity of grass flats you’ll cross. On low water, you may need to shift modes from your outboard to your trolling motor or push pole. On higher water, usually above 2-plus feet on your tide chart (Use the “Steinhatchee River Mouth” tide station.) you might be able to idle with your outboard jacked or trimmed up. In either case, be careful not to damage the sea grass. Doing so is a fineable offense.

The rocks at Rock Point are not pebbles. Some are boulder-sized and the niches and canyons between them offer shelter to predators waiting for schools of bait, usually small mullet, to cross the point with the tide. Knowing that, and that it happens on almost any tide and in any season, should give you a clue to fishing this point—and any others you might encounter that are similarly structured. The tide runs across the point, so set your boat up in order to make long upstream casts. Don’t crowd the point. This may mean casting into the wind, but larger and heavier lures will work here. The “hatch” you’re trying to match are likely to be 6-8inch mullet, so big lures like MirrOlure Top Dogs or D.O.A. PT7s are good choices. If the tide’s full, you might try something that suspends, like a Paul Brown Devil, but be careful not to work them too deep or too slowly. If you do snag one on a rock, break it off and try to fetch it after the catching’s done!

The fact is that “one point don’t make a whole day of fishing”.   So, while you’re in the neighborhood, take advantage of some other October options here. The seagrass beds you’ll cross on your way to Rock Point will finally be devoid of summer scallopers and the trout they scared away should have returned to fatten up for the winter. There are some deeper potholes to the southwest of the point, and more important, a deeper creek channel in the bay to the south. The small rock pile on the north side of the creek bed is a good place to try, and a drift into the southeast corner of the bay is a worthwhile exercise, if the mullet are jumping. The tip of Rock Point is actually a small island, and the north shoreline inside the cut that separates it from the mainland can also be fishy, provided you take a stealthy approach. For some reason—maybe lack of pressure—the redfish along this shore can especially spooky. Long casts and silent running are a must.

This particular Big Bend “Rock Point” is pretty typical of many similar points that you’ll find from the Suncoast Keys in Citrus County, all the way to the shoreline near St. Marks. Learning each one might take a lifetime, but having knowledge of just a few can make for lots of fun days of fishing.

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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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Kevin’s Redtrout Shootout, Wakulla County, May 30, 2015

by on May.12, 2015, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Shell Point to Lanark, Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina

redtrout

It’s back! The Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear & Apparel Redtrout Shootout will take place May 30, 2015.

Cash rewards will be paid out to the top 10 teams weighing in the heaviest combined weight of (1) redfish and (1) spotted seatrout. With an entry fee of $75.00 per angler and a guaranteed cash purse, you and your crew will want to get registered today!

This unique inshore fishing tournament allows teams to launch their boat at any boat ramp, fish their favorite holes and then weigh their catch in at Jerry’s Bait & Tackle located at 664 Woodville Highway, Crawfordville, FL. Click here for map!

If all that sounds good wait till you hear the rest. We have everything from Banquets & Kick Off parties featuring live music. So be sure to take a few minutes and navigate the website to see what else we have in store for this years edition of the RedTrout Shootout.

Click here today to register!

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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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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

————————————————————

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

————————————————————

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/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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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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Gag Grouper Season Opens Soon! April 1-June 30 in state waters off of Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties

by 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 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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