If you’re interested in fishing Natural North Florida’s Big Bend Gulf coast, there’s no better place to go than Steinhatchee. Located south of Perry in Taylor County, just off US19/98 (via CR361 or CR358), Steinhatchee has great facilities, including three excellent marinas, two first-rate boat ramps, and plenty of lodging and dining opportunities.
There’s no better resource for up-to-date fishing information than Capt. Rick Davidson’s monthly fishing reports on the Sea Hag Marina’s website. Rick’s reports are thorough and based on the many reports he regularly eceives from local guides and anglers. You’ll find archived reports there, arranged by month and year, for the past ten years. Take a look!
Here’s a sample, for September and October 2018:
This will be a month of change as scallop season ends on the 10th and water temperatures begin to lower. So far we’ve had enough rain to cause some darkening, but many areas within a mile or so from the river are very clear. That’s a great sign for September. In the last few weeks, lots of mullet of every size and smaller whitebait have appeared close to shore and around offshore bars a few schools of larger whitebait (pogies). This should continue and as temperatures drop, redfish and trout will move back into shallower water. Hopefully the floating grass will dissipate. Early in the month fish jigs with Gulp! or live shrimp, or slow moving suspending plugs in 4 to 8 feet of water over mixed sand and grass for trout. As the waters cool, you should be able to move closer into 2 to 5 feet, and the topwater bite will improve. Redfish schools may begin to break up, except for the overslot fish, which will generally school before they move out to deep water. Suspending lures or jigs will work well, but plan on covering a lot of water; if you don’t find fish in a spot, move along to another area with structure. The limestone rockpiles scattered around our area and oyster bars in and near creeks are the first places to try. Offshore, red and gag grouper are in season. This time of year, live or cut bait will be the choice for grouper, but if the bite is slow, troll with lipped plugs to cover more areas of hard bottom.
We’re having more and more kayak traffic in our area, and it’s a natural place to fish from a kayak. There are multiple small primitive ramps that are perfect for kayak launching, from Cow Creek behind the Pepperfish Keys at the end of the Road to Nowhere; a primitive ramp at Sink Creek; a more accessible ramp at Rocky Creek; a great kayak ramp on Sandhill Road in the Jena Management area, all to the south. To the north, Dallus Creek and Hagen’s Cove are popular launch sites. Every one of these locations have good numbers of fish available with just a short paddle, and Dallus Creek is the standard winter hot spot for boats of all kinds. If you’re a kayak fisherman, Steinhatchee is an up-and-coming place to come visit.
The water will be cooling into the 70’s, the days are comfortable to fish, large redfish are staging for offshore migration never to return, and trout move into shallower water. Grouper are more active and are starting to be taken in shallower areas of hard bottom. Given the way fishing has bounced back quickly after Irma it will be an excellent offshore and inshore month. Live pinfish and dead squid and Spanish sardines will be the baits of choice for grouper this month, and kingfish will be migrating as well. If you find schools of offshore baitfish, try trolling around them or throw out a live bait on a float when bottom fishing. Inshore, everything is around. Migrating cobia and Spanish mackerel are moving south for the winter. But for our favorite inshore fish, reds and trout, this is a month to get out and fish. Redfish have been up in the weeds and kind of lethargic but they are now beginning to herd up and as you can tell from some of the pictures, when anglers find a school they are bringing lots of fish to the boat. While schools of redfish might be close to shore on flood tides (and hard to see), on lower tides they hang offshore and when in feeding mode can be seen as “nervous water” in 2 to 3 foot depths up to 300 yards or more offshore. Always keep an eye out for moving water and the occasional tail. Trout have been out in 8 to 10 feet of water but have now moved into the shallower flats, both nearshore and around the offshore humps like 9 Mile Bank, Little Bank and the area known as Doghead, north of the Bird Rack toward Keaton Beach. Nice limits are being taken using Gulp baits on popping corks, but for covering more water consider using just a jig and regular soft bait. Most recently our better fishermen have been using Hookup, Slayer and Bass Assassin jigheads, and in addition to Gulp baits, Bass Assassin shads and curly tail shads in the Green Moon, Chartreuse and the new Fried Chicken color. Jigs and soft tails work perfectly for reds, trout, Spanish, flounder, bluefish….just about anything you can catch in our area