About Aucilla River
Aucilla, which is a (WMA) water Management Area offers several different fishing opportunities. It winds its way for 70 miles through swamps and hardwood hammocks. All while somehow misses every central town or industry anywhere near its path. Aucilla finally arrives at the Gulf as a tea-stained colored river of medium size. The exact point of entry is the far eastern end of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The Aucilla forms part of the St. Marks’s eastern boundary right before Apalachee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Consistently part of the refuge that visitors to St. Marks rarely see.
I looked at a place for people who want to get away from everyone else. On weekends it’s busy if five boats launch on the same morning. During the week, you’re likely to have the river to yourself. Everything wild and wonderful about Florida is present along the banks of the Aucilla River. Gators, eagles, herons, ospreys, and cormorants by the tree full are all expected sights on just a short trip down this river. As you approach the river’s mouth, it widens into a reasonably substantial bay dotted with oyster bars. Surrounding the bay are vast expanses of salt marsh. The salt marshes are an enormous maze of dead-end creeks and tidal streams.
North Aucilla River
The Western Sloughs are popular with bank fishermen who target redbreast sunfish, redear sunfish (shellcracker), spotted sunfish (stumpknocker), bluegill, and largemouth bass. The Aucilla River Sinks is an excellent place to combine hiking along the Florida National Scenic Trail with fishing the numerous sinkholes and river rises for bream and catfish. The Wacissa River offers many angling opportunities for various species of bream. Early mornings out of Goose Pasture campground can be productive for largemouth bass. The Wacissa is one of only a handful of rivers in north Florida with Suwannee bass, a smaller cousin to the largemouth bass. This little bass can be distinguished from the largemouth by its tan coloration with dark brown markings, red-eye, and absence of a notch separating the two dorsal fin sections. But not to be confused with its north look-a-like the smallmouth bass.
Reference the map below of Aucilla for boat ramp locations. Also, know as all lakes in Florida, a fishing license is needed. Here is some Fishing license information. When DeSoto explored this area 400 years ago, the Aucilla River was a wild blackwater river. Today it would be one of the few places he would recognize.
The Aucilla River also offers excellent fishing during the winter months. Starting in November and lasting until February, seatrouts, and redfish move into large numbers. Anywhere in the bottom mile of the river, you will find fish in great abundance. Find a spot near the channel or any other submerged structure, set anchor, and start throwing your favorite trout lure. The odds of missing the fish are almost nil. People come from as far away as Alabama to experience the quality fishing offered during the year’s colder months. Some of the adequate holes are within a hundred yards of the lower boat launch. Many anglers will never even start their motors except to load their boats back on to their trailers.
South Aucilla River
The Aucilla River located in Jefferson County and the boat ramp entrance closet to the bay is inside the St Marks National Wildlife Refuge. I always enjoy the dirt road drive to the launch from Hwy 98. The road is well maintained, as is the launch area. Two launch sites provide access to the Aucilla River. The upper zone is located one mile east of the Aucilla River bridge on route 98. Considered the first left after the bridge if you are traveling east. The lower launch is located on the right side one and a half miles beyond the bridge if you travel in the same easterly direction. The lower launch is the by far the launch of choice for saltwater anglers. By launching at the lower ramp, you will avoid about three miles of very tricky running in the river.
If you are coming from the east, don’t worry if you pass the road to the lower launch. You will be able to turn around just up the road at J.R.’s Aucilla River store. J.R. is a topnotch fisherman and knows the river as well as anyone alive. If using a Kayak or paddleboard, you have many more options as to availability along the river. He is also the closest thing to a fishing guide that the Aucilla has. He will be happy to bring you up to date on the best patterns and locations and provide you with any of the lures, bait, or fuel you may need for the trip. Take his advice about fishing or navigational hazards seriously. As the local saying goes, “nobody knows the Aucilla like J.R..”
Boat Ramp Lunch
Launching at the concrete ramp is simple. The key to the Aucilla adventure is to have the tides in your favor. Ride the tide out, and fish the incoming tide back. My favorite trip is the Aucilla Loop trip. Paddling out to the open bay, stay right, or west. There is plenty of open water to fish at the mouth of the bay. As the tide turns, paddle north on the west side of the river marsh. I highly recommend doing some Google Map research to get familiar with your track or use a GPS. As your return will be through the Sulphur Creek, cut through. This shortcut will take you back into the main river. The trip can be made in reverse if you desire. Either way, there will be plenty of fish along your journey.
Aucilla River Techequies & Information
Some lures work better than others. The best attraction for redfish is a gold spoon, and the best for trout is a hot pink shallow diving crankbait. The big decision is which fish is your primary target. You will find that you will catch both species regardless of the lure you choose. Any shallow-running crankbait will catch its share of fish, and of course, all the usual natural baits are a sure success. There are several reasons why the Aucilla river remains a quality angling area. First is the fact that the heart of Florida’s most extensive publicly owned coastline. Being far from major towns and cities helps keep the Aucilla from feeling the same heavy fishing pressure that other areas along the coast are subject too.
If you’re planning an extended or overnight trip to the Aucilla River, there are a few things to keep in mind. The nearest campground is twelve miles away. Located on another quality river, the Econfina. If you stay there, it will be easier to launch there, run out a mile, and head west down the coast until you see the Aucilla River entrance marker. That will be just about four miles down the coast. Other than camping, there are motels thirty miles to the east in Perry. If you are coming from the west, your best selection for places to stay will be in Tallahassee, but this will leave you with about a fifty-mile drive to the river.
Fishing trips are easy. The flat on the west side of the river and into the bay, which is rocky. The rocks will hold trout, reds, and flounder. There are plenty of oyster bars and island points on the marsh side of the journey that should get your attention. The current can be strong, so at least a five-pound mushroom anchor works best.
The Aucilla River is one place that takes a little more work to get to and a little more caution once you’re there. But these are the very things that make any wilderness exciting. If you would like to see what Florida looks like without the tourist hot spots and enjoy good fishing, visit the Aucilla River. It is one of the last wild Florida rivers.
Top Targeted Fish Species