Apalachicola River

Apalachicola River (Jackson, Gadsden, Calhoun, Gulf, Liberty, and Franklin counties): The Apalachicola River runs from Lake Seminole, on the Florida-Georgia border at Chattahoochee, 106 miles south through the Panhandle to the Gulf of Mexico, at the town of Apalachicola. In terms of volume of water discharged, it is Florida’s largest river. The Apalachicola River has many areas for good fishing, the best areas are the upper river, which is influenced by discharge from Lake Seminole, and the lower river, which is influenced by Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Bag and size limits follow those for Northwest Florida, which include a 12-inch minimum size limit for largemouth bass (bag limit of five) and an 18-inch minimum size limit for striped bass (bag limit of three).

The lower Apalachicola River

Apalachicola RiverThe lower Apalachicola River consists of the main river channel and the distributaries which form the delta: the St. Marks River, Little St. Marks River, and East River. Shoreline access is available only from the public docks on the waterfront in Apalachicola and at the City Dock (Ten-foot Hole) under the Hwy. 98 Bridge. Public boating access include the City Dock, Gardner Landing on East River, Cash Creek off of Hwy. 65, and Magnolia Bluff on the east end of the Hwy 98 Bridge in East Point. Private launching facilities can be found at several marinas in Apalachicola, in East Point, and Howard’s Creek off the Brother’s River, and on Searcy Creek (Intracoastal Waterway) in White City. FWC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annually stock striped bass and sunshine bass in the lower river.

Striped bass and sunshine bass fishing in the lower Apalachicola River and the Intracoastal Waterway should improve during the fall. Many of these fish should have remained in the lower river through the past summer and should provide excellent light-tackle or fly rod action through the fall. Larger fish that have been aestivating in cool water refuges in other parts of the system during summer months will begin foraging throughout the lower river as water temperatures decline in late October and early November. Best bets will be bottom fishing with shrimp, live or fresh, near the mouths of the Apalachicola, St. Marks, Little St. Marks, and East rivers, and along the Gulf County Canal and Intracoastal Waterway near Port St. Joe and White City. Larger striped bass may be more readily caught with bucktail jigs or crankbaits near bridge pilings and along deep channels and drop-offs. For best results, fish the outgoing tides at the river mouths or the slack tides near bridge pilings. The bag limit for stripers, hybrids, and white bass is 20 fish per day, aggregate, but only three may be striped bass and must be a minimum of 18 inches total length. Fall is normally a time for good largemouth bass fishing in the lower river. Dipping live shrimp along the steeper, grass-lined banks of the St. Marks and East rivers and the smaller sloughs, such as Montgomery Slough and Saltwater Creek, is one of the more popular methods. Spinner baits fished along the banks and weed lines of the larger channels and in Lake Wimico are also productive. As water temperatures drop, speckled trout and redfish will also move into the lower reaches of the Apalachicola and the distributaries. Bucktails, spoons, crankbaits, and live or dead shrimp should all be productive. Flathead catfish fishing is excellent, use live bream or shad in deep water structure during daylight hours and adjacent shallow sand bars at night. Channel catfish should also be biting use stink bait or anything smelly and you should do well.

The upper Apalachicola River has good shore access from Jim Woodruff Dam to Race Shoal (0.9 miles) on the east bank, and from the dam to Hwy. 90 (0.6 miles) on the west bank. Access above Hwy 90 is on Corps of Engineers (COE) property and includes a fishing catwalk adjacent to the powerhouse at the dam. Boat landings are also located at Chattahoochee, Sneads, Aspalaga (Navigation Mile 98.9), and Ocheesee (NM93.9).

Expect water levels to remain low through October and November. Striped bass and sunshine bass fishing in the tailrace of Jim Woodruff Dam and the upper Apalachicola River will improve as water temperatures decline around the end of October or beginning of November. During early morning and evening hours, stripers and hybrids will school near the surface and should be readily taken on topwater plugs and crankbaits. During the day, fishing on the bottom with live shad, shiners, or small eels will likely be more productive. The bag limit for stripers, hybrids, and white bass is 20 fish per day, aggregate, but only three may be striped bass that must be 18 inches in length. There is no size limit for hybrids or white bass.
For more information contact Riverview Bait & Tackle (850-663-2462) in Chattahoochee, Bay City Marina (850-653-9294) or Scipio Creek Marina (850-653-8030) in Apalachicola, and Fisherman’s Choice (850-670-8808) in Eastpoint.

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