Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 41 No 3 - Page 33

incredible natural beauty, anyone can find something appealing in this pristine Panhandle paradise – unless they are looking for wild nightlife! Tired of Salt? Try catching freshwater species! Capt. Dan Van Treese, of Perfect Cast Charters, and Taylor Warren show off a tripletail she caught while fising in Indian Pass near Port St. Joe. Photo by Author. Gulf Coast Closeup (Continued from page 21.) “We have very few hotels in the area,” Adams advised. “People can rent family homes. In Gulf County, if you wanted a really secluded beach, go to Indian Pass. If you want to be close to town, go to St. Joe Beach. If you want good access to either the Gulf or the bay, go to Cape San Blas.” The T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park offers lodging ranging from primitive camping to cabins, all with easy access to the Gulf or bay. The park also includes nearly 10 miles of superb beaches along Cape San Blas. Park visitors enjoy picnicking, snorkeling, diving or just walking along the beaches observing nature. Some people wade the cape beaches casting for trout, redfish, Spanish mackerel, flounder, whiting, pompano and other species. Whether coming to battle big tarpon, tempt trout, snatch scallops or just enjoy While in the Port St. Joe area, anglers might also want to fish for bass and other freshwater species. The Gulf County Canal, also called the St. Joe Canal, connects St. Joe Bay to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which runs through Lake Wimico, a 4,055-acre natural lake. In some places, anglers frequently catch fresh and salty species in the same places. “Sheepshead get in the canals during the winter,” commented Roger Thomas. “Lake Wimico has good fishing for bass and shellcrackers. The lake has a lot of grassy flats.” Out of Port St. Joe, take Highway 71 about 24 miles northward to Wewahitchka and the Dead Lakes system. Contrary to its name, the Dead Lakes support an incredibly rich and diverse ecosystem fed by the Chipola River, a tributary to the Apalachicola River. The cypress-lined Dead Lakes area covers about 6,700 acres. People can catch largemouths exceeding 10 pounds, crappie, panfish and catfish. In the Chipola River, anglers might also catch spotted bass and striped bass. Don’t forget to buy some tupelo honey before heading home. When the tupelo trees of the Apalachicola River system bloom, bees make some of the best tasting honey found anywhere. At any time, anglers can work the shorelines and flats for redfish, but fishing for spot-tails turns hot as temperatures cool in the fall. Reds generally prefer shallow water and muddier bottoms. Look for anything different along the shorelines, like broken sand and mud patches. Toss gold spoons or topwaters for reds. Bull reds also gather in huge schools along the beaches. Trout and flounder action also improves in the bay during the fall. In the winter, most anglers head back to Indian Pass or fish the deeper canals. Dark bottoms and oyster shells in the Apalachicola estuary can better retain heat from the sun. This can produce some excellent cold weather trout and redfish action. After boating a mess of fish or scallops, bring the catch to a local restaurant where chefs can cook it. Two local favorites are the Southern Coastal Grill, Important Contacts (sunsetcoastalgrill.com) situated on grounds landscaped like a Dead Lakes State Recreation Area small park on the bay, or Wewahitchka, Fla. Dockside Seafood and Raw Bar 850-639-2702 (docksideseafoodandrawbar.com) www.visitgulf.com/article/dead-lakes-recreation-area at Port St. Joe Marina. A Panhandle dining and enter- Dixie Belle Hotel tainment icon for more than a Port. St. Joe, Fla. century, Indian Pass Raw Bar 850-227-1443 (indianpassrawbar.com) traces its dixiebellemotel.com history back to 1903. Visitors can stay at the Dixie Gulf County Tourist Development Council Belle Motel about a mile from 800-482-GULF, 850-229-7800 Port St. Joe Marina. The Dixie www.visitgulf.com Belle caters to fishermen and their families. Guests can use a free T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park boat wash area and fish cleaning Cape San Blas www.floridastateparks.org/park/St-Joseph station on the motel grounds. G C F Guide Information Taft Taunton Liquid Addiction Charters 850-899-0366 www.liquidaddictioncharters.com Roger Thomas Southern Tide Charters 850-227-4542 www.southerntidecharters.com Dan Van Treese Perfect Cast Charters 850-227-5149 www.perfectcastcharters.com JULY • AUGUST • SEPTEMBER 2 0 1 7 33