(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. While there are many areas of good fishing along the Apalachicola River, 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 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).
There were several heavy rain events and significant water flow during February and March, which usually means striped bass; hybrid striped bass (sunshine bass) and baitfish are discharged from Lake Seminole into the Apalachicola River tailrace at Jim Woodruff Dam. Striped bass and sunshine bass will be into their spawning migrations by early April and will be aggregated in the tailrace. The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) in cooperation with the FWC annually stocks 500,000 striped bass fingerlings into Lake Seminole. Typically it takes three years for these fish to recruit into the fishery and be of harvestable size to anglers. The fingerlings stocked in spring of 2010 will be coming through the fishery this April and May and provide plenty of action for anglers. Also, a good year class of sunshine bass stocked into the lower Apalachicola River in 2010 will continue to support that fishery with 3-5 pound fish (see lower Apalachicola River). The bag and size limits for striped bass, hybrid striped bass (sunshine’s) and white bass in the Apalachicola River is 20 fish per day, only three of which may be striped bass, Striped bass must be a minimum of 18 inches total length to be harvested. There is no size limit for sunshine or white bass.
The 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, Magnolia Bluff on the east end of the Hwy 98 Bridge in East Point, and at the end of Bluff Road within Box-R WMA. 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.
The best bets for catching hybrid striped bass (sunshine bass) and striped bass in the lower river is 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. FWC stocked 250,000 sunshine bass into the lower river in March 2012, and these fish will be available to anglers by hook-and-line this spring. The FWC will continue to stock 250,000 hybrid striped bass annually into the lower river. Larger striped bass and sunshines may be more readily caught with bucktail jigs or crankbaits near bridge pilings and along deep channels, current and drop-offs. Fish the outgoing tides for best results. The bag limit for striped bass, hybrid striped bass (sunshines) and white bass is 20 fish per day, aggregate, but only three may be striped bass. Striped bass must be a minimum of 18-inches total length to be harvested. There are no size limits for sunshine or white bass. Largemouth bass should be on the beds in Lake Wimico and in the creeks and backwaters during early April. Spinner baits and plastic worms fished along the flats in about six feet of water, or less, should be productive. Bag and size limits for largemouth bass are five fish per day and a minimum size of 12 inches. Bream and shellcracker will also be moving onto the beds around the full moon in April and again in May. Low water levels in the river will also allow saltwater species, such as trout and redfish, to move further up into the rivers, providing excellent opportunities on those days too windy and rough to venture out on the bays and Gulf.
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.