(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).
Fishing in the upper river is often dependent on discharge from Lake Seminole. Stripers and hybrids will be roaming the river and feeding voraciously, and will aggregate in the current below Jim Woodruff Dam and along the sand and gravel bars downstream. Bottom fish the tailrace with shad or herring. Both species should school along the deeper sandbars downstream. White bass will begin moving up the Apalachicola River to spawn by February. Fish the sand and gravel bars using grass shrimp, small crayfish, or small jigs. Striper and sunshine bass fishing in the lower river has been good, particularly around the railroad trestle, the Brothers River and the Hwy. 98 Bridge, and should continue through February. Larger fish will begin migrating upstream by March, but smaller fish will remain and should provide excellent light tackle or fly-fishing. Largemouth bass fishing should be good along all of the river channels and Lake Wimico. Fish the flats or the north shore in the lake. Expect the bass to remain in the eelgrass unless the river rises or the water temperature falls to the 50’s. Dabbling live shrimp along the cutgrass will also provide plenty of action for smaller fish. Speckled trout and redfish have also moved into the rivers for the winter. Fish the deeper holes with shrimp or jigs.
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.
Striped bass fishing in the lower Apalachicola River and the Intracoastal Waterway will continue to be improve throughout the fall. Larger fish, which have aggregated in cool water refugia 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. Sunshine bass (hybrids) should also be abundant in the lower river throughout the fall. The 250,000 hybrids stocked into the lower river in 2012 by the FWC should greatly enhance angling success. Fish the outgoing tides for best results. 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. 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. Spinnerbaits fished along the banks and weedlines of the larger rivers and in Lake Wimico are also productive.
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.