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).
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.
Stripers and hybrids will be into their spawning migrations by early April and will be aggregated below the dam. Largemouth bass will also be on the beds in early April. Look for black bass where backwater areas are available. The bag and size limits for striped bass, hybrids, and white bass in the Apalachicola River is 20 fish per day, only three of which may be striped bass, and stripers must be a minimum of 18 inches total length. There is no size limit on hybrids or white bass.
High and muddy water through spring can slow down the fishing, or at least the anglers, in the lower Apalachicola River. Stripers and sunshine bass should still be available in the lower reaches of the Apalachicola River, as well as its distributaries: East River, St. Marks River, and Little St. Marks River. Best bets for catching hybrids and stripers 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. Larger striped bass and hybrids may be more readily caught with bucktail jigs or crankbaits in areas of current near bridge pilings, along deep channels and drop-offs. Fish the outgoing tide for the best results. The bag limit for stripers, hybrids, and white bass is 20 fish per day, aggregate, but only three may be striped bass. There are no size limits on hybrids or white bass. Largemouth bass should be on the beds in Lake Wimico during early April. Spinnerbaits 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.
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.