Even during the busy tourist season, Apalach—as the locals call it—operates in low gear. And while the pace is slow here, the fishing is anything but come springtime when pompano, mackerel, seatrout, and bull redfish all make runs on the bay’s fertile waters.
Here’s your guide to dropping off the grid for a few days of fishing (and oyster feasting) on Florida’s forgotten coast.
Just before you cross over the John Gorrie Memorial Bridge, hang a left and head to St. George Island where you’ll find Island Outfitters. This full-service shop can set you up with tackle and bait, or rent you a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to fish the island’s bay side.
Apalachicola River Inn
At the other end of the Gorrie Bridge, the Apalachicola River Inn will rent you a room with a view for a shade under 150 bucks—which’ll also get you a free hot breakfast next door at Caroline’s where, if the fish aren’t biting, you can relax in a comfortable deck chair overlooking the mouth of the Apalachicola River.
Hit the Beach
If you can’t wait to fish, then head back over to St. George, find a spot on the beach, and stick your toes—and a rod holder—in the sand. Rig up with a floating pompano rig baited with sand fleas or cutbait. If you need the exercise, wade into the surf and cast either a shrimp-tipped popping cork or a 1⁄4-ounce bucktail jig.
If It Fishes Like a Duck…
Few folks know more fishing hotspots around Apalachicola than longtime local guide Allan “Wood Duck” Richards of Woodduck’s Guide Service. Wood Duck is a fourth—generation fisherman and native of the region. Once you’ve caught your limit, he can give you a comprehensive history lesson and guided tour up the Apalachicola River.
Let’s be honest: As fantastic as the fishing can be, a big reason to visit Apalachicola is to gorge yourself on some of the world’s best oysters…for a ridiculously cheap price. Up the Creek serves a dozen raw for $8—add $3 for a killer habanero mignonette. And just a little ways down Water Street at Boss Oyster you can get a combo platter of a dozen baked oysters dressed any way you like, including with blue crab or sashimi, for $19.
At day’s end, take the fish you caught to Papa Joe’s, where for $10 they’ll bring it back from the kitchen either fried or grilled, your choice, with a couple of sides. I would opt for the hush puppies and slaw myself. Wash it down with a cold beer or some sweet tea for just a couple bucks more.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Field & Stream