Wakulla Nature Outdoors

BEACHES

Mashes Sands Island County Park
From Panacea, U.S. 98 south for three miles, then east on Mashes Sands Road. Restrooms and picnic tables, swimming, fishing pier, tidal marshes, biking, trailhead for Ochlockonee Bay walking and bike trail.

St. Marks Lighthouse
Small area to swim in front of the lighthouse.

Wakulla Beach US 98, 1.8 miles west of Wakulla River to Wakulla Beach Road (dirt road on S. side of Hwy) This is a NATURAL beach with NO facilities. Unimproved boat landing, view of Goose Creek Bay and vast sea grass beds. Hike to Shepard’s Spring and Cathedral of the Palms.

Shell Point Beach
South on Spring Creek Highway, off 98, for 1.5 miles. Bear left at fork and keep right at second fork until it ends at Shell Point Beach. Beach popular for beachcombing, windsurfing, sailing and boating. Restrooms, picnic tables, covered shelters and showers. Public Beach.

FISHING IN WAKULLA COUNTY by Capt. Jody Campbell

I Believe when most people from out of state think about fishing Florida they probably think of snook fishing in Tampa Bay or fishing the gin clear waters of the Keys for bonefish or permit. Along with that fishing comes the crowds. In Wakulla County we don’t have snook, bonefish or permit. But if you want to float down a lazy, scenic river and cast for bass, skull around a cypress lined pond pitching beetle-spins for hand sized bream, fish the flats for red fish and speckled trout or head out to the open gulf in search of grouper and red snapper then you’re in the right place, and without the big crowds.

The Wakulla, St. Marks and Ochlockonee Rivers are teaming with all types of freshwater fish and in the winter produce many saltwater species looking for warmer waters. Otter Lake and many other small refuge ponds and lakes dot the landscape of Wakulla County and can produce trophy-sized bass, bream and speckled perch. If saltwater fishing better suits your fancy then you better get ready to get you line stretched. The Wakulla County shoreline goes from the East bank of the Ochlockonee River to a point several miles East of the St. Marks River. Numerous creeks and tributaries flow off the bay and produce fantastic fishing in the fall and winter for trout, red fish and sheepshead and also provide some of the most spectacular scenery of anywhere in the state. As the waters warm in early spring the trout head for the shallow grass flats along our shoreline. At this time most people’s attention turns from creek fishing to drifting the flats and casting artificial lures or live baits for speckled trout and whatever else might be hungry. Usually by early April huge schools of baitfish start appearing and behind them are Spanish Mackerel and ladyfish. By the first of May cobia will appear and at this time everything that swims in our bays are here except tarpon which typically show in good numbers around the end of May or first of June. Fishing will slow somewhat in the heat of the summer, except for tarpon fishing, but by the end of August and first of September fishing will pick back up and continue to be good through the fall and early winter. If you want a little more weight on the end of your line it’s a short ride to some of the best grouper fishing in the State of Florida. Both black and red grouper are abundant as well as red snapper, amberjack and king mackerel. Bottom fishing is probably the most popular method of fishing offshore though in the past decade, trolling for grouper in early spring, fall and winter has become very popular and also very productive.

The most popular launching ramp in Wakulla County is at the St. Marks Lighthouse, which is only minutes from the bay. Others like to put in at the city of St. Marks so that they are they are able to flush their engines with freshwater on their return trip. There are numerous other boat ramps located throughout the county and all are just minutes away from excellent fishing, both salt and fresh.

Be sure to know your limits and license requirements before heading out and always monitor the weather. Thunderstorms can blow up rather quickly in the summer and ruin a good day on the water. Always leave a float plan with someone and be careful on the water. Good luck and good fishing!
(Capt. Campbell is a full time guide out of Shell Point Florida and can be reached at 850 926 1173 for an inshore charter and he can put you in touch with a captain for an offshore charter)


FRESHWATER FISHING

Lower Ochlocknee River
Access is available 12 miles south of State Road 375 from junction with State Road 20, then 1 mile west on forest road 375B to Pine Creek Boat Ramp. The river can also beach reached at the Ocholocknee River State Park , four miles south of Sopchoppy on US highway 319.

Sopchoppy River The river is accessed at the Myron B. Hodge City Park in Sopchoppy.
St. Marks Wildlife Refuge The St. Marks river is accessible from several locations including US highway 98 in Newport.


SALTWATER FISHING

St. Marks Wildlife Refuge (the Lighthouse) The entrance is located off US 98 in Newport and leads through the refuge to the lighthouse and boat ramp. Shell Point is located at the end of County Road 367. Wakulla Beach is located off US highway 98 at the end of Wakulla Beach Road . Mashes Sands Pier overlooks the Ochlocknee Bay and is located at the end of Mashes Sands Road, off US highway 98.

WATER RECREATION

Paddling
Many of the paddling opportunities in Wakulla County are designated as part of the State of Florida’s systems of Green ways and Trails. For a guide map call 245-2052 or pick up a guide map at the Visitor’s Center in Panacea.

Apalachee Archaelogical Boat Trail Guide 984-3966
Ochlocknee River Lower Trail for Canoeing
Sopchoppy River Canoe Trail
Wakulla River Canoe Trail
Historic Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail

Canoeing and Kayaking

T-n-T Hide-a-way, Inc.
(850) 925-6412
tnthideaway.com
3 Certified Green Guides who specialize in Eco Tours, American Heritage and History tours, kayak fishing and manatee observation trips.

The Wilderness Way
(850) 877-7200
thewildernessway.net
Kayak and Canoe Sales and Rental, Guided and Private Tours, Kayak Fishing Gear, Professional Certified Instruction, and Paddlesport Accessories.


SAILING & WINDSURFING

Shell Point Beach is the favorite location with great conditions for these sports.


SCUBA OPPORTUNITIES

Cherokee Sink
SR 61 S of 267 1.2 miles. Beautifully restored natural geologic formation called a sinkhole lake. Picnic tables and walkways down to the lake. Register to dive at the Ranger Station.

Rivers – Wakulla River is a great dive to see Manatee in some months, and hunting for artifacts such as arrowheads.

Bay
 – Accessible from St. Marks, Shell Point, Panacea, and other area docks and boat ramps.


HUNTING AND SHOOTING SPORTS

Apalachicola Wildlife Management Area
(850) 488-4676
Located along State Road 375. There is a small still hunt section, but most of the area is open to deer-dog running. Hunting opportunities include big and small game with general gun, bow hunting and muzzle loading seasons.

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
(850) 925-6121
The refuge supports an abundance of wildlife species. A limited number of resident game quota hunts are held on the Panacea and Wakulla units each year. An unlimited number of permit are available for the Piney Island duck hunts, hog hunts and small game hunts.

PUBLIC BOAT RAMPS

Jack Langston’s Fish Camp and Boat Ramp – Launch on the Ochlockonee River.
Lake Ellen – Crawfordville, public boat ramp.
Leonard’s Landing – Pull-off & boat launch kiosk with information on clam farming and seagrass beds.
Levy Bay Boat Ramp – Natural boat ramp.
Lower Bridge Boat Ramp – Natural boat ramp.
Mack Landing – Near Smith Creek on the Ochlockonee River.
Mashes Sands – Popular boat ramp.
Myron B. Hodge City Park – Sopchoppy.
Rock Landing Dock Facility
Ro-Ho Road Boat Ramp (Brother’s Three) – Concrete ramp.
San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park – St. Marks.
St. Marks Lighthouse
Wakulla Beach – Wakulla Beach Road. Unimproved boat landing.
Additional Ramps: Spring Creek, Live Oak Island, and Ocholocknee Bay.


MARINAS WITH BOAT LAUNCH

Port Panacea Marina – Panacea – 984-5844
Riverside Marina – St. Marks – 925-6157
Shields Marina – St. Marks – 925-6158
Shell Island Marina – Shell Island – 926-7162