Fishing the Forgotten Coast of Florida
Ralph Waldo Emerson once described Tallahassee, Florida as a “grotesque place.” I would beg to differ. My experience on the “forgotten coast” was truly nothing short of amazing.
Recently, I had a three day weekend and I wanted to take advantage of it and get away for a few days. I work as a school administrator for a large school system in Tennessee, and I was more than ready for some fun. My husband, James and I decided that we needed some adventure, and Florida fit the bill. We left early on Saturday morning and drove approximately seven and a half hours to Tallahassee, Florida. The temperature in Florida upon our arrival was a very comfortable 74 degrees. It was a welcome change compared to our 30 degree weather we had been experiencing at home.
On Sunday morning, James and I met Robert Baker, who owns The Wilderness Way in Crawfordville, Florida. Robert was gracious enough to take us out and show us the salt marsh. Robert told us that the area was referred to as the “Forgotten Coast of Florida.” The area was so beautiful I don’t see how anyone could every forget about it. The salt marsh was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The smell of the salt air, the breeze rippling the otherwise flat water out in front of us, the Pelicans flying overhead, and the beautiful Redfish tailing just in front of our kayaks was incredible.
We launched our kayaks from an area in Panacea, Florida and the hunt was on for Sea Trout, Flounder, and Redfish. On this particular trip, I was able to paddle a Jackson Mayfly. I had never paddled a Mayfly, as my usually kayak is a Jackson Coosa HD. The Mayfly truly impressed me as it was so incredibly stable. I was able to carry all of the gear I needed for a full day on the water and not feel like the kayak was overloaded. The Mayfly tracked very true, and I was able to hold my position without fear of the kayak becoming a weather vane in the breeze. I found myself thinking several times during the day that the Mayfly would be a really solid kayak for anyone spending much time on flat water or even in some moving river water.
All three of us caught fish. My husband and I caught Sea Trout and we were both amazed at how much of a fight the fish put up as we were bringing them to the boat. Neither of us had ever caught a Sea Trout, so the experience was really awesome. The Sea Trout is actually not a Trout at all, but rather a member of the rather large drum family known as Sciaenidae, which includes about 275 species. My husband and I released all of the feisty Sea Trout we caught, as we are catch and release only, but the Sea Trout may be eaten as long as the fish is within a specific slot limit.
Our guide caught a beautiful Redfish toward the end of our trip. It was one of the most gorgeous fish that I had ever seen. The Redfish, is actually a Red Drum, known as the Sciaenops ocellatus, and is a game fish that lives in the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Gulf of Mexico.
Our day in the salt marsh went by quickly, but I know that we will plan to go back again. The “forgotten coast” is definitely unforgettable.
– Courtney Bennett