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A cure for the redfish ills - Panacea, Florida

The early morning is the best time to be on the water for the redfish.
The early morning is the best time to be on the water for the redfish.
Jimmy Jacobs

The dictionary definition of panacea is a remedy for all diseases or ills. If you have a bad case of the redfish itch that needs scratching, then, indeed, Panacea, Florida can be the prescription for curing you!

Redfish patrol the flats off the south end of Porter Island.
Jimmy Jacobs

Situated in North Florida’s Wakulla County on the shoreline called the Hidden Coast, this area offers some great shallow water action for redfish in the summer. Because the reds often are in very skinny water, this is ideal territory for kayak or wade fishing.

Due to the blazing summer sun, the best fishing often takes place in the couple of hours just after sunrise. And the soft morning light allows the water, shores and wildlife to present a magical tableau of color.

A good area to target is the channel running out of Dickerson Bay and sweeping to the east around the south end of Porter Island. A boat ramp at the end of Bottoms Road, which runs east off of U.S. Highway 98 just north of the village of Panacea adn then turns south, provides easy access to the angling.

The best shoreline to fish is directly across the channel. But, watch out for the sand bar that is about 100 yards offshore just before reaching the dredged boat channel. At lower tides this bar is too shallow for even kayaks to get over. You can, however, paddle either left or right to get around it.

Once at the far shore the water is only a 18-inches to 2 feet deep at high tide. The redfish patrol these shallow flats along the edges of the marsh grass when feeding. There also are some small creeks cutting back in the marsh. The mouths of these are good places to try some casts as well.

Because of the shallow depths, tossing topwater Spook-style lures and “walking the dog” across the surface can produce some wicked strikes. If you prefer throwing jig-and-plastic-trailer combos, use the lightest jig heads possible. Otherwise your hook stays fouled with the abundant seagrass growing on these flats.

You also have the option here of getting out of the boat and wading. Virtually the entire bottom along this shore is hard-packed sand. Wading offers the possibility of sneaking up quite close to the reds.

If you’d prefer having more local knowledge for your first kayak-fishing venture on the Panacea redfish flats, Robbie Baker of T-n-T Hide-a-Way is a Native Watercraft Endorsed Guide.