Steinhatchee, Florida is located on the Gulf side of the peninsula and near the mid-point of the Big Bend Region. It sits on the shores of the river of the same name and is a piece of Old Florida preserved. There are no theme parks or beaches here, so development has been slow. That’s one reason the area is referred to as the Nature Coast.
There is, however, a playground for anglers here in the form of Deadman Bay. The waters of the Steinhatchee River empty into the bay on their way to the Gulf of Mexico. The bay is a mixture of hard, rock bottom, interlaced with sand and seagrass flats.
The region is well known for producing great seatrout fishing, but there is another side to the action. Redfish forage over the hard bottom and roam the seagrass areas looking for crabs, shrimp and other delectables.
Because the water in much of the bay is only a couple of feet deep, sight casting to the reds is possible, especially on lower tide levels. Also, when the surface is riffled by the breeze, topwater lures can entice some explosive strikes. If the reds don’t respond to topwater offerings, a jig and soft plastic trailer often turns the trick.
Don’t expect giant reds here. Most of the fish are going to be less than 27-inches. There’s a two fish per day limit per angler, but most guides encourage catch and release of the reds. That’s one reason the fish are so abundant in the region.
If you plan to run your own boat in the bay, it would be a good idea to first book a day of guided fishing. Navigating these shallow flats can be trick. Many novices to the area have ended up ruining a lower unit on the motor, or have gotten stranded by falling tides here. Capt. Tommy Thompson knows the Steinhatchee region and its fisheries well, and would be a good choice for anglers wanting to toss artificial lures or flies for a fun day on the water.
When you’re ready for a lunch break it’s a short run back into the river, where you’ll find Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs perched over the water on the north side of the flow.
At the end of the day you can have a full seafood dinner at Roy’s Restuarant. That restaurant has been a favorite with visiting anglers since 1969. The eatery offers a great place to dine and catch the colorful Gulf sunset.
Anglers looking for bait, tackle and other guiding options can head to the Sea Hag Marina. Or if you trailered your own boat, there is a public ramp on the north side of the river.
For excellent accommodations, check out Steinhatchee Landing.