Fishing in the Ochlocknee Bay area

Thread starter #1
Anyone have any experience fishing this area? The wife and I recently purchased a small place on a river canal just south of Sopchoppy. Hoping to buy a boat to do some fishing both fresh and salt. Wife wanted to purchase vacant lot next door. This burned up most of boat budget. Thinking about the smallest Mako skiff. By the time I upgrade a little and add sales tax we are around 20k. I can scrape together maybe half that and finance the rest. One of my many questions is will a skiff that small be good for the area. Not planning on going offshore and it appears to be a lot of shallow water bays in the area. I have no knowledge of this area and what I should expect as far as water conditions. Any opinions or advice is welcome. Thanks.
 
A skiff will do just fine in that area . Alot of remote areas to fish but like you said it has alot shallow bays . In the summer most of the saltwater fish are gonna be outwards from turtle island and in the winter there will be tons of reds and trout in the deep holes of the river all the way up to the "Tallahassee boat club ". Beware of the numerous oyster bars east of the hwy 98 bridge .
 

Anvil Head

Senior Member
Nav charts are terrible for the Och-bay. Take your time and learn the run channels. On spring tides the water gets real skinny for a good portion of the bay. Some great fishing when you learn the water. Fished most of it out of an old Bass Tracker for many, many years. We found it easier to trailer to different areas rather than run up and down the bay. Just be careful on the old ramp across from Turtle - drops deep and current can be real strong there + parking is minimal. There are small boat ramps hidden all around the area, just got to find them (then remember where they are).
That's a beautiful run up the Sop. Carry an extra prop - sand and mud bars can spin a hub out on you real fast. The skinnier you can go the more you'll like the bay. Some of the best hot-spots require a bit of mud churning.
Here's an old pic from the oyster bars down at the Point. #8 flyrod and crab imitation.
Redfish Blue claw imi.jpg
 
Thread starter #4
Thanks for the replies and advice.
In the summer most of the saltwater fish are gonna be outwards from turtle island
Just be careful on the old ramp across from Turtle
Where is Turtle Island? I have found a few ramps around Panacea and a couple near Angelo's. Anvil your comment about the Bass Tracker makes me want to trailer my old Glastron Fish and Ski down and try that first to see what the area is like. Just worry about the affects of the salt water on it. I have had it since the 80's. The trailer isn't galvanized either.
 
Thread starter #5
Oh and nice Red and on a fly no less. I bet that was a tough fight.
 
Like others have said, be careful, this bay has a LOT of bars, both hard and soft.
 

Anvil Head

Senior Member
Make sure you stop in at J's quick stop and say hi to Sadie, she still has two of her original teeth (just joking). The salt water will take a toll on the trailer and motor if you don't wash them down and flush after each excurison. Just sold my old 60hp merc (been in and out down there since '86) just needed a servicing and she's still running hard. Flushed and washed after each trip. Tracker trailer didn't do so well, no way to rinse out inside tubular frame. So after 20 years it rusted through. A "C" framed trailer ought to be easy to wash clean (with soap). It's a pain but worth the effort.
Turtle island is the last island down stream as you hit the main bay where the Och and Sop meet. Used to be a great bayside resturant next to the old boat ramp back in the day, but it burned down. Also heard the island referred to as Grass Island.
Yeah, can kind of figure a minute of fight per pound on a flyrod (at least that's what your arm will think).
 
Thread starter #8
Thanks for the warning MudDucker. I have no experience piloting a boat in salt water. I am especially concerned about falling tides and either getting stuck or ruining a prop. Good problems to have though just need to find time to head down more often. Anvil thanks for the clarity on Turtle Island. I think I just fount that ramp you mentioned on Google Earth. And my trailer is an old Southern Draw 'C' frame. I think I will buy a Wakulla County Park pass. For 40 bucks I can use the county ramps and parks for a year. The wife really likes Mashes Sands. She can get her sun, take the dog, and there's lots of hermit crabs for her to watch. More at Bald Point but the water isn't as clear and she can't take the dog on the beach.
 
Just a note - If the fella's still open, there is a boat mechanic/repair shop on the left just as you come into Panacea from the west. Kind of a rough lookin place, but these guys always did us good when we needed a carb flush or tuneup. Guy could diagnose and repair most any problem and repair standing behind your trailer in the parking lot (while the sandgnats had lunch!).
Panacea is great place, but getting a little too "busy". Be sure to check out the Marine Science Lab on the south side of town couple of blocks behind Crumb's. Lots of interesting stuff for you and the grandkids to see. Also, if you want a change up from salt, try Otter Lake, due north of town. Some really nice bass and bream fishing, just have to be fast bringing them in those gators' are quick!
 
Just a note - If the fella's still open, there is a boat mechanic/repair shop on the left just as you come into Panacea from the west. Kind of a rough lookin place, but these guys always did us good when we needed a carb flush or tuneup. Guy could diagnose and repair most any problem and repair standing behind your trailer in the parking lot (while the sandgnats had lunch!).
Panacea is great place, but getting a little too "busy". Be sure to check out the Marine Science Lab on the south side of town couple of blocks behind Crumb's. Lots of interesting stuff for you and the grandkids to see. Also, if you want a change up from salt, try Otter Lake, due north of town. Some really nice bass and bream fishing, just have to be fast bringing them in those gators' are quick!
Pretty sure this guy passed away. Not many choices now.
 
Thread starter #12
Dank that Solo Skiff looks pretty neat, maybe 30 years ago but these days I am not as adventurous. Anvil thanks for the information I will check next time I am down. Even if he has passed maybe someone kept the business going. Wife already wants to check out the Science Lab. And at Otter Lake the gators will eat your catch before you can get it in? Sounds really cool and not so much at the same time. Thanks to all for the information and sorry it took so long to reply. I just got back from there and so far I have been able to resist having internet service. Probably won't be able to resist forever. For now it works though. If only I can find a better insect repellant.
 

Ihunt

Senior Member
A carolina Skiff would be a good choice. Find one used. They float in inches of water. They are not a high end boat so don’t expect the finish to look as such but if you’re looking for something that is stable, floats in inches of water, doesn’t take much power, and will last look at a Skiff.

Some of them are true flat bottoms and some have a little V to them so they will not ever ride like a V Hull. They can get rough and you can get wet. My suggestion would be a DLV series. The 19’ and 21’ ones are very common and can be found for very cheap at times. It would be a great boat to learn that area on instead of scratching/busting up a new one. It could then be sold on a couple of years and you would probably not lose very much money.
 
Thread starter #14
Ihunt thanks for the advice. You are correct I could get more boat by buying used and that is an option. What concerns me is the corrosive effects of salt water. I am not sure what to look for. I can inspect the hull and get a decent idea of it's integrity but inside the engine, or the wiring, etc. I wouldn't know what to look for. Maybe a deal will come along as I am in no hurry still kicking tires.
 
Ihunt thanks for the advice. You are correct I could get more boat by buying used and that is an option. What concerns me is the corrosive effects of salt water. I am not sure what to look for. I can inspect the hull and get a decent idea of it's integrity but inside the engine, or the wiring, etc. I wouldn't know what to look for. Maybe a deal will come along as I am in no hurry still kicking tires.

Check out craigslist in Atlanta. Most boats up there will not have lived their life in saltwater.

Grass Shack up there deals with a lot of skiffs.
 
Galvanized trailer and good boat/motor maintenance. Not that hard with the simpleness of the C. Skiff. I like the DLV hull best, it can get a little rough on the O'bay pretty quick sometimes. Keep it simple (that would be my choice next for down there, but I'm a fisherman not a joy rider). There are protective sprays for elec connections if they are not enclosed in protective area.
 
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