View Full Version : Port St. Joe

07-07-2008, 09:13 AM
We have finally settled on a destination for our fall family vacation. The previous posts about locations were made at a time of desperation before a trip that was cancelled at the last minute.

Now that we have things straightened out I am starting to get geared up to go. Paula helped with the flies and what materials I needed along with a bloody demonstration of how to tie one.
There are now about 2 doz. flies between 4 patterns

The main question in this thread would be how to fish the flies in saltwater.
The majority of my fishing will be from the beach while wading in only a couple of feet. Paula mentioned using a floating line which I have, but what stripping method should I use?
Am I trying to move the fly fast to get a reaction bite, or do I have to finesse the fly?
Do you cast parallel with the waves and fish in between them, or are you casting straight out from the beach?
I tied some copperheads in gold, chartruese/white and Red/white clousers and another fly that Byron recommended. All the flies have bead eyes and are on a 1/0 or 1 size hook.

Any help would be appreciated.

07-07-2008, 11:57 AM
As far as stripping methods, a (strip,pause,strip,pause) method works just about all the time. Try using this method in various speeds and stripping lengths until you find what works. When wading in the surf, fan casting is a good way to cover some ground if you are not sight casting. Look for cuts (channels) in the sandbar formed by rips (rip currents) that hold fish. You can spot the rips by watching where the waves break and where they dont break, and other various ways such as choppy or foamy water. Dont stand in the rip though! Fish the troughs of the sandbar also.

07-09-2008, 10:04 AM
TA-- Thanks for the help. I am going to try and find some of Lefty's casting video's on Youtube and see if I can pick up any pointers.

As far as camping goes we are looking at the TH Stone state park which is more on the bay side.
Does anyone know if the fishing is good all along the bay or is it better by the inlet that cuts into the backside of the peninsula?
Has anyone been to this park before? It seems like a fantastic spot to camp, and I am curious to what other people think.
We will most likely be going in Oct. either the 2nd or 3rd week. The crowds should be gone and the weather should be a little cooler.
Hopefully the fish will be hungry!


07-10-2008, 07:14 PM
i am glad you started this thread i have been looking at the same campground for a possible fall or early spring trip. any info would be appreciated.

Byron Begley
07-11-2008, 05:34 PM

I'm sorry I couldn't get away from the meeting to help you the other day. The Sand Shrimp pattern that Paula showed you has worked very well for us at Port St. Joe. As far as presentation goes you should try different stripping speeds and pauses. We were fishing with our friend and guide Gary Taylor on the point of Cape San Blas. The water was crystal clear. There was a huge school of redfish near the bank. Gary said he has trouble catching the reds there. The fish would follow the Sand Shrimp then turn off. Just for the heck of it when one turned off the fly I sped up the retrieve. The fish turned back on the fly. When he came up on it again I started stripping fast. He slammed the fly. We did this over and over and it worked every time. The lesson learned is when fish turn away from your fly, change your retrieve. On the other hand, I've had saltwater fish, many different species, take the sand shrimp when I was using a slow retrieve. The real name for that fly is the FC Sand Shrimp. The FC stands for Feather-Craft. The shop's founder, Ed Storey recommends that fly specifically for Port St. Joe. He told me he didn't come up with the pattern but uses it often. It has worked for us all over the Florida Panhandle. I even caught a big Sheephead on one. They say that is almost impossible. He ran about three feet to eat it. Have fun.


Byron Begley
07-11-2008, 05:47 PM
I forgot to tell you about the park. There is a long underwater shoal that you will see about 1/2 mile from the marina. You can wade out pretty far there and still be in shallow water. Also, facing the marina from the water to the left is some great wading water. All along the bay side of the park is excellent wading. But like I told you, shuffle your feet or you run the risk of stepping on a ray. Slide your feet along and they will get out of your way. I won't wade deep there any more. You will see other people do it. They don't know what is out there. The bay is full of huge bull sharks. However, Paula and I have snorkled in 6 foot deep water gathering scallops. I think the fishing will be better for you at the point of Cape San Blas and on the bay side. Fly fishing in the surf has been hard for me but I have not given it much of a chance. The park is beautiful and the beach on both sides is one of the finest you will ever see. You might want to rent a kayak for a day and try that.


07-11-2008, 08:08 PM
Thanks for the help.
We are looking forward to the trip more than any other vacation we have taken before.
How many flies do you think I should make before going.
I have about
10 fc sand shrimp
9 chartreuse (sp) clousers
6 red clousers
9 gold colored flies that Paula recommend ( name escapes me)
I don't know how much fishing I will get to do since the kids are with us and we are camping at a new place. If all goes well we will spend the majority of our time on the beach near the campground on the bay side.
Thanks again for the help!

07-11-2008, 11:31 PM
9 gold colored flies that Paula recommend ( name escapes me)


Well, I was going to say BARBIE BUGS until you mentioned gold! I can't help you with much anything else in the salt, but I can wish you the best of luck...With Paula and Byron on your side your bound to catch something! Hope you stick a pig!


Byron Begley
07-12-2008, 11:27 AM

You should be in good shape but you never know. Always better to have too many flies (sales pitch). The gold flies are called Copperheads. They work just as good as a spoonfly but are much easier to tie. I would use them if you encounter some dirty water. I have caught speckled trout, lady fish, Spanish Macs and other species on them in clear water. One thing you might want to add to the list is some poppers since you have plenty of time. I can show you how to make them. You also might want to buy a couple of Todd's Wiggle Minnows. I haven't learned how to make those yet. I make Crease Flies and they work well. Poppers are essential for fishing for tailing redfish on oyster beds. Everything else get's caught in the oysters. You won't see any oyster beds in Port St. Joe but if you venture over to St. Vincent Island and Indian Pass there are plenty. I always have some Puglisi Pinfish too. They are a lot of trouble to tie and you might want to wait until your next trip to learn to tie those.


07-15-2008, 01:05 PM
My wife is getting a little mad at me for buying soooooo much tying supplies. I on the other hand love tying new flies and getting new materials is like Christmas morning.

Another question that I have is, what do I do with my leader/tippet.
I have a tapered leader on their now, but do I need a shock leader.

I more than likely will be only fishing from the beach. I have 10, 12 and 20 lb line to add on my tippet if needed.
What else should I have?

Thanks for the help so far. It makes October seem so far away and I will be drooling once September roll around.

07-23-2008, 06:37 PM
My wife and I just got back from Saint Joe this afternoon after a one week stay at the park. It wasn't the best year for scallops but we got a few. Fishing was good as it usually is. The first couple of days were spent with my son-in-law and two grandsons ages 6 and 8. They both caught keeper Specks on the two days that they fished. I haven't downloaded my camera yet. When I do I'll attempt to post their pictures holding thier catches. After they left my stepson and I fished. Now that guy is dead serious about fishing and he is very good at the game. He spotted a couple of Manta Rays go by the boat and he immediately thought Cobia. He threw to them and sure enough he hooked up and landed one that was shadowing them. He measured 30 inches. They are tough on an 8 wt! But he landed it. Of course we released it as it was short of being a keeper. Yesterday I landed 9 Specks using a chartruse and white clouser. The last couple of days the surf got up on the gulf side to make the water dirty and rough. We can thank Dollie for that. Prior to that there were Blues and Ladyfish providing some action.
I pretty much stick to the C & A clouser. I tie them using large gold bead-chain eyes rather than the solid eyes. The water depth I fished was 2 1/2 feet to 4 feet. The heavier flies get hung in the turtle grass. Cast to the holes in the grass or in the edge of the grass in the sandy spots. I tie them on size 2 stainless hooks. The bay water was gin clear as usual so 8 to 12 pound florocarbon is recomended.

07-27-2008, 12:09 AM
Panhandle-did you guys stay in a cabin or a tent? How long does it take to walk from the campgrounds to either side of the peninsula?
Thanks for the help, and I am anxious to see some pics. Glad to hear you had a great time fishing. October can't get here fast enough!

07-27-2008, 09:17 PM
Flyfishjeep: We did stay in one of the cabins. I tried to get one for next year just this morning. I was not sucessful. I shall try again tomorrow. The cabins are really one of the best vacation bargains that I have ever heard of. It gets more difficult every year to secure one. You must reserve it 11 months in advance. Be sure to check them out when you go there on your October campout. The gulf side of the peninsula is very easy to walk to from the campgrounds. The bay side on the other hand would be quite a long hike. It isn't that the bay is far away. As the crow flies it is maybe a half mile but that wouldn't put you in an area to fish. To fish the bay without a boat the best bet would be in the area that Byron suggested. Now, as we were leaving the park last Wednesday I noticed a small sign on the side of the road between the harbor and the check in gate. It was a very small brown sign with an outline of a fish in white. It was planted pretty low to the ground. It appeared to be marking a trail that was heading toward the bay. Watch for it on your way into the park proper after you check in and before you get to the harbor. Please explore that sometime during your stay. The area that I am talking about is at least a mile from the nearest campground and maybe more. There are two campgrounds in the park besides the cabins. I would have checked out that trail had I noticed it before. If it goes to where I think it does I believe you will find some really nice grass flats there. It should put you where I caught most of the specks I bragged on in my previous post. I go there by boat so I'm not sure. Don't rule out fishing the surf on the gulf side. October is a great month to try that out. The pictures I referred to are of two of my grandchildren. I'll post them soon.

07-27-2008, 09:29 PM
Great report! Lookin foward to those pics. Headed down to the gulf (panama city beach) myself mid September.What did ya use for bait/ flies?
Good fishin to ya! :biggrin:

07-27-2008, 10:10 PM
Bigpopper: The grand kids caught their fish on live pinfish below a bobber. I fish exclusively with flies. Unless I luck into a flounder or a pompano I turn them loose anyway. I just get a real kick out of casting and catching fish on a fly-rod. When I go fishing with the kids I take on the duties of a mate and make sure that hooks are baited and the crew pays attention to the job at hand. I can't be flinging hooks around in a 17 foot skiff.
I wish that I could help you by recomending spots over in Panama City. I have fished over there in West Bay but it was always from a friends or my stepsons boat. I don't know a thing about wade fishing spots there. I live in Fort Walton Beach and primarily fish Choctawhatchee Bay and Santa Rosa Sound. I also fish the surf here. In any case arm yourself with size 2 chartruse and white clousers for your trip.

08-01-2008, 04:44 PM
Saw the post just before I was headed to Panama City Beach on a business trip last week and said why not take a late afternoon for FF someplace I've never been. Here's a link to their website if you have not already explored it: http://www.floridastateparks.org/stjoseph/default.cfm

The park is beautiful and is at the north end of the peninsula and is divided into two parts: one with auto access (south part) and one for hiking (north part). The park is a few miles long. The camp grounds/cabins are at the north end of the south part. Access to the bay side is limited because of the dense shrub vegetation (protected). I did not explore access to the Gulf side for FF because of the strong winds (Mollie, I guess).

The white sign referred to above is right at the road and gives you access to Eagle Harbor. (There is only one main road which pretty much follows the bay side.) Further north are picnic areas, the cabins and camp sites. Eagle Harbor is a popular site for boat/kayak launches, swimmers, snorklers etc. I waded in north of Eagle Harbor hoping to get away from the waders but was not very successful. The flats are sandy and easy walking. There are extensive seagrass beds with open sandy spots: ideal for fishing. Because of the limited access and popularity of the south end of the park I would recommend a kayak or boat to get to the less traveled areas to drift or to get out to wade.

I did not have any success but did see several ladyfish (would follow but not take clouser, crease fly, pugliese minnow etc.) and rays (shuffle carefully). The area is teaming with flashing baitfish.

October is a great time to be in FL but take your DEET. I talked to some campers who did not complain about the bugs.

Enjoy! Please send a report!

08-03-2008, 04:44 PM
I am not sure that Nharrier noticed the sign on the road that I referred to. It is a small brown sign with a fish drawing in white not a white sign. In any case I hope someone checks out that trail. It seems that it would take you to the bay just south of the south point of Eagle Harbor. In any case I would also recommend a couple of additional flies for the Gulf Coast west of Cape San Blas. They are the Seaducer tied in white with a single chartruse hackle wrapped last ahead of white just behind the hook eye. This fly suspends nicely a foot or less below the surface. For a topwater fly the Gartside Gurgler is hard to beat and it is easily tied. White or yellow as well as chartruse are effective. Size 2 or 1 is about right.
Chartruse seems to be an odd color to be attractive color for fish. I saw a demonstration by one of our brainier club members on what the fish senses. One of the most interesting parts to me was on the colors fish see in the water. Chartruse really exhibited florescents in water the color of inshore or nearshore water. Pink showed up beautifully as well. The only chartruse that I ever observed in nature is a band a white shrimp has across his tail. That must light up like a neon sign to a fish! That may be why they stay buried tail first in the sand during the day. I'm no expert. I'm just passing on what works for me down here. People on this board have helped me on fishing the Smokies.

08-04-2008, 07:03 PM
Panhandle is correct, the sign is a white fish and white hook & line painted on a light brown sign. The road at that point goes east-west and the trail leads you northward to the bay near the south end of Eagle Harbor and the flats south of there. Byron mentioned the FC sand shrimp too. Brown/tan clousers also work. Just about anything that looks like what they will eat works. Copper spoon flies have become popular.

01-04-2009, 07:06 AM
try pink and white clouser with a size 4 hook and a 5/32 brass dumb bell in a black finish or a chartruse and pink in the same pattern. great for trout and reds and lady fish. if you run into spanish use a 20# shock tippit. I tie dozens of clousers in these colors and seldom need more than 5 or 6 unless I get into spanish or blues. watch the sharks and do not keep fish on a stringer and if you bloody a fish MOVE AWAY from the area. BIG sharks at Cape San Blas.