Lake Seminole, Florida/Georgia is a popular and high quality bass fishery, but a great and less-fished bass resource is the Apalachicola River that flows 112 miles from the Lake Seminole dam (Jim Woodruff Dam) to Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. This scenic and undeveloped river is a favored fishing spot of Panama City, Florida native Drew Benton. And February-March is the best time to go to find a mix of aggressive pre-spawn and spawning bass.
Anglers can choose from fishing for quality largemouth—Benton has caught largemouth up to 8 pounds– in the upper reaches of the river, fishing a tidal river in the lower 10 miles, and a mixed bag of bass, redfish, and speckled sea trout in the Apalachicola Delta. Benton’s advice to dial into bass, whether upriver or down, is to fish current breaks (areas out of the current), such as creeks and creek mouths, backwater lakes, sloughs.
With so many spots, Benton fishes fast. Any of the Bagley’s balsa baits are good choices. Color? Look at the crabs that are running around and match the color. In soft baits, black/blue is a staple in the tea-stained tannic water And a tip from the veteran Apalachicola River fisherman: “a bedding bass can’t resist taking a swipe at a Bagley’s Bang-O-Lure.” Benton prefers the tail spinner version of this old-school Florida favorite.
Benton likes the tidal reaches because the fish are so predictable. “Look for little drains coming out of the woods or marsh and deep pockets in creeks that may concentrate fish,” advises Benton. “The first and last hours of each tidal cycle generally are good; the falling portion of the major tide is primo,” advises Benton.
You can tough it out and still catch fish during slack tide or when strong winds reduce tidal flow, but a far more productive solution when the tides won’t cooperate is to fish upriver where the tide is not a factor.
Benton’s recipe for a great day on the Apalachicola? “Catch what bites.”