Trips start at $100.00
Trips start at $200.00
Max guests: 6
Trips start at $250.00
Max guests: 5
Upper Keys, FL
Trips start at $1100.00
Max guests: 6
Upper Keys, FL
Trips start at $450.00
Max guests: 3
Trips start at $400.00
Max guests: 4
Horseshoe Beach is a small town jutting into the Gulf of Mexico on the southern end of Florida’s Big Bend.
It is over an hour to Gainesville and about halfway between Steinhatchee in the north and Cedar Key in the south. Being in rural Florida with limited attractions to draw people looking for theme parks, big cities, and lights also means a hotel stay here is very reasonable. It has Horseshoe Point and Horseshoe Beach state park as tourism attractions, but these are not the white sand beaches people expect in Florida. These beaches are covered in shells, have rocks and trees growing close to the water.
Horseshoe Beach does not look like a horseshoe, but it does look like a fishing paradise. The area is full of tidal creeks that are the feeding grounds for speckled trout and redfish. The area was settled as a fishing community and fishing remains an integral part of it. Horseshoe Beach fishing charters use this reputation as a fishing haven to good advantage.
On the south side of Horseshoe Beach are four islands, Rapture, Grassy, Bird and Cotton. Butler Island is connected to the mainland by marshy lands. Butler Island has two wide tidal creeks on each side. The eastern creek has several unnamed islands in the stream. Heading southwest out of Horseshoe Beach is a parallel line of rock jetties that line a channel. On the north side is an unnamed bay. Continuing north, more creeks fill and empty with the tides.
Where these smaller creeks feed into the larger ones is a great place to find redfish, especially when the tide is heading out. Reds will line up at the mouth and wait for the tide to sweep something out to them. Redfish will also set up on the points of the islands when the water is moving past. In many places, the creeks hold enough water for redfish at low tide.
Trout are going to find deeper holes closer to the bay in these creeks. When the tide is fully out, they still have enough water to hide from seabirds like ospreys and occasionally have prey fish like mullet in the same holes. Trout also cruise the shorelines and run out into the flats over the grass beds.
In both cases, live bait is your top choice for catching these fish. Fingerling mullet and shrimp are staple food items for the fish. The new generation of artificial shrimp often perform just as well as the real thing. These lures come in hard and soft-bodied versions.
If the water is murky, which can happen after a good rain, throw the same lure or bait with a popping cork. The added sound gives your target something to home in on. It sounds like baitfish struggling on the surface.
Bull red and gator trout also cruise the waters off the shoreline. In this case, bigger baits are better. Mullet big enough for the table make great bait for the bulls.
Other popular fish found in these waters are black drum, flounder and sheepshead. Live bait is still the best option for these three fish.
Offshore fishing here is also very good. Grouper, snapper, amberjack, triggerfish and other reef dwellers are common. The area has plenty of offshore structure, including shipwrecks that hold plenty of fish. Live bait is still the best way to connect with cut bait running a close second. Grouper, especially the goliath can take bigger baits. The goliath can eat fish so big you could take it home for a meal. Downsize for triggerfish as they have small mouths.
With a Sabiki rig you can catch all the bait you need right on the same reef where you are fishing for snapper, grouper and the rest.
High speed jigging is a real workout, but it also catches fish when nothing else can.
When the weather warms up, mahi mahi, tuna, wahoo and king mackerel start moving in. The best way to find them is trolling. Because these fish move around a lot, they can be anywhere. Trolling covers a lot of water in a short amount of time.
Seabirds, like gulls, diving to the surface are a good indicator of something you want to catch. The birds are feeding on baitfish driven to the surface by much bigger fish. What is driving the bait is what you catch when trolling past or throwing big plugs like jigs and bucktails. Cast into the schooling baitfish. When your lure drops below the bait ball, hang on.