Open areas: All of Atsena Otie Key and the sand beaches of the other islands. Closed areas: All interior and/or vegetated areas of North Key, Snake Key, Deadmans Key, Live Oak Key, Scale Key, Cedar Point, and Seahorse Key. Waters around Snake Key (~100m) are closed to all entry March through June. Should the birds nest again on Seahorse, then we would need to close some waters there again.
Entry to the closed area are by permit only.
Early fall is a fine season for fishing the West Pass of the Suwannee River.
Grant Gaylard caught this 32-inch cobia, Rachycentron canadum, in the West Pass of the Suwannee River. The fish was just 1 inch shy of the legal limit. Photo by John Gaylard
Judah Bryant caught this large crevalle jack, Caranx hippos, in the West Pass of the Suwannee River. Photo by John Gaylard
The sun sets over the West Pass of the Suwannee River in late September. Photo by John Gaylard
Fall is also a great time for catching redfish at the Refuges. Here is board member and butterfly expert Barbara Woodmansee with her first "real" redfish!
Fishing friends and Friends members Greg Lang and Paul Ramey at the Lower Suwannee NWR. Photo credits to each other.
Greg and the redfish
Paul and the redfish
Greg and another redfish
Sheepshead in hand
Paul with trout
Fishing Success in Refuge Backwaters
As Friend’s former president Bob Hudson discovered, fishing the tidal creeks in the refuges can be a great way to spend a late fall day, as evidenced by the photos below.
Flats and backwater fishing areas are typically reached by boat. A small flats boat or fishing boat can be used, or even a kayak.
Some information and tips that may improve your fishing success include using tides and water currents to your advantage. Experienced anglers know that water movement allows game fish such as drum, flounder, snook, and trout to position into the flow and wait for food. At low tide, fish can be plentiful as they pool in areas in backwater creeks.
Anglers choose different gear to attract and land their favorite catches in the backwaters. They'll use both sinking and topwater lures, live shrimp with a popping cork, or baits without the cork on jigheads.
Access the detailed maps below for some of the refuge’s best fishing spots and tidal creeks including Atsena Otie, Cedar Key Airport, McCormick and Barnett Creeks, Shell Mound, Suwannee River, and Shired Island.
Whether you’re a catch-and-release angler, or you long to get some catches in the cooler, enjoy your day on the water!
The detailed guides below include tips, bait recommendations and more.