Georgia-Florida Fishing Report:
Since I still haven't traveled to this wonderful place, I'm relying on some outside sources for most of this information. This is a little history I read about.
Steinhatchee is described as a relatively small community on the Gulf Coast in Taylor County. It is located close to the Florida cities of Perry, Jena, and Cross City in what is commonly referred to today as the Big Bend area of Florida or Nature Coast. The pronunciation of the name is "Steen", not "Stine" and is derived from Native American language as meaning the river of man. It has been important in the foresting, fishing, crabbing, and scalloping industries since the early 19th century. The 2010 census showed there were only 1,047 permanent residents abiding here with 1,555 housing units and a population that is 98.7% white
Did you know that there were 35 forts built throughout Middle Florida that ended up pressuring the local Indians to flee to the Everglades? Fort Frank Brooke is one of those forts and is present on maps that go back to the 1700's and was located on "Dead Man Bay" seen on Spanish Maps as early as the 1500's. The Fort was vacated in 1840. It was located in this area on the Steinhatchee River. Steinhatchee was highly important in the Civil War in obtaining salt from sea water. Obviously, salt was important during those times as a preservative and seasoning since there was no refrigeration at that time. You can actually see evidence of the salt "mining" efforts on some of the local salt mashes.
The city became known as Stephensville in 1879 and was later changed to the present-day Steinhatchee in 1931. Pretty cool that there is evidence of man living around Steinhatchee as far back as 12,000 BC and has also been home to pirates as far back as the 1400's. Again, the town has been important in sponge procurement, shrimping, crabbing, commercial and recreational fishing, and in the logging industry (mainly cypress and cedars) . Today it is an important scalloping site along with spotted seatrout and redfishing inshore. In fact, some folks give it the title of "Scallop Capital of the World".
If you have never been to this area of Florida, you will find it virtually untouched and what many people refer to as "Old Florida". It's very similar to other areas like Keaton Beach, Lanark Village, and Carrabelle, Florida where the scenery is basically untouched and unchanged. There is little to no similarity with the commercialized places of the Sunshine State like Panama City Beach or Destin, FL.
The present-day Steinhatchee, FL area, including Jena, is a far cry from the early days when farmers would arrive to trade their crops and goods for fish. It is a thriving fishing village with several marinas, boat rentals, fish camps, motels, superb restaurants, and kayaking opportunities that attract large numbers of recreational fishermen every year. Still resembling the small town of old, Steinhatchee offers excellent inshore fishing with its extensive expanse of grass flats. Lots of local wildlife inhabit the area as well including alligators, black bears, and even panthers on occasion.
This sleepy little fishing village was recently hit with a very large red algal bloom that took its toll on many of the local fish species. My good friend and fishing partner, Dan Pritchard, was there during that time and had some photos of hundreds of dead fish floating on the water from the oxygen depletion caused by the bloom. There were large redfish, grouper, red snapper, and many other prized species in those photos and it broke everyone's heart to see it, including mine.