Horseshoe Beach is located in a bit of a remote area of Florida. Some people call it the armpit of Florida – not because it’s bad, but because it sits right in the bend of the state where the panhandle would be a left arm. Most people call it the Big Bend area of the “Nature Coast”. Fishing at Horseshoe Beach in the fall is at its peak. Click on the pictures for a larger image
Horseshoe sits squarely in the middle of the Big Bend area of Florida - half way between the Suwanee River and the Steinhatchee River on the Gulf Coast. It is a bit remote, sitting at the end of a 20 mile drive from Cross City, Florida. The village is strictly a fishing and boating community. It has a mixture of permanent residents, most of whom are either retired or involved in the commercial fishing industry, and weekend warriors who are there to fish on the weekends.
What to Bring
If you plan to make a trip to Horseshoe Beach for a stay, take everything you think you might need. There is a small general/grocery/marine/hardware/tackle store there which can provide basic necessities. However, most visitors stock up before they arrive.
Since you will obviously be going there to fish, be sure to bring all the tackle you will need. There is a bait shop near the public boat ramp, and live or dead bait is very reasonable. The one store does have basic terminal tackle and carries the float rigs and lures that most anglers use there.
There is a gas station five miles back up the road. You will pass it on your way in. For efficiency, lots of anglers planning to stay more that one day will bring several five gallon gas containers with them to refill their boat. It saves that trip back up the road.
Where to Stay
Horseshoe Beach is a collection of house, trailers and condos. The older ones are ground level; the newer ones are on stilts – a protection against tide surge and flooding. The majority of these are available for rent. Some will rent on a daily, weekly or monthly basis; some will have a minimum stay requirement.
The condos are newer units, and even include amenities such as a swimming pool and private boat launch and fish cleaning station. The trailers and houses will have the same rental requirements, but most of these will be located on a canal with a dock where you can keep your boat in the water.
From stalking pristine flats for big redfish to offshore trolling and bottom fishing, this place has it all. Airboats are abundant and kayaks plow the extremely shallow areas. Flats skiffs are poled silently through the grass. Farther off the shoreline, fishing boats drift the grass flats in water from 2 to 7 feet deep looking for seatrout. Beyond 7 feet in depth, boats drift or anchor and chum for a variety of fish, including sand trout and Spanish mackerel.
Oyster bars are prevalent to the south of Horseshoe and care need s to be taken when boating that area. TAKE A CHART!! To the north, the grassbeds seem to be more forgiving, but take a chart anyway!
Whatever your fishing choice, you can find it here.
Baits and Lures
On a recent trip, we fished the grass flats for seatrout. Lots of boats fished a live shrimp under a float rig. Some fished but bait instead under that same rig. The reds that were roaming the flats were drawn to the cut bait and I saw many being caught. The live shrimp were producing trout, but they also were being eaten off the hook by schools of pinfish.
My choice was a popping cork with a three foot leader under it. To the leader I tied a jig head and used a Saltwater Assassin swimming shad plastic in their electric chicken color. The popping noise and commotion from the float will draw the trout and they will attack that jig. I experimented with the popping cork and found the fish really wanted it popping,
When to Go
Any time is a good time to fish here. But anglers need to be prepared if they plan to fish there during the local scallop season. That season runs from July into September, and most all the rental units are booked far in advance for this very popular time of year. Plan accordingly.
We fished three days at Horseshoe, and on all three days we more than limited (5 fish per person) on legal sized seatrout. We averaged over 30 trout per day, fishing only the incoming tide.
And as for a sunset at the end of the day, this place tops all of them I have fished!
My good friend Jimmy Butler at Compass Realty there at Horseshoe really set us up with a nice condo for our stay. They have rental units from condos to fishing shacks for a day, a week, or even a month, and there is one for literally every budget.