Fish Tales

"One thing becomes clearer as one gets older and one’s fishing experience increases, and that is the paramount importance of one’s fishing companions.” ~ John Ashley Cooper

God can make great things out of bad; most of the time, even better than we ever imagined.

When The Bite Is ON

As all fishermen know, when the bite is on, ITS ON! 

As all outdoors men know, when the bug bite is on, ITS ON! 

When I was asked to write this article, the first thought was a comment made by my history teacher in High School. When ask how long a paper to be written was to be, his statement was “make it like a mini skirt, long enough to cover the subject yet short enough to keep it interesting.” I will try to follow his advice here. 

Mrs. Barbara ask me to write this article regarding the relationship between Bugs and Bug Stuff and environment. First of all, bugs do not like Bug Stuff. Bug Stuff is a formula of all “natural” and “organic” ingredients. The formula is proprietary to H2Outings, LLC, the owner of Bug Stuff. 

HOW DID IT START? Bug Stuff started as a concept and progressed to research by Mike Williams and myself. My goal was to formulate an insect repellent that truly repelled and not have chemicals such as “Deet” that kill insects and damage the environment (such as the fishery, wildlife and humans), I particularly did not want to kill the bees as they are a major factor for food supply. 

HOW WAS IT DEVELOPED? Bug Stuff was developed by studying the most economic prosperous countries’ number one natural and organic ingredients for insect relents. Then the ingredients were formulated for best results, creating a repellent, safe for humans, children and small animals. To follow the hypothesis, it had to be food grade. The original formula was then turned over to our chemist for tweaking and then on to field testing throughout the US and abroad. Next came the licensing and governmental approvals, (CDC, EPA, EPD, FDA, Fl. Dept. of Agriculture, etc). 

PRODUCTION and DISRIBUTION? Currently Bug Stuff can be produced at a rate of 270 bottles an hour by running several stir tanks and bottling machines. It is distributed using several carriers throughout the US and abroad. As approved for us, August 12, 2020, FDA approved an ingredient to repel ticks and ants. Bug Stuff is the only natural and organic repellent to contain this ingredient made in the US. 

Remember, the next time you want to repel an insect, please do not damage our fishery, our hunting grounds, our bees, our children or our pets. My thanks for your time in this regard and please support our Captains at River Inn and Marina. 

They do it RIGHT! Tight lines to all and be safe. 

Captain Jim Henley


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March Madness

March Madness: Nope we are not talking about basketball. It's all about the weather. One day it's summer and 85 and the next day a front moves through and we are back to winter. However, the ability to adjust on the fly can mean the difference between a great day opposed to a bad day of fishing. Of course there is no such thing as a bad day on the water fishing!

Ok, let's get started. If you are fortunate enough to be in front of a cold front you have hit the jackpot! Although winds may be elevated, the fish may be willing to eat, therefore, time your trip accordingly and trust your instincts in terms of weather. Wind is better than no wind!!! Even though it's blowing the fish will usually be willing to eat, just be willing to stay within the confines of what your boat can safely handle! Always consult NOAA to determine if safe travel is available on that particular day. Soft plastics have been the bait of choice lately. Bass Assassin , Gulp, and ZMann baits have all been effective, however nothing beats the real thing as live shrimp are always effective in terms of catching fish.

Water depths this time of year can be tricky so be careful to pay attention to the tides. There are various predictions of tides online however the eye test always works best. Be careful when traversing the Big Bend waters as rocks and oyster bars are plentiful and unforgiving to lower units! Therefore hiring a guide might be the best option if you are a novice boater or new to our coastline. Otherwise tread carefully! The captains at our marina are all qualified and accommodating when customizing trips to meet the needs of our clients. Its all about maximizing the experience of our clients to ensure they get the best day on the water they can have. Hopefully they will also learn some techniques that they can use in the future to become better anglers.

Being prepared is essential to being successful on the water. The River Inn and Marina has everything you need to have that epic day on the water catching fish. Live shrimp, got it, frozen bait, done, artificial, anything you need, as well as snacks and drinks to keep you going through the day. Therefore, March Madness continues here in terms of trout, redfish, sheepshead , and grouper closer than anytime of year! Snook, Spanish, and tarpon are not out of the question as well as cobia depending on the weather. I'm telling you it's Mad in March!!!! Come by the Steinhatchee River Inn and Marina for the update on the latest bite and supplies you will need for that most awesome experience on the water! If you need a guide they can certainly hook you up with a qualified Captain to maximize your experience here in Steinhatchee

Captain Alan Mattox

Florida Flats & Bay Charters


Wintertime Fishing

Winter fishing is not a lot of people's favorite time of the year to fish, but it happens to be one of my very favorite times to be out on the Gulf with a negative tide and an east wind. Now if your trip happens to fall on the day after a cold front, it can be tough fishing but definitely not impossible to get your limit. On those days slow your presentation down and if you can get in a ditch or creek on that negative tide, you may only get a 15–20-minute window where they bite but be patient, stay put, they normally will turn back on. There is always a chance of getting stuck on that negative tide and depending on the wind direction you could be there for a while, so be prepared. These are a few of my go to items. I keep a 10 x 10 tarp which takes up very little room and can be very useful along with hand/body warmers, inexpensive and last a long time in the package and always have extra drinking water. Typically, if you get stuck the only way out is an airboat. So being prepared will make that wait a lot less stressful & keep on fishing! My favorite bait this time of year is a suspending bait, Lil John, 5' shad assassin, unfair rip n slash and stick minnow. Actually, the best bait to use is the one you’re most confident in!

Scallop season will be here before you know it so don't delay in securing a place to stay. The Steinhatchee River Inn and Marina offers wonderful rooms and just might be the great deal for your vacation on the beautiful Gulf Coast. I still have some open weekends for scallop season, but they won't last long so be sure to give me a call to save your date! Scallop season starts June 15 through Labor Day.

Captain Buddy Moorman

My Fishing Buddy Charter’s



Fiddler Crab Festival a Smash Hit!

Another Fiddler Crab Festival is in the books and, wow, the Steinhatchee Chamber and all its volunteers hit it out of the park this year!!!! A parade, 2 nights of fireworks, live entertainment, a plethora of vendors, delicious food, a fishing tournament, a poker run, and river

tours! I'm certain there were other activities I inadvertently left out but this had to be a record weekend! Also, let's be sure to  thank the Taylor County Sherriff Office for their hospitality and helping keep everyone safe and informed.

On Saturday I had the opportunity along with Captain Mike Baker and Captain Rick Julius to take visitors on river tours out of the River Inn and Marina. A great time was had by all, and we were blessed to see some wildlife along the river. About a 7-foot gator was seen as well as a bald eagle in addition to pelicans, ducks, water turkeys (comments), ospreys, and a couple of otters. Also, because of the extremely low tide Saturday morning guests were treated to some interesting rock formations that are usually hidden under the water. The River always has something to offer,  we  just have to slow down and observe.

Fishing has been good when you can catch the weather and tides at the right times. Trout, and reds are cooperating when you can get to them and fish. Live shrimp and soft plastics have been the baits of choice. A reminder to keep an eye on the tides as we get some extreme lows this time of year. Best bet is to hire a guide to put you on the bite as this time of year can be fantastic.

So come on by the River Inn and Marina and stock up on all your fishing supplies, a breakfast sandwich, lunch and beverages and head out for a day on the water! Remember, you don't know if you don't go. Tight lines and safe boating!

Captain Alan Mattox

Florida Flats & Bay Charters

(352) 682-0645

Happy New Year!!!!

Out with the old in with the new, it's 2023!!! It’s that time of year that we make promises to ourselves about how you're going to do things better this year. How many of you make New Year’s Resolutions? The top resolutions in America are: lose weight, exercise more, get organized, learn a new skill or hobby, quit smoking, spend less money, and

 live life to the fullest. Which one of these do you choose? For me, it is to live life to the fullest. Each year, as I get older, I have a tendency to look at life a little differently. I realize that each day is a gift and we need to make the most of it. In other words, try and create a new memory each day that your feet hit the ground. So what better way to do this than to go fishing!!

 As a charter captain, our job is to make memories on the water. Yes we are hired to catch fish or scallops but basically we are in the entertainment business. The more fun and memories we can create for our clients the better. We can always tell if we did a good job by having returning customers. This is also true by the returning customers that come back year after year to River Inn Marina. Rob and Barb, the owners of River Inn Marina have made several changes to the Marina. Just this week, they have created a new Captains board, displaying each Captain and their contact information. Out with the old in with the new!!

Fishing has been as crazy as the weather. One day you limit out by noon, the next day the same spot and the same lure doesn’t get a bit. Kinda like Florida weather one day you have on 2 jackets over a hoodie, next day you have shorts and t-shirt on. Fishing has been hot in the river since the cold front that came through on Christmas. Slow sinking lures have been working the best. I prefer the Mirro lure TT 26, it is a red and silver slow sinking lure that allows you to fish with a slow retrieve. Also, many people are using a ¼ ounce jig head with a gulp. Preferred colors are pink shine or white. 

Happy New Year and best wishes to all my fishing buddies out there!!!!

Captain Rick Julius

Captain “J” Charters


“Cast Away”

As a Charter Captain I am blessed with opportunities to fish with anglers of varying skill levels. Some have been fishing their entire lifetime, while others have never fished. And I reiterate the word never. This is fine and I as a Captain welcome everyone who wants to fish. I get great pleasure in being a part of someone’s very first Redfish, a first Trout, or sometimes even someone’s very first fish. It is an honor and a privilege to participate in these moments.

With that being said there are things that can and things that SHOULD happen to make everyone’s day on the water more successful, less stressful and more fun.  After all, getting away and having an exciting but relaxing day on the water is what fishing is all about?!?! There is one basic and fundamental skill that must exist no matter what. And that is the ability to cast!

Casting a reel and rod is THE skillset that ALL successful fishers must, MUST possess. Casting is fundamental in angling. It is a skill that to be learned, it must be practiced. Think about this little factoid. On an average 8-hour fishing day a person might make between 300 and 500 casts.  

There is a simple way for most anyone to prepare. BEFORE getting on a boat, your boat, my boat, someone else’s boat to go fishing, at least possess the most basic skill of all. CASTING!!! Your experience, your ENJOYMENT and your memories will be much greater if you can CAST!

Now, as a Captain I have had many, dozens, maybe even hundreds of people that simply could not cast. Some had never held a fishing rod in their hands. Some had fished with others relying on their partner to cast for them. Many have told me they simply could not do it. So, someone on the boat is charged with casting for that person and themselves. This makes absolutely ZERO sense! NONE.

Most times, after a day on the water with me that person becomes a “caster.”  I try not to accept their saying that they simply “cannot cast.” In many cases, barring physical handicap they may simply just refuse to learn.

The way I learned, and the way many that I have talked to have learned is to practice at home. If you are going to spend time on a boat, doesn’t it make sense to possess the most basic of skills to improve your success and your enjoyment. Well, doesn’t it? Buy, borrow or steal (just kidding) a Spinning Rod and Reel. I suggest putting a weighted popping cork on the line with no leader or hook. Our Marina and all tackle shops sell them.

Get with someone who knows how to cast and get them to show you. Your Wife, your Husband, your long-lost Cousin. Someone who will help you. If not, the internet is full of how-to casting videos. Then, practice. In your yard or anywhere there is an open area. Many start with a trash can at about 15-20 feet. Don’t get too close. Ring the can! Ring it again. Then step off another ten feet and do it again. And again. Do it until you get better. You don’t have to be perfect. No fisherman is. You just need to know how to do it. Learn to do it BEFORE you get on the boat.

If you are the spouse, the friend, the parent or the sibling of someone who goes out with you and you continue to make casts for a person that “can’t cast,” then you are facilitating the issue. Loan them a rod and let them practice. Teach them. Work with them.  It will make EVERYONES EXPERIENCE BETTER.

Now, I am in NO WAY saying that you shouldn’t help and assist someone who needs it. NO WAY.  Young children, elderly and those physically challenged may need your help. HELP THEM! My point is there are people who just say they can’t cast. And most times that really means they have not or won’t take the time to learn! I think I can speak for most Captains in saying that I am always ready and actually eager to help anyone who is willing to learn! ALWAYS!!

As I stated early on, I take people of all skill levels. That is part of my job and I love it! Over the past decade I have helped and coached hundreds on casting. Many get on my boat that have never fished and become adept casters when spending the day on my boat. What follows is my point.

If you KNOW that you are going fishing, and you KNOW you are not good at casting, get a ROD and REEL PRIOR to your excursion and learn to cast. LEARN IT! Before getting on the boat. By doing this simple thing YOUR day will be better, everyone around you will have a more enjoyable day, and you will catch more fish. But better than that. In knowing how to cast, YOU can help others learn this skill. You can help a child learn a lifelong pleasure.

Sharing your new skill can be the most rewarding part of acquiring it.

Have fun and pass it on!

Cast away!!!!!

Captain Tony Mathis