Walton County fishing report for July 30

flounder1Fishing is good!

Bay: Trout bite still pretty good.

Surf: A mixed bag with some reds and Jack Crevalle.

Coastal dune lakes has some good bites going on.

Click here for fishing forecast

Bay and river report brought to you by Copeland’s. “Where the locals shop and the tourists are welcome.”

Click here to find out more about Copeland’s.
Copeland’s Gun and Tackle Shop
17290 U.S. Hwy. 331 S
Freeport, Florida 32439

(850) 835-4277
Store hours:
Mon. – Fri.: 6 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sat.: 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sun.: Closed

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Walton County Sheriff’s Office distributing free backpacks for kids Aug. 1

backpacksThis Saturday August 1, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office will be giving out school supplies including back packs to families in need at the Boys and Girls Club in DeFuniak Springs. The Boys and Girls Club is located at 435 N. 9th Street in DeFuniak Springs. The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. – 12 Noon or until the supplies run out.

A child’s confidence is so important as they head back into the classroom, and money can be tight. The Sheriff’s Offices hopes to bring these children hope for a fresh start to another great school year.

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Learn about shorebirds at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Aug. 14

sanderlingsDate/time: Fri., Aug 14, 9 – 10 a.m.

Each year thousands of birds use our shores as a rest stop on a larger migration and some even stay all year. This program on our local shorebirds will discuss what times of year are best to see the migrants and what species to expect. We will also talk about which birds nest here during the summer and how you can help to keep them safe. This is an all ages program and will take place in the clubhouse. Enter the park through the main gate and park staff will direct you to the clubhouse.

Admission into the park is free until Labor Day. Please stop by the ranger station for more details. Outside tours canceled during severe weather.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located at 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. For more information, call (850) 267-8330 ::MAP::

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Breakfast with a ranger at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Aug. 8

rangerDate/time: Sat., Aug. 8, 9 – 10 a.m.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park invites you and your family to Breakfast with a Ranger. Join the Rangers of Topsail Hill to learn about the park, its history and to ask them all the questions you can think of about the park its wildlife and anything in between. This program is ideal for the whole family to enjoy. To cover the cost of food, please bring $5.00, which goes to Friends of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park to enhance the park or bring your own breakfast. Enter the park through the main gate and park staff will direct you to the clubhouse.

Admission into the park is free until Labor Day. Please stop by the ranger station for more details. Outside tours canceled during severe weather.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located at 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. For more information, call (850) 267-8330 ::MAP::

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Learn about coastal dune lakes at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Aug. 7

Outfall at Morris Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Outfall at Morris Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Date/time: Friday, Aug. 7, 9 – 10 a.m.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park invites you to an informational program on the rare coastal dune lakes found in the area. Two of these lakes can be found inside the protected area of the park. This all ages program will discuss what makes them so unique, what types of plants/animals can be found along the shores and which supported by the ecosystem and what you can do to help. Enter the park through the main gate and park staff will direct you to the clubhouse.

Admission into the park is free until Labor Day. Please stop by the ranger station for more details. Outside tours canceled during severe weather.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located at 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. For more information, call (850) 267-8330 ::MAP::

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Take a guided rare plant walk in South Walton Aug. 8

Yellow Pitcher Plant bloomsThe Choctawhatchee Audubon Society will be hosting a rare plant walk on Aug. 8

Tom Greene, a recognized authority on rare Florida plants, will lead a walk in the pine flatwoods of S. Walton County. See unusual and endangered species with the interpretation of this passionate and knowledgeable botanist. Please wear walking shoes, long pants, and a hat, and bring water, sunscreen and insect repellent. Meet at the Walmart on Hwy. 98 near Sandestin on the portion of the parking lot adjacent to the highway at 9 a.m. Call Tom at 850-694-6403 for more information.

 

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Kids reel in the fun at Nick’s catfish tournament

Catfish tournament entrants line up with the grand prize, a Jon boat with trolling motor. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Catfish tournament entrants line up with the grand prize, a Jon boat with trolling motor. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Everyone joined in the fun as Treylermade Tournaments hosted their 5th Annual Kids Catfish Tournament at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant in Basin Bayou. On Saturday, July 25, 2015, twenty-eight young fishermen and fisherwomen competed for an array of prizes. The grand prize was a Tracker Marine Jon boat with trolling motor.

Kids age of 12 years and under, fished along the Choctawhatchee Bay for Sailcat and Hardhead catfish. Scoring was for heaviest weight for a single fish, and a combined weight of 3 Catfish (saltwater species).

Cade Nick reeled in 1st place in catfish tournament.

Cade Nick reeled in 1st place in catfish tournament.

A great day was had by all. In addition to competing for catfish, the kids enjoyed a competitive mullet toss contest. A portion of the proceeds benefitted The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance and the Backpacks of Love program.

Standings:
Grand prize winner with best total weight:
Cade Nick, Hardhead 6.13 lbs., Sailcat 3.79 lbs.
Heaviest single Sailcat:
Clayton Williams 4.89 lbs.
Total Hardhead weight:
Cade Nick 6.13 lbs.

Nick’s Seafood Restaurant is located at Basin Bayou on Hwy. 20 in Freeport.

About Backpacks of Love
•The Backpacks of Love program is designed to support and help children in need at Freeport Elementary School and other regions of Walton County. Each week, Backpacks of Love helps children dealing with hunger by providing them with a bag of non-perishable and kid-friendly food.

About Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance
• The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance is a local non-profit waterway organization that promotes the health and sustainability of the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary. Their mission is to instill in youth, as well as adults, stewardship practices that will ensure the future of this valuable resource, so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.

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Ponce de Leon Springs State Park the perfect place for a family outing

Cool off in the spring at Ponce De Leon Springs State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Cool off in the spring at Ponce De Leon Springs State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Pack a lunch and take a cool dip in the springs

Interested in exploring the perfect place to take the family and enjoy a swim in a spring? Pack up a picnic lunch and head over to Ponce de Leon Springs State Park and spend the day.

Nature trails along a creek, four pavilions, picnic areas and easy access to the swimming in a clear blue spring make this park the perfect family getaway.

Ponce de Leon springs stay a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, making swimming in the hot summer months a special treat. The spring boils are a convergence of two underground water flows, producing 14 million gallons of water daily. The spring is named for Juan Ponce de Leon, who led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513 – as legend has it, in search of the “fountain of youth.”

The shady forest trail along Sandy Creek is an easy hike. The tree canopy provides the perfect location for bird and wildlife viewing.

Recent forest restoration has brought back pitcher plants. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Anglers can enjoy fishing for catfish, largemouth bass, chain pickerel and panfish along the spring run and in the creek.

Recent park renovations include  remodeled restrooms, handicap access and new bridges to the walking trails.

The 386-acre park straddles Walton and Holmes counties. 154 undeveloped acres are currently going through long leaf pine forest restoration. Prescribed burns have opened up the canopies in the forest restoring native pitcher plants and wiregrass.

So head over to Ponce de Leon Springs State Park and explore nature, enjoy a picnic lunch and a cool dip in the springs. You may rediscover your youth!

Hours of Operation
8 a.m. to sunset

Driving Directions
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park Area is located one half mile south of U.S. 90 on C.R. 181A in Ponce de Leon, FL. ::MAP::

Park Fees
$4.00 per vehicle. Please use the honor box to pay fees. Correct change is required. Limit 8 people per vehicle.
$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

Ponce de Leon Springs State Park
2860 Ponce de Leon Springs Road
Ponce de Leon, Florida 32455
Phone: 850-836-4281
For more information, click here for the park’s website.

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Mosquito-borne illness advisory in effect for Walton County

healthdeptlogoDepartment of Health confirms first human case of West Nile Virus Illness

WALTON COUNTY — The Florida Department of Health in Walton County (DOH-Walton) has issued a mosquito-borne illness advisory for Walton County according to Holly Holt, DOH-Walton Administrator. A human case of West Nile virus illness has been confirmed and there is a heightened concern that additional residents may become ill.

Walton County Mosquito Control, South Walton Mosquito Control and DOH-Walton continue surveillance and prevention efforts and encourage everyone to take basic precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes that may cause West Nile virus disease.

To protect yourself from mosquitos, you should remember to “Drain and Cover”:

DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying:

• Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.

• Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.

• Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week.

• Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.

• Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated.  Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

COVER skin with clothing or repellent:

• Clothing – Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.

• Repellent – Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.

•   Always use repellents according to the label.  Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective.

•    Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.

Tips on Repellent Use

• Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.

• Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are generally recommended. Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies.

Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.

• Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
• In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than two months old.

• Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.

If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing.  Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your hours.

Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.

For more information on what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency’s search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products:  http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/#searchform.

 

The Department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, Malaria and Dengue.   Residents of Florida are encouraged to report dead birds to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission web site at http://www.myfwc.com/bird/.  For more information, visit DOH’s website at http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases/index.html  or call Florida Department of Health in Walton County at (850) 892-8015.

The Department works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

For more information visit www.floridahealth.gov.

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Learn about the importance of native plants at Choctawhatchee Audubon Society meeting Aug. 6

CAScolorlogo“The Importance of Florida Native Plants to our Florida Bird Population,” a program by noted native plant specialist and owner of Seven Pines Native Plant Nursery, Dara Dobson, will be presented at the August meeting of the Choctawhatchee Audubon Society. She will explain the role that landscaping with native plants can play in the conservation of our declining bird populations, and will also display a group of beneficial native plants which can be used in local yards and parks.

The meeting will be held in Room 130 of the Student Services Building at Northwest Fla. State College main campus in Niceville. Socializing begins at 6:30 p.m., and the program begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free and open to the interested public. Call Walt Spence at 850-582-7064 for more information.

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