Walton County fishing report for May 4

RedfishFishing is good

Bay: Great redfish bites, some oversized. Still a good trout bite on.

River: Fishing good, with catfish, bluegill, and shellcracker, and chinquapin bream bites.

Surf: Still a few pompano being caught.

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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Volunteer opportunities available with Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance

CBAoysterOPERATION RESTORATION is a collaborative effort between Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) and community volunteers to restore degraded shorelines in Choctawhatchee Bay by constructing oyster reefs made from recycled and fossilized oyster shell. These reefs help to reduce erosion, provide habitat for marine life and improve overall water quality in our Bay.

Volunteers should report to the utility barn at the Northwest Florida State College – South Walton Center in Santa Rosa Beach, FL (CBA Offices), unless otherwise noted by *.

Address: 109 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

Bag & Build
*9 am to 1 pm*
Volunteers will be bagging recycled and fossilized OYSTER shell into mesh bags, then transporting the bagged shell to a CBA restoration site to build an OYSTER reef!

May 12, 2016 (2 -5p only!)*
May 19, 2016*
May 26, 2016*
*Meet at the Bluewater Bay Marina boat ramp parking lot.

Bag OYSTER Shell
*9 am to 11 am*
Volunteers will be bagging recycled and fossilized oyster shell to be used to construct oyster reefs.
May 10, 2016
May 11, 2016
May 18, 2016 (9a-11a; 12p-3p)*
*Meet at the Bluewater Bay Marina boat ramp parking lot

Build an OYSTER Reef
*12 pm to 4 pm*
Volunteers will transport bagged shell to a CBA restoration site and then construct an OYSTER reef
May 10, 2016
May 11, 2016

RSVP to Rachel Gwin [email protected]/

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Star gazing at Eden Gardens State Park May 27

starsEden Gardens State park will be hosting a star gazing program on Friday, May 27. Volunteers from the Northwest Florida Astronomy Association will set up several telescopes for viewing of star clusters, planets and galaxies. They will answer questions about the night sky. All ages are invited to enjoy an evening of star gazing. The Park will close at sunset at 7:41 p.m. Those attending the star gazing should arrive prior to sunset. Program is from 7:00  – 9:00 p.m. *Event Weather Permitting*

FEES: Program included in the park admission. For more information, call (850) 267-8320

Eden Gardens State Park is located in Point Washington, off U.S. 98 on C.R. 395.
For more information, call (850) 267-8320.
181 Eden Garden Road, Point Washington, Fl. 32459 ::MAP::

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LakeFest, 5K Run/Walk and Dash ‘N Splash in DeFuniak Springs May 21

lakefestrunLakeFest and the 5K Run/Walk- This 5K run/walk will start at and end on beautiful Circle Drive at Lake DeFuniak at 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 21. The scenic paved run will showcase many of DeFuniak’s homes listed on the historic register. Cool down afterwards at the Dash n’ Splash fun run starting at 11:30 a.m.

Bring your friends and family for a fun day to come out to run or walk through the historic community surrounding Lake DeFuniak. Try out your first 5K. There are many opportunities to get awards even for beginners, seniors, and youth. The event is a fundraiser for the Walton County Prevention Coalition for youth drug prevention and will be timed by International Running Company, using their Jaguar chip timing system.

Runners can register here up until the race starts. Registration price starts at $15 and pre-registration includes a great Lakefest gift with your registration. The 5K race begins at 7 a.m. at the Chautauqua Center on 96 Circle Drive, DeFuniak Springs, FL 32435 and ends at the same location. The route will take runners by some of the historic homes that surround Lake DeFuniak. In addition, there will be door prizes and refreshments for runners/walkers.

Awards will be given to both male and female runners across multiple categories. These include 1st – 3rd overall finishers, Master, Grand Master, top finishers in each age group, wheelchairs, and the overall male and female winner for walkers.

The Dash N’ Splash Fun Run is aquatic themed and will begin at 11:30 a.m. Participants will get SOAKED from water features along the all paved route. This race is included with the 5K registration fee or as a separate event for those who do not want to run the 5K. $5 per individual or $20 for 4-9 immediate family members.

Make a day of it and bring the whole family to stay and enjoy music, vendors, and entertainment at LakeFest 2016.

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Emerald Coast Beach Bash Wiffle Ball Tournament May 21

whiffleballThe inaugural Emerald Coast Beach Bash Wiffle Ball Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, May 21, 2016, at Helen McCall Park in Santa Rosa Beach. This one-day tournament will benefit the Food for Thought organization, which is fighting childhood hunger by providing students with weekly access to food-packed backpacks and in-school pantries.

The tournament will start at 9 a.m. and the cost is $20 per player. Teams consist of 4- players each and games last 20 minutes. Wiffle balls and bats provided.

Wiffle ball players of all skill levels, male and female, young and old, are invited to participate. Each player will receive a free wiffle ball t-shirt and there will be a free oyster-shucking and free Bruno’s pizza for all team players. Teams are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs, coolers and pop-up tents for this family friendly outdoor event.

Teams are composed of 4-to-7 players each and corporate teams are encouraged to participate.

For additional info and to sign up a team, please call Scott McKinney at (850) 502-3150 or email [email protected].

Helen McCall park is located at 325 Moll Dr, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459.

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NW Florida red drum bag limit lowered to 1 fish starting May 1

RedfishThe recreational red drum daily bag limit in the northwest red drum management zone (Escambia County through Fred Howard Park near Pasco County) will be lowered from two fish to one fish per person starting Sunday, May 1. All other red drum regulations remain the same, including the eight fish vessel limit.

Florida’s iconic red drum fishery has a high economic and social value in northwest Florida and is managed for abundance statewide in order to ensure a quality angler fishing experience.

In the past year, stakeholders have expressed concerns that red drum populations have declined in parts of the Panhandle since 2013, the final year of data included in the most recent stock assessment.

This change is a precautionary conservation measure. Staff will continue gathering public input on red drum populations and management statewide and the Commission will consider whether this region-wide bag limit reduction is appropriate as a long-term management measure when it reconvenes in June at Apalachicola.

Staff are also collecting public input in the northeast region of Florida, where stock assessment population estimates indicate numbers may have seen a decline at the conclusion of the assessment period (2013). The stock is still exceeding management goals in that area.

Share your input on red drum by taking the statewide online survey or visiting the FWC Red Drum Forum Facebook page.

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Wildflowers for all seasons blooming along U.S. Hwy 98

Cosmos bipinnatus blooming along the median at Inlet Beach. Photo courtesy Jamie Conley

Cosmos bipinnatus blooming along the median at Inlet Beach. Photo courtesy Jamie Conley

Beautiful wildflowers are popping up along the medians of U.S. Hwy. 98 at Inlet Beach, and will continue to prosper throughout the year. More will be showing soon just east of U.S. Hwy. 331. All part of a Department of Transportation (FDOT) wildflower and natures area program.

According to Robert Farley, FDOT District 3 vegetation project manager, assorted varieties of wildflowers will continue to bloom throughout the year.

“The site at Inlet Beach has been sowed with several wildflowers that will emerge and bloom at different seasons and hopefully persist to become a sustainable display. The flowers that are showy now are Cosmos bipinnatus, an annual that is a reliable re-seeder. Emerging under the Cosmos are seedlings of Rudbeckia hirta and Gaillardia pulchella, two native perennials that will bloom later in the season, probably during June-September.  We will be monitoring and managing this site for maximum blooming period, with the issue being, of course, the weedy competition that always seems to interfere.  Most problematic for this site is the infestation of Common Ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia,” said Farley.

“Additional plots have been seeded in the median of U.S. Hwy. 98 just east of the intersection with U.S. Hwy. 331.  These have been planted with a perennial mix that includes those previously mentioned with the addition of Coreopsis lanceolata, our state wildflower.  It is our plan to increase the wildflower populations along U.S. 98, since it complies with our policy of planning wildflower displays on heavily travelled roadways in rural sections that have long unobstructed rights of way adjacent to conservation areas.”

Learn more about the FDOT wildflower project by clicking here.

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