SPECIES: Speckled Trout (Cynoscion nebulosus) – 15” minimum length ENTRY FEE: $30 per Angler; After May 1st – $35 per Angler. Anglers must wait 24 hours after registering/submitting entry fee for tournament to weigh-in fish. Anglers can submit entry fee payment / registration to –
Nick’s Seafood Restaurant- 7585 HWY 20 West, Freeport, FL, or by phone at (850) 835-2222 or (850) 830-6161. RULES: Anglers will be judged on their single heaviest Speckled Trout, over 15”. Each Angler in the Speckled Trout division is allowed 3 weigh-ins for the entire tournament. Fish must be caught in Choctawhatchee Bay, or estuaries thereof (Brooks Bridge to Peach Creek). WEIGH-IN TIME: Applies to all divisions. Angler must call Tournament Director to set-up weigh-in times. Scales will be open from 10:00AM – 9:00PM, 7 days a week, by appointment only. Anglers must call the Tournament Director prior to arriving at the scales and establish a set time to weigh-in fish. Tournament Director: Trey Nick – (850) 830-6161 or (850) 835-2222 SCORING: Anglers will be scored on their single heaviest Speckled Trout in the Overall Division; 3 fish limit.
Hook and line only. live or artificial bait; cast nets or entanglement nets prohibited. All fish brought to weigh-in must be a minimum of 15 inches in length. Only one fish over 20 inches, per day, may be weighed-in. All fish brought to weigh-in will be kept for inspection. Fish in poor condition are subject to disqualification at the Judge’s discretion. Dead fish brought to weigh-in must be fresh and properly iced. Live fish brought to weigh-in will be released. All participating Anglers must abide by the current rules and regulations of FL Fish & Wildlife Commission. PAYOUT: 100% payout on the top 5 heaviest Speckled Trout.
• 1st Place: 50% of entry fee
• 2nd Place: 20% of entry fee
• 3rd Place: 15% of entry fee
• 4th Place: 10% of entry fee
• 5th Place: 5% of entry fee
• 6th – 10th Place will be recognized and awarded with prizes & gifts from Tournament Sponsors. CASH AWARDS CALCUTTA (OPTIONAL): Additional $20 per Angler. 100% Payout.
1st Place – 70% of total cash awards; 2nd Place – 30% of total cash awards. CHOCTAWHATCHEE LADIES DIVISION: Heaviest total weight of 3 Speckled Trout for the entire tournament, over 20”.
1st Place – $300; 2nd Place – $200; 1st Place – $100 KID’S DIVISION: *Anglers 12yrs & Under ONLY*
All Anglers in this division will be recognized and awarded prizes & gifts from Tournament Sponsors. JUNIOR DIVISION: *Anglers 13 – 17yrs ONLY*
1st – 3rd Place will be recognized and awarded prizes & gifts from Tournament Sponsors. CATFISH CLASSIC (additional $10): *Anglers 12yrs & Under ONLY*
Heaviest aggregate weight of 5 daily totals; 3 fish limit per day. Catfish must be saltwater species.
Anglers may weigh-in fish any day during the tournament, by appointment only (see above). PAYOUT
1st Place: 50% of division fee; 2nd Place: 30% of division fee; 3rd Place: 20% of division fee LEONARD SMITH SPECIAL (additional $25): *May 6 & 27, 2017 ONLY*
Heaviest aggregate weight of 4 Speckled Trout per day; combined weight of 8 fish total (both days).
All fish brought to weigh-in must be a minimum of 15” and less than 20” in total length (15.00” – 19.99”).
1st Place: 50% of division fee; 2nd Place: 30% of division fee; 3rd Place: 20% of division fee WRAP UP:
The 17th Annual Old Nick’s Speckled Trout Shoot Out Awards Banquet & Fish Fry will be held on Monday, June 5, 2017 to recognize all participating Anglers. Fish Fry – 6:00pm CT / Awards – 7:00pm CT
It’s getting near summertime, which means it is time for one of the South’s best trees, the crape myrtle to shine. If an ultra-reliable, low-maintenance, colorful landscape interests you, then the Walton County Master Gardeners would like to invite you to attend “Everything Crape Myrtles,” the latest installment of the Walton County Master Gardeners Lecture Series on Wednesday, May 3th from 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. at the UF/IFAS Walton County Extension Coastal Branch, 70 Logan Ln, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459.
This workshop will feature Walton County Horticulture Agent Daniel Leonard and will demonstrate how choosing the proper cultivar of crape myrtle and maintaining them correctly can transform your landscape. Learn which cultivars flourish in Florida and why, which ones to avoid, how to properly prune and maintain them, and how to design a landscape using crape myrtle.
Seating is limited, so call (850)-892-8172 to reserve your spot. Cost of the program is $5 (cash or check only) and will include presentation handouts, educational publications, plant raffle for some of the highlighted varieties, and light refreshments.
A view of Hurricane Lake in the Blackwater River State Forest. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Lakes, trails, rivers offer endless recreation
Boasting more than 210,000 acres of long leaf pine forests, lakes, streams and rivers, Blackwater River State Forest is a great place to explore nature. As one of the largest and oldest State forests in Florida, it is chock full of recreational for anyone who enjoys exploring the outdoors.
Located in the northwest corner of the Florida Panhandle, straddling Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties, Blackwater River State Forest has a long history. In 1936, the State of Florida took over managing the forest, and it became an official State Forest in 1955. Restoration of the original long leaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem has been ongoing since, and many of the original species of fauna and flora are returning. Long leaf/wiregrass ecosystems include gopher tortoise, indigo snakes, red cockaded woodpecker and a wide variety of other unique species.
Typical campsite area. Some have electric/water. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
The recreational areas offer hiking, biking, swimming, boating, picnicking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, and in the wildlife management areas, hunting. All of the recreation areas are family oriented and alcohol is prohibited. The lakes that permit boating are with electric motors only.
Krul Recreation Area is a camping and day use area built next to a 6.5-acre man-made lake. It is recharged from springs located on the north end of the lake, and its cool water is a popular swimming area. The Sweetwater Trail starts at the Krul parking lot and runs 1.3 miles to Bear Lake. The first half-mile of trail is an ADA accessible boardwalk with a suspension bridge over Sweetwater Creek. An old, still operational gristmill is located along the boardwalk.
Features include swimming, picnic tables/grills, hiking trail, swimming dock/pier, restrooms, showers, campsites with electric and water. Campsites are available on a first come basis. No pets allowed.
Directions: Krul is located ½ mile east of Munson north of Highway 4.
Pitcher plant bog at Blackwater River State Forest. A sign of a well managed forest with prescribed burns. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Bear Lake is a 107-acre artificial impoundment located on Bear Creek. Maximum depth is 23 feet, with an average depth of 8 feet. A dam was constructed in 1959 and first opened to fishing in the spring of 1961.
Bear Lake has electric and non-electric campsites with several hiking trails nearby. The Sweetwater Trail, 1.3 miles in length, connects Bear Lake to Krul Recreation Area. The
Bear Lake Loop Trail encircles the lake and is 4 miles long. The Bear Lake-Jackson Connector Trail connects Bear Lake Loop Trail to the Jackson Trail. It is 2 miles in length. A mountain bike trail also encircles the lake and is 6 miles in length. The campground has a dining hall with kitchen available by reservation only. All other sites are on a first come first served basis. No swimming is allowed, alligators are present.
A view of Bear Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Other features include picnic tables/grills, fishing, boat ramps, restrooms, showers, campsites with electric and water. Campsites are available on a first come basis. Leashed pets allowed. Dining facility (reservations required). Call (850) 957-6140.
Hurricane Lake: Hurricane Lake is a 318-acre man-made lake located on Hurricane Creek. The lake has a maximum depth of 25 feet, with an average depth of 7 feet. Hurricane Lake was constructed in 1971 and opened for fishing in 1973. It has two improved recreation areas located on the north and south sides of the lake. North Hurricane campground has a primitive youth camping area by reservation only. All other sites are on a first come first served basis. No swimming is allowed. Alligators are present.
Features include fishing, hiking trail, campsites with electricity and water, restrooms, showers picnic areas, boat ramp and primitive camping for youth camps. Leashed pets allowed. For more information, call (850) 957-6140.
Directions: These recreation areas may be reached from Hurricane Lake Road off of Highway 4. They are located approximately 7 miles north of Highway 4 in north Okaloosa County. There is access to the south side primitive campground from Kennedy Bridge Road and access to the north side campground via Beaver Creek Highway.
Karick Lake: Karick Lake Recreation is a 65-acre artificial impoundment on Deadfall Creek in northern Okaloosa County. It has a maximum depth of 18 feet at the dam and an average depth of 7 feet. A considerable amount of flooded timber provides fish habitat. The lake was constructed in 1965 and open to fishing in 1966.
Karick Lake has two camping areas; one on the north side and one on the south side of the lake. The east end of Jackson Trail starts at North Karick Lake. Camping at Karick Lake is first come first served except for the primitive youth camping area on the north side. The campgrounds are located east of county road 189 approximately 7.5 miles north of Baker. No swimming is allowed.
Features include picnic areas, canoeing, fishing, campsites with electricity and water, restrooms, showers, boat ramp, pier. Leashed pets allowed. For more information, call (850) 957-6140.
Bone Creek: Bone Creek is a Day Use area which includes a man-made pond with swimming area, dock, and picnic tables. Fishing is allowed in the lake except in the swimming area. Day Use Area hours are 7:00 am- 7:00 pm, April 1- September 15, and 7 a.m.- sunset, September 16- March 31.
Features include picnic areas, swimming, fishing, canoeing, restrooms, pier. No pets allowed.
Directions: Bone Creek Recreation Area is located above Holt, Florida. The entrance sign to Bone Creek is located on Highway 90.
Equestrian stables at Coldwater Creek Recreation Area in Blackwater River State Forest. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Coldwater Recreation Area: The Coldwater Recreation Area, bordered to the north by Coldwater Creek, offers trails that take horseback riders through some of the most scenic woodlands in Florida. Opened in 1974, the facility has been a prized recreation area for bird dog and fox hound field trial participants and horseback riders. The forest around the campground is prescribed burned frequently to promote habitat for quail, red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, and other native species. Because of frequent burning, beautiful vistas are located throughout the area.
Features include equestrian trails, canoeing, swimming, picnic areas, horse stalls, campsites with electricity and water, restrooms, showers, and dining facility. Leashed pets allowed.
All horses must have proof of current negative Coggins test results when on state lands. ALL children under the age of 16 are required to wear a protective helmet while riding on state lands.
Reservations are required for the stables, dining facility and all campsites in this recreation area. For reservations call (850) 957-6161 weekdays between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Central Time.
For hunting purposes, Blackwater River State Forest is broken down into three wildlife management areas. The Blackwater WMA, the Blackwater Carr Unit, and Blackwater Hutton Unit are managed together with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Wildlife viewers, cyclists, horseback riders, paddlers and other nature lovers can find wild places to pursue their interests in addition to hunting and fishing.
Both hunting and non-hunting recreationists are encouraged to check FWC’s Wildlife Management Area web pages for Blackwater River State Forest:
Look closely and you will find tiny green flowers blooming in Spanish moss. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Did you know Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is a flowering plant? Spanish moss is a native, perennial epiphytic herb. It is not Spanish, nor a moss, but a flowering plant. The slender, wiry, long, branching stems (reaching 8m or more) grow as suspended, bluish-gray streamers and garlands draping among tree branches and sometimes telephone lines and fences. Spanish moss grows on trees in areas of high humidity. It can be found on live oak and pines that border estuaries, rivers, swamps, and along the coastal plains of the Southeastern United States.
The plant is not parasitic, as is often thought, but attaches itself to trees for support. The plant has no roots but derives its nutrients from rainfall, detritus and airborne dust.
Several species of bats including the Seminole bat roost in clumps of Spanish moss. Yellow-throated warblers and northern parulas build their nests inside clumps of living Spanish moss. Several other species of birds gather the moss for nesting material. There is at least one species of spider that only occurs in Spanish moss.
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
Mon. – Fri.: 6 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sat.: 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Join in on an Earth Day celebration at the Seaside Farmers Market April 22. The event will be held along Central Square in Seaside on Scenic Hwy. 30A from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Enter a raffle featuring goodies from Seaside merchants and Seaside Farmers Market vendors. Funds raised will go towards purchasing vegetables from the market to be donated to Food For Thought Outreach Inc.
Special features in addition to the Saturday market:
• Learn about our area ecosystems from the Florida Forest Service and Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance.
• Become a more confident and skilled cyclist while learning basic bike skills with a series of mini workshops from Big Daddy’s Bike Shop.
• Consider upgrading your ride and reducing your carbon footprint with an electric bike from Pedego Electric Bikes 30A or an electric vehicle featured by the 30A Mobility Project.
• Learn about the importance of saving the bees and beekeeping basics with a bee hive demonstration from The Honey Hutch.
• Create eco-friendly art from salvaged materials with Recycled Art Co.
• Plant sunflower seeds with the Walton County Master Gardeners and take your seedlings home to watch them grow.