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Escambia River

Santa Rosa and Escambia counties

Escambia

The Escambia River is a 92-mile river of which 54 miles are found in Florida. The river has its headwaters in southern Alabama and is called the Conecuh in that state, changing names as it comes into Florida as it drains into Pensacola Bay.  The Escambia is the fourth largest river in Florida and harbors the richest assemblage of native North American freshwater fish of any Florida river with 85 native freshwater species.

The major landings are listed below:

  • Jim's Fish Camp - U. S. Highway 90, Pace, FL 32571; 850-994-7500. Located just off Highway 90, at the mouth of the river in the tidal delta. (Commercial fish camp, with facilities.) Swamp House Marina and Landing - 10421 N. Davis Highway, Pensacola, FL 32514; 850-478-9906. Located just off Highway 90, at the mouth of the river on the main channel in the tidal delta. (Commercial fish camp with facilities.)
  • Floridatown landing - Located on the eastern shore of Escambia Bay, near the mouth of the river in Pace, Florida. (Public landing, no facilities. Condition: Good.)
  • Quintette landing - Located on east side of the river, south of Highway 184, Santa Rosa County. (Public landing, no facilities. Condition: Good.) Molino landing - Located on the west side of the river, near Molino, in Escambia County. (Public landing, no facilities. Condition: Good.)
  • Cotton Lake landing - Located on west side of the river, at end of Cotton Lake Road, off U. S. Highway 29, Escambia County. (Public landing, no facilities. Condition: Good.)
  • McDavid Boat Ramp (Mystic Springs Landing) - Located on west side of river, near McDavid, Florida, off U. S. Highway 29, Escambia County, Florida. (Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission boat ramp, no facilities. Condition: Good.)
  • Bluff Springs Landing - Located on west side of river, near Bluff Springs, Florida, off U. S. Highway 29, Escambia County, Florida. (Department of Environmental Protection boat ramp, no facilities. Condition: Poor.)
  • Lake Stone - Located 1.5 miles west of Century, Escambia County, Florida, off Highway 4. (Lake managed by FFWCC; camping and picnic areas managed by Escambia County. Condition: Good.)
  • Becks Fish Camp: Off Hwy. 29; (850-375-0383). (Located in Beck's Lake, and provides access to Escambia River.)

Anglers should note that high water and flooding can sometimes make the upper stretches of the river difficult to fish, and should check the current water stage online.

Numerous access points are available along the Escambia River. Three fish camps are located along Highway 90 between Pensacola and Pace.  From these, the lower river and delta marshes may be accessed directly.  A boat ramp is also located just below the mouth of the river on the northeast shore of Escambia Bay, just south of Pace.  Quintette Landing, off Highway184, north of Pace, is good point from which to reach choice fishing spots of both the upper and lower river, including backwater areas.  The boat launch at Beck’s lake, off highway 29, offers anglers another option when accessing fishing areas between Quintette landing and ramps located farther downstream. The ramp is located in Beck’s Lake, and offers angler’s the choice to fish in still water, as well as providing access to nearby Escambia River.  Other boat landings along the upper river include Molino, Sandy Landing (Closed Jan 1st to Feb 15th), Webb Lake, McDavid, Cotton Lake, Bluff Springs, Kyser Landing, Fisher landing (Century) and Oil Plant (north of Jay). Due to low-water conditions, anglers should use precaution when launching their boat as concrete ramps may be out of the water.  Particular problem areas include Bluff Springs, Oil Plant, Sandy Landing, and Mystic Springs.

Anglers needing advice regarding fishing spots or information on river conditions can call Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center near Holt (850-957-6175), or Ted Brown at Becks Lake Fish Camp (850-375-0383).

Fishing success on the Escambia has been going up down the past few weeks. Fluctuating river levels probably have more influence on this than any other factor, so anglers should take not of the current conditions before heading out to the river. Largemouth bass fishing has been fair to slow in recent weeks and is predicted to stay this way throughout the summer. When the river is high, anglers should try sloughs and oxbows. Places like Williams Lake have been producing nice fish on black & blue jigs and shallow running crankbaits. When the river starts to fall, head back out into the main river and fish spinner baits or soft-plastics under overhanging limbs and root wads. A DOA shrimp worked fast has been catching plenty of bass in the marsh area.

Bream anglers should try crickets and wigglers either below a bobber or fished on the bottom. The summer season is also a great time to use a fly rod to flip jigs tipped with worms or flies up under overhanging branches along the main Escambia River. Big sunfish hang out in the shade waiting for insects to get blown into the river, and well-placed roll cast is a great way to make them bite.

Hybrid stripers and channel catfish currently offer the hottest bite on the Escambia River. Anglers are targeting hybrids under the hwy 90 bridges, using live shrimp under a cork or pieces of shrimp fished on the bottom. Anglers using artificial lures should stick with baitfish imitations, such as small crankbaits or hard-plastic jerkbaits. Small curly tail grubs on a 1/8-1/4 oz. jig head also work well.

Catfishing, specifically for channel catfish, has been very good recently and should continue to bite throughout summer. Catfish use their incredible sense of smell and vibration to find food, even in muddy water. Anglers fishing in the lower section of the river should try peeled shrimp or cut mullet fished on the bottom near the bridges and other deeps holes. Farther upstream, target outside bends with either shrimp or chicken livers.

Popular Species

Popular Sport Fish Species

Fish graphics by Duane Raver, Jr.

More species information is available for:

Largemouth bass, Spotted bassBluegill, Redear sunfishStriped bassSunshine bass

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