This story originally appeared on Parachute (an online magazine owned by MapQuest). A copy of the article can be found here.
Since I have become a father, I have made peace with the fact that fishing is a cockamamie sport that fathers participate in. The reason that they partake in the sport are ultimately tailored to the individual. Some fathers want to feel like more of a provider. Others use it as an excuse to escape the daily grind of working full time and being part of a family.
Speaking for myself, I fish for two reasons: I live in Northwest Florida, relatively close to the Gulf of Mexico. I also have a standing order from my wife to catch, kill, and clean a fish for my wife so that she may cook it and eat it
That’s right: I fish because my wife told me to. What of it?
Living where I do, fishing competition can be a bit social and fierce. The problem therein is that I dislike being social with people outside of my family and I am only fierce when the situation is appropriate. (For the record, it almost never is).
As such, I have divined that I cannot be the only person who feels this way about fishing. Due to this conclusion, I have decided to do the socially unacceptable thing (that being, give up my fishing spots) and compile a list of the top five places to fish in Northwest Florida if you’re an introvert like myself.
CAVEAT EMPTOR! Some of these locations aren’t legitimate in the eyes of Internet mapping systems. As such, I have linked to the general area that these spots can be found. Also, if you are a resident or on vacation, it is illegal to fish without a license in the state of Florida.
I found this place by accident when we first moved here. In a fit of cabin fever, I decided to take my bicycle for a spin and check out the residential areas to see ‘who my
neighbors were’ at the time. While enjoying the local color, I noticed what appeared to be an exceptionally long driveway. Feeling slightly out of sorts, I decided to be adventurous and explore where this driveway went. Lo and behold! It wasn’t a driveway, it was the entrance to Meigs Park.
Be advised! While technically a park in name, Meigs Park, is more of a boat launch on steroids. There’s a picnic area, a port-a-potty, plenty of access to the water, and not
For my fellow introverts, I recommend going to this location in the wee hours of the morning (4-8am). After 8am, the place fills up with pro fishermen and other
Upper Memorial Lake
Upper Memorial Lake is located within the confines of Eglin Air Force Base. If you are not a member of the Air Force or the dependent of an Airman stationed at the base, you need to stop in the visitor center prior to your visit to obtain a temporary pass. Regardless of what you need to do in order to access the lake, Upper Memorial Lake has plenty of access points and trails that travel the circumference of said lake. Upper Memorial Lake is catch-and-release only. Upper Memorial Lake is located off of Memorial Trail within Eglin Air Force Base.
For the introverted, I recommend coming here any time during the week. You’d be lucky to see a single soul.
Lower Memorial Lake
Also located on Eglin Air Force property, Lower Memorial Lake is conveniently located across the street from Upper Memorial Lake. As Lower Memorial is a tributary of the
Choctawhatchee Bay, there are no known restrictions to the catching of fish. However, be prepared to work: there is limited access from Memorial Trail.
How does this location fare for the introvert? Given the limited access, this is a good place to fish any day of the week.
Poquito Boat Ramp Park
This fishing location was another bike riding find. Located off of Poquito Road, Poquito Boat Ramp Park offers direct access to the Poquito Bayou, an extension of the
Choctawhatchee Bay. Additionally, there is plenty of water access, picnic areas, and one of the cleaner port-a-potties I have ever used in my life. While this park is used primarily for people looking to get out onto the water, for the introvert, I recommend some solo fishing off of their humble pier during the week, only. Elgin Parkway Bridge (between Shalimar and the Eglin Federal Credit Union).
That’s right, I put down a main avenue BRIDGE as a fishing location. Why? Because I have lived in this area for the past three years and I have yet to not see someone fishing off of this bridge. In terms of introversion, I recommend sticking to the north side of the bridge, closer to the credit union. Fun fact? The fishing is so good off of this bridge, my family and I once saw a group of young men displaying a fish the size of a small child to the traffic passing by.