COASTAL RECREATION




NEW Reefs and more to come

2017 is the year of the Reef. We have be deploying over 600 tons of concrete rubble and modules on Bendickson Reef (tank reef) in September creating 3 new patch reefs.. Additionally we have completed putting 135 reef ball on 3 near shore reefs for snorkeling and as homes for pelagic and juvenile fish. These reefs will be in 8 to 12 feet of water and within 6 nautical miles of the shoreline. The center coordinates are at the further down this page.
Through cooperative efforts of the Hernando Evironmental Land Protectors, Hernando Parks and Recreation Youth Camps, Sea Grant, CEMEX. LOWES and the Port Authority approximatley 12 modules will be built by youth at the Environmental Summer Camps. Our goal is to involve young folks and get them interested in the environment. When the get older they will be able to say "I helped build that reef".
Reef balls can still be purchased for future deployment. A Pallet ball is $250 and you get a plaque on it for a dedication if you wish. Right now the 26 "Memorial Balls are deployed on reef "C" at 28-32.181N 082-45.954 W. You could see fish on the new reef on the second day -- actually within 2 hours of deployment.

Approval has just been recieved, June 2017, for the construction of Oyster Reefs which will hopefully recruit more oysters to the area this will be constructed in the spring of 2018. An adult oyster filters 50 gallons a day and are very good for preserving water quality as well as providing habitat for many species of fish and crustations. This will be a community effort as we get citizens to fill mesh bags with old oyster shells and deploying them in select designated areas. This is a citizen based project and again the participants can feel good about building an environmental legacy.

The old reef building theory was "Build it and they will come", but now we are looking at mimicking what is already there and enhancing it. There are many stakeholders who are affected by what is done. Shrimpers for example don't need anymore obstacles to foul their nets so enhancement structures need to be in areas where they are out of the way.
A cardinal rule in reef deployment is not to be near any sea grass and since shrimp like to hide in sea grass this problem usually takes care of itself. It should be noted that our Nature Coast Area is one of the best sea grass areas in Florida.

No reef structure can be more that of the depth of the water column at low water and in our area of shallow waters we must allow clearance for vessels. Since he average outboard boat draws 26 to 28 inches of water we cannot deploy a reef structure that would not have this clearance above it. An exception is an oyster reef which is partially out of the water at low tide so they are usually not in what is considered as navigable water. However oysters are great water filters and do serve as an attractor for smaller marine life which in turn attract species like redfish and sea trout.

Fishermen and guides like these attractors and therefore are a stakeholder. Since oysters filter and remove toxins from the water everyone who uses the water is a stakeholder as well so preserving and enhancing our marine environment is a benefit to all of us.

See Eternal Reef's website




FISHING LOCATIONS FROM SHORE



Bayport Fishing Pier


Jenkins Creek Fishing Pier
Also lots of places at
Linda Pederson Park directly across the road



Boat Ramps and Parks



The new BAYPORT Boat ramp and park is now complete and is the crown jewel of the Hernando Coast. However this takes nothing away from Jenkins Creek Park and it's companion park Linda Pederson Park just across the road. All fishing piers are handicapped accessable


Bayport Park
New picnic area
Obseration overlook view




Observation Tower overlooking
Jenkins Creek
Linda Pederson Park
and the saltwater marsh


Bridge from Tower area to Beach Area
at Linda Pederson Park


Pine Island Beach
on the Gulf
There's a fishing area too!


A concrete sidewalk connects these shelters at Pine Island making them more accessable to the motivationally challenged


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Hernando County's Coastline stretches from the fishing village of Aripeka north to the Chassahowitzka River. Aripeka, Hernando Beach, Weeki Wachee, Bayport and Pine Island are the names of the different areas.

Our waters are relatively shallow gaining in depth at a rate of 1 ft per mile as one travels offshore. This makes for good "flats" fishing with notable species being Tarpon, Redfish and Speckeled Seatrout. If Grouper is your game then you should be prepared to go out 15 to 40 miles.

Pine Island Beach,
note the exposed rocks
on the flats during low water

The darker sand where the birds are
is generally underwater


Hernando County has a artificial reef program and has developed reefs utilizing concrete rubble, M-60 Main Battle Tanks and Reef Balls (a specially constructed concrete reef structure). The County has several fine boat ramps to allow access to the Gulf Of Mexico.

Locations of Aids to Navigation, and artificial reefs are shown on the picture below along with the range and bearings from one point to another. This is taken from a publication produced by the Hernando County Port Authority and Dept. of Public Works. It's available at marinas along the coast as well at County offices. Latitudes and longitudes are provided in the chart below so you may program your GPS before you go boating.

Much of the nearshore area is very shallow and you should be very careful not to hit botom for two reasons: 1) boat repair can be expensive and 2) prop scars damage the seagrasses that make the habitat.

An aerial view of seagrass scaring in Taylor County.
photo courtesy of FWC


Hernando Co. Reef Locations

Bearings and distances

LETTER
NAME
LIGHT SEQUENCE
POSITION
NOTES

A

BILL WATTS

Quick Flashing White
28-31.135N, 082-42.471W
End of Hernando Beach Channel

B

Hernando Beach Turn Light

3 second Flashing White
28-30.872N, 082-44.073W
Marked"Hernando Beach"

C

Billy Steele South Rack

OCC 3s ON, 1s OFF, White
28-30.415N, 082-46.488W
Submerged Ruins

D

Middle Rock

No Light - sign only
28-31.70N, 082-46.60W
"Danger Rocks" to east

E

Bayport North Rack

ISO. 3s ON - 3s OFF White
28-33.895N, 082-46.851W
Submerged Ruins, to North & West

F

Bayport Channel Entrance Light

5s Flashing White
28-32.850N, 082-42.570W
End of Bayport Channel

G

Gomez Rocks

2 Pilings , no light
(N)28-29.840N, 082-43.680W

(S)28.29-689N, 082-43.682W

Rocks between pilings

H

Chassahowitzka Channel Entrance

Quick Flashing White light
(N)28-39.50N, 082-44.10

I

Cutter Rock

6s Flashing White
28-30.979N, 082-49.934W
"Danger Rocks"

J

Aripeka Channel Entrance Light

6s Flashing White
28-27.04N, 082-44.57W
End of Aripeka Channel

K

A,H. Richardson Reef

Yellow Buoy - Richardson Reef
28-31.484N, 082-55.144W
Culverts & Concrete Rubble 20 ft.

L

Jim Champion Reef

Yellow Buoy - Champion Reef
28-36.43N, 082-56.40W
Culverts & Barge 20 ft.

M

Bendickson Tank Reef

Yellow Buoy - Bendickson Tank Reef
28-31.761N, 082-58.362W
10 Sherman tanks in a 1/4 mile radius, 25 ft.

N

Reef Ball Reef

Yellow Buoy - Reef Balls
28-30.007N, 082-58.408W
180 Reef Balls in 1/4 mile radius, 29 ft.

November 2017: We added 3 snorkeling reefs, A, B & C listed below. They are just north of Middle Rock and in charted depths of 7 to 8 feet at Low water. Even at high tide they are readily accessable to snorkelers. They do sit in depressions, so they might be a little deeper, as we must place them on sand and not seagrass. These are all Pallet Balls which are 3 feet high and 4 feet in diameter


Reef Ball Reef, Shallow - Snorkeling "A"

UNMARKED - Reef Balls
28-32.231 N, 082-44.277 W
28 Reef Balls in line 150 ft long, 14 ft.

Reef Ball Reef, Shallow - Snorkeling "B"

UNMARKED - Reef Balls
28-32.949 N, 082-45.760 W
57 Reef Balls rectangle 200 ft long, 14 ft.

Reef Ball Memorial Reef, Shallow - Snorkeling "C"

UNMARKED - Reef Balls
28-32.181 N, 082-45.954 W
From Bill Watts 3.2 NM @ 288T
From Bayport marker 3.2 NM @ 259T
45 Reef Balls rectangle 200 ft long, 12 ft.

If you notice that any of these lighted aids are not working properly you may call the Hernando County Parks & Recreation Dept. at 352-754-4027 and report it, or notify Coast Guard Station Yankeetown on VHF Channel 16 or by phone at 352-447-6900


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REEF BALLS: Note the random holes in this Reef Ball, they are actually strategically placed.
The base is not on Reef Balls which are deployed on the ocean bottom.

Reef Balls are a special PH balanced concrete with holes to simulate the sound of coral when water flows past them. Fish will move in with in hours of deployment. Marine growth will soon begin to adhere to them making them an even more desirable fish attractor. Any vertical object tends to attract fish, however the old idea of using worn out tires did not work out since marine growth does not like to adhere to them and they are hard to keep on location. Other states have had to spend millions removing "old tire reefs' because of environmental concerns. The Reef Ball is a scientifically designed structure that is easy to deploy. A lift bag is attached to the top during sinking so that they land upright, then it is removed by divers.

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County Boat Ramps with Gulf access are at Hernando Beach, Jenkins Creek Park (small boats, it's steep), Weeki Wachee River at Rogers Park and Bayport. Additionally there is a private ramp at Aripeka just inside Pasco county; ask at Norfleet's Fishing Shack on the south end of the north bridge.

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Shrimp boat going to work


Our Shrimp Boat Fleet catches live shrimp which are sent throughout Florida and as far north as South Carolina for bait. These hearty fishermen leave at dusk and return around 2AM. Their product must be delivered to baitshops by the time the fishermen are ready to go out. Shrimp move about at night and bury into the bottom during the day, so shrimping is done at night. Just think, these guys and gals get a front row seat on the wonderful sunsets of the Florida's West Coast.

Hernando Beach Ramp
4 launch slips


The Hernando Beach Ramp has the most parking of any of the county ramps, but as more and more people come to visit, space is often at a premium.

Good boating etiquite is to have your boat prepared to launch when you get to the ramp (don't forget the drain plug). Launch your boat and move your vehicle to the parking area.

On the way out please don't hog the ramp while you secure your boat for transport, pull back into the parking area to make it road ready.




Jenkins Creek Ramp & Bridge to the seaward side. Smaller fishing boat owners may find this ramp less crowded.


A little known ramp is at Jenkins Creek and may be especally useful for fishermen when the tarpon are prowling our coast, generally April 15 through late June. It is a bit steep, but there is rarely a line waiting to use it. It's great for flats style boats and Kayakers will find it useful as well for exlploring the salt marsh of the nature coast.

Kayakers will be able to go up to the Weeki Wachee River or down to Bayport. an interesting circumnavigation would be to go up the canal along Shoal Line Blvd. to the Weeki Wachee, turn left when you join the Weeki Wachee, travel down to Bayport with the current behind you. At the Bayport Pier take the waterway directly across from it, take the first left which is Jenkin's Creek and you'll come back to the ramp. This would be a good half day trip and you should see many types of wildlife, inclucing but not limited to manatees, osprey's,bald eagles, pelicans, Blue Herons, wood storks (especially in the winter), looking over the side you may see snook, jacks, mullet, sheephead, mangrove snapper swimming below you. Don't worry about alligators, they are rarely seen in this area; they prefer calm fresh water like golf course lakes and still swamp waters.

Rogers Park Ramp
just off the Weeki Wachee River
launch in freshwater


Bayport Park is located at "Lands End", the western end of Rt. 50 ( CR 550). There are two launch ramps, with another to be added this year. There are picnic tables both at the ramp area and down at the pier. Bayport is a very popular spot and parking is at a PREMIUM. Please do not park a car in a space designed for a boat and trailer, especially early in the day. Most of the time the fishermen are back by 2:30 pm and the crowding eases. Bayport is a good place to go and enjoy one of our spectacular sunsets. Parking along the road may get you a ticket, so please don't do that either.

Bayport Park Ramp, 2 launch slips




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