Paddle Sports Paradise, Franklin County, Fla.

A kayaker sets out for fish on Camel Lake in the northwest corner of the Apalachicola National Forest.
Photo by: Colin Hackley

Franklin County is one of the best destinations for Paddle Sports.

There may not be an area more suited for the paddle sports enthusiast than Franklin County, Fla. The Apalachicola River and its system of tributaries and creeks make the area a paddler’s paradise and offers paddling options for everyone.

With more than 80 percent of Franklin County’s 545 square miles publically owned and preserved as wilderness areas, there are literally hundreds of miles of rivers, creeks and coastal shallows to explore by canoe or kayak. From floating pristine rivers by canoe to the challenges of a long-distance sea kayak adventure along a remote coastline, Franklin County has it all!

The Apalachicola River Paddling Trail System is broken into 11 separate smaller trail sections.  Paddlers at all levels of ability will enjoy these canoeing and kayaking trails that are comprised of nearly 100 miles through the swamps of the Apalachicola River. Distances range from short, easy trips to multi-day river trips flowing into open bays of the Gulf of Mexico. These trails not only offer breathtaking scenery and wildlife encounters, but the fishing in these places is amazing!

Bass, Bream, Red Drum and Speckled Trout

As the river carries you to the bay, you can expect to catch both fresh and saltwater species like bass, bream, speckled trout and the mighty red drum. Tackle selection is easy. A few basic lures is all it takes: spinnerbaits, Texas-rigged worms and a topwater lure, like a Bagley Bang-O-Lure will get the bass bites in the flowing waters of the river. Cast to anything that creates a current break and hold on!

As the water turns salty, a gold spoon and jigs tipped with curly tail grubs or a Gulp Shrimp are mainstays for trout and redfish success, but these fish smash topwaters, as well… especially walking baits like a Rapala Skitterwalk. Any one of the local tackle shops will help you gear up with lure types, colors and sizes best suited for the season and conditions. Or you can fill your bucket with the live bait. That’s always a sure bet.

Don’t miss the Paddle Jam event and races April 5-7. Come be a part of this annual attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest raft of kayakers!

Also enjoy other events like the Antique & Classic Boat & Car Show April 20 and the annual Carrabelle Riverfront Festival featuring maritime exhibits, arts and crafts, seafood, live music and a classic car show April 26-27.

Bring your kayak or paddleboard and a love for adventure and fun.

For more info and a complete list of rentals, charters, supplies and more, visit


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