Plan A Perfect Summer Barbecue

Enjoying lazy days in the sun and on the water is a great time to plan a perfect summer barbecue party. Family and friends will want to be included in all the fun, and of course the main attraction will be the food.

As for what is on the menu, it will depend on a variety of factors like who is doing the cooking, how many people are attending, and what time the food will be served? Will it be an all-day affair or have a designated timeline? Will food be served in shifts? Served at a specific time? These are questions you’ll need to answer up front so your guests know what to expect.

It’s best to have an idea early on of how large the gathering will be to determine how much food will be needed. This will help with the overall food shopping and delegating who can supply what item.

Before we get too far along, let’s clear up a question that may be a matter of preference. Is it a barbecue or cookout? Technically the two can be considered the same in terms of events. There is no right or wrong menu item when it comes to chowing down. A barbecue just means cooking outside on the grill.

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How to Plan A Perfect Summer Barbecue Party

So now that we’ve settled that, let’s move on to figuring out the menu. The typical summer barbecue party menu includes burgers and hotdogs. Some gatherings may include more elaborate fare to enjoy such as the days’ fresh catch from the St. Johns River.

The seasonal fishing calendar forecasts it’s a good time to catch Bass, Bluegill, Redear, Specks, Stripers and Catfish. So anglers let’s see what you add to the barbecue. When you return to the boat dock here at Castaways, use the convenient fish cleaning station to get everything ready for the grill just a few steps away.

And don’t forget about all the great side dishes to go along with the main entrees from salads, beans, and other tasty treats and appetizers. Invite everyone to provide their favorite dish to help feed the masses. Get ready for recipe sharing or be prepared to protect the secret ingredient.

And since we are talking about summer time, get the ice cream churn out and put the popsicles on ice so everyone young and old can enjoy a variety of cool goodies.

castaways-summer-barbeque-grill
A good grill master must be included to plan a perfect summer barbecue .

Barbecue Grill Duty

Before everyone digs in to enjoy the spread of food, make sure to thank the person who handled the grill duties. This is often a hard, hot and thankless job. Remember without someone on the grill, it’s just eating out. Tips to show your thanks is to make sure the grill master has a cold, refreshing beverage close by to enjoy. It’s likely to already be hot, then add to that the heat and smoke from the grill. Keep the cook cool and comfortable.

It’s also a good idea to designate helpers for the grill master so they can play close attention to the food and not have to worry about carrying it to the serving area. They may need other tools and supplies so extra pairs of hands are often appreciated.

Plan Ahead

Consider creating a list of all the items needed to pull off the perfect summer barbecue party. It’s always the little things like forgetting a special condiment that can derail a good plan. If you are heading to a remote area, it may be difficult to run to the nearest supermarket or big box retailer to pick up a few items. So pack what you’ll need ahead of time to ensure everything arrives at the barbecue.

Also who is bringing the plates, cutlery, napkins, drinks, ice etc.? Yes those are all the things that round out your barbecue that need to go on the plan ahead list.

It may also be wise to have a backup plan in case of rain on the day of the barbecue. A quick rain shower or rolling thunderstorms is a daily occurrence in Florida during the summer months. Check the local weather report to see when rain is forecast. The information can help if you need to change the start or end time of the barbecue. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on the clouds if those attending the barbecue go out on a boat.

Barbecue Party Accessories

Bring a few board games for all to enjoy or a deck of cards to see who has the best hand. This is where the fun begins with plenty of laughter and great memories are made. Pose for a selfie or two to capture the moment.

Board games also come in handy while waiting for the weather to clear up outdoors.

And what’s a party without some good tunes on the speaker? Designate a DJ to make sure the music is playing and everyone gets to hear a favorite song. Create a play list to get the party started. Dancing is a good way to work off a few of those calories you enjoyed from the grill.

Don’t forget to plan for everyone to enjoy time in the sun or get out on the water. All that fun is sure to work up hearty appetites which will be ready to feast on a barbecue spread.

Let us know how we can help you plan a perfect summer barbecue party here at Castaways.

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Plan Your Party Along the St. Johns River

Castaways On The River in Astor, Florida has space, outfitted with grills, to plan the perfect summer barbecue party. The resort has rental cottages and motel rooms to accommodate guests. Also inquire about our fleet of rental boats to get out on the St. Johns River to fish and to enjoy nature at area attractions like nearby freshwater springs. Castaways is nestled on the eastern edge of the Ocala National Forest, located between Ocala and Ormond Beach along State Road 40. Call Castaways On The River at (352) 759-3442 to book a rental boat, reserve rooms and to arrange additional plans.

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Your Ultimate Florida Boating Regulations Checklist

“The best boat to enjoy in Florida is someone else’s boat.”

The cost of ownership and upkeep for a boat is pricey, which is why Floridians and visitors alike enjoy the peace of mind that comes with renting a boat. The experience allows you to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the St. Johns River without the expense of boat ownership. Follow our Florida boating regulations checklist to help you get out on the water faster.

Florida boating regulations
Follow our Florida boating regulations checklist to help you get out on the water faster.

Check for a Valid Marina Rental Boat License

In Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) requires charter captains that rent boats to hold a valid boat license. This license allows rental boat operators to carry between four and 11 boaters on board, depending on which boat license they hold. Make sure you check with the charter captain before you rent a boat to inquire there is a valid boat license. Make sure the rental boats also have proper boat rental insurance.

Florida Boat Rental Age Cutoff

Each state is different when it comes to the requirement age and license requirements for boaters. Those wishing to rent a boat in Florida along the St. Johns River must be born on or after Jan. 1, 1988.

Complete an Approved Boating Safety Course

Those seeking to rent a boat and head out on the water must complete an approved boating safety course. The completion of the course allows you to obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card issued by the FWC. Find out answers to your boating card questions to help you pass the course.

If you are visiting from out of town and have boat certification from another state, you can receive a temporary Florida boating certificate from this list of Florida vendors.

Florida boating regulations
Floridians and visitors alike enjoy the peace of mind that comes with renting a boat.

Check the Boat for Damage

Before you take possession of the boat, make sure you assess the boat’s condition with the boat rental operator and document pre-existing issues with the boat so you are not made liable for boat repairs. Look for:

  • Scratches and dents
  • Motor or propeller damage
  • Seat and interior stains and tears
  • Windshield cracks

Review Proper Safety Equipment

All rental boats should come equipped with life jackets for every passenger on board. Discuss where the life jackets and other safety equipment for the boat are located before you leave the marina.

St. Johns River
Get on the St. Johns River to do some exploring and fishing in North Central Florida.

Rent a Boat

You have everything you need to take possession of a rental boat and get on the St. Johns River to do some exploring and fishing in North Central Florida. Rent a boat today at Castaways on the River, where a marina full of rentals boats is waiting for you. Castaways on the River also offers cottages and motel rooms along the river. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental and area travel plans today!

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The Top 8 Places to Visit Along the St. Johns River

Local fishing captains will be the first to tell you of their preference for North Central Florida. “There’s no place in the country that’s better for boating and fishing than along the St. Johns River in Florida,” says Capt. Steve Niemoeller of Central Florida Fishing. Follow our guide to the top eight best places to visit along the St. Johns River.

best places to visit Florida
Lake George near Astor, Florida is a great spot for boating and fishing.

Lake George

Lake George near Astor, Florida is a great spot for boating and fishing. Lake George is fed from the northern flow of the St. Johns River and is the state’s second largest lake behind Lake Okeechobee. Lake George is full of bass and a great place to plan the perfect day trip.

Silver Glen Springs

You have to visit a Florida freshwater spring while you are traveling the St. Johns River. The crystal clear water that stays a constant 72 degrees year-round is a great place to do some snorkeling and swimming. The most popular spring with the clearest water is Silver Glen Springs. Plan the perfect day at Silver Glen Springs to take full advantage of the area.

Blackwater Inn Restaurant & Lounge

Stop for lunch or dinner directly on the banks of the St. Johns River by docking the boat at Blackwater Inn Restaurant and Lounge. The St. Johns River waterfront restaurant has outdoor seating within the shade of large trees and offers fantastic views of the river. Arrive and depart by boat to maximize your boating time. Try these other must stop dining spots along the St. Johns River too.

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Follow our guide to the top eight best places to visit along the St. Johns River.

Juniper Springs Recreation Area

Are you a boater that likes to camp too? You can have the best of both worlds along the St. Johns River. The Juniper Springs Recreation Area is one of the oldest recreation areas in the country and offers an onsite campground and hiking trails.

Blue Springs State Park

Head to Blue Springs State Park to enjoy beautiful scenery and to spot manatees, the state’s large and lovable sea cows. Manatees love to hang out in the springs through the end of March because the water stays a constant 72 degrees, keeping their body temperatures warmer in the winter. The park also has fishing, canoeing and snorkeling opportunities.

De Leon Springs

Are you looking for a place with boat ramps and canoe and kayak rentals? De Leon Springs State Park has all that and more. The 525-acre park produces 19 millions of clear fresh spring water daily. It also offers picnic tables, grills and a playground area for the kids.

Make sure you stop for breakfast at the Sugar Mill Restaurant to get some of the best pancakes you’ll ever eat, made by you right at your table.

Rodman Reservoir

Just a 45-minute ride from Astor, Florida, Capt. Steve Niemoeller’s favorite place to go boating and take people fishing is Rodman Reservoir. Also known as Lake Ocklawaha, the man-made reservoir acts as both a dam reservoir and a bass fishery heaven for anglers.

“There’s no better spot that Rodman Reservoir to do some boating and fishing,” Niemoeller said. Niemoeller said he take fishing charter customers to Rodman Reservoir to catch bass, crappie and catfish year-round.

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The St. Johns River in North Central Florida is one of the best places in Florida to visit.

Rent a Cottage Along the River

You’re coming to North Central Florida to enjoy as much of the St. Johns River as you can. When you stay at Castaways on the River, you can enjoy quaint cottages and motel rooms right along the banks of the river.

Rent a Boat

Al of these eight spots to visit along the St. Johns River are accessible by boat. Rent a boat today at Castaways on the River along the St. Johns River. Guests of Castaways on the River receive a 10 percent discount on Capt. Steve Niemoeller fishing charters, which leave directly from the marina. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental and St. Johns River experience today!

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Daytona Bike Week Fans: Plan Your Florida Backroads Trip

Enjoying the open road on your motorcycle is a beautiful thing. For motorcycle enthusiasts, Daytona Bike Week in Florida is the best time of year. Bikers seeking an experience on true Florida backroads need to drive through Astor, Florida and take advantage of an area that opens its doors to bikers.

daytona bike week
Bikers seeking an experience on true Florida backroads need to drive through Astor, Florida.

State Road 40 Caters to Daytona Bike Week Crowd

The mostly two-lane State Road 40 cuts through North Central Florida and provides you a direct route to Daytona Beach for Bike Week. The road is a popular spot for bikers on the weekend and gives motorcycle enthusiasts a breathtaking view of Old Florida.

Motorcycleroads.com ranks the State Road 40 drive through the Ocala Forest as the 15th best Florida motorcycle route, calling it “a mixture of forest, lakes and wetlands, the route is popular with local riders.” Come check the route out for yourselves!

Visit Astor, Florida Dining Spots

Looking for some motorcycle-friendly restaurants? Look no further than Astor, Florida along the St. Johns River. There are five must-stop dining spots that offer a variety of fresh seafood and waterfront dining options. Many of these are popular motorcycle spot for bikers that have parking spaces ready to accommodate large biker groups.

Visit the Ocala National Forest

While you are here, take a hike through the Ocala National Forest and do some hunting in a nationally protected forest that covers 607 square miles.

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Sunsets along Florida’s backroads and near the St. Johns River are a sight to behold.

Look for Bears and Wildlife on the Scenic Byway

The nationally-designated Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway in North Central Florida is a great place for bikers to catch a glimpse of Florida black bears, deer and other Florida wildlife. The east-west segment of the byway takes bikers along State Road 40 near the St. Johns River.

Use an app to find black bears and learn how to improve your black bear spotting skills.

Enjoy a Lake George Outing

Do you like to fish? Lake George and the St. Johns River near Astor are full of bass. Enjoy some Lake George fishing, boating and a stunning sunset on beautiful Lake George.

Look for Manatees in the Natural Springs

The St. Johns River near Astor is home to some of the state’s most popular freshwater springs, which stay at a constant 72-degrees year-round. Make sure you look for manatees while you visit the spring.

Hike the Florida National Scenic Trail

Hike the central portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail in Astor to search for wildlife and enjoy the peacefulness of the nearby St. Johns River. This nationally protected trail carves a path right through North Central Florida.

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Enjoy the serenity of a backroads motorcycle trip on your way to Daytona Bike Week.

Rent a Cottage on the River

Are you looking for some peace and quiet before you head to Bike Week? Castaways on the River in Astor offers comfortable cottages and motel rooms overlooking the serene St. Johns River.

Rent a Boat

Who says you can only ride your motorcycle during Bike Week? Just 40 minutes from Daytona Beach are rental boats waiting for you to go boating and fishing on the St. Johns River. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book you boat rental and your Daytona Bike Week accommodations today!

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How to Plan the Perfect Day at Silver Glen Springs

Florida natural freshwater springs that stay a constant 72 degrees all year long are some of the state’s most important natural treasures. A short hour boat ride from Castaways lies Silver Glen Springs. The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service monitors the springs in northwest Florida. It’s one of the most popular springs for residents and tourists each year. Here’s how to plan the perfect day at Silver Glen Springs.

 

silver glen springs
Silver Glen Springs is one of the most popular springs for residents and tourists each year.

Enjoy the Water

Many residents and visitors claim Silver Glen Springs has the clearest water of all the springs in Northwest Florida. You can actually see rainbows shine across the bottom of the spring when the sun hits the clear water just right. The turquoise water also makes it excellent for swimming and snorkeling.

Look for fish and other marine life in the water and make sure you take your goggles to truly appreciate the water from down below. Scuba diving, though, is not permitted in the spring. Silver Glen Springs is also shallower than most other springs, making it a great spring for children to enjoy too. Utilize our seven tips for swimming in freshwater springs.

silver glen springs infographic

 

Utilize the Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area

Silver Glen Springs hours vary by season. Day use fees are $5.50 per person. The Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area makes up a protected swimming area that doesn’t allow boats and adjacent uplands that are used for trails and picnic areas.

The upland area forest consists of several trees and places to see birds. Those that love photography should bring their camera to take pictures of the area with Silver Glen Springs in the background.

Traverse the Spring Boils Trail and take a walk on the Lake George Trail too to see the beautiful cypress shoreline of the second largest lake in Florida: Lake George.

silver glen springs
Many claim Silver Glen has the clearest water of all the springs in Northwest Florida.

Picnic in Silver Glen Springs

There are picnic tables and barbecue grills located at Silver Glen Springs, making it a great place to bring a picnic lunch and eat a nice meal while enjoying the great view of the turquoise water. There is also a nature walk for families to enjoy.

Bears, raccoons and crows are known to steal food and shiny objects on picnic tables, so remember the spring is located in the forest and don’t leave your table without removing those items.

Look for Manatees

During the cooler winter months, manatee sightings are frequent in Silver Glen Springs as manatees seek warmer spring waters in the middle of the state. Follow our guide to learn how to spot manatees.

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Take your goggles to truly appreciate the clear water.

Explore the Ocala National Forest

Silver Glen sits within the Ocala National Forest. Make sure you take some time to explore the forest and all that it has to offer during your visit. Visit the Ocala National Forest Hunting Season Guide to learn more.

Silver Glen Springs Fun Facts

There is so much to learn about Silver Glen. Here are some fun facts to get you excited about your trip to the springs:

  • The spring’s two vents produce an average of 65 million gallons of water daily.
  • The springhead is 200-feet in diameter
  • The spring and encompassing area encompass 22 acres of water.
  • The Spring Boils Trail near Silver Glen Springs leads to nearby Jody’s Spring, which is named for the spring described by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in her book, “The Yearling.”
  • Silver Glen Springs funnels and flows 3,300 feet into Lake George, the second largest lake in Florida behind Lake Okeechobee.
  • The spring is also an important archaeological site. Large mounds behind fences are marked and considered a sacred space for Native Americans.

Rent a Boat

Visiting the springs is fun and so is renting a boat on the St. Johns River. Castaways on the River offers rental boats for your trip. Your marina rental boat operators can provide you with tips and directions to captain your rental boat to Silver Glen Springs. Castaways on the River offers quaint cottages and motel rooms with views of the St. Johns River. Call Castaways on the River at (352) 759-3442 to plan your trip to the area today!

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How to Plan the Perfect Romantic Fishing Trip

The weather is warming up in North Central Florida and the fish are biting amidst a beautiful backdrop on the St. Johns River. Plan the perfect romantic fishing trip with your loved one this Valentine’s Day by following our lead.

romantic fishing trip
Plan the perfect romantic fishing trip on the St. Johns River.

Set the Right Mood

Whether you want to take a partner who is not an avid angler or is your fishing equal, you want to set the mood right with the invitation. Instead of talking about a trip that involves live bait and early trips to the river, paint the right picture by explaining your desire to spend the entire day in nature with the one you love amidst the peaceful and serene St. Johns River.

Pack Some Thoughtful Food

This is not your average fishing trip where you bring the standard six-pack and a bag of pretzels and beef jerky. Pack some fresh fruit, finger foods and pastries in a nice picnic basket that can be stored in a large cooler. Surprise your Valentine with the basket and a nice bottle of wine or champagne. Impress by remembering napkins and a corkscrew.

romantic fishing trip
Look for a romantic fishing spot that has peace and quiet, solitude and a great backdrop.

Pick the Perfect Romantic Fishing Spot

You are looking for the perfect romantic fishing spot that has peace and quiet, solitude and a great backdrop. Fortunately for you, it is hard not to find a beautiful fishing spot on the St. Johns River. Ask our charter fishing captains for advice for a romantic fishing spot where you can catch some fish and earn some bonus points from your valentine for your thoughtful spot.

Follow these tips too to help find the perfect fishing spot.

Do Not Push Fishing

At the end of the day, this is a Valentine’s Day romantic fishing trip to show your affection for the one you love. Don’t make it all about you by never putting down your fishing rod. Spend some time together in the boat at lunch and don’t push your partner to fish if he or she doesn’t feel like it. Bring along some reading material and some music and let the day unfold on your valentine’s terms.

Tell a Romantic Story

Swap the regular fishing stories with a story about how the two of you met while you are casting your line in a romantic fishing spot. Make your partner smile and feel more connected with you so he or she realizes how important it was that they agreed to come on this fishing trip with you.

romantic fishing trip couple
Make your partner realize how important this fishing trip is to you.

Be Spontaneous

We realize that anglers are usually set in their ways and go through their ritualistic motions on fishing trips because they know what works. Switch it up on this romantic fishing trip. Be spontaneous and surprise your loved one by pulling out a playlist of their favorite tunes, pull out a wild flower bouquet for her from underneath your seat or upload a photo of the two of you on your fishing trip to your partner’s Instagram account with a nice tribute to your loved one.

If you are looking for some more tips, check out these five tips for a romantic St. Johns River trip.

Rent a Romantic Cottage

Stay awhile and enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day romantic fishing trip on the St. Johns River. Castaways on the River has quaint cottages and motel rooms just steps from the marina that allow couples to relax for the weekend and truly enjoy their romantic fishing trip in a peaceful setting.

Rent a Boat

Make sure you rent a boat to enjoy the St. Johns River. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental and romantic fishing trip getaway accommodations today.

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How to Spot Manatees in North Central Florida

The St. Johns River and the crystal clear all-natural Florida freshwater springs are home to many species of marine life, including the Florida manatee, also known as the gentle sea cow. Follow these tips to find out how to spot manatees in North Central Florida.

how to spot manatees
Follow these tips to find out how to spot manatees like these near the St. Johns River.

How to Spot Manatees in the Water

Learning how to spot manatees in the water is your first step. Look for bubbles floating to the surface of the crystal clear water. The bubbles are the oxygen from manatees breathing and lurking beneath the water! They surface for air every five minutes, so be patient.

When to Spot Manatee in North Central Florida

The months of November through April are the best months to spot manatees in freshwater springs. Manatees are seeking refuge in the warmer inland waters during this time period and retreat back to the coastal waters in the Gulf and Atlantic Ocean during the summer months.

Listen for Manatees

You will likely hear a whoosh of air and water snorts at the same time. These are the sounds of the manatees surfacing for a large gasp of air that allows them to go back under water for up to five minutes before they resurface again.

Look For Manatees in the Vegetation

Manatees are herbivores that love to munch on vegetation. Look for manatees in and around freshwater plants, where they are likely grazing in flats and sea grasses enjoying a long snack.

Stay in Shallow Areas

Manatees do not like cold weather and cold water. You are likelier to find them in shallower water because it stays warmer and allows them to regulate their body temperatures better.

Search for Manatees in the St. Johns River

Manatees heading to the springs for the winter use the St. Johns River as their river highway to come inland. You will spot them swimming in the river to get to warmer spring water.

how to spot manatees
There are great spots along the St. Johns River in Astor, Florida to enjoy manatee sightseeing.

Get in the Water and Snorkel

If you are willing to brave the constant 72-degree temperatures of Florida freshwater springs in North Central Florida, snorkeling is the best way to get an up close and personal view of Florida manatees. They are docile creatures and will not harm you.

Follow these seven tips for swimming in freshwater springs and find out everything you need to know about wildlife near the St. Johns River.

Tips for Watching Manatees Safely

Manatees are gentle creatures but you can’t get too close to them. The general rule mandated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is “you can look but don’t touch.”

You must also never:

  • Pursue or chase a manatee seeking to avoid you
  • Poke, prod or stab a manatee with your hands, feet or any object
  • Attempt to ride a manatee
  • Enter a “No Entry Manatee Refuge” location.

The manatee is protected under federal law by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, making it illegal to harass, hunt or capture the species. Anyone violating federal or state manatee laws can face a $500 fine and/or up to 60 days in prison. Check out state-mandated viewing guidelines for more information.

how to spot manatees
Make your manatee experience  memorable by renting a boat to enjoy the St. Johns River.

Book Your Manatee Viewing Trip

North Central Florida’s freshwater springs and the manatees that are enjoying them are a sight to behold. There are great spots along the St. Johns River in Astor, Florida to enjoy sightseeing. Book your manatee viewing trip at Castaways on the River to spend some time along the river. Castaways on the River offers cozy cottages and motel rooms right along the St. Johns River near freshwater springs.

Rent a Boat

Make your manatee viewing experience even more memorable by renting a boat to enjoy the St. Johns River. Castaways on the River offers a variety of rental boat options. Our marina rental boat operators will provide you with the tips and navigation advice you need to spot manatees and find some good fishing spots. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental, a fishing charter and lodging accommodations today.

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St. Johns River Bass Fishing: What You Need to Know

There is a reason the beautiful St. Johns River in North Central Florida has a nickname among anglers who call it a “bass fishing paradise.” The river and its many lakes and tributaries are home to thousands and thousands of fish. Study up on what you need to know to catch bass in and around the St. Johns River.

st johns river bass fishing
The St. Johns River is a bass fishing paradise that you need to witness firsthand.

Take Your Time

The biggest piece of advice that many anglers have when bass fishing along the St. Johns River is to be patient.

“You have to be patient,” says Capt. Steve Niemoeller, a North Central Florida fishing charter captain that handles fishing charters from Castaways on the River.

Most people won’t sit in the same spot for 15 minutes but Niemoeller says patience pays off because bass will likely start biting if you stay put.

Use Shiners

Wild shiners and artificial lures like SteelShad lures get the attention of bass. Bass like anything that is shiny so do not be afraid to try some shiny lures on your line to get their attention.

Look for Bass in the Grass

Bass love to stay warm and hide in sea grasses, weeds and rocks. Vegetation produces oxygen and is a great spot for small fish that bass eat too. Make sure you look for bass in the grass and other hiding spots.

st johns river bass fishing
Rent a boat to do some St. Johns River bass fishing using your new tips.

Utilize Lake George

Lake George, Florida’s second-largest lake after Lake Okeechobee, is a great largemouth bass fishing spot anglers should utilize. Bass congregate here because Lake George acts as the mouth for many smaller feeder streams. Search for bass near lily pads in the spring and drop your line in deep holes to lure them out of their hiding spots.

De Leon Springs State Park Attracts Bass

The 603-acre De Leon Springs State Park attracts a large amount of bass and pan fish. The park has a boat launch and picnic pavilions. A  Florida freshwater fishing license is required for anglers 16 years of age and older.

Crescent Lake Attracts Spawn-Ready Females

Females ready to lay their eggs use Crescent Lake because they like the seclusion of the eel beds for privacy. This makes Crescent Lake a great spot to find bass, particularly in the spring when the water temperature reaches 65 to 70 degrees.

fishing at sunset
Lake George is a great largemouth bass fishing spot anglers should utilize.

Book Your St. Johns River Bass Fishing Trip

There are so many great spots in Astor, Florida to go bass fishing that you need to plan a St. Johns River bass fishing trip. Book your stay at Castaways on the River to spend some time in North Central Florida. Castaways on the River offers comfortable cottages and motel rooms right along the St. Johns River. Guests of Castaways on the River receive a 10% discount on fishing charters with Captain Steve Niemoeller, which can be booked directly through Castaways on the River.

Rent a Boat

No boat of your own? Rent a boat to enjoy the natural beauty of the river and do some St. Johns River bass fishing using your new tips. The marina at Castaways on the River can accommodate all of your boat rental and fishing trip needs. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental, fishing charter and lodging accommodations today!

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8 Must Visit Spots in Astor, Florida

North Central Florida is a treasure trove of natural beauty that you need to explore for yourself along the St. Johns River in Astor, Florida this year. You may only have a weekend to visit so we have done your homework for you. Here are the eight must visit spots in Astor you need to visit this year.

lake george
You have to rent a boat on the St. Johns River to fully appreciate Lake George’s beauty.

Plan a Trip to Lake George

Lake George calls recreational anglers and boaters alike to its haven of shimmering water and endless fishing opportunities. At approximately six-miles across and 11 miles around, Lake George is Florida’s second-largest lake behind Lake Okeechobee. Fed from the northern flow of the St. Johns River, Lake George is actually fed its water from the south of the lake. Lake George is a wonderful spot to do some fishing and enjoy some boating this year.

Read our Lake George guide to learn more about this popular lake.

ocala national forest
The Ocala National Forest is a protected habitat waiting for exploration.

Visit the Ocala National Forest

The Ocala National Forest is a nationally protected forest of 607 square miles of exploration. It contains more than 600 lakes, springs and rivers too. Depending on the time of year, you can see bears, deer, birds, manatees and other marine life in the forest.

Learn the ins and outs of camping along the St. Johns River, how to start a campfire and hunting guidelines in the Ocala National Forest.

silver glen springs
Spot manatees in the winter at Silver Glen Springs.

Take a Dip in the Natural Springs

The St. Johns River area near Astor, Florida is home to some of the state’s most beautiful freshwater springs, which sit near the Ocala National Forest. The springs contain crystal-clear water that stays a constant 72-degrees year-round. Popular activities in the springs include swimming, snorkeling, canoeing and kayaking. During the cooler winter months, you are also likely to spot manatees that have made their way inland to stay warm in the spring waters.

Put these springs on your must-visit list this year:

  • Silver Glen Springs is a popular place to see manatee sightings in the winter.
  • Juniper Springs provides an access point to the Florida National Scenic Trail.
  • De Leon Springs is the former home of the Native Mayacca Indians.
  • Salt Springs is a haven for turtles, bass and Blue Crabs and is not accessible by motor boats.
what to do astor florida dining
Some restaurants have boat docking access from the St. Johns River.

Dine at Local Restaurants

Astor, Florida is also a very popular spot to grab a bite to eat at local restaurants nestled near the St. Johns River. There are five must-stop dining spots that offer a variety of fresh seafood and waterfront dining options. Some restaurants have boat docking access from the river. Other restaurants are popular hangouts for motorcyclists taking leisurely weekend drives on State Road 40, so share those spots with bikers and keep an eye out for them on the road! Make sure you check out the dining scene in Astor during your next visit.

 

Hike the Florida National Scenic Trail

If you are a hiker, the Florida National Scenic Trail is calling your name. The trail consists of 1,300 miles of federally designated recreation trail that crosses right near the St. Johns River in Astor, Florida.

Try tackling the central portion of the trail near Astor, where you can search for Florida black bears, birds and enjoy the peaceful natural surroundings of the St. Johns River.

Find out how to hike the Florida National Scenic Trail and map your hiking trip today.

what to do astor florida
Plan a trip to the St. Johns River soon to relax and unwind.

See Bears on the Scenic Byway

The nationally-designated Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway in North Central Florida is the place to catch glimpses of the Florida Black Bear. The east-west segment of the byway takes motorists along State Road 40 near the St. Johns River and through the Ocala National Forest and the Lake George State Forest.

Use an app to find black bears and read up on our guide to improve your black bear spotting skills.

Book Your Next Visit

Will you not be able to visit every must visit spot in Astor in one trip? No worries. Plan another trip soon and book a stay at Castaways on the River to spend some time in North Central Florida this year! Castaways on the River offers cozy cottages and motel rooms so you can stay just steps away from the St. John River in Astor, Florida.  You can also rent a fully-equipped RV spot near the St. Johns River too. Read up on the seven North Central Florida RV tips you need to know to be prepared too.

Rent a Boat

You have to rent a boat on the St. Johns River to fully appreciate the river’s beauty. The marina at Castaways on the River can accommodate all of your boat rental and fishing trip needs. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental and North Central Florida visit accommodations today.

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10 Fishing New Year’s Resolutions

“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” – John Buchan

Happy New Year! We know you have big plans to make 2017 another great fishing year on the St. Johns River in North Central Florida. Follow these 10 New Year’s fishing resolutions in 2017 to stay focused on the fish at hand and remember why fishing soothes your soul.

New Year’s fishing resolutions
St. Johns River fishing is all about taking time to unwind and to do some self-reflection.

Study Your Electronics

Let’s face it. If you want to be considered a serious angler in 2017, it is time to get to know the latest electronics that help your sport. An electronic depth finder will help you find where fish are hiding and topographical maps help you navigate the river’s bottom easily.

Barometers also help you measure the atmospheric pressure. When the atmosphere pressure rises or dips over the course of a few hours, fish are more active during that period. GPS and weather electronics should also be on every angler’s boat for safety reasons too.

Fish in the Moment

Fishing is all about taking some time to unwind and to do some self-reflection. Do not stress about where you found fish last year. Take a deep breath, enjoy all the St. Johns River has to offer and trust your fishing instincts while you do some exploring in new areas.

Keep Your Mind Open to New Techniques

We have all said it. “I’ve been fishing here for 10 years and know everything about how to fish here.” That is just not true though. Be open to new technology and take fishing advice from others in the New Year. At the end of the day, fishing should be exciting, fresh and fun. Don’t get stuck in a rut or fishing might become boring for you.

electronic depth finder
If you want to be considered a serious angler in 2017, it is time to get to know the latest electronics that help your sport.

Exercise on Off Fishing Days

We know, we know. Fishing is a sport. But for a good part of the day, you are sitting on a boat waiting for fish to grab your line. Try getting into an exercise regimen on your off fishing days. Strengthen those arms and legs this year and watch as your fishing friends are impressed with your newfound strength when you’re casting bait and reeling in the big one.

Get Your Tackle Box Organized

Most anglers have a mess of a tackle box that somehow works for them each and every year. But imagine if your tackle box was organized and efficient this year! That could make all the difference for an improved fishing day on the water. Take some pride in your sport and follow our tackle box guide to get started.

Help Others on the St. Johns River

There are so many fishers out there that get set in their ways and don’t like to divulge their fishing secrets. We would argue that is the wrong approach in this day and age. One of the best joys in the life of an angler should involve helping others learn the sport and watching them grow to appreciate the hobby as much as you do. Make some friends, be a fishing mentor and enjoy the smiles and appreciation on others faces this year as you teach them new tricks. Try participating in a river cleanup or being a volunteer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission too.

Take a Camera

Anglers are notorious for telling stories about the big fish they caught but never having the proof to back it up. Make a commitment in 2017 to always take a camera with you to document your catches and capture all of your fishing adventure moments with friends and loved ones on the St. Johns River.

man fishing on the river
Follow these 10 fishing New Year’s resolutions in 2017 to stay focused and remember why fishing soothes your soul.

Be More Patient

A true fisher knows fishing is a game of patience. Anglers can always use a little more patience so try to practice that mantra this year. Leave your bait in the water a little longer and don’t give up on a fishing spot too soon.

Make More Weekend Fishing Plans

Commit to getting away for longer than just a day. Plan more weekend or week-long fishing trips this year. Book a stay at Castaways on the River to enjoy a comfortable cottage or motel room that sits right along the beautiful St. Johns River.

Rent a Boat

Castaways on the River can handle all of your St. Johns River boat rental needs this year. The marina offers a variety of boats that are ready for use on the river today. The St. Johns River in Astor, Florida is a great place to do some serious fishing this year and practice your new fishing resolutions. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental and lodging needs today!

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