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Big Hickory Pass

Big Hickory Pass is a less traveled beach and fishing destination than its larger cousins to the north, New Pass and Big Carlos Pass. Big Hickory Bay drains out of this pass. 

Access: Foot, Boat, Canoe/Kayak
Species: snook, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, sheepshead, trout,  mackerel, ladyfish, tarpon, shark, black drum
Best Tide: incoming or outgoing

 

The pass at Big Hickory provides the first gulf access north of Wiggins Pass to the south and forms the northernmost border of Hickory Island. Easy access with a canoe or kayak and on foot, a jetty, and a variety of gamefish make this a popular spot. Much of the beach that used to be on the south side of the pass has washed away in recent years, and the pass itself seems to go through fairly dramatic changes with relative high frequency. Fishing opportunities abound here, but considering the small size of the pass, the ease of access, and the close location, this is a heavily fished area.

Starting from the bridge and heading west, there are numerous fishing opportunities. A kayak or canoe can easily be launched from either side of the bridge, and the sand ramp on the south side of the bridge can even accommodate small boats (jon boats, jet skis, etc). As you head out toward the gulf, you will see a ton of structure in and around the bridge. The left side is lined with private docks while the right side is covered with oysters and mangroves—two potential fishy indicators. Deep mangroves along the right side are favorite spots of locals and tourists alike, and competition for those spots can be stiff during peak times.

Right where the mangroves on the right side give way to beach, there is a very small area where the water from the back bays spills into the pass during higher tides. I’ve seen large schools of bait here, and even caught a barracuda from the beach there. Alternatively, this spot can be reached with a canoe or kayak if you put in directly across the road from the water tower and follow the mangrove river around.

 

When you get out of the pass, the beach preserve to the north has a sandbar that holds fish, but be on the lookout for naked people along that stretch! To the south there is a small rock jetty which is a favorite of local anglers on foot for its ease of access. Around and between the jetties is a great place to look for bait if you are proficient with the cast net. The Hickory Island Bike Ride page includes a great video showing off the jetty and the rest of the pass. The jetty has been known to produce snook, sheepshead, trout, Spanish mackerel, flouder, black drum, and a variety of other inshore game fish. Shark fishing from the pass is also a popular summer pastime. If you are interested in this type of fishing, get yourself some big time gear with heavy line, get a fat mullet head, or better yet a grouper or black fin tuna carcass, either cast or paddle your bait way out, grab a couple of beers, and wait until the drag starts screaming. Shark on!

A tip from the Ryans: During the summer months, live bait is king. The beaches surrounding Big Hickory Pass, especially the beach just south of the rock jetty, often has an abundance of bait swimming around. Ideally, you'll be able to troll around in 2 to 5 feet of water, throw a 12-14ft cast net and load up with all the bait you can handle for the day. However, wading around in 1-3 feet of water with a smaller net can also find bait, although it will typically be smaller. 

 

 

 


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