Big Hickory Bay is often assimilated into the Estero Bay due to it's small size and close proximity. Big Hickory Bay is actually quite small, but does offer some good fishing.
Big Hickory Bay is a small lesser travelled area south of the Estero Bay, giving it some big fish potential. It can be somewhat of an unforgiving area with clear water and bait hard to come by. However, if you can track down either, you may be in for the catch of a lifetime. A major contributing factor to why it is seldom crowded is because there is only 1 main channel the runs the west side of the bay from north to south, with most of the rest of the bay being unmarked shallow water—a risky proposition for even the best flats boats.
Intrepid Waters channel enters the bay from the south, and turns sharply to the west. The channel here holds fish during most tides if you are willing to wait for them. Get a shrimp to stay on the bottom near the channel edges and you’re likely to catch any number of species, including snook, redfish, trout, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, and even juvenile tarpon during the right season. Locals can be seen shooting straight out of the channel and heading north during higher tide stages, while tourists in rental pontoons can be seen stuck in the same area after attempting that trick during lower tide stages. Another scarcely marked channel exists a few hundred yards to the west. A single channel marker and pvc posts are the only indicator of this channel that runs alongside the mangroves.
The east wall of Big Hickory Bay has some very interesting contours, with several mangrove points sticking out further than others making it a good ambush spot for big predators. However, slow moving water and murky conditions can slow this bite significantly. Working the east wall has turned up great redfish in the past. Generally, following the tide in will produce the best bites. Don’t be afraid to explore the East Wall of Big Hickory Bay as far north as Spring Creek and as far south as a small cut through known as Augor Creek. Stick to the higher tides and look for structure (oysters, snags, points, etc.)
Augor Creek, which is located in the southeast corner of the bay, offers more fishy looking waters, including a deep 12 ft hole right alongside mangroves surrounded by 4-5 feet of water in all other directions. Such holes can produce a variety of fish, especially matched with the fast moving current featured in the creek. However, they are also infamous for underwater snags which absolutely love to feast on terminal tackle. I’d love to throw on a scuba mask one day and see what is down there—a frightening mess of line, hooks, and scraggly tree limbs I’m sure. If you are in a shallow running boat, Augor Creek is a great way to cut through from the Imperial River into the bay if you are focusing on that area. Be wary of the tide if you are paddle propelled, however, because there are a few shallow and narrow reaches that the current absolutely rips through at times. One part in particular has a crossing of creeks, fast current, and oysters everywhere allowing for tough passage, especially at low tide. That same list of variables makes for good fishing any other day, and I have caught sheepshead, snook, and jack crevalle from that spot.
Intrepid Waters channel at the southeast corner of the bay is a much more popular fishing destination. There will almost always be boats anchored along the edges of the channel, and rightfully so because it is the only highway that connects Fish Trap Bay and Big Hickory Bay. Being so popular makes it a less than ideal fishing spot for me, but I’ve had extraordinary fun at the north end of Intrepid Waters channel when schools of ladyfish move through in massive numbers. Other predatory fish are often not too far behind, and any time you can sit there for an hour and throw out a top water like a Heddon Spook Jr. (White and chartreuse is my favorite) and have multiple hits or a hook up on every single cast is bound to be memorable. As with most places in the bay, live shrimp is king in this spot.
Big Hickory Pass naturally borders Big Hickory Bay to the west, and if you’re coming off the Imperial River and aiming for the gulf, this is the fastest way to get there. Use caution with bigger boats because Big Hickory Pass seems to be constantly changing, and there are several known downed trees that have dinged up a prop or two in their day. Bigger boats should follow the channel north to New Pass where deeper, safer water awaits. Both Big Hickory Pass and New Pass can be great fishing spots as well. Click the links to read more about them.