By Terry Gibson

The North Fork of the St. Lucie River is the crown jewel of St. Lucie County which finds its terminus in the main fork of the St. Lucie River in Martin County in Stuart proper.

Though the river winds through Port St. Lucie one of the most densely populated areas of the state most of the riparian areas of this aquatic preserve enjoy strict protections.

Tall shady oaks cabbage palms and mangroves block the bustle of urban life and provide an oasis for wildlife and people alike. Teresa and I are fortunate to live within a few miles of its lower reaches and it seems as if we just can’t get enough time on the North Fork enjoying the great fishing bird watching and scenery.

The North Fork of St. Lucie River is accessible from a number of places.

The preserve currently offers four public boat ramps three public canoe stopovers and one public marina. The four public boat ramps include:

  • White City Park.
  • River Park Marina.
  • Veteran's Memorial Park at Rivergate.
  • Club Med - Sandpiper.

The three canoe stopovers are located at:

  • Idabelle Island.
  • St. Lucie County's Oxbow Eco-Center.
  • Savannas Preserve State Park - Halpatiokee Canoe and Nature Trail.

The river is perfect for paddlers. And kayakers and canoeists that time the tides right will enjoy a “free” glide as long as you head in the direction that the current is running. The tides change every six hours. Click here for St. Lucie River tide information.

Anglers the North Fork teems with fish and fishing is good from shore or from a vessel. Shore anglers will do best fishing with live shrimp or mullet under a popping cork. Boaters use these baits and a variety of flies and lures. These include topwater plugs such as the venerable Zara Spook and locally manufactured D.O.A Shrimp and D.O.A Terroreyz to catch a myriad of species.

Snook are present year-round and the big fish really move back up into system in the winter and early spring. Some of the area’s best pompano fishing takes place in the lower reaches primarily from the C-23 canal and below.

The channels host lots of gray snapper and big croakers a delicious drum that is close kin to the redfish and the seatrout. And the upper reaches just south of Fort Pierce host freshwater species. One time while fishing upstream from the White City Park I caught a largemouth bass and a flounder on consecutive casts with the D.O.A. Shrimp. Fresh water commingles with the sea in this river.

While cruising fishing, relaxing in the shade of an oak, or just enjoying the great Florida outdoors, keep an eye out for wildlife. The river supports a variety of federally and state-protected species such as American alligators manatees river otters nesting wood storks little blue herons and brown pelicans. Your main fishing competition will come from ospreys!