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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Ozello to Crystal River

2017 bay scallop season in Dixie/Taylor counties set

by on Feb.11, 2017, under Hernando and Pasco Gulf Coast, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, Shell Point to Lanark, Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Yankeetown and Waccasassa

The 2017 bay scallop season for Dixie County and parts of Taylor County will be open from June 16 through Sept. 10. This includes all state waters from the Suwannee River through the Fenholloway River. These changes are for 2017 only and are an opportunity to explore regionally-specific bay scallop seasons.

These changes were discussed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting on Feb. 8, where staff was directed to work with local community leaders on selecting potential 2017 season dates and to adopt changes by executive order.

At the Feb. 8 meeting, staff also updated the Commission on the status of bay scallops in St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County, and set a July 25 through Sept. 10 recreational bay scallop season off Gulf County, including all waters in St. Joseph Bay and those west of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County, through the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

A prolonged red tide event in late 2015 negatively impacted the scallop population in St. Joseph Bay, which led to modified local scallop regulations for 2016 that included a shortened season and reduced bag limits. FWC researchers conducted a scallop restoration project last year within St. Joseph Bay to help speed the recovery of the scallop population. These efforts have been going well and the scallop population has shown signs of improvement. Staff will conduct similar restoration efforts in 2017.

All other portions of the bay scallop harvest zone will be open from July 1 through Sept. 24. This includes all state waters from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the Suwannee River Alligator Pass Daybeacon 4 in Levy County and from north and west of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.

Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone will be 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.

At the December 2017 Commission meeting, staff will review public feedback on these changes and make a recommendation for future management. To submit your feedback on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

For more information on these changes, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings,” then click on the link below “Next Meeting.”

For information on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”

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Snook On The Upper Big Bend? You Bet–Provided We Have a Warm Winter!

by on Aug.28, 2015, under Cedar Key, Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, Ozello to Crystal River, Suwannee, Yankeetown and Waccasassa

Warmer winters mean the habitat for snook has moved north, into Levy and Dixie counties.

Warmer winters mean the habitat for snook has moved north, into Levy and Dixie counties.

Snook are probably the most fun and abundant gamefish in Florida.  They run, they jump, and if you want to keep one for dinner during open season, they’re delicious to eat.  However, they’re also highly susceptible to cold water temperatures and are some of the first fish to be found floating dead after a hard winter freeze.  Warm winters in recent years have allowed snook to migrate north from Pinellas and Pasco counties (Tarpon Springs’ Anclote Key was the northern edge of their range for many years.)  Now, with our recent warm winters, snook are regularly being caught well north of the Withlacoochee River in Waccasassa Bay and even as far north at Suwannee’s Salt Creek.

snook-1

A Yankeetown snook.

Snook are ambush feeders, and prey on small fish (mullet, pinfish and sardines) as well as crustaceans (crabs and shrimp).  They will also readily attack artificial lures like the D.O.A. shrimp or slow-sinking MirrOlure Catch 2000s.  Rigging is important, with stealthy knots (Homer Rhode or Uni Knots work well) and tough, invisible fluorocarbon leader (24-30#) a “must”.  An interesting fact about snook is that they are picky about their prey.  If you’re using live fish for bait, don’t rig them like you do for redfish (through the back or tail) but hook them through their lips.  Snook attack from behind!    And they prefer fast-moving water, especially when it’s washing baits off shallow flats or bars into deeper troughs.

In 2015/2016, Gulf Snook “season” runs from September 1, 2015 to February 29, 2016 and from May 1 to August 31, 2016.  While you’re allowed to keep one snook per day, anglers are urged to have fun and release fish they catch.  Just remember–one cold winter and the snook will again head south and away from our Big Bend waters!

Complete information about snook and other saltwater gamefish species can be found at www.myfwc.com/fishing

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Tips For Successful Scalloping During Rainy Season on Florida’s Big Bend, 2015

by on Aug.17, 2015, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, Steinhatchee

In the late summer, water visibility can hinder and slow the harvest of bay scallops.  This year, they’re plentiful along our big Bend coastline, but are often hard to see.

You may not catch thousands of scallops in murky water, but if you work hard, you'll come home with a nice dinner!

You may not catch thousands of scallops in murky water, but if you work hard, you’ll come home with a nice dinner!

We’ve had more than our fair share of rain on the Big Bend, too. Mornings have been calm, but with high humidity and high air temperatures, thunderstorms have been building up every afternoon. Usually they form on shore, but some can eventually drift off the coast in the late afternoon, depending on the strength of the east coast sea breezes. What that means for you, the scalloper, is that you need to take your trips early, watch the radar (use the Weather Bug app on your smartphone!), and try to get back to port by mid-afternoon at the latest.

Snorkeling for bay scallops is a fun, family adventure!

Snorkeling for bay scallops is a fun, family adventure!

Despite the amount of rainwater we’ve seen in ditches and pastures miles from the coast, the visibility of the Gulf waters isn’t as bad as I expected.   Scallopers north of Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach are doing well, especially off Piney Point and off Dekle Beach.  The only thing I can’t predict is just how long the visibility will be good. It usually takes several weeks for the leaching cycle to complete.

Don't let thunderstorms like this one come between you and your home port!

Don’t let thunderstorms like this one come between you and your home port!

 

 

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Redfish Classic At Crystal River, Fla. Sept. 18-19, 2015

by on Jul.14, 2015, under Ozello to Crystal River

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – Plantation on Crystal River – a hidden gem located just 80 miles north of Tampa – has partnered with Sodium Fishing Gear, One Rake at A Time Foundation and many others to host the inaugural Plantation Redfish Classic on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Plantation on Crystal River’s Adventure Center and Dive Shop.”Plantation on Crystal River is the premier angler’s resort in Citrus County and after hosting a number of fishing tournaments for other groups and participating in many tournaments ourselves, it was just natural to want to start a tournament we can call our own,” said Paul Cross, Plantation Adventure Center & Dive Shop manager.

Make it a weekend with rooms nights starting at $119 per night for all tournament participants and their families. Hotel guests can take advantage of the lagoon-style pool, complimentary lawn games and even dock their boat on the 1,600 feet of seawall for easy launching the morning of the event. Events throughout the weekend include the Captain’s Dinner on Friday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. offering light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar, Plantation Redfish Classic from daylight to 5 p.m. and Awards Banquet at 7 p.m. on Sept. 19 – and while redfish is the primary quest, there will also be categories for trout and grouper.

Registration fee for two anglers (including a boat captain) is $225 and includes two swag buckets, entry for two to the Captain’s Dinner, tournament fee, entry for two to the Award’s Banquet, two tournament t-shirts and free boat launch. Prizes will include first, second and third place for largest redfish, trout and grouper ranging from $3,000 to $100.

A portion of all proceeds will go to benefit the One Rake at a Time Foundation which cleans Lyngbya, a harmful blue-green algae, out of Kings Bay through the dedication and hard work of local volunteers.

Other sponsors include Young Boats, Home Depot, Unfair Lures, Nick Nicholas Ford, 96.7 The Fox, Citrus 95.3, Lecanto Veterinary Hospital, Homosassa Marina, Yamaha, Corona Light on Draft, and Bimini Bay Outfitters.

For more information about the Plantation Redfish Classic, Plantation on Crystal River or to make a reservation, visit PlantationonCrystalRiver.com or call 800-632-6262.

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Crystal River Fishing Report, 12/21/14 from Capt. Dan Clymer

by on Dec.22, 2014, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Ozello to Crystal River

Happy Holidays,  Citrus County anglers!  And I hope you all have a little extra time during the holiday, to spend some time on the water. The recent cold front’s play a big role on the what, where and when to plan your fishing trip, so always check the marine forecast; especially this time of year. Here’s an update on what has been happening recently in the fishing world.

Our spring fed rivers have been producing a variety of species. Mangrove snapper, trout, red fish, snook, black drum, etc.  have been keeping many rods bent recently. Live shrimp on a 1/8th oz jig head is all that’s needed for success, but bring plenty; the rocky bottom terrain will claim is share of tackle. Also, soft plastic jigs, such as the DOA golden bream colored jerk baits, along the channel drop offs have been working well on the river trout and red fish.

Red fishing has been excellent in the back country from Yankeetown to Chassahowitzka, and especially the sight fishing. There’s has been numerous little “rat” reds on the points, but that’s typical for this time of year. Don’t let the little guys discourage you though; there are some hefty ones mixed in too. The winter tides can make it challenging to sometimes get in the creeks, but if a shallow draft skiff or john boat is available; the action has been great. From fly fishing, weed less soft plastics and shrimp under a cork; there’s a technique for everyone wanting to tackle red fish.

The trout bite outside the rivers has picked up some, but still not as great as it could be for this time of year. The fish are definitely isolated, but when you find them, there has been several in that area. Most of the trout success though, has been on shallow rock flats with stands of kelp grass, deeper holes in the creeks and drop off’s off the rock bars. On the colder days, the bite is definitely much better in the afternoon with the water a degree or two warmer; especially on an outgoing tide.

On the offshore scene, grouper season is unfortunately closed for those wanting a grouper dinner, but there are some other choices for the offshore fans. Sheepshead have begun their annual winter spawning migration over the various hard bottom structures off the coast. A live shrimp on a knocker rig and your standard inshore light tackle rod is all that’s needed to catch some of these tasty, hard fighting fish. Also, I’ve been recently catching some really large black sea bass and some bonus hog fish, while targeting the Sheepshead. Sea bass are some of the best table fair around and will aggressively take just about any offering when you find them. Don’t forget your camera, you’ll definitely be catching and releasing some fine grouper while targeting the other species. It’s always a fun challenge to land a keeper sized gag on light tackle, but they do win most of the time. Good Fishing!

Capt. Dan Clymer
www.crystalriver-fishing.com
(352) 418-2160

 

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Relay For Life 3rd Annual Fall Family* Fishing Tournament, October 4, 2014

by on Aug.23, 2014, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Ozello to Crystal River

Relay For Life 3rd Annual Fall Family* Fishing Tournament

3 Divisions- Men’s/Ladies/Kids Division

MANDATORY- Captain’s Meeting, Fri Oct 3rd - 6:30pm-8pm-Homosassa Riverside Resort – —  No Entrants after 8:00pm CALCUTTA- Avail At CAPT MTG $$$$$$

Tournament Begins @ Safe Daylight Sat 10/4- No required location to ck out

Tournament Fee: $100 per boat-  Register day of event $125 per boat- cash only

_____ $10.00 **Most Spots Pot On Redfish   _______ $10.00 **Ladies Entry _____$10.00**Children 12 & under

**Winners in above **categories- receive $$ in collected category- Prize awarded Highest Total Weight of One Fish- (No Shark or Stingray- please)

Deadline to Weigh In @ 3pm – must be in line at Homosassa Riverside Resort –  No Exceptions!

A Great Day Of Fun Filled With  – Chance Raffles & 50/50 Drawing

Prize $ Based 100 Boats – 3 categories below: 1st Place $2000,  2nd $300, 3rd $100

Overall Combined Weight Per Boat- Heaviest/Legal (2) Redfish- Prize 1st,  2nd 3rd

Heaviest Trout- Prize 1st, 2nd 3rd

Heaviest Grouper- Prize 1st, 2nd, 3rd

SPONSORSHIP LEVELS: BRONZE $250, GOLD $500, PLATINUM $1000.

Make checks payable to:  Team Hope- mail to: c/o 5260 W Angus Dr, Beverly Hills,Fl 34465

Contact Michele Snellings (352) 697-2220 or shellsnellings@gmail.com or  Pre- Register at: Moore Bait & Tackle, Preferred Auto Service in Crystal River or Blue Water Bait & Tackle, or Homosassa Riverside Resort in Homosassa.

Captain & Boat Name ____________________________       Contact # _______________

Team Hope assumes no responsibility for liability or loss during this Tournament.

Weather permitting- Tournament continues unless resched by Team committee.

Homosassa Riverside Resort located at 5297 S. Cherokee Way, Homosassa, (352) 628-2474 Has discounted rooms available for this Tournament. 2 DBLS or 1 KING $65 per night, go to www.riversideresorts.com Be sure mention-Team Hope Relay 4 Life Fishing Tournament.

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Scallops “In The Raw”….Try Ceviche This Season!

by on Jun.27, 2014, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Ozello to Crystal River, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, Recipes and Food, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee

Scallop Ceviche is easy to make--and very tasty!Scallop Ceviche* is easy to make–and very tasty!

A sophisticated approach to eating freshly shucked scallops is to ‘cook’ them in a marinade and serve them as a salad.  Scallops prepared as a ceviche have been pickled, in a sense, and are delicious.

Scallop Ceviche

2 individual limits of shucked scallops (about 2 pounds or 2 pints), drained

For the marinade:

1-1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

4 small Serrano peppers, seeded and very finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small red onion, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

fresh cilantro leaves,  for garnish

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a zipper-style bag.  You can refrigerate this marinade for a day of so, if necessary.  Two hours before serving, add the scallops and mix.  Drain away the excess juices and assemble the ceviche over salad greens or an avocado half.  Touch everything off with a garnish with cilantro leaves.  Dinner is served.

A meal of fresh bay scallops, no matter how they’re prepared, is perfect way to end the perfect day on the water with the family.

*Eating uncooked seafood has its risks.  Always consult a medical professional regarding your personal situation before eating uncooked seafood.

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Citrus and Taylor County Scalloping Guide Available, Summer 2014

by on Jun.25, 2014, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Steinhatchee

The new Citrus County guide features completely updated boat ramp and marina locator that Florida Sea Grant has published for the last several years.


And don’t forget about the companion, the Taylor County scalloping guide and marina locator map.

Both guides feature historically abundant scalloping areas, boat ramp and marina locations, rules and regulations, and recipes!

Readers can order one free copy of each brochure by emailing us at info@flseagrant.org, or calling us at (352) 392-2801, or downloading the whole thing at  https://www.flseagrant.org/fisheries/scalloping/

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April 2014 Fishing Forecast, Crystal River, from Capt. Kyle Messier

by on Apr.07, 2014, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Ozello to Crystal River

Life is Good here along the Nature Coast of Florida as the windy days of March are long gone and the sunny beautiful days of April are on the horizon.  Over the last couple of weeks the Gulf Coast waters have been mired with windy yet gorgeous weather.  Although this may sound like an interesting weather combination the southerly breezes actually have helped jump start the push of many migratory species swimming northward.  Each week our local area flats are starting to see new visitors.  From Bluefish to King Mackerel, to Cobia and Sharks each week is bringing in new species and new adventures.

With all of this new Action coming in to the area Anglers should continue to be ready for all fishing situations.  Now is the time that all Nature Coast Anglers should be homing in on diving birds, dolphins and Huge Bait Balls.  We typically find large swimming pool sized bait balls around deep areas with lots of current.  Bait balls mostly made up of threadfin herring and glass minnows are staging in areas that have lots of current where they can feed.  As these huge schools of bait fish congregate so do many of the predatory fish that feed on these baitfish.  Spanish Mackerel, Jack Crevalle, Bluefish, Bonita, and even Kingfish have been seen and hooked fishing these bait balls.  I for one love to target these massive feeding schools of fish using light tackle and fly gear.  For newbie’s interested in learning how to fly fish, now is the time to dive right in.  Multiple species, drag screaming action, and tons of shots at fish will surely jump start your fly fishing addiction.

For those anglers that still have the itch to get in on some of the best skinny water sight fishing action found anywhere in the state of Florida, the Nature Coast is still boasting fantastic shallow water action for Redfish and Black Drum.  Although both of these fish are in the same family and can be targeted in similar areas, successful strategies for targeting both can be a little complex at times.  Redfish (Red Drum) tend to be more aggressive as they mature in size.  Successful techniques include throwing a variety of retrieved lures, live baits and flys.  In most cases when a Redfish homes in on a bait or lure it will aggressively strike at its prey.  Black Drum on the other hand tend to be slow methodical feeders.  Typically these fish do not want to have to stray to far away from their feeding zone to track down a bait.  Because successful techniques for Black Drum often involve a “Bait & Wait” approach, many anglers often tend to catch these fish on accident.

Successful game plans for targeting both Redfish and Black Drum in similar areas should involve 3 main strategies:  Target areas with structure, moving water, and prevalent sources of food.  Most often the most successful structures are oyster bars, rocky flats, and spoil islands.  Once a promising structure is found often you will find bait fish immediately.  Jumping Mullet are always a great indicator and if the area also holds mud minnows, crabs, oysters, and pinfish you really are in business.  And as far as the moving water aspect is concerned if you have tidal movement you have moving water.  Successful anglers will find out this month that if you combine all three of these strategies into a game plan great fishing days will happen.

Capt. Kyle Messier

(352) 634-4002

kylemessier@yahoo.com

WWW.FLORIDAFISHINGADVENTURES.COM

WWW.CRYSTALRIVER-FLYFISHING.COM

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March 2014 Fishing Outlook, Crystal River and Homosassa, from Capt. Kyle Messier

by on Mar.06, 2014, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Ozello to Crystal River

March Fishing Action!!!

March has always been a month Nature Coast anglers look forward to as it symbolizes the beginning of our Spring Season. Spring is highlighted as a time of year when many migratory birds start making their trips back north but it’s also a time to look to the water as many fish species begin returning to the bountiful feeding grounds found along the inshore waters of Crystal River and Homosassa. Local anglers will start to notice that most of the flats and mangrove shorelines that have been deprived of life during the winter will now find a plethora of jumping mullet along with schools of Pinfish, Pigfish, Crabs, Mudd Minnows, and Shrimp. All of these species make great prey for a variety of game fish including Redfish, Speckled Trout, Black Drum, Spanish Mackerel, Cobia, Tripletail, Pompano, and Flounder. The best aspect of this month is that all of these species tend show up at once. One day it will be a few Mackerel and a Cobia sighting and then the next day dozens of Macks will be skyrocketing at a time along with dozens of Cobia ready to chomp on what ever swims by. Nature Coast Anglers just need to gear up and be ready for everything.

At the moment most Nature Coast anglers are looking ahead to the stabilizing weekly weather patterns that will finally stabilize over the next few weeks. With stabilizing weather comes pattern changes and no pattern will change more over the next few weeks than the Sheepshead fishing. With the recent warming trend driving in many Grouper, Snapper, Spanish Mackerel and Sea Bass to the many structures that were holding Sheepshead anglers will now find that the competition along many of these same structures will be fierce. Although this doesn’t bode well for Sheepshead or anglers interested in pursuing them, this will however be very favorable for all anglers looking for bites. The same rocky structures that we have been targeting for the last few months will now have to be approached differently in anticipation of the added species. Larger rods for Grouper and Cobia and rods rigged with wire are a must for the Spanish Mackerel. With many of these rocks becoming inundated with a variety of baitfish including sardines, pilchards, and glass minnow’s, lures and baits that resemble these baitfish will provide anglers with the greatest chances for success.

For anglers looking for a little more of a challenge targeting Pompano this time of year is a sure fire way to make your drag scream. Pompano are one of the more commercially sought after game fish and make some of the best Ceviche on the planet. They key when targeting Pompano this time of year is to run your boat along any form of sandy areas or light shell beds and look for these fish to skip along the side of the boat wake. If there are Pompano any where around these structures you will visually see these fish shoot out of the water almost like a scared mullet. Once you have found an area holding Pompano all it takes is an 1/8 oz jig and a shrimp tail and it’s game on. Keep in mind that many of these same areas that hold Pompano this time of year could also hold a Permit or two.

So with great weather and fishing right on our door step why not think of adding a Florida Fishing Adventure to your next vacation game plan? Remember our 2014 SCALLOP SEASON is right around the corner!!!!

Capt. Kyle Messier
(352) 634-4002
kylemessier@yahoo.com
WWW.FLORIDAFISHINGADVENTURES.COM

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