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
Fish are scattered all the way from the near shore flats to the holes deep in the backcountry. Depending on the tide phase and wind conditions, these will dictate what fish are accessible and where you can possibly catch fish. I’ve always preached that this is the time of year if an angler would like to learn how to fish Homosassa, our waters have exposed themselves for you to see. Anglers will have to think small this time of year in the sense that deep water may be only 20 yards long compared to a 200 yard long flat in September. A slower and more thorough presentation with each cast can be the ticket to catching fish compared with the run and gun technique of warmer weather.
Trout fishing in the channel edges and holes in Mason Creek, Salt River, Little Homosassa River and St. Martins River has been good. There are many short fish but the action can be fun and work hard enough you will put some fish in the box. The top bait has been a D.O.A. near clear 3” shrimp underneath a popping cork. If the wind is calm I’ve had good luck using the shrimp with no cork and working it very slowly. The Homosassa River has plenty of undersized redfish that are biting live shrimp near the bottom. Most places along the river where the channel comes close to the bank is a good spot. Look for incoming tide this weekend very late evening.
Capt. William Toney www.homosassainshorefishing.com
Let’s get right to the bite report that I’ve been hooking into for the past week starting up north at Crystal River, working our way down.
Schools of baitfish are continued to be seen acting real nervous around the spoilbanks, with the sportfish hungry on their tails. Species like Jacks, Macks, Ladyfish, a few Snook, and Reds, are being caught. And the BIG “spotted tails” should be making their present reeeel soon. Anchor up with a chum bag and cast spoons, catch 2000’s, weighted white jerkbaits, Plastic shrimps, even rattle traps, for artificial action. Live shrimp, and live or cut pinfish, as well as cut Ladyfish work well weighted on the bottom for the bait side.
Other places like, Crystal bay around the oyster bars, are giving up numerous Trout. A lot of shorts mind ya, but some legal size keepers in the mix. Don’t always think you have to go on a ½ day expedition before you can get into some fish. You can get into fishing off the Fort Island ramp area, and never lose sight of the beach.
Gomez rocks area is giving up some Trout catches. Mostly on the weekdays, because of the weekend Scallop traffic. Which by the way ended Sept. 24th. It was an awesome season, and next year promises to be just as good. The back side of Mangrove point is hooking up with some reds also.
The backcountry of Ozello is a good place for the Reds, too. You can put in at Pirates Cove and never fire up the kicker, and get into some Red heat just trolling around the island points and banks.
Down in Homosassa, Art Kelley’s grandson, Stephen yielded a nice 24” Redfish off of a mangrove island point we were anchored on. We fished on the incoming tide utilizing real bait. They ended up boating several Reds, mostly “puppies”, keeping a few in the slot for the fryer. It was Stephen’s first Redfish adventure, doing exceptionally well. He’s an even better golfer. (But maybe not for long.)
The St. Martins keys are a good place for the Reds this time of the season. Work that incoming for best success. Crustaceans and critters alike are flushed out of their hidey holes with the rising tides, and the Reds know it. If steaks, ribs, and yes, even fried chicken was continually passed by you for the taking, you would eventually take up on the offer as well.
Utilize the moving tides and be throwing your best lure.
Decent size Trout to 20” are being caught around the bird rack Scallop grass flats.
Get out there early, (right at first light), (you got the rest of your life to sleep), and utilize your favorite topwater lures, if the floating grass isn’t too bad. If you’re being fouled buy the grass, immediately switch to weedless rigged jerkbaits, or a plastic “Riptide 3” paddle tail mullet” in white, or electric chicken colors under a Cajun, for better results.
Further south, another area giving up some decent Trout reports is the mouth around Chassowitzka River, and the hole around Black Rock. Try a rattle trap, or lipped crankbait in the holes.
A lot of Ladyfish sometimes school up in these holes in the summer, and they can be a lot of fun, especially on the fly rod. Yeah!
Be safe, and good fishing………….><>Capt. Rick
The night time temps are starting to drop just a few degrees, giving us here on the Nature Coast the hint that fall is just around the corner. October is the month of several changes here in the small stretch of paradise that i get to call home. First Stone Crabs are back in season. They will be on the market and ready to be consumed on October 15. With the Crystal River Stone Crab Jam the first Saturday in Nov. Another change is the opening of a new store here in Crystal River, Sodium Fishing Gear. I had the opportunity to sneak a peek in the store the other day. Brandon and Casey not only have fishing apparel from head to toe, but they also have rods, reels coolers, a full line of Carbon Marine products, Fly fishing gear and much more. Stop in and support one of the “local” businesses.
On my trip yesterday I was polling my clients down a shoreline, I could see fish working in front of the boat about 150 yards. I told my guys to get ready to throw. When I was able to maneuver the boat into casting position I told Bo and Jordan to throw in front of the school of Reds. One guy made a perfect cast and the other was behind the school. About 2 seconds after the first bait hit the water, drag was rippin off the Okuma reel. We were able to catch 3 Reds out of that school before they just blew out on us, the first one was 30 inches, the second 31 inches and the third was 32. What a awesome bunch of fish. They defiantly had all of our hearts pumping for a while.
Trout will be back inshore once again in some larger numbers making it possible to catch a limit without having to run way out into the open bay, as the water temps begin to drop a few degrees. I have been eagerly awaiting this event to happen. I typically fish with a popping cork rig this time of the tear. Last October we did very well on the Trout and I have already noticed some early arrivals.
Capt. Kelly Kofmehl
As day light started to to break in the East, I picked up my client. The sky was black out to the west. We left the dock at 6:30 am and headed down the Crystal River. Grabbing for our rain gear in the idle zone. We ran a couple of miles and only a sprinkle or two. Then the bottom fell out of the sky. We had to idle for about ten minutes or so. When we came out of the rain we were almost to the first spot that I wanted to fish. I got the boat anchored and made the first cast and within about 5 seconds the drag on my Okuma Cedros 30 spinning reel was screaming. At the first sign of the big Red fish I knew that he was over the slot, 28.5 inches. The next cast was a 19 inch Red, then a 11 inch mangrove snapper. The bite was finished at spot number one. Spot number two, we set up and threw out some cut bait, fish were striking everywhere I looked. The action was hot as the weather. We were able to fill our Red fish bag limit and release 6 or 8 more fish. we landed 8 Blue fish, and about that many Jacks. I asked my client, Dan, if he wanted to go to another spot and see what was going on there and he said sure. Spot number 3 was a winner as well. 2 more top slot Reds and the last cast a 33 inch Snook. I had Dan back to the dock by 10:30 and started to clean his fish. These are the kind of days are what can be expected through out the month of September.
As the full moon begins to build this month some of the big Trout will start to move back inshore to fatten up for the winter months to come. I love fishing in September when schools of Red fish show up and Trout come back. Look for action packed, drag rippin days for this month. The action will be hot. If you want to get in on some of this give me a call.
Capt. Kelly Kofmehl
I guided a father and son team the other day to a backcountry angling trip.
Tip: If you happen to venture in the backcountry, and aren’t familiar, keyword, FAMILIAR, either hire a guide 1st few times out, or use a shallow draft boat you don’t care much about, to learn the area. It can get real rocky and shallow, but at times can be reeeel good fishing.
We were trolling along, working the points, cuts, and pockets, utilizing shrimp under corks. Occasionally, dropping anchor to work an area longer, or better. We saw plenty of action in the way of baitfish, mullet, and Redfish that were working the area, but they did not want to feed, or take our offerings.
Goes to prove, that at times, you can go to fish, locate fish, throw to fish, but you can’t make fish close their mouths around your hook.
Before the end of the trip though, dad hooked up with a nice Red that quickly managed to bulldog his way in the rocks to shake the hook. However, a very nice 19” Trout, and a large Sheepshead was brought to the boat. One of the local FWC surveyors back at the dock said it was the biggest Sheepshead he’s seen in three weeks.
Now, when someone can cast a rod with no problem, work a lure effiently, know a variety of species of fish by name, catch a 9lb. bass, and loves the mere word of fishing, they are a good angler. But when you can do that at 6 years old, like this son you are truly an awesome angler. Roland, look out!
Thanks guys, for the memories.
Trout reports are still coming in good, despite the sweltering weather. Surface water temp getting up to 90 degrees. Some days little or no wind. From dawn til Breakfast is finding best results. Plenty of shorts to go around, but some decent keepers in the mix.
The floating grass is bad as I’ve ever seen. Be careful and keep an eye on your engine pilot hole, to make sure water is pumping. I’m not talking mats, but small islands of this stuff.
Reds. Well, one day on, the next, off. Persistence like anything else is the key. Keep working the points and cuts around the islands, mainly on the last of an incoming. Thunder-Spins for when the sun gets bright. Top Dogs and Spooks early in the morning. Or cut bait and shrimp under floats can be productive at times.
The spoil bank islands at C.R. have been giving up some Reds and Macks lately. Usually anchoring off a cut or rocks, tying off a chum bag, and casting some cut bait or pinfish will produce.
Local lakes and the river are still reporting good catches of Bass and Panfish. Trolling and casting crankbaits, and spinnerbaits, to your structures, weedlines, and ambush points, are what have been doing good for Bass. And crickets, or of course, popping bugs on fly, for the panfish. Can’t go wrong.
Tip of the week:
Skin cancer is not only serious, but let’s face it, it can kill ya.
Don’t wait to put on sunblock when you get out there fishing, or are already sweating. Or when your buddy is reeling one in! Never fails. Doesn’t stay on or work as well, either.
Apply your favorite sunscreen at the house in the morning before you leave. Then it has time to absorb and soak into your skin for maximum protection. Plus, it isn’t getting all over bait, or lures when you’re applying it out there fishing.
Even better, try the new “Sunsreenz” towelletes. They are the “cat’s meow”, for great, quick, and convenient angling sun protection. Go to sunsreenz.com. for obtaining. They also have an insect repellant towellete that is good for these summer time bugs. Keep one in your shirt pocket, a couple in your several tackle boxes, a couple in your glovebox, and you’ll never be without protection. Cheaper too, than trying to keep several bottles of each, at those places. Makes cents, and sense.
Be safe, and good fishing, on the nature coast ……….><> Capt. Rick Burns
The scalloping in Crystal River and Homosassa this week has been great. We have been getting our limits within just a few hours even with folks that have never been scalloping before. The water clarity in 4 to 5 feet has been outstanding and the weather has been cooperating quite nicely. After a hard day of scalloping you can take a refreshing dip in one of our local springs.
Scalloping provides the perfect opportunity to get the family to enjoy some quality time together and introduce them to the outdoors. If you have a boat, you should give scalloping a try. You will need some basic gear (mask, snorkel, fins, dive flag) to get you going. If you do not live around the Crystal River area but want to experience a scalloping adventure, there are places like The Plantation that offer all inclusive packages for a very reasonable price. Kind of like a mini vacation. There is no better feeling for me (as a guide) to hear a child say to their parents “This is so much fun. Can we do it again next year?”
Tall Tales Charters
Captain Marrio Castello
REDS AND SCALLOPS ARE HOT
Last week saw some nice catches of redfish come to the table. Matter of fact, the red fishing has been so good lately that I’m not even concentrating on the trout. The trout as of late have really eluded some anglers. I feel they’ve moved out into deeper depths and are more scattered right now. Best bet for them is to try some near shore rock piles in the 8’ to 12’ range. At the same time you’re liable to catch and hook up with some seabass, mackerel and grouper while trying for the trout.
However, for the reds it’s all about skinny water. We’re going to have some good tides this week so concentrate on a good incoming. Work and troll your mangrove islands and banks. Cut bait works well under a cork, but sometimes you end up barking up the sharks. And there have been a lot of small ones lately. For artificial fun, we’ve been throwing ¼ oz. gold spoons. Also, what has been tearing them up is the fairly new plastic bait put out by “Saltwater Assassin”. It’s called the “DIE DAPPER”. The color of choice lately has been what’s called “hot chicken”. One thing that’s nice about these is you can rig them with either a jighead or a weedless hook, making them deadly around the rocky areas that reds love to hang in.
Remember to book your scallop trip if you wanna have some real fun. Governor Scott opened it up 2 days early, and we’re already in full swing. The scallops are very plentiful and I know we’re going to have an awesome season!
rick burns <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Great weather and great fishing is the best way to describe this past weeks charters. One of the most surprising catches has been pompano on most ever trip. On a recent rip we caught 12 before the action slowed down. The best places to find these great eating fish is in deep holes or deep channels that have a sandy bottom with some hard rocky ledge. The way that I’ve been catching them is on a chartreuse jig head tipped with a piece of fresh shrimp.
Trout fishing from the Spoil Banks all the way down to North West Key has been very good. The Spoil Bank trout will bite as long as there is moving water but the the trout in the creeks like the St. Martins River, North Channel, Mason Creek and Milky Pass bite better on an outgoing tide. The best baits have been D.O.A. Deadly Combos and MirrOlure LiL Johns. The best soft plastic colors are glow, root beer, new penny and pink.
With a new moon this week we should have some good tides for red fishing as long as the cold front that’s on it’s way does not blow all the water offshore. High incoming tides this weekend will be in the afternoon.
Capt. William Toney www.homosassainshorefishing.com
Beautiful weather this weekend led to outstanding catches of trout, redfish, flounder, pompano and other species of the trashy variety. With a moderate east wind the incoming tide allowed for some decent redfish with most redfish being caught by sight casting because of the very clear water. The clear water is due to the drop in the waters temperature and that helps clear it up. Trout fishing around the St. Martins Keys has been good and for larger trout go shallow. Plenty of fish are in the deeper 3 and 4 foot depths but are not as big as the shallow water fish. Out going tide has been the better bite for the trout. On extreme low tides try fishing the backcountry holes and channels. Even the main channels like Mason Creek and St. Martins River will hold fish on extreme low tide. Case in point was on Saturday I had a client catch a 18” trout with in sight of Mason Creek boat ramp. The tides for this weekend will be extremely low especially during the middle of the day.
Capt. William Toney www.homosassainshorefishing.com