Location

FL
United States
28° 54' 55.6956" N, 82° 39' 56.7648" W
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Weather: Sunny Air Temperature: 81-90 F Water Temp: 71-80 F Clarity: Gin Clear

Finally! Tarpon Time is here along the Nature Coast.  This long awaited season has been highly anticipated since the banner season of 2016 came to a close last July.  With all of the warmer than usual weather this winter myself and many of the other local Tarpon Guides from the area had all wondered what this season would bring.  Would the Tarpon show up early this year?  Would the season run extremely short?  Would the fish even show up at all?  These were just a few of the many questions we had all wondered after the unusually warm winter and dry spring we faced this season.

 

The Good news is that the Tarpon never strayed from their relatively reliable migratory pattern.  Yes! There were a few schools of Large Tarpon that showed up during the later portions of April only to be shell shocked by a couple late season cold fronts.  That’s the beauty of the checks and balances system in the world of Tarpon fishing.  A warm winter is usually met with a late season cold front that keeps the Tarpons northern bound migratory pattern in check.

 

May 15th symbolically has been the starting date for what I would consider the Prime Time for Tarpon fishing the Nature Coast.   Its during this time frame that most of the lingering cold fronts have a tough time making it this far south and it’s also this time when our local water temperatures reach that magical 74°-76° water temperature.  Water temperatures are critical for Tarpon as they are considered tropical fish that require a certain water temperature to feel safe and actively allow them to feed.  The cooler the water temperature the slower a Tarpons metabolism will be.  The higher the water temperature the higher a Tarpons metabolism will be for feeding.  When our local air temperatures find the 90° degree mark and our water temperatures hit 80° look out Homosassa, The Tarpon World will be on FIRE!!!

 

At this time visiting anglers are finding great Tarpon on fly action in and around the Homosassa and Chassahowitzka areas.  These areas of lightly colored sandy bottom and vast areas of grass flats make up the perfect staging grounds for hungry Tarpon looking for one last meal before heading offshore to spawn.  Shrimp, Crabs, Pinfish, Pigfish, Needlefish, Threadfin Herring, and Ballyhoo all make up a Smorgasbord of prey options for Nature Coast Tarpon.  Flies of choice for this time of year are Black and Purple Toads, Burnt Orange EP Baitfish Flies, and Chartreuse Megalopsicls. 

 

As the season progresses and these Tarpon continue on their migratory path up the Nature Coast bait fishing anglers in Crystal River and Yankeetown will find Tarpon cruising just offshore of some of the most westerly islands.  Mangrove Pt. in Crystal River and Porpoise Pt. in Yankeetown are two great areas for those anglers that are interested in tossing small crabs and pinfish to Tarpon.  The key when fishing these areas is to look for and spot rolling fish.  Rolling fish typically are on a migratory mission when these reach these areas so anglers will need to get way ahead of the traveling fish and gently present their bait’s of choice.  Patience is key and often the bite of a Tarpon can be very faint.  I prefer using 60lb Fluorocarbon leaders tied on to a 4/0 extra heavy wire circle hook.  The circle hook does wonders for taking the guessing game out of a Tarpon Bite.

 

Captains Tip:  Just because one or two fish are spotted rolling doesn’t mean that there are only one or two fish in a school.  It’s not uncommon to find 100 fish schools this time of year.  Approaching traveling fish from a distance is key when targeting Tarpon this time of year.  Electric motors or push poles are a must.

 

Capt. Kyle Messier

(352) 634-4002

kylemessier@yahoo.com

WWW.FLORIDAFISHINGADVENTURES.COM

WWW.CRYSTALRIVERFLYFISHING.COM

5
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Weather: Sunny Air Temperature: 81-90 F Water Temp: 61-70 F Clarity: Gin Clear

The BITE is on here in Crystal River and Homosassa!!!  What do you want to catch?  How do you want to catch it?  These are all questions I’ve been asking my anglers in recent weeks as we have been targeting on average 15 different species of fish daily.  Redfish on fly?  Done!  Speckled Trout and Snook on Topwaters?  Not a problem.  Monster Sharks on light tackle?  Bringing it on!  These are just a few of the great options that Nature Coast anglers will have to go along with targeting Sheepshead, Black Drum, Flounder, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Cobia, Pompano, Tripletail, and even Permit this month.

 

With so many options available to visiting anglers it has been fun trying to set up a game plan to fit everything possible into one trip.  Luckily most of our best fishing has been found in or near the Ozello area.  Ozello is an incredible estuary system that lies in between Crystal River and Homosassa.  The north side of Ozello features the Salt River, which is a mecca for anglers searching for tailing Redfish or hungry Gator Trout.  The spartina grass shorelines and scattered oyster bars are choice areas to target with either live or artificial baits. 

 

The south side of Ozello is a true gem.  Here anglers will find the brackish waters of Fish Creek mixing with the Gin Clear waters of the St. Martin’s Keys.  This area has often been described as “Heaven on Earth” do in part to its pristine flats and mangrove laden shorelines.  It’s these backcountry mangrove mazes where anglers will find the Northern most range of Florida’s west coast Snook population.  Because Snook are relatively new to the area and sources of Whitebait (Snook Candy) are relatively scarce methods for targeting these hefty “Linesiders” are still a work in progress.  Successful anglers have found that targeting these fish during the early morning hours with topwaters and soft plastic jerkbaits tend to be the baits of choice.  Nose hooked DOA Jerkbaits and large Johnson Silver Spoons are my preferred baits for Nature Coast Snook.

 

For those anglers that are looking for a ton of variety, the flats and shallow rock piles on the west side of Ozello is where anglers can find consistent action from a variety of species.  During the months of Spring chumming deep holes and rock piles just off the coast will consistently have anglers hooked up with Cobia, Spanish Mackerel, Sea Bass, Snapper, Grouper and a variety of Sharks.  The trick when fishing these near shore structures is to be ready for everything.  10lb spinning tackle is by far the way to go when targeting smaller Snapper and Sea Bass but having a 20lb rod rigged and ready with a large 7” jerkbait or an Berkley Gulp! Eel will pay off huge dividends when a Monster Cobia shows up chasing in one of those tasty Snapper you have been reeling in.       

 

The time is NOW to get out and enjoy some of the Best fishing of 2017!!  Life is Good on the Nature Coast!

 

Capt. Kyle Messier

(352) 634-4002

kylemessier@yahoo.com

WWW.FLORIDAFISHINGADVENTURES.COM

WWW.CRYSTALRIVER-FLYFISHING.COM

5
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Weather: Sunny Air Temperature: 71-80 F Water Temp: 61-70 F Clarity: Gin Clear

March is finally here and as we all know that signifies the end of Florida’s “so called” winter season.  By no means am I fond of cold weather but I can’t help wonder: What ever happened to this year’s winter in Florida?  The City of Crystal River only once recorded a day of frost this season and to my knowledge that has never happened before.  The latitude at which Crystal River falls on (28. 91°) normally is ideal for providing a least a dozen days of frost but for some unknown reason “Jack Frost” forgot about the Nature Coast.  With the official start to Spring coming up on March 20th local and visiting anglers are wondering what kind of impact all of this warm weather will have on the Nature Coasts local waters and fishing?

 

Early indications are pointing towards a very productive Spring season for Cobia, Bluefish, Tripletail and Spanish Mackerel.  These four species normally highlight the pinnacle of our Spring season which in years past has occurred during the later part of April but the steady warming trend that began all the way back in January has the Nature Coasts water temperatures already closing in on that magical 68°-70° which is sought after by many pelagics.  This early warming trend has also been a catalyst for the early congregations of large schools of threadfin herring, pinfish, and glass minnows.  As these large bait pods grow in size many pelagic species especially Spanish Mackerel will seek out areas where these baits congregate.  Areas of current and structure such as channel markers, rock piles and wrecks are great areas to target this time of year as they can easily hold a variety of hungry pelagic species.

 

Another species that is not necessarily new to the Nature Coast but has made its presence felt during the warmer than normal winter is the Permit.  Permit are often considered one of the three Holy Grail species to flats and fly fishermen.  As the most prestigious member of the Jack family Permit are built for speed.  A retractable dorsal fin and fork tail make this the perfect fish to test the line capacity limits of any spinning or fly reel.  Here along the Nature Coast we target this finicky fish using Live Shrimp, Small Rock Crabs, and even Berkley Gulp! Shrimp.  Permit have very large eyes and are keen on picking up the most choice shrimp or crab making bait selections and placement critical.  Chumming on structures such as oyster bars, sand bars and even wrecks can yield great results as long as they are present. 

 

TIP FOR PERMIT:  

Keep your eyes open on the water.  If Permit are present on a particular structure the dark black portions of their fins will show really well in the crystal clear waters where they roam.  Oyster bars are prime locations to target because there is such an abundance of prey.  Remember to match the Hatch.  Most Nature Coast Permit prefer smaller baits 3” or smaller.

 

 

HOT BITE:

 

For those anglers that are looking for consistent fishing action look no further than targeting Speckled Trout this month.  Speckled Trout are by far one of Florida’s most sought after fish species mainly because of their abundance and great table fare.  Here along the Nature Coast Speckled Trout are typically found inshore and nearshore around seagrass beds, oysterbars, and mangrove-fringed shorelines.  Free-lining live shrimp, small pinfish or pigfish (grunts) near the bottom will normally entice a hungry Trout out of their grass-bed holes.  Often attaching a float to these same baits will allow these baits to drift over the grass beds as you search for Trout.  Casting soft-bodied jigs, top-water poppers and spoons can also be effective.  Trout are very delicate, so returning unwanted or undersized fish promptly to the water is necessary to maintain a healthy population.

 

Capt. Kyle Messier

(352) 634-4002

kylemessier@yahoo.com

WWW.FLORIDAFISHINGADVENTURES.COM

WWW.CRYSTALRIVER-FLYFISHING.COM

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