Speckled trout fishing was about as good as it could get in November, with limits on almost every trip and many of the fish over the 20" range. Bourbon color "Little John" lures have been the ticket to success when worked either under a popping cork or jig only. The best concentration of fish were found in the kelp patches and yellow bottoms close to the deeper cuts. In December the trout were sure to be found around the oyster bars at low tide. The fish like to gather in the shallow water where the water has been warmed by the sun.
In Nov the Mackerel bite was on fire, and most of the fish were three Lbs or better. All the shallow rock piles are covered up and free lined shrimp was all you needed to put a bend in your rod. As always, a chum bag and a small wire leader with a long shank hook will add to your success. The Macks were still around in December and many nice ones were also landed.
Redfishing was good in November, but many are under the 18" legal size limit. Landing between 25 - 50 fish has not been uncommon on the incoming tide, but maybe 2 out of the bunch would pass the legal length limit. Free-lined shrimp with no weight around the rocky bottoms and points, and around the islands produced all the action. The Redfish bite remained about the same into December and many undersized fish were caught and released, however we did manage a few good keepers.
Many other species of fish were also landed in November and December. Including a couple of surprises like this good sized Tripletail caught by one of my guests from the Atlanta Fishing Club while fishing out of Homosassa. Great fish and great eating !
With the water starting to cool off, the Sheepshead will be ganging up on the offshore rocks and ledges., so I look forward to some great saltwater Striper action in the upcoming months. Thanks to all my guest for a fantastic year of fishing in 2013. I look forward to what 2014 as to offer. Capt Mark
October: October picked up where September left off with bent rods and drags screaming !
Speckled Trout moved in on the shallow flats in 1-3 feet of water. When you find the kelp grass you will find the trout. DOA shrimp under a popping cork or a more hooked jerk bait worked over the yellow bottom produced some fat trout up to 25" in length.
Redfish were scattered, but when you found them it was game on ! Free lined live shrimp or a fresh cut bait worked around the points and rock shore lines kept them happy and ready to bite. Fish up 35" were landed, however many fell under the 18" minimum size, but none the less a blast to fight and release.
Offshore on the shallow rocks the action is on fire ! Snapper, big Grunts, Spanish Macks, Flounder and big Grouper were all plentiful and provided many great fishing memories. A 1/16 - 1/8 oz jig with a live shrimp is all you needed for the Snapper, Grunts and Flounder, but try dragging a big plug across the rocks and you had better be ready to hold on ! There was sure to be a nice Grouper ready to take his meal back to his home in the rocks.
The Spanish Mackerel have been plentiful this month. Try hanging a chum bag and free line a shrimp or cut bait, then just wait for the "Mack" attack to start !
As always, "Thank" to all my guests for another memorable month fishing the waters of Crystal River and Homosassa. Memories for a lifetime.
September: With no hurricanes and nearly perfect weather, September was a memorable month for fishing and scalloping excursions on the waters of Crystal River and Homosassa. Scallops were still plentiful on the shallow flats off of Homosassa all the way thru the season ending on the 24th. My guests and I had no problem gathering our limits on just about every trip and the locals were always ready and waiting at the docks of MacRae's to clean them. And, if you want to enjoy your fresh catch of fish and scallops without all the work, there are several local restaurants that will cook your catch for you.
Be sure to check out the Photo Gallery for many more great photos !
Redfishing is picking up with the schools showing up on the rocky points. Live pinfish has been the best bait, but live shrimp worked around the grassy beds also keeps the action going.
The Spanish Mack "attack" is in full force in the deeper grass and rock piles in 6-12 feet of water. Free-lined shrimp or cut-bait is all you need for some drag screaming action. A big Mackerel never disappoints when it comes to fast action and a good fight.
The Speckled Trout are moving into the shallow water. Work the kelp grass with a popping cork and a 1/16 oz jig head with a MiroLure "Little John" in the root beer or bourbon color. Some big Trout up 24" have been boated.
I'm always grateful to my guests for spending time with me on the water, however now and then I like to extend a special "Thank You" for many great memories, and I look forward to fishing with you again.
August: The water is warm, and the scallops are thick. We are finding them in five to six feet of water at high tide and waist deep or less on low tide. Limits are the normal on every trip, and it generally only takes 2-3 hours of scalloping to fill the coolers. Can't ask for anything more !
With the great weather and calm seas, the shallow rocks are full of action; Snapper, Spanish Mackerel, Grunts, Flounder and more. Shrimp on a 1/16 oz jig is all you need to put a bend in your rod.
The trout bite has been steady in the deep grass and soon they will be moving into the shallows. MirroLure "Little Johns" in the bourbon color on a 1/8 oz jig or under a popping cork is sure to get the trout going. Make long drifts and mark where you pick up a few. Then circle back and drift again; there's always one more that got left behind the first drift. Several of my guests enjoyed a combination fishing/scalloping trip. The best of both !
The Redfish are scattered, however a few small schools are around. Live shrimp or pinfish free-lined on the rocky points produced some big Reds up to 33". You might have to hit several spots before you hook up, so work each spot slowly. If you don't get any action, then move on.
July: Scallop season officially opened this month. I've seen more boats on the scallop grounds this year than ever before, however this increase of people in search of these tasty morsels hasn't seemed to effect the quantity of scallops available for the taking. This year looks to be a very productive year, as have the past few years. We haven't had any problems with pesky jellyfish, and the scallops are generally in shallow water at low tide, so the picking is easy. I've had limits on every trip, and usually end up returning scallops back into the gulf because my guests have done so well gathering them. If you plan a day of scalloping, head out to St. Martins Key and you can't go wrong. Keep your dive flag up and stay close to the boat. It's important for all boaters to be aware of people in the water- so be especially cautious during scallop season.
Many of my guests have enjoyed a combo fishing/scalloping excursion. We go scalloping on the low tide and Red fishing on the high incoming tide. Shrimp have been working well, but live pinfish free-lined or under a cork are hard to beat. The big schools of Redfish should show up next month, but there are still some nice fish around this month. One of my guests landed a 34" Bull Red in about one foot of water. What a fight !
Grouper season opened on July 1st, and the action has been very good. Grouper guides have been getting their limits of both Red and Gag Grouper in 15-40 feet of water. Dead bait on the bottom has been out-fishing live bait, and the floating grass has made trolling impossible.
The inshore rocks have produced some keeper Grouper, Snapper, Grunts, Sea Bass, and a few Flounder. The Spanish Mackerel have moved on out to this area, and we've caught some really big ones. Shrimp worked on the bottom for the Snapper, Grunts, and Sea Bass, but free-lined baits worked best for the Macks.
Thanks as always to all my guests and I look forward to some great Redfishing next month. Capt Mark
June: The water temperatures are now up in the high 80's and the fish are responding accordingly. The Speckled Trout have moved out to the deeper grass in search of cooler water, and can't resist a "Gulp" bait on a 1/8 oz jig worked over the grass beds. This bait has also produced many Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel, Sea Bass, Shark and others. However, there are still some nice Trout inside on the kelp grass in 2-4 feet of water. They seem to like the 1/16 oz jig under a popping cork, and Mirror Lure's "Little John" bait in the root beer or bourdon color seem to work the best right
The Redfish are scattered, but once we found them they were ready to bite. Incoming tides seem to be the most productive, especially from half-full tide to high tide. Free-lined live shrimp or shrimp under a cork worked around the points and pockets produced most of the strikes. The fish are moving around, so if one spot doesn't produce, keep moving.
Cobia are still around this month, and will hit just about anything we put in front of them. Many are small, but don't give up, you never know, the next one could be a monster.
Scallop season starts next month and we look forward to another great season. Be prepared for a wait at the boat ramp and remember to be courteous to your fellow boaters.
May: Wow- the month of May was gone in the blink of an eye this year. The month went fast, and the fishing action was fast too ! The weather was perfect this month with light winds and warm temps.
The Snook population action has been growing in this area for the past few years, and this month produced some monsters ! Live bait is always good, but these line-siders will attack a stick bait or a Berkley Gulp worked over their neighborhood. Be sure to use at least a 30 Lb fluorocarbon leader to help protect the line from their razor sharp gill plates.
Talking about razor sharp, the Spanish Mackerel are still around, and ready to offer up a drag-pulling good time. I've been using a light wire leader to help with the cut-offs and it hasn't seemed to reduced my strikes.
The deep grass beds, both inshore and offshore have been teeming with Speckled Trout this month. Inshore, I've been using a 1/16 oz jig head under a popping cork, with either a Mirro-Lure "Little John" or a Berkley "Gulp" shrimp. The trout have been in both the thick grass and spotty yellow bottom. Offshore I switch to the 1/8 oz jig head with the same "Little John" or "Gulp" shrimp.
Even though the Redfishing has not been the greatest, we have found some nice fish around the keys and points, and also back in the creeks. Free lined shrimp has been the best bait, but if you used a gold spoon or jerk bait and covered some ground, you were sure to find plenty of reds in the month of May.
We also had good action with; Shark, Blue Fish, Pompano, Lady Fish, Jack Crevalle, Sea Bass, Mangrove Snapper, an occasional Flounder, and others.
As always, "Thank You" to all of my guests, and I wish you all "Tight Lines" Capt Mark
April: Citrus County fishing in on fire this time of year ! March was a very erratic month weather-wise, however April brought warming water temps and lighter winds that made for some picture perfect fishing out of Crystal River and Homosassa.
Along with the warming water temperatures came some very exciting in-shore action. Many species were landed including Redfish, Spanish Mackerel, Spotted Sea Trout, Cobia, Shark, and also Snook. Snook are becoming more commonly caught in this area of Florida's Nature Coast. These fish and others will continue to bite through the summer.
Like last month, Speckled Trout were un-stoppable, with limits on almost every trip. In-shore the "gator" Trout were still holding on the rocky bottom in 1-3 feet of water. Jerk baits worked slow over the yellow bottom was the key to catching these tasty and desirable fish. All oversized fish were released to catch another day.
Out in the deeper grass, bourbon color "Mirro Lure" Little Johns worked under a popping cork provided most of the action. Blue Fish, Sea Bass, Lady Fish and Spanish Macks, all kept our rods bent.
Speaking of Spanish Mackerel, they are everywhere, and in a feeding frenzy. Chumming with left-over shrimp or a chum bag draws them in, and they won't refuse a free-lined shrimp or fresh-cut Blue Runner or Lady Fish. Macks up to 32" have been caught and limits are easily boated, however remember only keep what you want to eat and release the rest.
The Redfish are picking up and next month should be excellent. Work the rocky points and deeper holes around the islands and keys. Live shrimp under a cork or free-lined with the current is always productive. Soon, with continually warming water into the summer and schools of pinfish to distract the Redfish, I will switch to fresh cut mullet to target the Reds.
My personal "Thanks" to all my guests who have fished with me and I'm looking forward to more great fishing action in May. Capt Mark
March: From mid 70's and light winds around the first of the month, to ice on the boat and 20 knot winds towards the end of the month, the weather was definitely unpredictable. March gave us some unusually cold days this year, and certainly challenged us with inconsistent fishing conditions. Even though March was an atypical month weather-wise, the fishing was great !
Limits of big Trout were caught around the bars and pot holes using "Gulp" shrimp in the "New Penny" color, with a 1/16 oz jig head. While fishing the shallow rocky bottoms, we landed and released several huge Gator Trout that hit the 5" jerk baits we were fishing with so hard that they completely destroyed them. I think I released more Spotted Sea Trout over 20" in length this February and March than any other February or March in the past 20 years.
Big Sheepshead on the shallow rocks in 6-12 feet of water were always ready to strike any shrimp you put in front of them. Many fish over 5 Lbs sure did provide some great drag-screaming action !
Speaking of drag-screaming action- the "Mack Attack" was on, and the fish were jumping everywhere. Smaller fish were closer in, and the big ones in the 25" to 32" range were out in the deeper grass and around the rock piles. Free-lined shrimp on a long shank #2 hook was all you needed, besides a good drag. A chum bag also helps keep the fish going, but is not absolutely necessary.
Again, talking about a hard-fighting fish, below is a photo of two unusually large Jack Crevalle landed out of Crystal River. The fish on the left is 31" the one on the right is 32" in length. What a fight these ladies had.
Back inshore, the Redfish were scattered, but the fish I've been finding have been nice ones. Using live shrimp free-lined around the rocky points have produced fish over 30" and also many in the slot.
All in all, this March will go down as a great catching month, and I'm looking forward to fishing in April. As always, many thanks to my guests this month, and I anticipate spending even more quality time in April on the waters of Crystal River and Homosassa.
February: February fishing in Crystal River and Homosassa started out with high winds and morning temps below freezing with ice in the boat. However, these cold mornings don't necessarily mean that there aren't fish to be caught. We landed many Sheepshead in the shallow water rocks located in approx. 8-10 feet of water. Live shrimp on 1/16 oz jig heads seemed to do the trick. Sheepshead up to 5 Lbs. were boated. In spite of the frigid weather conditions we enjoyed the great fishing that Homosassa has to offer.
February is usually our coldest month and fishing in Crystal River and Homosassa can present some difficulties, however none that we usually can't overcome. All during February the weather was unpredictable, high winds, with very cold mornings and milder weather off and on. However, the Speckled Trout were still abundant, and once again limits were the norm. Many quality fish were landed in the 20" range. 3" Gulp shrimp on 1/16 oz red jig heads produced Trout up to 4 1/2 Lbs. Many fish were also landed using 5" jerk baits around the bars and in 1-3 feet of water. And "Gulp" shrimp in "New Penny" color on a red jig head is one of my go-to baits that usually gets the fish's attention.
And, it's always a nice surprise when my guests hooks into an unexpected Snook. Snook are being caught more often in this area than in the past. Check out this nice fish we landed out of Crystal River on a warm February afternoon.
We did quite a few half- day afternoon trips this month due to the cold mornings. We also fished the afternoon tides in favor of Reds. Many nice Redfish were landed during this month up to 30" in length. Fishing in Crystal River never seems to disappoint, even when mother nature offers it's challenges.
I was also honored to join the guides of the Homosassa Guides Association to participate in the 4th Annual 5th Grade Class fishing and learning trip. Each year we take the 5th grade class from the Homosassa Springs Elementary School out for a day on the water. The class records air and water temps, and each fish was identified, weighed and measured. They also identified birds and mammals all along the river. It's always a great opportunity to teach our youngsters about the sport of fishing.
January: First, I'd like to take a moment to "Thank" all of my clients for their support in 2012. Another year of fantastic Crystal River and Homosassa fishing has come to an end. I've fished with many dear old friends and clients, and have had the pleasure of meeting and fishing with new guests and hopefully made some new friends along the way too.
I truly appreciate your support, and I will always strive to give you a great day on the water. Here's to another productive and memorable year in 2013 !
Thanks again, Capt Mark
Now- Let's Fish !
January was and unusually warm month this year. Although there were a few cool and windy days, all in all January offered many picture perfect days with great fishing conditions. Many species of fish were abundant during this month including Redfish, Speckled Trout, Permit, Pompano, Whiting, Grouper, Grunts, Sea Bass, Spanish Mackerel and Sheepshead.
Speckled Trout were abundant and could be found in the holes and back in the creeks. 1/16 oz jigs and 'New Penney" color "Gulp" shrimp worked very slow were very productive baits. Of course live shrimp is always a good choice.
The shallow water rock piles also produced a lot of action this month. Sheepshead, Gag Grouper, Grunts, Sea Bass and Spanish Mackerel were all plentiful, and live shrimp was the bait of choice. Limits of Speckled Trout were boated on most days, Sheepshead up to 6 Lbs, and oversized Speckled Trout up to 4 Lbs were also caught and released.
I always enjoy teaming up with fellow guides and this month I joined Captain William Toney as part of a 2-boat group, and fished and prepared a shore lunch with Captain Rick Spratt. Follow this link to read this groups review of their Crystal River fishing Experience. http://www.yelp.com/biz/captain-mark-zorn-crystal-river-fishing-charters-crystal-river