Say goodbye to the March Madness and hello to two of America’s favorite past times. It’s ironic how most Nature Coast anglers coincide the start of the Major League Baseball season with the beginning of what usually is the start of the best fishing season of the year here locally. The warmer weather has made all outdoor activities a little more pleasant these days and I for one love the sweatshirt mornings and short sleeve afternoons out there on the water. With the Nature Coast featuring a very warm weather pattern that does not look like it will deviate any time soon, now is the time that most anglers will want to hit the water in pursuit of the many game fish that will soon be, if not all ready congregating on our local crystal clear waters.
The abrupt transition from winter to spring that we saw in March has made a huge impact on the fishing in and around the local waters of Crystal River and Homosassa. The early arrival of beautiful weather has already helped bring in thousands of pods of needlefish, ballyhoo, and threadfin herring onto our local waters. Once these baitfish arrived it didn’t take long for the droves of Spanish Mackerel, Sharks and Cobia to figure things out. Keep in mind this is one of the best times of year for chumming for all of these species at once when the conditions are right. Chumming with frozen chum blocks, baitfish pieces and shrimp during the hardest portions of the incoming tides (New and Full Moon phases) usually will lead to the best bites. The key to chumming is to be ready for what ever swims into your chum slick.
When chumming the 2 main species that will often invite themselves to the party are normally Spanish Mackerel and a variety of Sharks. As your chum disperses and many Spanish Mackerel begin feeding on all of the small bait fish that are coming up into your chum, free lining a live shrimp or little pinfish on a 1/0 Long Shank hook will lead to a ton of bites with minimal cut offs. Wire leaders can also be used but keep in mind that this normally deters speedy Mack’s from taking the bait.
Catching Spanish Mackerel is fun fishing for children and adults of all ages. To make things more interesting when chumming most anglers over look targeting Sharks that tend to swim on the outskirts of the chum line. Chum, struggling fish, and fish blood in the water all at the same time is like ringing the dinner bell to most sharks. The Nature Coast at this time features many different species of sharks at the moment including Bulls, Tigers, Hammerheads, Black Tips and my favorite the Spinner Sharks. Spinner Sharks are notorious for grabbing a bait and making long runs before the hook set and that’s just the beginning. Once the hook is set on a Spinner Shark their acrobatics are that of legend. Hands down this is one of the most exciting fishing experiences here along the Nature Coast!!
As great as the Spanish Mackerel and Shark action has been, the backcountry sight fishing for Redfish and Speckled Trout is what everyone has been talking about. With the lack of rain over the last month, the water clarity in the backcountry waters of Ozello has been crystal clear. With the lack of rain leading to an abundance of sunshine stalking large schools of Redfish and Speckled Trout has been optimal during the moving water portions of the tides. As of late our most successful trips have occurred during lower out going portions of the tides. On high tides most of these fish have been meandering way back into some of the backcountry waters that anglers just can’t get to. Staging and waiting at the mouths of these creeks for these fish to drop out has led to some awesome catches. Live Shrimp on a #1 live bait hook allows most anglers to slide a bait into these wary fish undetected. When fishing multiple baits with multiple anglers the key is to throw one bait way ahead of the school and multiple baits behind the school. Normally right after the first fish is hooked up most Reds and Trout will double back around into their initial travel pattern. All it takes is a little pop of your bait as these fish return to their staging grounds to add hook up number 2.