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Florida Big Bend Weekend Fishing 4Cast

Homosassa to Steinhatchee
Includes Homosassa, Crystal River, Yankeetown, Waccasassa Bay, Cedar Key, Suwannee, Horseshoe Beach, Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach


July 18-20

The Curse of the Grassy Flat

If you’re going scalloping this weekend, and there are mats of floating grass, it’s really NBD—Do Big Deal. But…if you’re planning to fish inshore and with plugs you’d best plan your day in advance. At Steinhatchee, the floating grass is awful to the north of the river, but better south. And according to Capt. Mike McNamara from St. Marks and Capt. William Toney in Homosassa, it’s no better anywhere else! One solution offered is to remember that the floating grass floats away from shore when the tide falls, and vice-versa when it rises. So, my best advice is to get as close to shore as you can after the tide begins to retreat. And if you’re lucky, the reds and big seatrout appreciate the lack of sea grass, the great visibility and the ease of attacking bait, live and plastic!

I really don’t have much to report this week from the Big Bend other than the scallop report. I did fish south of the Steinhatchee River on Monday (on the falling tide) and found some nice reds and trout in the two-foot depths using Heddon Super Spook plugs. No grass—just some nice fish. We also scalloped and found the best places to be just north of Dallus Creek and off Piney Point, north of Steinhatchee. It was hard work getting our limits, but the scallops ARE there and the water is gin-clear. Word from St. Marks is that the scalloping is tough, but the Homosassa guides are encouraging. Jeff Miller of Miller’s Boating Center in Ocala said that reports of over 1000 boats between Crystal River and Homosassa last weekend were likely true. Jeff and Susan got limits in just an hour or so, noting that the scallops are thick from south of the Homosassa River well north of Gomez Rocks at Crystal River.

One reason (excuse?) this week’s report is slim is that I’s attending the big international fishing tackle shows (ICAST and IFTD) in Orlando and am walking my feet off gathering information about new tackle and goodies for you to crave. Next week, expect a roundup of what I found.

Until then…go catch a few!

Recent Fishing Reports

Homosassa: Capt. William Toney

Great folks and good times over here in Homosassa! The county people have put some employs to help move the traffic at the Homosassa public boat ramp next to MacRae’s and it has made positive improvements on the way truck and trailers are moving at the ramp. Scallops are here but some are getting them and some are not. The hot spots are north of Homosassa near the Rock Island channel. Talking with the local shrimping captains, they are getting large scallops that are tearing up their nets out past the Bird Rack. I believe as we move forward into August these scallops will move into shallower water.

The saltwater pan fish action is very good right now. Shallow rocks and deep rocks out to 12 feet are holding Spanish mackerel, sea bass, mangrove snapper, grunts and the occasional flounder. For the aggressive fish like the sea bass, mackerel and flounder try a 3-inch D.O.A. Root Beer Holographic Shrimp or a MirrOlure Bourbon LiL’ John on a 1/8-ounce jighead. Live shrimp free lined on a #2 long shanked Eagle Claw will catch the snapper and grunts. Red fishing is the best inshore bite right now. High incoming tide is the best time to fish. Eppinger Rex gold spoons will put fish in the boat in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge and live shrimp or cut pinfish work up to the north. High incoming tide will be at daylight in the morning this weekend. Low tide will be most of the day and a good weekend to go scalloping.

Crystal River: Capt. Kyle Messier

With the passing of one of the most celebrated holidays in the country comes another celebration for the openings of both gag grouper season and scallop season. Historically, July 1st has been the landmark day for the opening of our Nature Coast scallop season. However, this year Gov. Rick Scott surprised us with an early opening to Scallop Season on June 28th. Since then the continued success of our 2013 scallop season has transitioned into this 2014 season, as well.

The crystal clear waters surrounding the Nature Coast are teeming with vast eel and turtle grass flats, which make fantastic habitats for these tasty bay scallops. As the season progresses and certain weather patterns begin to take hold of our area, scalloper’s will find that scalloping on days around the full and new moon cycles combined with West wind days will provide the best results. The stronger tides and added bonus of the west winds will provide enough current that will propel many scallops closer to shore. With the Nature Coast offering over 20-miles worth of grass flats, scalloper’s from all over the southeastern US will be flocking to the areas around Crystal River and Homosassa to stake their claim on the best scalloping flats found anywhere in Florida. Why not join in on the fun?

As fun as the scalloping has been and will continue to be this season it’s still hard to forget about what makes this area truly so special. How would you like to catch bull redfish as the sun comes up, gag grouper on some of our scattered shallow water rock piles during the late morning hours and then finish off your day by bagging a few scallops? Not a bad day and with over 20 different species of fish to offer anglers this time of year the Fishing will not take a back seat to the Scalloping this month. The fantastic fishing found around Crystal River, Homosassa, and Ozello will be on full display over the coming months. With the redfish, tripletail, giant black drum, flounder, Spanish mackerel, sharks, and shallow water grouper action beginning to heat up, the sky is the limit as angling options are concerned.

The top species this month will continue to be the redfish, black drum, mangrove snapper and grouper, but for anglers looking for a little bit more of a tasty challenge, try flounder fishing this month. Our local flounder are called summer flounder for a reason and with their peak seasons featured in July through September now is a great time to take the challenge. I call flounder fishing a challenge only due to the fact that it is not necessarily fast and furious action with a major strike. Flounder are very subtle feeders very rarely giving up there hiding spots to chase down baits. It’s their camouflage and element of surprise that makes this fish so challenging. Targeting sandy areas with patchy bottom will provide most anglers with success. Jigging a shrimp or slowly crawling your bait on the bottom will certainly get the attention of any weary Flounder looking for an easy meal. The key to flounder fishing is once you have located one chances are there will be more in close proximity

Homosassa: Capt. Rick Burns

There’s no need to stay indoors during the dog days of summer when there is plenty of fishing that can still be had.

Here are some things to remember, or hope that will help you on these brutal summer angling expeditions.

First and foremost do exactly like you’ve heard time and again for the dog days, go early and late. Trust me on this one. Think about it. First thing in the morning is the coolest part of the whole day. Makes sense to be on the water at first light, doesn’t it? The fish will be more active, concentrated more and even follow the bait up shallower as they try and feed.

When water temps can reach near 90, yes, 90 degrees in the summer, go when the water is the coolest and the fish may be want to play. When the water temp is hot these fish can really spread out, become lethargic, and sometimes head off into deeper water to find comfort zones. Remember, the thermo-cline is around 10 to 15 feet where the temp stays constantly cooler, sometimes 8 to 15 degrees cooler. So where would they find cooler, comfortable conditions?
I’ll start out shallow, but if I don’t find them I’ll try different depths and watch the depth/fish finder in deeper water. Doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll always want to eat, but I’ll find them.

Another thing to remember if you’re fishing more than just yourself is to start out with everybody utilizing something different till you maybe find a pattern of what they’re wanting. It may be live shrimp; it may be soft plastics, or artificial. It may be white and chartreuse; it may be root beer or electric chicken. Find what it is, and then you better have more than one in the tackle box. Or, it could be some angry cohorts.

Easily forgotten, but definitely worth mentioning. For crying out loud, keep hydrated out there during these calm mid 90-degree days. Don’t get so busy fishing that you forget to drink liquids. And we’re not talking “heading to the mountains, or “grabbing all the gusto you can,” or even a bunch of carbonated sodas. Leave that for dry land. Keep plenty of water, Gatorade, or the like aboard, and keep it in you. You’re not going to enjoy the fish or be any good to anybody else if you end up with heat stroke.

If the regulars of the flats and nearshore like the trout, mackerel, bluefish, small sharks, etc. don’t cooperate, and you have an incoming tide, get after the ever-popular redfish.

Redfish are so much more tolerant of the hot water than other species. Redfishing right now, through October or until it gets cold, will be some of the best of the year.

Remember, we still have several weeks of good scalloping. Give us a holler and we’ll go find some “white gold of the Gulf.”

Capt. Tommy Thompson’s website {352-284-1763} captain@twotree.net

Inshore Light Tackle and Fly Fishing

Steinhatchee, Florida

  • Jib Killian

    Capt. Thompson,

    is there anyplace local that has the Tactical Angler Clips? Have gone on line and the only dealers on their web sight are in NY, NJ and RI. Would like to do business locally around Gainesville if possible.

    Thanks,

    Jib Killian

  • Tommy SPHS66

    Jib…"crazy Alberto" is trying to get some dealers set up, but so far no luck in our area. Ebay seems to be the best bet. I recommend the 50-pound version for inshore fishing. TT

  • Bob

    Can anybody out there provide the FWC scallop count in all the count areas, especially St. Joe Bay and Steinhatchee. Can’t understand why FWC won’t release the count when the season opens Saturday.