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

September 12-14

Breaking Weather = Better Fishing

It’s Tuesday night, and I just looked out the window of my room at The Plantation on Crystal River. Rather than the almost incessant rain we’ve had here since yesterday I saw a nice sunset and am happy to say that the weather forecasts are excellent for the next few days. That’s particularly good, as I, the executive director of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, have over 100 folks coming here for our annual conference this week. And, of course, outdoor writers don’t want to be holed up inside a meeting room (unless they’re eating, drinking or learning about the latest fishing tackle or fishing destinations). They want to be out of doors. Fishing, scalloping, hiking, birding, shooting and paddling are what this event is all about. So, with good weather, they should all have a good time and take home lots of stories about beautiful Crystal River, Homosassa and Citrus County.

With tonight’s full moon, we’ll have some big, fast tides that will hold into the weekend. Hopefully that tidal flow will dilute all the fresh water that was dumped into the Gulf this week. And hopefully, the storms will have diluted some of that nasty red tide that’s polluting our waters and making beachgoers uncomfortable to our south. We don’t need any of that nasty red tide here, and I suspect it’ll stay south and out of the way. I did hear from some local guides that red grouper had been pushed shoreward by the karenia brevis bloom, but that’s not a bad thing.

We’re down to the last two weeks of this year’s recreational scallop season, and despite the fears of many, the scallop population has held up. Limits are easily taken, especially at Homosassa and north of Steinhatchee.

And now, with the full moon, redfish are starting to gather up in schools, preparing for their annual spawning trip to deep water. I’m surprised that I haven’t heard about anyone catching any reds along the Crystal River spoil banks, but maybe some writers will get a chance to fish there this week during our informal “fishing tournament”. And seatrout, always hungry as cooler weather approaches, should be eager to eat all along our lush grass flats. Look for green grass and you’ll find them.

In general, it’s looking to be a great fall!

A final note, just received as this 4Cast goes to press:

NOAA Fisheries is implementing an in-season adjustment to the red grouper recreational fishing season that changes the closure date from September 16, 2014, to October 4, 2014, based upon updated landings. With this adjustment, the red grouper recreational season will close at 12:01 a.m., local time, October 4, 2014 and remain closed until January 1, 2015, unless changed in subsequent rulemaking.

Recent Fishing Reports

Homosassa: Capt. William Toney

The first push of fall red fish have arrived! With all the red tide talk and such, the inshore waters of Homosassa are alive. This week’s full moon is the ticket to get the inshore bite in Homosassa going. Some of the best red fish spots are going to be the spoil banks of Crystal River, the outside keys of Ozello and inside of Chassahowitzka Point. The incoming high tide is the best time to fish. I like the early part when the tide first turns because if there is a school of redfish and it is calm I can see the push or wake of the fish making their way in from the flats. The best method is to pole your boat or use the trolling motor very little to pursue the reds until they find a desired spot that they would like to be. If you do this correctly it can be some of the most exciting fishing ever. The cool thing is if another angler uses the same method everyone gets in on the fun. Some other methods I’ve noticed is to motor right up the fish and catch one then run the school away or run the motor at full speed until the school “lift” and moves. Then pursue them but I believe by doing this that the angler has given up their location and put the redfish on high alert. This method is selfish and most of the time runs the school right out of the area so no anglers can get a shot at them. The best baits have been Eppinger Rex ¼-ounce spoons with the red feather, D.O.A. root beer 3-inch shrimp with a chartreuse 1/8-ounce jighead and the same jig head with a golden bream MirrOlure LiL’ John.

Mangrove snapper are a good bet on the near shore rocks along with flounder, sea bass, Spanish mackerel and grunts. Live shrimp is the best bait. I wish I could tell you some good news with the sea trout but at this time I have not caught enough to get excited. A drop in water temperature will help. The tides this weekend will be low during the mid part of the day. Go very early or very late evening to be on the high incoming.

Crystal River: Capt. Kyle Messier

Looking back on every fishing report I have ever written for both Red Hot Fishing Charters and Florida Fishing Adventures I have always found myself remaining extremely positive in regards to Florida weather. Unfortunately, that streak of positive talk will be out the window for this September 2014 fishing report. Since the start of September both the meteorologists and myself cannot quite figure out the recent weather patterns for this month. I have a half dozen apps on my phone that I check everyday and I know the weather man has more sophisticated equipment than an app, yet the two of us still can not figure out what is going on weather wise from day to day.

How is it possible that on a day that has an 80% chance of rain it yields a beautiful “Chamber of Commerce” sunny day and a day that has a 30% chance of rain forecast turns out to be an all day rain event? Sure some of you will say that these weather forecasts are for the Tampa Bay area and since we are 80 miles north there is a slight deviation in the prediction. I understand that point but normally there is a plus or minus 10-percent rule that all of us fishing guides use to make our assumptions about the impending weather. Lately we have all been more than 10-percent wrong.

Here’s another good one for you: How is it possible that on one day you will have rain all morning long and sun in the afternoon and the very next day with the same weather pattern hanging around it will be sunny in the morning and then rain all afternoon long? I get it, certain weather patterns change from day to day but at this point in time I think Mother Nature is starting to play tricks on us. All of the anglers that have visited the Nature Coast, including myself, over the last few years have been extremely blessed with great weather year after year. The last three winters for instance have been extremely mild and dare I mention that the coast of Florida has not seen a hurricane in almost a decade (KNOCK ON WOOD)! I guess I will just have to continue to scratch my head with these weather patterns and keep thanking GOD that he made fish wet for a reason!

Although I have dwelled on unpredictable weather please keep in mind that the awesome fishing action along the Nature Coast has been anything but. Finally our major schools of redfish are arriving which have already provided many anglers with some pretty spectacular catches. Many of these schools of redfish will exceed 50 fish schools and I have even seen larger schools in the past containing over 100 fish. A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to fish with Rey Fortney who was visiting from Massachusetts. During the new moon tidal phase Rey and I were able to land over 40 redfish within a school and most of these fish were well within the slot. This is truly a blast to say the least.

As awesome as the redfishing has been in recent weeks, Nature Coast anglers will still find plenty of other species to choose from during a day of fishing. Spanish Mackerel, bluefish, jacks, snapper, black drum will all be great bets for the rest of September but for anglers looking for something a pretty tasty for the pan think about flounder fishing this month. Flounder (summer flounder) are always a top target in September. With the warmer weather of September bringing in tons of baitfish into the shallows many flounder will be laying and waiting for an unsuspected minnow to cross their path. Areas with current are great areas to start searching for flounder and I for one love fishing cuts along oyster bars and sand flats adjacent to rocky structure. The key when fishing for flounder is to remember that they are ambush predators. Baits and techniques that cover a lot of ground will be most effective. Drifting and dragging shrimp will get the most amounts of action but for anglers looking for a true “door mat” think about tossing a small pinfish or mud minnow into a fishy area.


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.


    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.

  • Jon

    You do relize that it is illegal to catch and release alligators. You might want to read up on the regulations about hunting alligators in the state of Florida since you do adise people to go to the FWC web site. Just thought you should know.