* Remember Speckled Trout Season Opens in March along the Nature Coast *
I will start this fishing report by saying GOODBYE!! and GOOD WRITTENS!! to January and February. I myself and I can imagine most of the country feels the same way. With that being said lets warm up with some good fishing news from here along the Nature Coast. In between the cold and windy days we have actually seen some days with temps up into the 70’s here along the Crystal River and Homosassa areas. These are the days that myself and my clients have been looking forward to all year. When conditions have been right we have seen slick calm seas and crystal clear water. The water is so clear right now that Sight fishing for huge DRUM, both Red Drum (Redfish) and Black Drum have been the norm during most fishing charters.
Huge Black Drum schools come into the shallows of Yankeetown, Crystal River, and Homosassa this time of year to gorge themselves of shrimp, crabs, oysters, clams and sand eels before they leave to head offshore to spawn. When these giant Drum enter the shallows the first signs of their presence is the massive amount of birds that will follow their route throughout the shallows. As these HUGE Drum forage for anything edible they stirrup the surrounding area sending all bait fish to the surface to get away from the bottom dwellers feeding frenzy. From a distance you can see birds pounding the water as if there is a summer time feeding frenzy occurring. As you approach the birds you will then notice a massive amount of mud in an area that is normally crystal clear, this mud is obviously being thrown around by the feeding Drum.
There are tons of different ways to catch these Massive Pre-Spawn Black Drum but using a live shrimp, cut oyster, or blue crab usually will get the bite first. Recently my clients and I have also been throwing tons of fly patterns at them as well. Anything resembling a small shrimp or crab has got the most looks. A Merkin or Kwan fly with plenty of weight seems to be tops when targeting these hungry GIANTS!! With these fish pushing 20-60lbs don’t find yourself under prepared. A good spinning rod with plenty of backbone and a 4000 series reel that will hold plenty of line is tops on the list. And you definitely do not want to be caught with anything lighter than a 9wt fly rod when targeting these bruisers. Because the water is so shallow, 1-2ft of water in most cases, these fish are obviously not going to do much sounding. However, a Black Drum pushing 40+ pounds will give any angler the fishing fight he/she has been looking for!!
The Giant Black Drum are not the only big Drum roaming the Nature Coast during this time of year, Huge Redfish are also being targeted in the shallows. The only problem when targeting these Redfish this time of year is that most are way over the 27” slot limit. An average size fish this time of year seems to be around the 28” mark. That is a GOOD problem to have as far as I am concerned but does not do any good for the fryer. Schools of 10-30 fish are common and I even came across a school in the backcountry that had over 70 fish in it. The AWESOME aspect of this school of fish was that there were NO fish under 8lbs in the whole school! “What I would have done to have a fly rod on the boat at that time!” With bait being so scarce at times the Berkley Gulp! Shrimp and sand eels have been my best friends. On some of the shallower days I have poled clients around it still seems as if some of these Redfish just can’t refuse a Texas rigged Bass Worm. I am sold on some of the TikiMan worms especially in lighter colors but if any of you Bass Fishermen have a favorite worm of your own don’t be scared to try it.
Long Story short Warm Weather is getting Closer, Excellent Angling Opportunities are Abound, and “Don’t Forget You Only Live Once So Catch As Many Fish As You Can While You Can!!!“
If you’re interested in a fun, exciting and enjoyable day on the water give Red Hot Fishing Charters a call today!!!