JAN - FEB 2017: Great start to winter fishing !

What a great way to start the new year !  With mild temperatures and light winds, the fishing could not have been better for this time of year.

Inshore, the speckled trout fishing remains outstanding, with fish being caught on all types of artificials.  Nose hooked jerk baits, 1/16 oz jig head under a popping cork, or an 1/8 oz jig head by itself in your favorite color have all been producing limits of fish.  With many in the  over 20" range.
Working the shallow flats in 1-4 feet of water with  jerk baits and cork rigs performed the best for me.  I switched to the 1/8 oz jig in the deeper holes and ledges with Miro Lure "Little John" scent bait to keep the action going strong.
In addition to the speckled trout, pompano, bluefish, flounder and Spanish Mackerel have been providing plenty of rod bending action.  The deeper holes in the creek mouth and back country have been holding some nice pompano.  A small shrimp on a light jig head worked well.  Don't let these little fish fool you, the legal size for pompano is 12", and they give a good fight on light tackle.  They are also tasty table fare.   The maximum keeper size is 18" in length.

The Spanish mackerel have been both inside on the flats, and offshore on the scattered structures.  Live shrimp or cut bait is always the best.  Be sure to chum them up, and keep the bait moving to produce plenty of hard hitting strikes.  Just recently on an inshore trip, we got the macks going in the river using this same tactic.
Offshore, the sheepshead action has been at it's best.  All the offshore structure, holes, ledges, and rock piles are all holding large numbers of these striped bandits.  Fish in the 5-10 pound range have been common.    Remember these large females are our future population, so keep a few and release the rest.  A Small shrimp on a knocker rig or a jig head was the trick to catch these light-striking fish.  The strike is very subtle, so be patient and feel for that slight movement of your bait before you set the hook. Big grunts, mangrove snapper, and grouper have also been sharing the same area, so there was plenty of action to keep the catching going.
Back inside around the keys, the redfish have been going strong.  Live shrimp and fresh cut pin fish on a 1/16 oz jig head was the perfect combination to catch these fish.  The larges schools haven't shown up yet, but there were plenty of fish scattered on the points and rocky flats.
As always, I want to "Thank" all my guests for a great start to the new year, and I look forward to more great Homosassa and Crystal River fishing in 2017.     Capt Mark

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