On behalf of the Reel Florida Fishing Charters team we want to wish everyone a safe and Happy Holiday season.
As we wind down 2023 and start looking towards the impending winter weather season, anglers visiting the Nature Coast before the start of the New Year will be delighted to know that there are still a plethora of inshore angling opportunities due in large part to the extended Fall season that we are currently experiencing. Higher than normal air temperatures along with 74° water temps have been a recipe for incredible fishing along the flats of Crystal River and Homosassa for Redfish, Speckled, Trout, Sheepshead, Black Drum, and Snook.
As we all know this glorious weather pattern will not last forever but according to records of the past and good rub from our Crystal Ball here’s what our fishing forecast will look like as we wrap up an incredible year of fishing here along the Nature Coast.
It’s preached throughout the year on my boat and all of my partner guides boats that the winter season can be by far the best season of the year for inshore fishing. Reason being is that the Nature Coast rarely if ever sees a major prolonged cold blast so our flats remain at a constant temperature that’s comfortable to our local shallow water species such as Redfish, Sheepshead, Black Drum, Speckled Trout and Snook. As regular fronts come and go these fish feed regularly meaning anglers luck out with consistent weekly rapid feeding patterns.
For those anglers looking to conquer multiple species off a bucket list targeting areas of exposed oyster bars along with sand and mud flats using Live Shrimp or Shrimp Imitation lures will offer anglers opportunities to catch a variety of different species all in one sitting. As the warming of the day occurs brown shrimp will appear from there over night burrows and begin roaming along the bars and flats searching out microscopic food items. Stalking these same areas are hungry predatory fish looking for an easy meal.
A fun way to fish oyster bars is to actually anchor on top of a bar at a higher out going tide and sight fish species that are gradually coming off the bar due to the receding tide. Obviously, this can be a challenge based on the tide but stalking schools of Snook and Redfish roaming around the perimeter of a bar is way easier to fish then targeting these same fish when they are directly on top of a snag proven oyster bar.
Fly Fishing Expectations:
Hands down this is the time of year you want to be here along the Nature Coast if you’re an avid fly fishing enthusiast or even just a beginner. Whether your interest is sight fishing Redfish in ankle deep water or taking a stab at a massive resident Crystal River Tarpon or even hooking up with your first saltwater fish on fly as Ladyfish and Jack Crevalle will be in abundance NOW! is a great time to visit the Nature Coast for a day of fly-fishing.
Two species of fish that are often overlooked in favor of more “Instagram” worthy species are Jack Crevalle and Ladyfish. If you put both of those species side by side the first thing you will notice is a forked tail that’s built for speed and quick burst during the fight. Both of these fish will readily take a fly, which is why they’re some of my favorites and lately my anglers and I have had a blast fishing smaller white Gurglers on the surface. Let me be the first to tell you the violent strikes that come from these fast paced fish is an absolute joy to watch.
On the more technical side Redfish will always be a favorite of fly anglers as we go into the winter months. Our local waters are at their most clean and pristine this time of year making sight fishing for those Bronze Bombers so much fun. Anglers who have been honing in their fly-casting skills all summer long will find targeting our local Redfish population to be challenging yet rewarding in so many ways. I would compare fishing for these fish during the winter months to the same as hunting for turkeys without the blind.
IN THE END ITS ALWAYS A BLAST FISHING THE NATURE COAST! SOME MONTHS, WEEKS, AND DAYS ARE JUST A LITTLE MORE REWARDING!!
CAPT. KYLE MESSIER