What a week in the weather! We experienced a total shift in conditions ranging from a couple warm and sunny 80 degree days to rain, then a gusty winter cold front, and finishing with overcast windy skies. The good part about the weather this week is when the weather was good, the fishing was great.
The majority of my charters this week consisted of some outstanding trout action on the outer spoil islands and more variety of species than I could count on the shallow hard bottom areas from 10 ft. to 15 ft. off Homosassa and Crystal River. For targeting the trout I always prefer the incoming tide for the mentioned above area, but on two different occasions the outgoing was the ticket. I attribute this to possibly the warmer shallower water running out and changing the water temperature a degree or two to get the bite going. This time of year the water temperature dictates what species and what areas we fish and using the tide and time of day to your advantage, can help you have a more successful trip. The best producing jigs for the trout this week were the DOA glow cal shad tails, Mirrolure Lil’ John’s in the rootbeer color, and for the days after the cold front the ever-reliable new penny gulp helped us catch those finicky trout.
Just a little ways offshore brought the absolute best black sea bass fishing I’ve experienced in crystal clear water. On every piece of structure we fished including ledges, rock piles, wrecks and live bottom areas, the sea bass were there. This is the time of year they congregate to spawn and these fish become extremely aggressive. It was quite impressive for my clients and I to hook our fish and have several followers come to the boat and make multiple hook ups quite easy. We actually caught several on a bare jig head and a few actually jumped out of the water for the bait (honest!). Using a live shrimp on a 1/8th oz. Hank Brown jig head was the preferred bait of choice, but a few of the larger sea bass were caught on artificial jigs. The quality of size was impressive as well, with a few sea bass just falling short of the 15” mark.
The other mixed bag of species we caught included some more early arrival sheepshead, numerous large grunts, Spanish mackerel, porgies, pompano, gag grouper (some keepers that were safely released) and trigger fish. The gulf water temperature is hovering around the 62 degree mark, and with the cooler waters the clarity improves considerably. Take advantage of the next couple days of good weather, go scouting, and locate some new offshore areas.