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Homosassa River Fishing Report

On the flats
There are many beautiful rivers in Florida, but none give us the joy of the Homosassa. Cool spring water provides a seemingly endless supply of fresh water from the Crystal, Homosassa, Chassahowitzka river, and their tributaries. As those rivers snake their way toward to Gulf of Mexico the water begins to turn brackish. Within a few miles, the subtropical landscape gives way to meadows of saw grass. The saw grass gradually transforms to black needle grass and then to mangrove islands tight with brush. Beyond is the shallow beginning of the Gulf of Mexico. The coastal marsh that surround Homosassa are natures high production factories in terms of fertility.
Red Fish
The coastal marshes gain their extraordinary productivity from the abundance of nutrients delivered by the abundant fresh water rivers and the tide, which disperses the nutrients over the broad shallow flats. Where there is food, there are fish.

Homosassa is located on the gulf coast 85 miles north of Tampa International Airport and 85 miles (about two hours) northwest of Orlando Airport and Walt Disney World. The Homosassa - Crystal River area offers a variety of lodging accommodations. Waterfront lodging is available which will give you a convenient location for departure from the dock. Leisure Time Travel will be glad to make your arrangements.

Red fish and sea trout provide us with year round excitement on the flats. Sight fishing for tailing red fish offers an interesting challenge for the angler. Red fish are abundant in the clear shallow water here all year and remain on the flats except for the rare times we freezing weather. Red fish make perfect fly targets. They are very obvious as they "push" water.They are not spooky. And you don't need to cast a mile to catch one. The largest schools of red fish are found in July through late September. The biggest red fish are found in late October and November.

Sea Trout
Sea trout are here year-round. During the fall and early winter and again in the spring it is unusual to find large concentrations of fish. From late March to May you will find "muds" on the flats where trout, bluefish, mackerel, and who knows what else will be grubbing around in a feeding frenzy.

Late March and early April is usually blustery but prime time for cobia. One of the best places catch cobia is to find stingrays. Cobia love to follow along behind a feeding ray as it grubs along the bottom. Anything that is flushed out usually gets eaten by the cobia. Just toss your fly on the ray's back and hold on.

May is normally very calm and warm. The migratory tarpon start arriving. Your Greatest chance to hook a huge tarpon is here. If you really want to catch a tarpon you need a guide. Make your plans early as all the good guides are booked well in advance. There are tarpon in the rivers year-round.

We all enjoy a fun day fishing and there is probally nothing as exciting as catching a tarpon on light tackle. The giant tarpon that frequent the flats of Homosassa in May and June are the breeding stock that replenish this fishery. It takes fifty to sixty years to produce a big tarpon, but only an hour to kill one. All the big tarpon are females. With a few simple rules you can get the fish in fast and release it to spawn and maintain this wonderful tarpon fishery. The most important factor in fishing for tarpon is adequate tackle. You need a good sturdy 12 wt. or 13 wt. fly rod and a reel capable of holding at least 300 yards of 30# backing. Your drag should be set at 20% of your line strength. So, if your are using a 20 lb. class tippet, you drag setting should be set at 4 lbs off the reel. With some knowledge about tackle and fighting fish you can keep the trauma to the fishat a minimum. Ask the person you are fishing with beforehand how they feel about the fishery. A good guide will help you get a tarpon in promptly with little stress to the fish. A lazy guide will sit on his ass and let you play the fish for an hour so he does not have to pole the boat. It is your choice!

Big Black Tip Shark
Jacks, mangrove snappers, and lady fish are thick in the rivers when the weather is cold. There have been many fishing days saved by these denizens of the winter river. The jacks are powerful fish and are fun anytime you catch one. You can catch a snapper on a "Crazy Charlie". Lady fish are a blast on ultra light tackle. When hooked, they jump all over the place. All the main spring fed rivers here maintain a 72 degree temperature year-round. Thats why the fish swarm in the rivers in the winter.

In a recent magazine article the Homosassa River was named as one of "the top 12 fishing spots in North America" (Sports Afield Magazine). If you would like to fish the Homosassa area just give us a call. Leisure Time Travel will be glad to make your arrangements and arrange a GOOD GUIDE!!

This past year has been the best fishery we have seen in years. Many of the top guides such as Steve Kilpatrick, Jimmy Long, John Bazo, and Mike Locklear believe that this next year will be even better.

Check out Leisure Time Travel's fishing schedule for the best fishing time at Homosassa.

Report By Captain Edward Russell Johnston

The Fly Shop at Leisure Time Travel has all the right flies and fishing equipment you will need to make your Homosassa fishing trip a sucess! For best results stop in and talk to the pro's at the Fly Shop at Leisure Time Travel before you begin fishing. We will make sure you are prepared!

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The flats

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Leisure Time Travel Inc.
531 N. Citrus Ave.
Crystal River, Florida 34428
352-795-FISH (3474)

© 1996-2011 Leisure Time Travel, Inc. - Photos Edward Russell Johnston and Steve Kilpatrick

Revised March 1, 2011 - html by Edward Russell Johnston