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Crystal River and The Nature Coast

1/23/03
Florida Fishing Report for:
Crystal River and The Nature Coast

February's Best Bets

Catchin' Report February 2003 Captain Ed Lewis

Due to the lower water temperatures, our Homosassa/Crystal River flats are crystal clear Add this to days of warm sunny afternoons hitting 70 degrees and calm winds has made for great fishing conditions. The trout and redfish have cooperated nicely, On nights when we have temperatures plummeting down in the low 40's fishing has been best in the afternoons. If you have no other choice but to fish first thing in the morning check out deep holes in creeks and rivers. Besides holding sheephead, black drum and trout, they can be very productive for reds. The deep water is affected less from the plummeting nighttime temperatures. Reds and other fish will hold up there until the first rays of sunlight warm the surrounding waters.

In the afternoons look for reds on the backcountry mud/shallow flats. They are seeking the warmth provided by the sun and will scavenge across the shallow flats, sometimes head down rooting up small crabs and shrimp. In the wintertime when reds are tailing in the shallows it may be best to fish a tail hooked live shrimp on a light 1/8-1/4 oz or even free line.I prefer free lining. Because of native shrimp sometime being scares this time of year, I seldom see a red pass up this easy meal. With the clear water, it is possible sometimes to see the reds tailing on the flats. When you see this, just present your shrimp just in front of the red and let it lie. Then as the red approaches wiggle the rod just a little.

As the tide receds, I have good success fishing oyster bars and rocky points with a light jig head and Saltwater Assassin split tail grub. Reds, and trout have been nailing the Saltwater Assassins fished on a lighter than normal 1/8 oz Jig head. The lighter weight allows it to flutter slower to the bottom thus allowing more time for the fish to strike. Don't forget with the chilly water temperature fish movements have slow down considerably and you will need to give them a three count before setting the hook.

Sheepshead, and black drum can be found around the channel markers, offshore rocks and deep holes in creeks and rivers. Most of the larger sheepshead and drum have come from deeper holes and rocky channels. This is the time of year the big sheepshead spawn on the reefs and inshore rocks. Best bait is a live fiddler crab if you can find them or small piece of shrimp. Trout season is closed for February in our area. However, If March is like previous years, trout season will open like gangbusters. Of course, you can still catch 'em, just be very gentle and careful on your release.Some folks like to bend the barb down on their hook so as not to harm the fish.

Most Grouper Getters will have to find 50 foot water or better this time of year to catch their limit. Baits should be fished slow as the fish aren't nearly as agressive as during warm months. So be patient. However, spring is not far away.

Fly anglers weapon of choice this time of year is a chartreuse Clouser. Instead of working deep 15-ft water, flyfishers should present their fly to water that is 1-4 ft deep. Just make sure it has deep water near by. A pink shrimp imitation works well also.

This month is a good one to get out all your reels and spool with new line. Also, clean 'em up and grease them. It won't be long before they will be tested, so, make sure you're ready when ol' Bubba is on the other end stretching that new line.

If you haven't already done so, now is the time to book your Tarpon and Redfish trips with your favorite guide. These slots fill up fast for the months of May, June and July.

For those of you who like to sleep in...then go fishin', this is your time of year. So get on out there and go catchin'.

Cause a child's smile and a good day fishin' is the best medicine for what ails ya.

Until next time......

Captain Ed Lewis www.Redfishhunter.com  (352) 629-9684


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