This is the second report on a recent road trip to Homosassa for the Florida Outdoor Writers Annual Convention. It was a great chance to get away from home and experience some great fishing in another part of the state. Homosassa provides the perfect spot to fish, sightsee, and just relax. The meeting was based out of the Riverside Resort which sets right on the Homosassa River. The resort offers great rooms, some with a river view and a great restaurant and bar area.
One morning of the conference is always devoted to a “just for fun” fishing tournament. This year the Homosassa Guides Association put together about 20 boats for the 40 anglers that would participate in the tournament. Everyone was assigned a fishing partner the night before and told to meet at the boat ramp at 6:30 am. The rules were simple; the winner would be determined by the total length of all fish, measured in inches, rounded off to the nearest half inch. Score cards were provided and it was the duty of the captain to measure and record the catches.
There were a few other rules to be observed. Rule number 5 stated, Kindly refrain from loudly exclaiming, “Purty Fish” or “It don’t get any better than this.” At the end of the days fishing everyone would meet at Tarpon Key Lodge by 11:15 am for a shore lunch provided by CCA Florida and awarding of the prizes. At the awards presentation all participants agreed to shout in unison to the winner, “You are the greatest angler of all time.”
So, with the rules in place let the competition begin. My guide for the day was Captain Dan Clymer (Racin’ Mullet Charters -353-418-2160). Recognizing that the tides were not in our favor for redfish around the mangrove islands he chose to head on out into the Gulf of Mexico to target trout and grouper. It turned out to be a great decision as both trout and grouper were plentiful. It was really great being on the other end of the stick, so to speak. I let Captain Dan take care of everything and he was great at doing it all. I highly recommend him if you want to fish the Homosassa area.
It was about six or seven miles out where we stopped in 6 foot water over grassy flats with numerous rock piles to attract the fish. A gentle wind provided the propulsion to quietly drift over the flats and work plastic baits over the bottom. It was one of those days when the fish hit a variety of baits. I was fishing Rip Tide Flats Chub jerk baits, 3 inch mullet, 3 inch shrimp and 4” mud minnows.
All these baits were rigged and fished the same way. Power Pro mainline, 20 pound Triple Fish Fluorocarbon leader, and a 1/4 ounce Rip Tide Pro Jig head. All the various plastic baits were pinned to the jig head and fished slowly along and just above the bottom. Making long casts and slow retrieves produced spotted sea trout, grouper, sea bass, snapper, and ladyfish. The key to the bite seemed to be the slow retrieve. I would lift the rod tip and let the lure fall back to the bottom. The strike often occurred on the drop.
The grouper seem to especially like the Rip Tide mud minnow and I use every one that I had brought along that day. The colors I always keep in my tackle box include the Rootbeer, Golden Glow and the Killifish. The sea trout were also hitting the mud minnow.
I also used up all my Nite Glow 3 inch mullet while the Silver Mullet produced well too. After drifting the 6 foot water for awhile Capt. Dan decided to move to an area that was about 4 feet deep with beautiful sandy pot holes. The same tactics that worked in the 6 foot water worked here as well. We continued to catch numerous fish until it was time to make the run for the Tarpon Key Lodge and a shore lunch hosted by CCA Florida.
As I sat under a shade tree at the lodge, accessible only by boat, I heard my name called as they began the awards ceremony. Captain Dan had dutifully measured and recorded the mornings catch and turned it in to the score table. I never even knew the total but after the tally it was the highest total inches and I had won the tournament. It turned out to be over 300 inches of fish. The largest fish in the total was probably no longer than 22 inches - there was just a lot of them. Of course the next question is what about the prize. If you know what a Heddon Tiny Torpedo looks like then you can blow it up to be three feet long and that was my trophy for the win. I plan on giving it to my 11 year old grandson – hopefully he will hang it from his ceiling and go to sleep each night thinking about fishing.
As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com to view pictures of the fish we catch in the Cocoa Beach area. That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.