Last Friday we made our way out to the “Bird Rack”, just off the Levy County and Citrus County Coasts, for some Spotted Sea Trout action. After about 30 minutes of casting a variety of baits around without any luck, we decided to try the warmer waters of the Hot Water Discharge Canal at Crystal River.
Typically the 70 degree plus water works like a fishing magnet, once the offshore water temps fall below 60 degrees. After idling up the channel, we tied up to the barrier fence and immediately started catching one “Rat Red” after the next. The water temp was 69 degrees and I thought we were in for one of those unforgettable days of fishing. Within a few minutes, several manatees swam up to the boat, apparently looking for a handout.
After about 2 hours of catching these small Redfish and watching the manatees eat the algae off the barrier floats, we decided to give the Sea Trout on more chance. We ran in to marker 33 at the Withalocoochee River Entrance, and fished the channel for about an hour. They were lots of Trout, unfortunately they were all about 12″ long. Not exactly what I had in mind.
Although we didn’t find the big ones, we all had a good time. Like they say, a bad day of fishing beats a good day at work.
Best bet for this time of year is to fish the outer markers, wrecks, and reefs for Sheepsheads, weather permitting.
Pictured below, Doug with a typical Hot Water Discharge Canal Rat, and several Sea Cows (Manatees).