When you book a Crystal River Fishing Charter, you have the possibility of targeting the main species listed below along with an abundant number of other fish not mentioned here!
Redfish are not only delicious, but an absolute blast to fish for. We target them in the shallow backwaters and outer mangrove islands of Crystal River. In the backwater they are usually found tailing or feeding on the shallow limestone flats, while in the outer mangrove islands they are feeding in large schools. We use a variety of different baits from live Pinfish to cut Mullet but my favorite is the top water plug! Our Redfish can reach sizes upwards of 40 inches and can be caught year round. They have a mild flaky white meat that is served best when blackened, sautéed or fried.
Snook are one of the most aggressive fish we have here in Crystal River. They can be tricky to catch at times but always worth the effort. Snook like to sit in fast moving current and feed on bait passing by. They can also be found tucked along mangrove bank lines ambushing their prey. Many tactics can be effective in catching these fish, but fast moving surface baits and soft plastic lures are best. When hooked they put on a show with head shakes and acrobatics, making Snook an exciting fish to catch! In Crystal River our Snook are not only plentiful but big! Reaching sizes over 20 pounds. Seasons are March 1st- April 30th and Sep 1st- Nov 30th.
Speckled Sea Trout
Spotted Sea Trout are a force to be reckoned with, they might not be the largest species here in Crystal river but they make up for it with their aggressive nature and large appetite. In the winter months they can be found schooling amongst the kelp beds and shallow grass flats from 1-6 Ft of water, where they feed on unexpecting bait swimming above. They can be caught with many different baits including artificial lures, shrimp and live pinfish. However, soft plastic jerk baits rigged on a light jig head or nose hook tend to work best. In the early morning you can also catch them on top water plugs. When the temperatures rise they start to move offshore to find cooler water making them hard to target in the summer months. They can grow over 25 inches in length and have a delicious flaky white meat, making them one of the most popular fish to target in Crystal River.
Sheepshead are a unique looking fish with dark stripes and human like teeth. They fight hard and taste even better! They mainly feed on crustaceans such as shrimp and crab and love to congregate around the rocky bottom areas and oyster bars in Crystal river. The easiest way to catch them is to use a small weighted hook with fresh shrimp. In the colder months sheepshead start to school up on the rock piles off the coast of Crystal River, making them easy to catch in large numbers. Their slightly sweet flaky meat can be prepared many ways but pan fried is always delicious!
Jack Crevalle are easily the hardest fighting fish species we have. They are a fast moving fish that can strip your line out with ease. We typically find them in schools running down oyster bars looking for bait and exploding on bait balls out in the grass flats. Once we find a school they are fairly easy to catch and will bite just about anything you throw in front of them. They are usually a catch and release fish but their meat can be soaked in soy sauce and seared just like ahi tuna!
The Tarpon, also known as the Silver King is one of the most sought after fish on the Nature Coast. They are a large fish that can reach sizes up to 8 feet and can weigh over 250 pounds! In May, when the temperatures start to rise the Tarpon move in to the sand and grass flats near Crystal River to spawn. During this time of year you can fish for them using a spinning rod rigged with cut bait or artificial lures but the ultimate achievement is to land one on a fly rod! Many people come from all over the United States just for a chance to land one of these amazing fish.
Black Drum are one of the larger fish we have in Crystal River. They can grow to over 90 pounds and live to over 60 years old! They can be caught near Oyster bars and around rock structure, feeding on mainly Oyster and Crabs. When hooked they fight extremely hard using their large body and massive fan tail. My go to bait for Black Drum is a halved Blue Crab fished on the bottom. Only the smaller Drum around 14 to 24 inches are worth keeping with meat that is similar to the sheepshead.
Spanish Mackerel are a brightly colored fish with a green back, silvery metallic sides and yellow spots. They are an aggressive fast moving fish that feed on smaller baitfish off the coast of Crystal River. We usually fish for them using a flashy artificial lure with a heavy leader to prevent their large sharp teeth from cutting the line. When hooked they will strip line out and often jump completely out of the water! Their meat is good fried, smoked or made into fish dip.
Mangrove Snapper, often called "Mango Snapper" are my personal favorite fish to eat here in Crystal River. They have a white flaky meat that tastes good any way you cook it. They hangout around rock piles where they can hide from larger predatory fish. The best way to catch them is with live Shrimp freelined or hooked on a jig head. Although they might be small, reaching only 14-16 inches they fight like a fish twice their size!
Although we don't have a very large population of Flounder, you can still catch quite a few of these delicious fish out on the grass flats and sandy bottom areas of Crystal River. They feed by hiding themselves on the bottom waiting for Shrimp and small baitfish to swim by. We usually fish for them by bouncing a soft plastic lure off the bottom or a shrimp rigged on a jig head. Patience is required when fishing for Flounder but their delicious meat make it worth it in the end!
Tripletail is one of my favorite fish to target in Crystal River. They Fight hard using their three large rounded fins, which is where they got the name "triple tail". They like open water and feed by waiting under floating grass patches and crab trap buoys. The shaded area under the grass and buoys attracts smaller baitfish that the Tripletail will then feed on. Occasionally you will find them floating on their side, creating their own shadow to attract bait. We target them by running up and down buoy lines until one is spotted. From there we sight cast a free lined shrimp to them and try to entice them to eat. They are a fairly large fish that can weigh over 20 pounds with meat that is widely regarded as a delicacy.
Crystal River is unlike many other places. Our abundance of shallow rock structure create a perfect environment for Gag Grouper, giving us the opportunity to target them in water less than 4 feet deep. This creates the opportunity to fish with a wide variety baits including live bait, artificial lures and even top water plugs! They are a large aggressive fish that can weigh over 40 pounds which makes for a thrilling fight and plenty of meat to take home for dinner. Season is form June 1st- December 31st