Hi, my name is Gary Rankel. I worked for 30+ years as a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs assisting American Indian tribes manage their fish, wildlife and outdoor recreation resources. I retired to Citrus County, Florida in 2005, where I quickly became hooked on kayak fishing. I have wanted to develop a website depicting kayak fishing along the southern portion of the Nature Coast / Big Bend region of Florida for some time, but knew little about setting up such a site. When Wavewalk, Inc., the maker of the Wavewalk Kayak that I fish from, offered to set up the site for me, I gladly accepted.
Nature Coast Kayak Fishers is intended to be a very informal group who enjoy fishing from kayaks and related paddle-craft in relatively uncrowded surroundings with an “Old Florida” feel. It offers the opportunity to network and share ideas and information about kayak fishing experiences along Florida’s Nature Coast between the Withlacoochee and Chassahowitzka Rivers, including the Crystal and Homosassa Rivers. Nearby bays and freshwater lakes throughout Citrus County provide additional opportunities to hook into lunker largemouth bass and panfish (keeping an eye out for those pesky gators).
While kayak fishing along the Nature Coast may never account for as much public use as the extraordinarily popular manatee and scalloping attractions, it offers unique opportunities to fish along beautiful, secluded shorelines for a variety of species, notably, seatrout, redfish and snook. Stalking fish in a stealthy kayak in pristine shallow water backcountry, and getting towed by a 10 or 20 pound redfish or snook for half an hour before landing them is an awesome experience. Frequent encounters with manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine life ad to the experience, as does getting up close to eagles, ospreys, herons, egrets, and other shorebirds.
Not having to trailer a boat in traffic, wait in line to launch at crowded boat ramps, and put up with loud motorized boats and windy open water conditions are pluses of kayak fishing. Being able to maneuver around the numerous fish attracting oyster bars in the area instead of having to avoid them for fear of lower unit damage is another benefit. Ditto for being able to reach deeper fish holding pools at low tide. Being able to enjoy the beauty and solitude of these backcountry areas makes for a quality experience even on slow fishing days.
More and more Nature Coast kayak anglers are participating in catch-release tournaments where winners are determined by photos of caught fish taken prior to their release. Others seek delicious fresh fish for lunch or dinner. Folks on limited budgets can get outfitted relatively inexpensively. Kayaks can easily be dragged from a vehicle to the waters edge, and when fishing is over for the day, they are easily rinsed off and stored.
Unlike larger, more formalized kayak fishing clubs and websites, including those in Tampa Bay, Orlando and Jacksonville (reportedly, the largest kayak fishing club in the world), we will not elect officers, manage forums or impose dues. Information sharing will be by email and through a blog format. If there is enough interest, periodic meetings might be scheduled.
I will also use this site to advocate on behalf of watershed protection and restoration in the area, so that future generations can enjoy the same quality experience on our waters as I do, and to highlight the role that kayak fishing could play in promoting tourism in the county (see www.visitcitrus.com).
Email me to be included on our group mailing list, and with any questions, comments, suggestions, fishing reports, etc. Worthwhile information and offers to meet up with others for a day of fishing will be forwarded to the group. Information of a more substantial nature may be included in The Blog.
Note: Thumbnail Photos Displayed Herein Can be Viewed by Clicking on Them and Then Clicking on the Magnifier LInk at the Top Left of Each Image.
Copyright © Gary Rankel