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’ve wanted to develop a website describing kayak fishing along the Nature Coast of Florida for some time, but knew little about setting up such a site. When Wavewalk, Inc., the maker of the twin-hull Wavewalk Kayak that I fish from, offered to set up the site for me, I gladly accepted. I am not affiliated with Wavewalk in any way except as a satisfied customer.
This website attempts to provide timely information to both established and first time anglers fishing from kayaks along Florida’s Nature Coast, with a focus on the inshore area between the Withlacoochee and Chassahowtizka Rivers, including the Crystal and Homosassa Rivers, and the Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes. On the salty side, the primary target species are seatrout, redfish and snook. In our freshwater lakes and rivers, largemouth bass and a variety of panfish are targeted. Anglers paddling in this area enjoy its uncrowded surroundings and “Old Florida” feel.
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 add 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 quality experiences 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.
I use the Blog section of 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. I also attempt to highlight the role that kayak fishing plays in promoting tourism in the county (see www.visitcitrus.com).
The Nature Coast Kayak Fishers meet the last Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Terra Vista library. Anyone interested in paddling or fishing the Nature Coast area is welcome to attend. Access to Terra Vista (a gated community) is required to attend the meetings.
I’ve written a comprehensive Guide to Kayak Fishing in Citrus County, Florida containing detailed “how-to” and “where-to-go” sections. For further information, click on the My Kayak Fishing Book link above.
I’ve also written several kayak fishing articles for popular magazines. Florida Sport Fishing Magazine, the largest magazine in the state, is running a series of of my articles describing how senior citizens are getting into this fast growing sport, beginning with its September / October 2019 issue. If you’re a member of the flourishing geriatric set thinking about spending more of your senior moments on the water or needing help finding a more codger-friendly kayak, you might want to check them out.
Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions, comments, suggestions, fishing reports, etc. I will attempt to respond to inquiries in a timely manner.
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