Presentation: Kayak fishing in Citrus county

November 15, 2016.  Attached is a video presentation I recently made to the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, providing an overview of kayak fishing in the county as well as some ideas for including it in the county’s tourism program.

Florida Waters Condition

July 25, 2016.  The following letter to the editor appeared in the Citrus County Chronicle on this date.
Thanks, Governor Scott – your policies should go a long way toward boosting tourism, property values and prosperity in Citrus County.
Numerous recent articles in the Chronicle, Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald and most other statewide newspapers have described the horrendous and worsening condition of Florida’s waters, and their effects on wildlife, coastal communities and local economies.  Headline stories have even made USA Today, CNN and other national media outlets.
Folks living under rocks may not have heard about Lake Okeechobee’s polluted water releases, and the resultant coca-cola colored water and toxic guacamole-like algae outbreaks covering beaches and estuarine areas on both sides of the State, or the new wave of manatee deaths in the Indian River Lagoon on the Space Coast, or the millions of gallons of untreated sewage recently released into the Tampa Bay area.  Not to mention the impacts to The Everglades from hindering the implementation of Amendment 1, although it’s becoming difficult to determine if it’s better to release more of Okeechobee’s water to revive wildlife habitat that has been drained extensively for farming and development, or less to reduce the the risk of further threatening the habitat from increased pollution.
As motel operators in the Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Cape Coral, Fort Meyers and nearby areas hold their noses while monitoring their vacant rooms, and realtors in these areas cancel increasing numbers of appointments with formerly prospective home buyers, the Governor declares states of emergency, and blames the Army Corps of Engineers for the problem while continuing to accept donations from Big Sugar which continues to prosper from his lax pollution control policies and further degrades the lake.  Sure, why not build an even bigger dike on its south end so the lake can become an even bigger cesspool before having to belch out its foul contents to neighboring areas!  Do you remember when this lake was regarded the best largemouth bass fishing lake in the country?
Of course, we all know that Big Sugar doesn’t expect anything in return for its support!  And, the stuff is even bad for your diet!
So, where will all the tourists go and homeowners look now that most of central and southern Florida are quickly becoming inhospitable, if not uninhabitable?
Hey, over here – Citrus County’s waters still look pretty good, at least until the muck rakers and weed planters can no longer keep up with the nutrient overload they continue to receive.
Our welcome mat is out, and, hopefully, at least for a few more years, our economy should benefit from your policies.  Thanks again Governor!
Gary Rankel

GREAT WEBSITES – June 6, 2016.

My go-to fishing websites providing lots of great tips and info include, and

Weather-related Websites for this area that I check before heading out include:

(1) the Brighthouse Bay News 9 website (,

(2) a National Weather Service site (,

(3) a National Weather Service Marine Zone Forecast (,

(4)  a regularly updated live online weather station located near the end of Ozello Trail administered by Mr. Barry Schwartz at:, and

(5)  a new (May 2015) real-time weather station located at the Marine Science Station on the Salt River just below the Crystal River (

For tidal information, I prefer  because of the extra fishing-related information provided and the ease it provides in accessing data for different dates.


May 16, 2016 Fishing Report.  It’s getting warm out there – summer is just around the corner.  Get out there early and enjoy the comfortable temps before the blast furnace hits in a few weeks.  Don’t know what happened to the redfish this year – they’re few and far between, and when I do run into them, they just don’t seem to want to chew (at least on my topwater presentations which I stubbornly throw their way).  There are definitely more snook around, however.  We got close to a pod of dolphins out of Ozello the other day and watched them corner a school of mullet and crash into them.  Flying fish everywhere – was a blast to observe.


May 6, 2016.  The following article was published in the May 2016 edition of Country Club Neighbors Magazine serving residents in Citrus County, Florida.



Folks interested in the fast growing sport of kayak fishing are invited to join a new Kayak Fishing Club with meetings scheduled on the last Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Terra Vista Activity Center library. The club was established by Terra Vista resident and experienced yak-angler, Gary Rankel, for both beginners and those seeking to network with like-minded yakers in the community.

Located on Florida’s Nature Coast, Citrus County is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the spring-fed Crystal, Homosassa and Chassahowitzka Rivers on the west, and the Withlacoochee River and Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes on the north and east. Freshwater Lakes Rousseau, Hernando and Henderson yield largemouth bass exceeding 10 pounds, and a variety of panfish.  Yakers just need to watch out for those pesky gators.

On the salty side, the main attraction is the contiguous 60-mile stretch of extraordinary coastline extending from Waccasassa Bay Preserve to the north down to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. This ecosystem, consisting of broad flats, extensive saltwater marshes, mangrove shorelines, sea grass beds and oyster bars, provides critical nursery habitat for a variety of marine life as well as outstanding paddling and fishing opportunities.

Gary regularly fishes this unspoiled, secluded backcountry seeking seatrout, redfish, snook and other species. Sneaking up on taiiling redfish in 1 or 2 feet of water and watching them charge and crash down on topwater presentations is a blast.  Getting pulled around for 30 or 40 minutes by a bull red (hopefully, not into the mangroves) before bringing them alongside, is a rush.  Frequent encounters with manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine life adds to the experience, as do close encounters with ospreys, eagles, herons, egrets and other shorebirds.  Few areas can match this uncrowded “Old Florida” feel.

Kayaks cost a small fraction of what power boats go for, don’t have to be registered, and are easily transported without trailering. Many fishing kayaks today are not heavy (in the 40-70 pound range), offer increased roominess, stability and comfort (even for the senior members of our community suffering from back problems and other ailments), and can be easily wheeled or dragged from a vehicle to the waters edge.  Some can accommodate a second or even third person, and most can be motorized to extend ones fishing range.  When fishing is over for the day, they are easily rinsed off and stored.

Yak-fishers don’t have to endure the long and frustrating waits in lines at public boat launching ramps, and put up with the roar of engines racing to their “secret” fishing spots. Instead, they can put in at a convenient roadside site, quietly paddle to one of their favorite “skinny water” spots (not reachable by power boat) and enjoy the natural beauty and solitude of the remote and “wind protected” backcountry, often with no other human in sight.  This makes for a quality experience even on slow fishing days.  Good fishing can be found within a few hundred yards of several launch sites.

To further assist kayak anglers along the Nature Coast, Gary created a website ( which includes numerous pictures depicting the local fishery, links to weather and fishing reports, tips and suggestions for having a safe and productive time on the water, a special section on manatee manners, and a comprehensive list of launch sites, including Google Earth views and photos of each, along with suggested yak fishing areas (not including his secret ones, of course), to help newbies get started.  Also included is a Blog Page for providing timely updates and related information.

Letter in today’s Citrus County Chronicle.

April 3, 2016.  My following letter appeared in today’s Citrus County Chronicle.

Here we go again – another massive fish kill in a 40-mile stretch of Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, including the once popular and productive Mosquito Lagoon and Banana River areas.  Viewing and smelling the thousands of rotting fish floating belly up last week did more than turn my stomach.  So much for my planned kayak fishing trip there this Spring.
This latest, but not first catastrophe in the lagoon resulted from another round of heavy rains sending waves of nutrient rich runoff into it.  The over-abundant nitrogen and phosphorus levels caused blooms of brown algae which depleted life-sustaining dissolved oxygen for fish and other marine life.  The Florida State budget has allocated more than $72 million over the last three years, and over $20 million this year, to remove muck, a result of this runoff, from the area.
Further south, other ecological disasters exist as a result of water discharges from Lake Okeechobee, long polluted by runoff from nearby sugar cane fields.  Billions of gallons of water released from it into the St. Lucie River in recent weeks have reached the town of Stuart to the east, while discharges into the Caloosahatchee River hit the towns of Fort Myers and Cape Coral to the west, fouling the St. Lucie / Indian River Estuary on one coast and the marine area around the popular Sanibel and Captiva Islands on the other.  The resultant fish kills and associated public uproar prompted the Governor to declare a “State of Emergency”, and led the state to redirect further releases toward the Everglades, where only a couple of Indian tribes and a few environmental groups could be expected to do much complaining.
While the prognosis for Kings Bay and nearby waterways may be less dire than these cases, well-documented deterioration has occurred.  Rather than focusing restoration on a comprehensive watershed management approach aimed at restoring spring flows and curtailing nutrient input into the bay, well-intentioned officials and groups continue focusing on a misguided 7-year, $40 million weed and muck removal program.  At the same time, our county commission refuses to prohibit the continued importation of tons of sludge from distant sewage treatment plants for application on county lands.  This sludge not only contains huge amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, but also heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and, who knows what else.  Guess where they’ll end up?
The Southwest Florida Water Management District recently recommended a detailed and comprehensive $175 million basin-wide management program to restore Kings Bay and our precious river systems.  How about placing fund seeking priority on that, rather than on the $40 million proposed for weed / muck removal, so we can more fully address the causes of water quality deterioration rather than its symptoms.  There is only so much funding to go around.
Let’s be proactive in solving our environmental problems and not join others seeking massive amounts of limited funds for never ending aquatic weed whacking and muck dredging programs.
Gary Rankel