May 6, 2016. The following article was published in the May 2016 edition of Country Club Neighbors Magazine serving residents in Citrus County, Florida.
KAYAK FISHING CLUB ESTABLISHED
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 (http://fishingkayaks.us) 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.