The Flats

Florida’s Nature Coast extends northward from Tampa Bay around the Big Bend, to just south of Tallahassee.  It is a sparsely populated area known for its fishing, hunting, boating, bird watching, hiking and other outdoor recreational activities.  With the Gulf of Mexico and spring-fed rivers to its west, Lake Rousseau, the Withlacoochee River and the Tsala Apopka Chain of lakes to the north and east, and the Withlacoochee State Forest to the south, the Citrus County portion of the Nature Coast is surrounded by water and semi-wilderness.

Citrus County’s inshore area generally extends from the Withlacoochee to Chassahowitzka rivers.  It includes Kings Bay and the spring-fed Crystal, St. Martins, Salt and Homosassa rivers, offering a great diversity of pristine habitats, unspoiled backcountry and secluded coves.  Excellent fishery habitat exists around salt marshes, mangrove shorelines, large seagrass beds, oyster bars and hard bottom substrates, all of which serve as nursery areas for  a variety of marine life.  From north to south, respectively, these backcountry areas open up into the Withlacoochee, Crystal and Homosassa bays.

Citrus County includes the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and Homosassa Springs State Park where visitors from all over the world come to view and swim with the endangered manatee, and features one of most popular areas to snorkel for scallops.  The Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge to the south and west of the town of Homosassa, and the St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve located between Homosassa and Crystal River provide awesome wildlife habitat.  Just north and south of Citrus County, respectively, the Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park and the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge extend the area of contiguous saltwater habitat from Cedar Key to Weeki Wachee, a distance of about 60 miles.

The following pictures depict the coastal area of Citrus County.

Copyright © Gary Rankel