The Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico, bordering Citrus County’s Nature coast offers a wide variety of saltwater fishing, Public boat ramps are available from the Crystal and Homosassa River, as well as at the Gulf Beach 8 miles west of U.S. Hwy 19 on S.R. 44 ( Ft. Island Trail ) in Crystal River, and 9 miles west of U.S. Hwy 19. on Ozello Trail. Anglers familiar with the Gulf have caught respectable numbers of Speckled Sea Trout, Wahoo, Grouper, Snappers, Cobia, Sea Bass, Jacks, as well as many other varieties of salt water fish. The “Flats” of the St. Martin Keys, 5 miles out from the Homosassa River, offer a rare opportunity to catch a variety of fish in shallow, often less then 5 ft., clear water. Land fishing in the gulf waters requires no license for Florida residents, and is available, on Ozello Trail and Ft. Island Trail.
Lake Tsala Apopka
19,111 acres of shallow, heavily vegetated marshes intermingled with open water pools. Geography and water control structures effectively separate the lake into three main pools named after nearby towns: Floral City, Inverness and Hernando. Public boat ramps are available 1/4. mile east of the intersection of U.S. Hwy 41 and S.R. 200 (Hernando Pool); off S.R. 44, 1/2-mile east of U.S. Hwy 41 (Inverness Pool); and on Duval Island Rd. off C.R. 48, one mile east of U.S. Hwy 41 (Floral City Pool). Anglers familiar with the lake have caught respectable numbers of bass, black crappie, and bluegill. Sunshine bass provide good action for those who prefer to fish during cooler months. Live bait and a variety of artificial lures are effective for catching any of these fish.
Lake Rousseau (Withlacoochee Backwaters)
This 4,163-acre impoundment of the Withlacoochee River between the towns of Dunnellon and Inglis lies in parts of Citrus, Marion and Levy counties. This is an old reservoir filled with stumps. Hydrilla, water hyacinths, water lettuce and tussocks also may cause navigation difficulties. Despite these problems anglers still make their way to open water to drift shiners for bass; worms, crickets and grass shrimp for bluegill, shellcracker and warmouth; and minnows for speckled perch. Three public boat ramps and several fish camp ramps provide plenty of access. Bank fishing is available on the bypass channel on the northwest corner of the lake and near the main dam on the southwest corner of the lake. Access the eastern end of the lake via the Withlacoochee River at the U. S. Hwy 41 bridge in Dunnellon. A GFC ramp south of C.R. 40 on Bass Lane provides access to the western portion of the lake.
Lower Withlacoochee River
About nine miles of river downstream from Lake Rousseau. This portion of the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico at the western end of C.R. 40 near the community of Yankeetown. Bass, bluegill, shellcracker, and spotted sunfish (stumpknockers) are favorites with anglers. During cooler months trout, redfish, mangrove snapper and an occasional tarpon venture up the river. Bank fishing is available near the mouth of the river. C.R. 40 ends at a public boat ramp that provides access to the river and the Gulf.
Several springs form the headwaters of this coastal river that flows several miles west to the Gulf. The river is best known as an over-wintering area for manatee and tourists. The water is clear generally, and often anglers can see the fish they are after. Lots of small bass provide plenty of catch-and-release action in feeder creeks during the winter months. Redear sunfish, bluegill and spotted sunfish are abundant in the Kings Bay area of the headwaters. Marine species such as trout, redfish, mullet, and mangrove snapper are common in the river during cooler months. Great care should be taken while operating a boat in Kings Bay and the river. Idle zones and refuges have been established to protect manatees. A public ramp on U. S. Hwy. 19 and several marina ramps give boaters access.
Often called the Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico, it is similar to Crystal River in that springs form the headwaters and the river flows west to the Gulf. The water is not as clear as Crystal River, but fish species are much the same. Live bait fish are good for largemouth bass, redfish and trout. Earthworms, shrimp and small spinner baits are good for bream and mangrove snappers. Manatee are common in the winter months and care should be taken when operating a boat during this time. Public and private boat ramps are available.
Like Crystal and Homosassa rivers, this is a spring-fed stream that flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the river is shallow so navigation is limited to smaller fishing boats. Bass, bluegill and shellcracker fishing is best during the spring. As with other Citrus County coastal streams, marine sport fish are present during cooler weather, and manatees may use the area for thermal refuge. A public ramp near the headwaters provides boat access.