Hernando County Fishing Report By: Capt. Joel Gant

Tips for the Nature Coast

Fishing the Nature Coast can be challenging. It takes time to learn an area. Knowing where to go, what to use and when to go to catch some fish. Being a Charter Captain, I get asked these questions all the time. In this article I would like to share some tips I’ve learned and use on my trips.

Off Hernando Beach, the channel can be very productive. Cobia, trout, bluefish, redfish, mackerel and many other species can be caught there. Work the rock edges and cuts. I like a jig/jerk bait or topwater bait. Then you have the marked rocks (North rock, Middle rock, South rock, Cutters and don’t forget the new reef balls).  Here you can anchor and throw jigs or shrimp on a hook. I also love to drift fish these areas. Drift fishing can be very productive and it’s easy.  You can cover a lot of ground with this tactic. As long as you have some wind or current to drift, not too slow or too fast (one mph give or take). I like to use a 1/4 oz jig with either a jerkbait or a 3-inch gulp (everything eats gulps). Throw the bait as far as you can in the opposite direction your moving and let it get to the bottom and quick twitch it two or three times, then let it drop back to the bottom without reeling until you feel a hit. Always keep an eye on your fishfinder and you will pick up some new spots. Another tip for drifting is raise the outboard motor and you will drift sideways. This makes it easier for everyone to fish from the side rather than the back. As far as when to go, I like before or just after a high tide. With the rocks and shallow water at low tide, I find it much better fishing and I keep my lower unit in one piece–I’ve hit rocks way too many times.

Offshore fishing has been a challenge with the cold fronts, wind and dirty water. For those willing to take on this challenge, there are still a lot of fish to be caught. Grey snapper, grunts, sea bass, gag grouper (can’t keep because it’s seasonal) and red grouper are still being caught regularly. Look for them at your rock piles in 20 to 60 feet. Once we start getting some steady warm weather, the Spanish mackerel, kingfish, cobia and sharks will be moving into the near shore areas.

Get out there on the water and make some memories with friends and family!