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What a year! 2008 was definitely one for the record books. There were record amounts of Redfish, Speckled Trout, Sheephead, Spanish Mackerel, Bonita, Grouper and Sharks all roaming our local area flats. Most of these fish were larger, roamed the area in bigger schools, had a more ferocious mentality and unbelievably remained here in droves well beyond there supposed seasons. Because of our unseasonably warm weather during the months of November and December we are now fishing our spring patterns for most of these fish especially the Redfish and Trout. It’s hard to believe but our first seven days of January all recorded record highs for this time of year. Upper 70’s and 80’s for January are you serious? Not only am I serious but I am just as shocked as most of the folks in the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">US</st1:place></st1:country-region>. It’s because of these warm temps that <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:state w:st="on">Florida</st1:state></st1:place>’s inshore-fishing is rated #1 in the world for the months of January and February.

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During the months of January and February Florida and especially the areas along the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Nature</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Coast</st1:placetype></st1:place> boast some of greatest fishing found anywhere in the world. In the Crystal River and Homosassa areas we are already beginning to see large numbers of migrating “World Record Sized” Black Drum, along with tons of schools of Redfish, Speckled Trout, Bluefish and Bonita just to name a few. There are also still plenty of Sharks, Tarpon, Mangrove Snapper, Permit and Pompano ready to take a live shrimp, jig or fly. The sight casting during this time of year is also topnotch, with very little rain entering the area our local flats remain gin clear until the strong winds of late April. Throwing spoons and fly’s for shallow feeding Redfish and Speckled Trout is A+ number one on the lists of most of my clients. With water temps still remaining well above normal these Redfish and Speckled Trout are not having to campout in deep holes to find a consistent water temp. These fish are roaming water as shallow as 6-10 inches making picking and choosing your next battles a fun and exhilarating experience.

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On a few recent trips, Todd Dobrynski of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Leesburg</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">FL</st1:state></st1:place> booked me for 5 days during late December into January and boy was he rewarded with some of the best fishing days of his life. We had 2 great days in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Crystal</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">River</st1:placename></st1:place> catching everything from Snook to Redfish, from Speckled Trout to Sheephead, most of which were sight casted using artificials or live shrimp. As good as the fishing was in <st1:placename w:st="on">Crystal</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">River</st1:placename> we decided to venture to a few different locations up and down the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Nature</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Coast</st1:placetype></st1:place>. Day 3 was spent in the Yankeetown area near Wacasassa. Our goal was to put a large Black Drum on the end of the rod but the tailing Redfish and the massive schools of Speckled Trout changed our minds quickly. By days end Todd sight-casted 4 keeper Reds and over 40 Speckled Trout. More than half would have been keepers but as always Todd and I practiced catch-and-release on this trip.

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Day 4 and 5 were so memorable that I know I am going to need a whole paragraph just to tell this story. As good as our 3 previous days of fishing had been in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Crystal</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">River</st1:placename></st1:place> and Yankeetown areas, I had promised Todd to take him on a trip to New Port Richey. New Port Richey is about 45 minutes south of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Crystal</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">River</st1:placename></st1:place> and is a playground for me and my clients when ever the opportunity arises. I only sight cast Redfish out of my 17ft Pathfinder here because the water is so clear and so shallow that sight casting can be as good as it gets here in the state of Florida. We started Day 4 by driving across wet mud in order to get to our staging ground for these tailing Reds that I had been promising. The only problem was the strong east wind that dropped all of the water out of my favorite creeks. For most boats this would be a problem but for my 17 Pathfinder tunnel this is what this boat is made for. As long as the mud is wet you can pole in it. Although the tide was low I managed to get us into an area that I knew had a few deep potholes, and on the edges of this pothole we finally saw what we came here for. A school of over 40-50 Redfish swimming around the edges of the pothole. We must have sat there for an hour yanking in one after another all barely in the 27” slot or over. And as if that wasn’t good enough as the tide started to flood the rest of the Reds that were in other potholes in this creek began to filter out onto the flats which I originally was going to fish. For the next 3 hours I poled Todd around to all 100+ Redfish that were tailing on this shallow flat throwing a Johnson Silver Spoon. We caught some, we missed some but overall it was one of the best days of the year for 2008.

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To make the story even better we went back to the same flat a week later and did it all over again. Making this already one of the best days for me in 2009. As you can see 2008 was great but my expectations are though the roof for 2009. So please feel free to join me and create your own fishing memory with my self Captain Kyle Messier of Red Hot Fishing Charters.

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