One of my favorite places to visit, on personal vacation or filming my show, Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller, is Citrus County, Florida. Whether it’s for scalloping, swimming with the manatees, or for the fishing, Citrus County never disappoints. This area is alive with activities throughout the entire year, but in the fall, there are are some events that I highly recommend for the entire family. Citrus County is home to great seafood festivals, so if fresh seafood is up your alley keep reading. Also, to feed your fishing bug…snook season is open this time of year : ) If you’re looking to get your seafood and fishing fix, check out Citrus County.
Citrus County is a great area to nail an inshore slam…snook, trout and redfish. Two great areas to fish are Homosassa and Crystal River. One thing that stands out to me, is how untouched, and pristine it is. If you want to get away from the crowds, this is the place for you. The flats, oyster bars, and vast areas of sea grass, dotted with small islands, are constantly fed clean Gulf of Mexico water, with the tidal flow. Also, the natural springs are constantly flowing. Rocky areas near inlets and points, with moving water, provide your best bet for snook. In general, outgoing tide is optimal, along with low light conditions, sunrise and sunset. For snook, a jig head with a gulp will entice strikes, as will jerk baits. For live bait, finger mullet and ladyfish work well.
Snook Regulations in the Gulf of Mexico, Monroe County, and Everglades National Park
- Snook season is open from September 1st through December 1st.
- Snook season is closed December 1st through the end of February.
- Snook season is open from March 1st through May 1st.
- Snook season is closed May 1st through August 31st
- The size limit is not less than 28’’ total length or more than 33’’ total length
- The bag limit is 1 per harvester per day; zero captain and crew for hire limit
One thing that has kept this fishery alive is that it’s illegal to buy or sell snook, you need to catch your own. Our Florida snook fishery is so great here in Florida, that I release most of the fish we catch, but sometimes I will keep one for the dinner table. Here’s a simple recipe:
- 4 boneless snook fillets
- 1 stick of unsalted butter
- Blackening season
- Cast ron skillet
- Heat the skillet until it’s extremely hot, smoking
- Melt your butter and dip the fillets into the butter, coat with blackening seasoning
- Place the fillets onto the skillet, all while pouring more melted butter
- Cook each side for a 2-3 minutes, the fish should have a thick blackened crust
- Serve with lemons
Stone crab season is a very special time in Florida. The season runs from October 15 each year through May 15, and visitors flock from all over to eat delicious stone crab claws
In Citrus County, here a couple of festivals to sample fresh stone crab and other seafood.
10th annual Stone Crab Jam in Crystal River November 4th, 2017
- Open street festival in Historic Downtown Crystal River. The streets are closed to showcase food, craft vendors and artists, along with wine, beer and spirits.
- Live music with 6 bands, 3 separate stages
- Presented by the Kings Bay Rotary Crystal River, ‘Charitable Foundation’ supported 100% by volunteers and sponsors. 100% of the Stone Crab Jam proceeds are donated to area non-profits, charitable organizations, scholarships and international projects. Over 8,000 attend every year!
Homosassa Seafood Festival November 11-12, 2017
- Showcases art and creative crafts like watercolors, drawings photography, lithography, hand crafts, jewelry, bead work, leather, candles, shell craft, driftwood
- Unique foods such as conch, catfish, gator tail, grouper, shrimp, lobster
- Live entertainment
- Proceeds supports charitable organizations such as children centers, schools, veterans organizations, boys and girls clubs and scholarships
When I visit the area, my favorite place to stay is the Plantation on Crystal River and fish with the local guides.
For fishing, some top notch local captains include Capt. Brandon Branch, Capt. Clay Shidler and Capt. William Toney
For more activities and information about Citrus County, visit the Discover Crystal River website