Florida Fishing: Historic Homosassa
Florida is replete with legendary inshore fishing destinations. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, Florida is loaded with coastal rivers, creeks, canals, inlets, reefs, waterways, bays, keys and flats. A few places sit a notch or two above the rest, for a reason. These are places with fisheries that have historically produced outstanding fishing. They are also places that have grown and matured over decades. While much of Florida's waterways south of Orlando choke on runoff from commercial development and chemical spraying to fight invasive plants, places just to the north continue to thrive, untouched by polluted water. On the Gulf coast, sits Homosassa. This is Old Florida, to this day. You can feel it. Fishermen have been traveling here for over a 100 years in search of angling nirvana. Despite the significance of the contribution that Homosassa has made to the history of Florida fishing, it still remains a hidden gem, of sorts.
While Homosassa has morphed over the past century, it has held its ground as an inshore fishing hotbed. Species like grouper, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, flounder, sea bass and triple tail abound. You have a legit shot at giant tarpon when they push through. The lynch pin to the whole fishery is the golden triangle of red drum, snook and sea trout. Having the big three inshore species at your avail throughout the year sets Homosassa well apart.
The unique quality the helps shape the coastal waters is the first magnitude freshwater spring that feeds the Homosassa River. The warm clean waters feed nutrients into the Gulf and provides shelter for cold tolerant gamefish year round. The warmth of the river has aloud the snook fishery to grow into one of the most robust and diverse in the state. There is so much life in the backcountry and on the keys that litter the coastal seascape. You could get lost fishing for days and never stop catching. A little local knowledge never hurts.
When you take a look at the history of people that have played a roll in the development of Homosassa fishing, there is a name that continues to jumps out. Toney. The Toney family has been in Homosassa for generations. They know the land and the water. The fishing knowledge that has been passed down generation after generation is rich and is very much alive today. These fishermen know every stretch, pass, canal, river, creek and key. Never have I meet a better caliber of people. Honest, humble, strong, hard working and well respected in the community. The Toney's are consummate watermen and conservationists. Getting to spend time on the water and learn how they fish is an absolute treat.
When it comes to the group of guides that define the Florida inshore fishing experience, you would be remiss to not include the Toney name. Capt. William Toney is without a doubt one of the very best. He is both river rat and osprey. He knows the waters. His instincts are razor sharp. You could take him anywhere, put a fishing rod in his hand and he is going to catch fish. Highly skilled and dialed all the way in on what is happening in the Homosassa fishery everyday of the year, William is well versed in the laws, biology, water conditions and what's driving the bite. If it is at play in the fishery, he knows about it and can articulate the finer points.
It is a distinct honor to call Capt. William Toney my friend. We have been fishing together, talking and sharing our life experiences for several years. There are very few people I enjoy fishing with as much as William. I consider myself lucky to be able to go and experience first hand the ease with which he shares what he is doing on the water and why. He has so much to share. He and I have fished for redfish, sea trout, snook, snapper, black drum, triple tail, mackerel, sea bass, grouper, grunts, sheepshead, bluegill, bass and continue to push to outer limitations of what the fishery can produce.
With an advanced degree in the outdoors and generations of Homosassa fishing know how encoded into his DNA, the inshore Florida fishing knowledge he possesses is second to no other fisherman. Captain William Toney is a great friend and a valuable part of what I like to do. Share fishing knowledge. If we can help others grow as fishermen, we have fulfilled out duty as champions of this great endeavor we call fishing. It is only through the acquisition of knowledge that we grow. Having the opportunity to learn from the very best is the ultimate reward for our investment in the sport. If you are able, take the opportunity and fish with William. You will be hooked for life. If you cannot get out with him, watch his many videos. His collection of instructional videos share his methods for catching all the big inshore fishing species found along the northern Gulf coast. Fish with the best, get the best knowledge and catch more fish.
Fish with William: http://www.homosassainshorefishing.com
Founder, In The Spread