Fishing Florida’s Gulf Coast at Crystal River

Catching grouper, snapper, snook and tripletail, plus hunting hogs, on Florida’s unspoiled west coast.

The grouper were so thick and hungry, even I managed to catch a few, including this one, on a (way-too-light) little Okuma Helios SX spinning reel with 12-pound braided line.Glenn Law / Saltwater Sportsman

A WELL-MANNERED MOB of outdoor journalists descended on Crystal River, intent on fishing Florida's Gulf Coast, here, during a recent cast-and-blast media event sponsored by Navionics and a host of tackle/electronics manufacturers. The event — with fishing both inshore and offshore as well as hunting hogs — offered the chance to see why fishing Florida in this part of the Sunshine State is so popular with anglers and hunters, as these photos illustrate. Whatever the season or time of year, anglers here will find fish to catch and hunters game to shoot.

Where is Crystal River? The green arrow marks the jumping-off spot to offshore reefs and rockpiles, inshore grass flats and oyster beds, and woods full of pigs, deer and turkeys.Courtesy Google Earth
Home base for the event: The Plantation on Crystal River, a sprawling, very popular resort, seen here as only a drone shot can reveal. This one was take with a GoPro Karma drone.Sport Fishing staff
Capt. Jimbo Keith nets a tripletail for Stephen Bates with Ontario Out of Doors magazine, as Rick Constantine with Cuda Tool mans the IPhone for a quick photo.Chris Woodward / Sport Fishing
Tripletail are common in these shallow coastal waters, though not always easy to catch.Chris Woodward / Sport Fishing
The "blast" part of the trip for a lucky few meant they were guests at the Ross Hammock Ranch. SF Executive Editor Chris Woodward took home some tasty cuts from this sow she shot. Navionics' Paul Michele put down a trophy boar estimated at more than 500 pounds.Chris Woodward / Sport Fishing
Lenny Rudow, author of many books and countless articles on boating and fishing, reaches for a head-shaking seatrout while fishing in back-bay shallows north of the Withlacoochee River mouth.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing
A good morning to head offshore: The channel leading out from Crystal River is clearly marked.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing
A diversion for a boat heading out, this extensive floating grassline a few miles from Crystal River offers prime hunting grounds for cobia and tripletail.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing
Light-tackle action: Red snapper in great numbers this size waited off the bottom, 50 feet down, to snap up leadhead jigs with soft plastic tails.Glenn Law / Saltwater Sportsman
Hooked up! John Bretza with Okuma puts the muscle on a bottomfish with an Azores spinner.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing
A gag grouper that grabbed a Savage Sandeel resists being landed.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing
A snook about to leap clear of the water in a backcountry bay near Crystal River for Capt. Steve Ferrell.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing
Capt. T. J. Shea reaches out to assist in the release of one of two red snappers just pulled in.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing
Fishing a soft-plastic bait in shallow grass flats near Crystal River, Florida, rewarded this angler with a speckled seatrout.Alan Jones