Saltwater anglers in search of unique bites would do well to add Florida’s Crystal River area to their list of destinations. Offshore or inshore, the Citrus County waters near Crystal River and Homosassa deliver world-class angling opportunities for redfish, snook, gag grouper, sea trout, cobia, tarpon and more, all amidst one of the most picturesque and pristine backdrops in all of the Sunshine State. Here, the vast and fertile St. Martin’s Marsh and Big Bend Aquatic Seagrass Preserve stretch to the horizon in multiple directions.
Will Petenbrink grew up a self-described Jacksonville beach bum, surfing and fishing from the piers and jetties and becoming addicted to redfish at an early age. He moved to Homosassa 25 years ago and fell in love with offshore fishing, which is still how he spends most of his days. Fishing out of Pete’s Pier, the contractor runs his fully Raymarine-equipped 39’ Yellowfin to and from an exhaustive list of productive fishing coordinates assembled over the past two decades.
“Crystal River has a really diverse fishery,” Petenbrink says. “From inshore snook, reds and trout to offshore for gags. We have an average water temperature of 76 degrees and that’s allowed the Crystal River fishery to flourish.” Petenbrink says his favorite games involve the area’s abundant gag grouper and American red snapper.
Raymarine Pro Ambassador, Captain Jacob Hartman, also fishes out of Pete’s Pier and the Plantation. A Crystal River native, Hartman began guiding the area waters at age 18. “It’s a career I’ll never change; it’s my passion,” he says.
Hartman say the local gag grouper bite is one of the things that make Crystal River unique. “The water stays shallow for a long time, and we’ve got an awesome shallow-water grouper fishery like no other place in the world,” he says. “You can catch gags in eight feet of water or 80 feet of water,” adds Petenbrink, who says the inshore fishing in and around Crystal River is equally special. “In addition to snook, redfish and trout, we also get an influx of permit as well.”
While Hartman has lived and fished in Crystal River his entire life, he tips his hat to Petenbrink. “Will’s an awesome dude and has become a good friend. He works really hard and is very soft-spoken and humble in spite of all his success, both as a tradesman and an angler,” says Hartman. “But when he gets a fish on the line, that energy changes really quick; he gets loud and excited. I’ve learned a ton from the guy, and when he talks I always listen.”
“A little hard work has afforded me the ability to do what I love and that’s fishing,” Petenbrink says. “I’m not going to stop anytime soon.”
Raymarine builds tools for the bold – anglers like Will Petenbrink and Captain Jacob Hartman who chase their passions on wild seas. Engineered for the unexpected, the powerful combination of Axiom, the LightHouse OS, and other Raymarine electronics and technologies allow anglers to master those seas so they can focus on the joys and rewards of the pursuit.
Go forth, set your course, push the throttles, and find your sea with Raymarine.
For more information on the Raymarine electronics, visit http://www.raymarine.com.