Capt. Chris and I decided to pack the boys (our 12 year old sons) and the boat and head the 53 miles north to Homosassa. This was the first time I had ever been out in these waters and many years since Cap. Chris had. To say this was about exploring is an understatement. We arrived at MacRae’s Marina at 6:00 a.m. which is what was recommended by the helpful bait shop attendant who answered the phone a few days earlier. We found the public ramp at MacRae’s to be more than adequate and as the attendant had mentioned, being early, we had the place to ourselves. The launch is about 5 miles upriver from the Gulf but very easily navigable as it is lined with markers. There are rocks and shallow spots on both sides of the markers so make sure you stay in them. Once out of the river we had a sense of, “what now”, as we looked out to the expanse of Homosassa Bay. We could see spoil Islands north and south of us with huge flats between. As we looked south we saw a very unusual pontoon boat with an extra large shrimp on its roof. As we got closer we could see the letters painted on the broad side of the homemade shelter - “LIVE BAIT”. After a brief discussion we made our way towards the “shrimp boat”. The lady running the “shrimp boat” was real old Florida. She is an artist making ends meet selling live bait to the boats that come out of the river. She has her own little island just inside the mouth of the river and lives a simple, slow Florida life. The best part is, she knows these waters better than anyone out there. After a few minutes talking she helped us on our way with a few little tips and an area to begin looking. With the shallow waters of a low tide and not being familiar with the area, we took it somewhat slow. We decided we were going to give the spoil islands a try or at least move towards them as the water rose. Shallower and shallower until, scrape! Yes indeed. We learned that the bottom in Homosassa area is limestone. Yes all of it. Fortunately we were already at idle and it did not cause any damage. Just remember when you go to trim up over those flats. Going a little further south put us in site of the Captains’ fleet. This let us know we were on the right track. We set the boys up with live shrimp and sent them out about 9 inches under a popping cork. Cat fish!!! Time to move. We putted around for a while without seeing many signs of life. The one thing we did see was boat after boat heading directly offshore. With the action slow we decided to see what was out there. A mile or so out we knew. SCALLOPS!!!! Boat after boat, right next to one another, all chasing the tasty little filters. The water was rising though and we weren’t here for scallops. We ran back inside to find the tide had risen nicely and there was now a lot of activity, particularly around the spoils. As we slow trolled around them we started to notice a pattern. Every point we came across had nice school of mullet, and right behind the mullet, a redfish or two. The decision was made to set up on the next point. Nice and quiet we got into position. Put the biggest shrimp we could find on a hook and sent it into the cloud of mullet. The first one to get nailed was Capt. Chris’s son. ZZZZZ went the lines. Nice 20 incher in the boat. Then moments later ZZZZZZZZZ, my son is hooked up and the rod is bent. After a short tussle, another 20 incher in the boat. The fish moved off and so did we. Setting up on the next point, then the next. All said and done the boys caught three nice redfish. Saw more turtles than we could count, and got to check out an area of Florida that clearly takes you back to a time past. On the ride back in it was agreed, we MUST fish this area again. Just our luck, the Coastal Redfish Tour will be making a stop there in January. We may not be able to buy bait from her this time, but we will for sure stop by to say hi to the “shrimp boat” lady. Tight Lines!!