Perdido Key to Cape San Blas
Includes Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe
Looks like we will be somewhat back to regular Winter weather this weekend. Temperatures in 70′s during the day and 10 to 15 knot East winds will bring choppy conditions inshore and 3 to 5 foot seas offshore. If the winds stay on the lighter side it could make for a really nice weekend on the water. Inshore the best bets will be trout in the backwaters, red-fish around the bridges, and some early pompano on the beaches.
The trout bite has been pretty good and with the warmer temps the small schools of bait fish will be on the move with trout close behind. Look for the schools of minnows to show along the shorelines as the day heats up. Drifting live shrimp under a popping cork, small suspending jerk baits, and even spoons will work well. Creeks, bayous, and canals are all favorites this time of year and any intersecting creek or run off area is worth an extra cast or two.
The red-fish bite has finally slowed a little but if you are persistent and check the usual honey holes you should find some fresh fish for the grill. With the warmer weather the shallower docks have potential but the best bet for the upper slot reds will be fishing the bridges, jetties, and deeper docks near the passes. Live shrimp or cut mullet on a jig head tight to the structure and on the bottom will be hard for any red close by to pass up. The Mid Bay Bridge in Destin and the jetties near the passes in Panama City are good places to start looking.
The beaches and piers have been a little slow but the action will pick up quick in the coming months and it wont be long before people are shoulder to shoulder waiting on a Cobia. Until then the best bet will be bonito outer ends of the piers and maybe a few early pompano around the outer sandbar along the beach. Sandfleas can be hard to come by this time of year so the best bet will be fresh dead frozen shrimp.
The weather has been less then ideal for offshore fishing the last few weeks. Hopefully this weekend will be a little different. The best bets this weekend will amberjack and vermillion snapper if you’re bottom fishing and tuna and wahoo if you plan on heading SW to rigs. The name of the game will be having a variety of bait and taking the time to catch live bait in addition to cut bait.
Amberjack have been closed for a while now and if your like me your eager to get and bend a rod on some. Live baits are hard to come by this time of year but if you can find them it will be well worth the effort. The best bet is to fish medium to large live baits mid water around the larger wrecks and reefs. Stout gear and heavy leaders are must to keep these bruisers out of the wreck. Another good option is using vertical jigs to entice a reaction strike. 7-9 ounce flat sided knife jigs are my favorite and in general the quicker you jig the better. Be ready the bite can come at anytime.
If you are looking to venture a little further offshore the best bets will be wahoo around the rigs in 350-400 feet of water and tuna at the same rigs as well as the floaters. For wahoo the best bet will be pulling diving lures like x-raps and stretch 25s between 5-7 knots around the rigs. It can take a few laps around the rig before the first bite, just be patient and look for balls of bait to mark between 50-250 feet down. Often times wahoo will mark like a log holding off the backside of the bait. Keep only what you will eat fresh and release the rest for the future. Tight lines!