Perdido Key to Cape San Blas
Includes Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe
Looks likes a pretty typical weekend ahead for us. Rain early on diminishing on Sunday with switching winds from 5 to 15 knots. It might get a little bumpy out there but it shouldn’t get too bad. Just be sure to keep an eye on the radar for the larger storms. The bests right now are red-fish around the bridges, trout on the flats, and spanish mackerel on the beaches. Be sure to play it safe, Florida has more lightning strikes then anywhere in the country. Most lightning will come from the larger storms, but clear skies can still have a charge and produce lightning. Be safe!
Spanish mackerel fishing is about as good as it gets right now and most anglers that put in the time should be able to catch a nice box of fish. With the rain the last few weeks the out flow near the passes may bring some dirty water out on the falling tides. The cleaner water or the tide lines may be the best bet. Find the bait and you should find the fish. A variety of baits will work and changing it up when things slow will generate another bite or two. Casting gotcha plugs to crashing schools on the surface is always a good time. When the fish are deeper its time to put the baits where the fish are. Diving lures like X-raps or spoons and duster rigs behind planner boards work great for deep fish. There is a reason some techniques have been around for along time, because they work!
The trout action on the flats the last week has been really good. Local Captains are reporting the best bite earlier in the morning on the shallower flats. Live shrimp and minnows are working well under a popping cork or free lined when the conditions are right. Top waters and shallow suspending crank baits will catch more fish when the bite it on. Plus the longer cast will allow you to cover more water. As the day heats up look for the fish to move to the deeper part of the flats or closer to the deeper channels.
As the day heats up or the winds down the red-fish bite will be getting good around the deeper docks and bridges. It seems like mid day and early evening will be the best bets. A jig head tipped with live shrimp and fished on the bottom and near the structure should find the fish. Keep an eye on the surface in the evenings. Large schools of reds have been popping up for short feeding frenzies and can be a blast if your in the right spot at the right time.
The offshore bite has been good and I think it will get even better in the coming weeks. Look for red snapper over the smaller wrecks and reefs in 80-150ft, scamp over natural bottom in 200-350ft, and vermillion snapper in between over natural and man made structure in 125-200ft. As far as pelagics go there have been lots of kings and bonito around close and some tuna at the deeper floating rigs.
When it comes to late season red snapper fishing having a variety of bait, both dead and live is key. Catching live bait can take up some time but when the bite offshore is slow it is well worth it. Look for the larger red snapper to hold higher in the water column and respond well to dead menhaden and northern mackerel. Large live cigar minnows and medium sized hard-tails work great too. Lighter leaders will get more bites, just be prepared to loose a few fish. When the bite is really hot free lining dead baits may be the ticket to the big one! Free lining baits is also a great way to catch a king or cobia too!
In deeper water look for vermillion snapper to cloud up on the bottom. Small cut dead baits like northern mackerel and squid works great and the more people fishing for them the more they will fire up. Light leaders in the 40-60lb range and small circle hooks on a 2 drop rig is the standard. Slip leads and small live baits will get the larger vermillion to bite along with the scamp grouper. Be sure keep your baits on or very close to the bottom.
It looks like the best bet for blue water is going to be 120nm+ South West. The deeper floaters are holding tuna and the drill ship will be most peoples first choice if you can make the run. Be sure to have a live well full of bait. Never know when the bite will turn on and not having it may result in missed opportunities. Tight lines!