Perdido Key to Cape San Blas
Includes Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe
This past week was brisk to say the least. Even with the cold air around in the mornings the sunny afternoons and calm seas this weekend should make up for it. Its been a pretty typical Spring with short runs of hungry fish. It should only get better in the coming weeks and the only way to catch them is to get out and give it a try. Around the bridges, jetties, and deeper docks red-fish and sheepshead will be the target species. Along the beaches we have had few good runs of pompano and some mixed in whiting and red-fish. It wont be long before it all picks up and species like spanish and king mackerel follow the bait in.
The bridges, jetties, and deeper docks and sea walls are the best bets right now for sheepshead and red-fish. Sheepshead have really started to bite well the last week and everyone can appreciate the drag pull of these fish on a light tackle rod. The best bet will be using a Carolina rig with 1/2-1oz egg weight and a live shrimp or fiddler crab on a 3-4/0 khale or circle hook. The red-fish bite is also heating up and some anglers are sight fishing them on the flats or bars near the passes. With the water super clear its easy to spot these small schools cruising the bottoms with a good pair of polarized glasses. I like to throw a 1/2-1oz buck-tail jig tipped with a live shrimp. The heavier weights will allow you to cast further. Keep an eye out along the outer bars for that bonus cobia.
The action on the beaches should heat up as the winds switch and blow out of the South. The pompano bite has been hit and miss, but those that have caught it right have had some pretty great reports. There have been a few whiting mixed in but not much yet. Spanish should show any time and I would bet this weekend will be the time. The best bet will be fishing two drop set rigs around the outer bar with live sand-fleas or fresh dead shrimp. Stagger your rods at different distances, one day they may like to be further out while others they will be tight to the shore.
The offshore bite has been pretty good and with trigger-fish open it makes the runs worth it for delicious trigger-fish throats. The vermillion snapper bite is getting better and it wont be long before groupers open back up. The blue water is getting close and this is the time of the year when almost anything can happen. Very few people have had a chance to get out with the rough weather, but my money is on some pretty epic reports in the coming days.
Trigger-fish seem to be everywhere and with only one per person you want to get the best out of your experience and that means finding the big ones! Lots of times the larger reefs will hold lots of triggers but the average size will be on the smaller side. I prefer to fish small chicken coupe style wrecks, pyramids are also a good choice. It seems like the smaller stuff will hold less fish but the size average is a lot bigger. Both cut squid and mackerel will work on two drop rigs, but if your after the big one, a Carolina rig and single hooks will be the way to go. Look for the bigger fish to hold higher in the water column, while the smaller ones will stick tighter to the structure.
The blue water bite has been a little slow, yet very few people have had a chance to get out. It looks like some pretty decent water has pushed just South of the Nipple and with a little Southern wind it should get closer. Wahoo, black-fin, and yellow-fin are all possible, you just have to get out and wet a line. Tight lines and calm seas!