Perdido Key to Cape San Blas
Includes Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe
It’s going to be another typical balmy summer weekend in July. Looks the the pattern of morning showers offshore and PM showers onshore will continue. The forecast has light winds through the entire weekend, but it could be a different story around the storms. Redfish have been a little tough this last week, but there is plenty of other action to be had. The best bet in the mornings has been spanish mackerel in the bays, beaches, and shoals just outside the passes. Another good bet is speckled trout. Early in the morning the bite on the flats has been good, but if you want to do something a little different and dog the hot heat from the summer sun, dock fishing at night is the way to go.
The bait has shown back up in good numbers and with it the king mackerel and spanish mackerel have followed. In the bays the Spanish bite has been hot on a hide tide. Look for schools crashing bait on your way to the passes. A flashy jig or spoon with a short piece of wire leader will keep these toothy critters hooked up and keep you from having to retie as much. As the tide moves out look for the majority of the action to come from the shoals just outside the passes and along the outer sandbars down the beach. Jigs and spoons work great for sight casting. Trolling four to five knots can be productive when the fish are not on the surface. I like to use smaller X-Rap lures and spec rigs. Once you hook one doubling back on the same area can help you stay over the school.
Spending an early morning on the flats throwing topwater lures or popping corks as the sun comes up is hard to beat. The trout bite has been pretty good and the shallower flats seem to shut down a little quicker than deeper ones, but one thing is sure. When the daytime sun is overhead the bite has slowed to almost nothing. A great option is fishing the bridges and docks with lights. With a hundred plus miles of Intracoastal waterway in our area there are plenty of docks with lights. These night time hot spots can be a blast to fish. Just be sure to be safe and be curtious to the owners property. Night fishing I like to use a free lined live shrimp or menhaden. Look for the bigger fish to lay in waiting along the edges of the shadow. If the baits are small a popping cork with a three foot leader will help make the longer cast. Double check those running lights before leaving!
The offshore weather has been the toughest hurdle the last week with scattered storms and a confused sea, the conditions have been tough. The current has been strong one day and lighter others, but seems to be trending towards backing off. The bite has been pretty good for red snapper and the key has been staying on the move until you find a spot with cooperating fish. The king bite has also been steady and it seems spending the time to catch live bait will make a difference for those tougher days. A few wahoo have been around and it never hurts to pull a couple of baits when you can.
Red snapper can start to get finicky this time of year. The abundance of bait has most fish with full bellies all day. Having live baits may make a difference but the best bet is staying on the move until you find the group that is ready to eat. Look for the larger fish to hold higher in the water column. I use a 80-pound fluorocarbon leader, but some people will downsize their leaders to 50-pound to get weary fish to bite. It’s always worth dropping a few baits to the bottom. Almost any wreck and reef in our area has the potential to hold gag grouper and the live reef areas may have a red grouper too.
The king mackerel bite has been great this last week and while trolling traditional lures and spoons will work, live baiting has been the key to a lot of action. In closer to shore the fish have been a little more weary and lighter leaders in the 40-pound area have been the key. Out deeper using heavier steel leaders around 60-pound is a better bet. Keep eye out for any debris around, a few nice wahoo have been caught and a couple anglers are reporting nice tripletail. It looks like the closest blue water is near Nakika, so long runs are a must if you’re looking to find a pelagic. Good news is there have been a ton of flying fish near the edge and with the bait should come the bigger fish. Its worth dragging a couple of lures if your fishing in the area. Tight lines and calms seas!