Perdido Key to Cape San Blas
Includes Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe
It seems like all of us anglers have been training for this quarantine moment our entire lives. Fishing is the perfect way to get out and spend some quality time away from the masses and enjoy the great outdoors. One thing is for sure, you can not get the virus from a fish in the Gulf of Mexico! The best bets will be sheepshead around the jetties and seawalls, pompano and whiting along the beaches, and vermillion snapper and triggerfish over the bottom wrecks. The weather should be right and the fish are hungry, get out and wet a line!
The beaches will be a great option this week and with hundreds of miles on out coastline you should be able to find plenty of space away from the next person. I like to use a two hook set rig with a two to five ounce pyramid weight and 3/0 circle hooks on the bottom. Peeled live shrimp are my favorite but a live sand flea can work just as good, too. When using sand fleas I like to use the medium to small sized ones, making sure to hook it through the little horn that folds an tucks up under the belly to keep it on the hook. Keep an eye on the rods and drags light, lots of schools of big reds have been moving through and I have already heard stories of few people losing rods to the fishing gods.
Near the passes, jetties, seawalls, and bridges the sheepshead bite is on! Time to get out there and soak some live shrimp and fiddler crabs tight to the structure and on the bottom. A Carolina rig is my favorite but a knocker rig will work too. The key to not missing a ton of bite is keeping hooks on the smaller side. A #3 gold Eagle Claw hook is small enough to keep bait stealing to a minimum, yet strong enough to land these bruisers. Taking the time to anchor in the proper position can make a big difference and in today’s day in age the ipilot trolling motors can make pin pointing the virtual anchor spots a very precise task. Be sure to use enough weight to stay on the bottom and in the strike zone. Often times anglers use enough weight to make it down but the current will carry the bait away from the hot spot and the fish. Heavier weights are usually a little better, when in doubt.
The offshore bite is heating up and if you are like me the time has come to get out and search for triggerfish for those delicious throats. Sure the fillets are great and the fight is a lot of fun, but all of that is second to the taste of the throat! Nothing beats a grilled or fried trigger throat. The bigger the fish the bigger the throat and with regulations so tight, it’s worth taking the time to find the big ones. Look for the larger fish to hold over the smaller man made stuff. The larger reefs will hold a lot more fish but the fish will have a smaller average size. It can be challenging at times to find those small man made chicken coops but when you do they are DIAMONDS and worth every minute of looking! Look for the larger fish to hold mid-water and respond to strips of squid, bonito, and northern mackerel on 50 to 60-pound Carolina rigs with eight to 12-ounce egg weights and 5-7/0 circle hooks. New anglers always jump the gun, be sure to let the fish have the bait and the rod bend over before slowly pulling back and letting the circle hook set itself. Keep an eye on the bottom machine even the smaller wrecks can hold nice sized schools of vermillion snapper this time of year and finding those clouds of fish is key. Tight lines and calm seas!