Perdido Key to Cape San Blas
Includes Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe
We have finally it to May in the Panhandle! What a crazy time to be alive, good news is the fish in the ocean have little to no care about what happens on land. The fish are hungry, the forecast has the seas calm, and a lot of us have some much needed free time this weekend. Late Spring early Summer is one of my favorite times to fish, blue water can be close and the bottom fish are hungry. Add in a possible bonus cobia or nice king and an amazing box of fish is very good possibility. Inshore, the trout have made the transition onto the flats and redfish are cruising the bridges and docks. Having the right bait this time of year can make a huge difference. The best bet is taking the time to go to the bait shop, cast a net, or sabiki a live well full!
This weekend looks like a great time to head out for some much needed social distancing offshore. Amberjack, vermillion snapper, lane snapper, mangrove snapper, and king mackerel should all be on your list. Keep an eye out for that brown fish (aka cobia), never know when it will pop up behind the boat or follow an amberjack up. Live bait should be easy to come by and taking an hour or two in the am to fill the live well will pay off. Look for the bait near the passes, around the buoys and over the shallow wrecks. Take care of your bait and your bait will take care of you. The less you touch your bait the better. Now that its sunscreen weather, be sure to keep your hands clean before dipping them in the livewell. Look for most of the action to come from around the larger wrecks like the Chevron, Advocet, as well as the natural ledge between 150 and 250-feet.
Inshore, the action is transition from the bayous and creeks to the flats, docks, and sandbars. Early morning will be the best time to fish the flats with top waters for trout. The most productive areas have been between three to five feet, with some action near the drop offs. Mid-morning, as the sun rises overhead, the trout bite will slow and the redfish bite will pick up around the docks. Mid-morning is a perfect time to transition to redfish. Methodically moving dock to dock is the best bet. I like to pitch live shrimp on a jig head, but Gulp! baits can work too! Just keep on the move until you find the fish. As the day really heats up, the best bet will be fishing the sandbars for Spanish mackerel. Spoons and wire leaders are the best bet, yet, thick 40 to 50lb fluorocarbon and jigs can work great too.
Further offshore, the blue water has been changing and the rain waters will continue to change things. The best bet right now is to head SW to the floating rigs. There have been a fair amount of fish around, the hard part is staying on them. They can be one place one day, and in another area the next. If you mark fish, stay and give it a good go, if not, move one until you find them. Know when to hold them and know when to fold them! Tight lines and calm seas!