Perdido Key to Cape San Blas
Includes Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe
WOW, it’s going to be a really nice weekend. Temperatures will be down a little, light winds, and calm seas. The biggest challenge will be deciding what to fish for. The blue water reports have been pretty good with mahi, wahoo, tuna, and billfish all making regular showings. Bottom fishing can be slow this time of year, but not this year, the bite has been hot. Nearshore fishing has also been good, with king mackerel and some really nice sized spanish mackerel. Inshore, the trout bite has been good early morning over the flats along the Intracoastal. Around the bridges and in the backwaters the redfish bite has been steady with some nice slot sized fish being caught.
As far as calm seas go this weekend is about as good as it gets. Nothing like long trips overnight in Gulf of Mexico when its absolutely flat. Blue water fishing has been pretty good with some amazing reports coming from a few different areas. The rigs are always a good bet and some nice sized tuna are being caught at the closer floating rigs. Live bait has been the best bet and having enough to throw “freebies” always helps. If the bite slows or the fish are cooperating switching to chunking may work better. There have been a few weed-lines around, they all have potential and are great places to pick up bait too!
If you are heading out to bottom fish the key will be taking the time to catch live bait. It has been a little hard to come by, but with a little searching you should be able to find plenty. The vermillion snapper bite has been good with a lot of fish coming from wrecks in 100-feet and over natural bottom and ledges in 175-300 feet. Small cut squid and northern mackerel are my favorites. Light leaders catch more fish, just be prepared to break a fish off if you hook something large. Amberjack are open and the same areas that hold nice vermillion will hold amberjack. Large live baits and heavy leaders will keep these fish biting and coming to the boat. If bait is hard to come by, vertical jigging can work in replacement. One tip is the more people jigging the better the response from the fish can be. Look for clouds of vermillion on the bottom and amberjack mid water.
Nearshore, the king mackerel and Spanish mackerel bite has been really good. Live baiting seems to be the best bet, but trolling spoons and diving plugs will work too. Planner boards are an old trick but can work great, especially when using dead baits behind duster rigs. As the tide moves in the bait will follow, and following the bait will be the mackerel. The falling tide is my favorite and this time of year bonus fish like mahi-mahi and even sailfish can be caught when the tide line is out in the Gulf.
Inshore, the best bet will be hitting the flats early morning and then moving to the backwaters and fishing the grass shores for redfish. The cooler brackish waters near the creeks and rivers can be a great place to drift live shrimp or drag mud minnows on the bottom for redfish and flounder. The key to this weekend will just be getting out there and wetting a line!