Friday, April 10, 2009

Panhandle Fishing Report 4-10-09

Report for 04/10/2009

Salt Water

The Spanish are still here in good numbers and are along the buoy line and at Crooked Island. The bluefish are with them so you can have some great fun right now trolling mackerel trees and throwing speck rigs and gotcha plugs. Some good red grouper reports coming in from offshore in and around 175’ mark. Remember, only one red grouper per person bag limit in federal waters. Live bait is still a little tough to catch, but well worth the effort as they are definitely bringing in the bigger fish. A few cobias spotted in the bell shoals area, but no report of any caught.

The heavy weather has subsided but anglers continue to deal with some high wind this week and reports say the Spanish mackerel are moving around inside St Joseph Bay from the buoy line to Blacks Island. The best catches are reported in the two channels on either side of the island. Trolling mackerel rigs and Clark spoons about 5 knots will work well, or sight casting Gotcha, plugs towards surface activity. The flounder bite is still happening around the deeper holes near the head of the bay and around Black’s Island. Several nice size trout and redfish were caught this week on live shrimp rigged under a Cajun Thunder float and this action was on the flats between Presnell’s and Blacks Island.

The Cobia bite has been pretty good when the weather has allowed. Most fish are being caught several hundred yards from shore in cleaner water. Spanish Mackerel remain just offshore and are being caught trolling a little deeper because of the off colored water. The Black and Gag Grouper season is open now. Lots of big AJ’s are still being caught around the 100 foot mark over bridge spans and large wrecks

The bay water is still somewhat stained. Sheepshead are still being caught at the jetties. Live Shrimp or Fiddler Crabs are best. Spanish Mackerel have slowed down in the bay but can be caught trolling or casting. Some small schools of redfish have been found on the flats in West Bay; while Bull Reds are still being caught with live shrimp and pin fish around the jetties. Trout are being caught on the flats with topwater lures early and live shrimp under a cork later.

Kings are here!!! On Monday afternoon Adrian Stanley caught a 40lb king off the Okaloosa Island Pier. There have been good numbers of Spanish a few cobia and a few pompano being caught most days. The water has become stained from the run off of all the rain but hopefully that will clear in a day or two. In the bay trolling for Spanish is good in the harbor and around the Destin Bridge and crab island. There are some reds being caught around the bridge and coast guard station. The trout have been best near Mack and Hogtown bayou. In the gulf a steady bite of Spanish along the east beach, some cobia sight fishing and some kings trolling in the broken bottom. Farther offshore the grouper and amberjack have been biting on butterfly jigs. In the surf the pompano bite has been good on the east side of the Destin near the jetties and Henderson Park. To the west the pompano are good near the beaches of Navarre and the National Seashore. Picture courtesy of the Island Pier blog site.

big king mackerel


The surf has been extremely rough the last week making it tough just to keep your line in the water. Even so area anglers are still catching respectable numbers of Pompano, Whiting, Redfish, Black Drum and the occasional Sheepshead. Best baits remain live or frozen sand fleas and live or frozen shrimp. Try a two hook rig with a two to five ounce pyramid weights to keep your bait planted on the bottom. Some fish have come from the other side of the sand bar, but I would still fish the deeper holes and breaks. Some of the Redfish will be slot size fish but for the most part they will be over the slot. Cut mullet is a very effective baits for the Reds. Don’t forget about the Whiting. The bulls can get up to two pounds and make great table fare. Try peeling your shrimp when fishing for them. Spanish Mackerel are being caught at the Okaloosa Island pier, and as the water continues to calm down it should begin to clear up. This will open up some sight fishing opportunities for these speedsters. As stated last week, the traditional bubble rig is a great way to locate these fish. A 1/2oz silver spoon ripped through the surf is also a deadly tactic.

The fishing action this week should improve somewhat if for no other reason that the forecast is more sun and less rain. That said we should expect to find Sheephead and Redfish still around the bridge and the deeper docks in the sound. Live shrimp is the best bait for both fish. Near the bridges most fish are being caught on a Carolina rig with just enough weight to keep the shrimp on the bottom. Near the deeper docks fish live shrimp with just a spit shot to give you a little weight for casting distance and get you to the bottom for Sheepshead and Reds. Gold spoons in ¼ to ½ oz is still the lure of choice when blind casting in the choppy waters we have been experiencing lately, but some really nice Reds have been caught on the GULP shrimp baits. The Trout have moved back into the deeper waters of local canals and along the deeper drop-offs near the grassflats. Expect them to move right back on the grassflats when the weather improves. For the Trout in the deeper holes MirroLurre Mirrodine or MirroLures Mirrominnow suspending twitch bait is a great choice to get to the trout. Live bait fisherman will also see success with live shrimp under a popping cork early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

The Cobia action has not slowed down much this week with both the Okaloosa and Pensacola Piers reporting catches almost daily. The Cobia fishing should improve as the weather starts to calm down. The anglers waiting for the Cobia to show up has been kept busy with small schools of Spanish mackerel. Got-Cha jigs and Bubble rigs have been the go to bait, but 1/2oz silver spoons have also been catching their fair share. Bull Reds are still in the passes along with scores of Sheepshead. Try cut Mullet and cigar minnows for the Redfish and live shrimp and Fiddler crabs, both will get the job done on the Sheepshead. The Flounder are slowly starting to migrate back inshore. They are starting to show up in greater numbers along area wrecks within a couple of miles of the shoreline. Live Finger Mullet, Bull minnows and Tiger minnows have been the key baits.

Cobia has received the most attention this week considering the rough water we have been experiencing. Those brave enough to venture out are landing some nice fish up to and over the 60 pound mark. Those that went out, before it got to rough, were reporting a slow down on the near shore reefs and wrecks with the exceptions of small Amberjacks. They seem to be almost everywhere. Venturing a little farther out in 100’ plus will garner you with Red and Scamp Grouper, Triggers and Mingos. Gag Grouper have also been in the mix as well, remember that the season opened April1st. That leaves AJ’s. Most of the big ones are being caught well off shore in 140” plus depth over wrecks. No one has caught any King mackerel trolling but a few bottom fishermen have caught a couple while drifting 20 plus miles out or so. It won’t be long before we see them being caught near the beach.

Fresh Water
With flood conditions, freshwater fishing is virtually non-existent in Gulf County this week. However many locals are having fantastic luck with Shellcracker and other sunfish species. With the water so high, these fishes are foraging for food in unexplored areas. Near Howard’s Creek, anglers are literally able to stand in the middle of the road and cast to these fish. Of course the floodwater will recede in a few days and anglers will have leave the highway and return to the original shoreline to fish.

Half Hitch Tackle
2206 Thomas Dr
Panama City, FL 32408

Fishing Report prepared by Half Hitch Tackle Staff.

The Captains Corner Fishing Report is provided by local charter captains and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Half Hitch Tackle.

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