Friday, December 18, 2009

Panhandle Fishing Report 12-14-09

Report for 12/14/2009

Salt Water

If you pick your days carefully and the weather gods allow, reports still have the grouper hitting at the 120’ mark. Big cuts of Bonita and butter flied whole northern mackerel were working well on 80lb fluorocarbon with 10/0 size circle hooks on a Carolina rig. Jigging will also bring in the fish, using either Shimano butterfly jigs or the braid slammer jig.

No change here, the best spots for trout is increasingly the intercoastal canal. Anglers are using live shrimp on a 3/8 oz jig head and having good success. The late afternoon in the PSJ Marina is a great second choice if you are bound to the shore. St Joseph Bay is still producing trout in good numbers, but the big news is the larger redfish are biting well in nearly all of the deeper holes and channels. The whiting continue to be the fish you can count on in the surf with the best numbers being caught off Crooked Island and Mexico Beach.

The Flounder numbers remain good over the inshore wrecks. Use live bull minnows, shrimp or pilchards on a Carolina rig and target the edges of the wrecks. Redfish are starting to move offshore, some are being caught along the beach and in the pass. Amberjack are closed in Federal waters Oct. 24 through the end of the year, state waters are still open, and remember the new 30 inch length limit. Grouper are being found well offshore from 20 plus miles out, best bet is to use large live baits.

The White Trout bite is still very good. They can be found in deep water under the Hathaway and Tyndall Bridges. Use live shrimp on a Carolina rig for best results. The Redfish action is heating up on the flats in East and West Bays. Slowly and quietly drift the flats in 3 feet or less water using a ½ ounce Gold Spoon or your favorite Top-water Plug. The Bull Reds are still being caught with live shrimp and pinfish around the jetties. Speckled Trout are starting to move into the Intracoastal Waterway, creeks and bayous. Use live shrimp fished on the bottom for best results.

boys with pompano

boy and dad with pompano


The Pompano are still in the surf. There have been some reports of a few good fish being caught. Best baits remain live or frozen sand fleas and live and frozen shrimp. Pompano jigs will catch them too. The Bonito are in the surf as well. Any bright colored lure worked fast will catch them. As the water continues to cool the Spanish Mackerel and Skipjack will start to move south. There are still a fair amount of Bluefish to be caught. Bright spoons, Gotcha plugs, Straw Rigs, Top Water and regular plugs will catch them. Live and frozen Shrimp is always a good bait choice. Redfish have showed up on the beach. Some will be slot size fish but for the most part they will be over the slot. Live, frozen and cut baits, especially cut mullet will catch them. There have been reports of the occasional Flounder being caught, some will be some nice fish over five pounds. Best baits are Tiger, Bull minnows and live finger Mullet. Don’t forget about the Whiting. The bull Whiting can get up to two pounds and make great table fare. Try peeling your shrimp when fishing for the Whiting. There have been some reports of some Sheepshead being caught; most have been caught on sand fleas, fiddler crabs and shrimp.

Trout have started to migrate up the rivers and into the bayous, but there are some still on the grass flats. You can catch your biggest Trout early and late in the day on top water baits and on live baits in the bayous and bayou channels. Live Shrimp and Mullet are the best baits to use this time of year to catch these Trout. Try fishing the deeper holes and bends in the rivers as the water gets colder. Redfish will remain in the sound and bays a little longer. Redfish can be caught on the same live baits and artificial lures will take their share of fish. Work all visible and underwater structure to increase your chances at hooking up with a red. Flounder and Sheepshead can all be caught in the bay this time of year. Finger Mullet, Bull Minnows and Tiger Minnows are hard to beat for the Flounder and Sheepshead can’t resist a small fiddler crab or live shrimp. Tie on a 12” piece of 12# to 20# fluorocarbon leader, a #1 hook, ¼ to ½oz sinker and a live shrimp or live Fiddler crab. This rig is a Sheepshead killer, always use as light as weight as possible with this rig. The upper part of east Bay has been good for Redfish and Trout. Try fishing around the power lines and the surrounding oyster bars.

There have been some reports of the Flounder on the near shore wrecks within one or two miles of the beach. Live finger Mullet, Tiger Minnows and Bull Minnows are great baits to use. The big Redfish are in the pass. Jigs, cut bait and live bait all take these fish. You may encounter a slot Red while fishing, but be sure to put the big ones back. This is a good time of year to look for the big schools of Redfish to be on top in the pass, just outside the pass and within one or two miles of the beach. Try looking for birds working the schools. Throw top water baits for some great action or a large spoon or jig. For the fly rod enthusiasts this is prime time. Any pattern that imitates a large baitfish will serve you well. Live baits will catch them to.

The bottom fishing for Amberjack and Grouper remains very good. Live bait and frozen bait will work on the Grouper. Jigging with a Butterfly jig or fishing with live Hardtails remains a good tactic to catch the Amberjack. I have had some good reports of Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna being caught around the offshore oil platforms. Jigging, chumming and trolling are all effective in taking these fish

Fresh Water
The stripers and hybrid bass are active in the intercoastal, and can be caught using silver grubs on a ¼ ox jig head, live shrimp on a jig head, or a rattletrap. Look for these fish on an incoming tide behind structure. A strong current is best for these fighters. Note: Striper and hybrid have not been very active in the recent past. It is my understanding that officials no longer stock these fish. However, this is the report as I received it.

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.

This report is dedicated to the memory of Al Hubbard.
Al Hubbard was a field editor for Florida Sportsman magazine, an outdoor writer for the News Herald and a board member of the Florida Outdoor Writer's Association.
Mr. Hubbard was also the owner of Al's Outdoors Outfitting Services.

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