Friday, April 16, 2010

Panhandle Fishing Report 4-16-10

Report for 04/15/2010

Salt Water

Again this week reports say Red, Gag grouper are biting from the South between eighty, and one hundred fifty feet of water and large live baits is your best bet for these fishes. Of course, those of you who enjoy sport fishing (catch and release) will be pleased at the abundance of Red Snapper. Reports tell us that many of these snappers are rather large and will put up a great fight. I suggest that you take advantage of this species and its’ abundance to try out light tackle bottom fishing. Light tackle fishing will be more fun than you might imagine. Not only will you be able to improve your technique but actually put the sport back into your angling. The Shimano butterfly jigging system is tailor made for this and many of you will be surprised just how tough some of Penn’s smaller scale reels are too. The “conquer” new from Penn is an incredibly well designed reel with tough enough components to land large fish.

This is a fantastic week in fishing. Water temperatures are hovering between 68° and 71° and the weather is perfect. We have solid reports of cobia around Crooked Island Sound; Pompano are running along the beaches from Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas. Not to mention the Spanish mackerel are biting like there is no tomorrow. Large redfish are holding near the Tapper Bridge in the intercostal waterway. St Joe bay is ripe with flounder and we have many reports of large trout caught. In fact, the only people not catching fish this week are the ones who did not go. Have fun!

pompano on the floor

Greg Beach sent in the picture of a nice Pompano catch.

Cobia fishing has been off the hook. It looks like the cold winter has helped a lot. The fish have been weighing in on the small side, but the numbers have been great. Several boats have reported catching as many as 10-15 each day for the past week.

Reds and Sheepheads are very good around the bridge and jetties. The Spanish are here but are still spotty at best; hopefully they will be full on soon.

Offshore, the Amberjack bite is good along with plenty of White snapper, Vermillion snapper and Triggers. There are some grouper but that bite has been slow. Bottom boats are also reporting a few kings.

On the pier, Cobia has been the catch of the day. Saturday 9 Cobia were caught. Lots of Sheephead and a few Pompano each day, Bait fish have started showing up so the Kings should be along soon. Squid are plentiful at the pier if you like catching them.


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 weight 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 bait 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.

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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