Friday, April 30, 2010

Panhandle Fishing Report 4-30-10

Report for 04/30/2010 Salt Water

Grouper fishing picked up this week but remains sporadic. The bite is over natural bottom starting at about 180’. Live baits or butter flied northern mackerel are both working well. White, Black, and Vermillion snapper along with Triggerfish are all biting well at many of the inshore and off shore reefs and wrecks. The king mackerel activity continues to be non-existent; however, one of our commercial anglers working well offshore reported large schools of mackerel. This can only mean the kings will be here soon. The Spanish mackerel are still being caught along the buoy line and over at crooked island. Trolling just the Clark spoon seems to be the best option for the bigger Spanish.

Big trout caught this week on live shrimp and many redfish as well. The head of the bay is the place to go given the wind direction this week. In the head of the bay, the best area seems to be right between Black’s island and the shoreline drifting live baits under a Cajun thunder or free lining the baits while drifting. The Redfish and Sheepshead bite is very good around bridges and jetties. The hot spot from the shore is still beneath the George Tapper Bridge (ICW). The Spanish mackerel are here in force and biting well. Mixed in with these hungry Spanish are bluefish and they are equally hungry. The other two main species activity this week are Flounder and Trout. Flounder are scattered throughout the bay in deeper holes and ledges. The flounder bite continues in and around the deeper holes near the head of the bay and around Black’s island and better numbers caught this week under the George Tapper Bridge in the gulf canal and in the Mexico Beach canal also. Trout however are stalking the edges of grass flats hoping to ambush an unsuspecting baitfish or shrimp.

The Cobia are still here in good numbers, find some clean water and keep your eyes peeled. Some are hitting jigs, but eels and other live baits are also needed for the ones that are more finicky. Still seeing some big schools of Jack Crevalle cruising the coast, they are a blast on light tackle. They will climb over each other for a top water plug (better be a sturdy one they will tear up a standard treble hook). Grouper are still being found in deeper water (120 feet or so). The Amberjack are still biting well on any of your larger wrecks and bridge spans and we are starting to see some King Mackerel. Butterfly jigs work great for the Jacks, and if you can manage to find some large live bait, they work as well. Beeliners and White Snapper (Porgy) have been steady in the 120 ft range on frozen squid. One more month till Red Snapper season opens (June 1st ).

fishermen with a boat load of amberjack

Great catch from some of the Half Hitch crew caught on the Lady Kelley with Capt. Mark Kelley

Spanish Mackerel are everywhere even moving further up into the bay waters. Troll Clark Spoons or cast Gotcha Plugs and Spec rigs for them. Pompano are biting even better this week, sight cast pompano jigs tipped with your favorite bait, or use a surf rig to cast out and wait for them to find you. Sheepshead are being caught around the jetties and along the beaches with live shrimp and fiddler crabs. The Bull Reds are still being caught with live shrimp and pinfish around the jetties and bridges. Speckled Trout and younger Redfish are starting to move onto the flats with these warmer temps. Use live shrimp under a popping cork for best results.

Cobia fishing has been absolutely fantastic. Fish are being caught all along the beach in both directions on live eels, jigs and mullet. Some boats have reported seeing as many as 50 in a day and catching 10 or more a day.

Kings have also been biting very good the last week on the broken bottom and southeast rocks and all along the beach.

Inshore the reds and pompano have been all over the east and west jetty and the Spanish are doing pretty well also.

On the surf the pompano reports have been very good with some reds, Spanish and sheephead.

On the pier the kings have been on and off but on the good days they have been very good. Some catches of cobia, Spanish and pompano have been coming in each day.

The bottom fishermen have had great catches of amberjack, some triggers and mingo and a few black snapper.


Area fisherman can expect to find plenty of Pompano, Blue Fish, Spanish Mackerel and Redfish in the surf. The Reds and Pompano are hitting on live and fresh frozen sand fleas. A few reds will be in the slot. Fresh dead shrimp is working real well too. The Spanish and Bluefish can’t resist a silver spoon, Got-Cha lures or bubble rigs. The faster the retrieve, the better the results.

Rat Redfish and Speckled Trout are available at the three foot drop offs near most flats in the sound. Also, look for Redfish around the deeper docks and in the canals. Redfish, Trout, Sheepshead and the occasional Spanish Mackerel are all being caught at the causeway and near the bridges. Live shrimp is the bait of choice for the Redfish, Trout and Sheepshead. But Gulp! shrimp has been working on the Redfish.

The fronts keep coming and the surf stays up! While we have had some beautiful spring days here and there it has continued to be blustery most days. The good news is the fish have moved in close with all this weather. Kings are leading the way this week with many being caught by Cobia fisherman trolling stretch 25’s and 30’s as they sight fish near the beach. The Cobia bite has remained strong all week and should remain strong as the water begins to clear. The average fish right now is in the 40# range with jigs taking most of the fish. Live eels are still the go to bait for the finicky fish that won’t eat anything else. Large schools of Jack Crevalle have invaded the beach this week too. They are fun to catch on light tackle. They are not finicky and will readily take just about anything offered live or artificial.

Red Snapper are so thick right now it is hard to get bait past them to the Grouper. I believe if the current regulations stay in place we will see the average Red Snapper in our area increase to double digits. Look for the larger Grouper to be in 100 plus feet of water. Live Pinfish, Ruby Redlips and large Sand Perch are the go to live baits. Grouper are also being caught on bucktail jigs tipped with cigar minnows or squid. If you are looking to fill up a cooler quickly downsize your tackle and cut up some squid and target the Triggers, Vermillion and Red Porgies that have moved in over the shallow reefs in 60 to 80 feet of water. Further offshore the Black fin tuna bite has been strong at the rigs, especially at night after the moon comes up. The Yellowfin tuna on the other hand has been a little slow with most fish being caught at sundown near the deeper rigs on live bait.

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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