Friday, April 09, 2010

Panhandle Fishing Report 4-8-10

Report for 04/08/2010 Salt Water

The Cobia have showed up in force! They are jigs really well! Grouper are biting well in the 100-120’ foot range. Large live baits and live eels are working best. The Amberjack bite has been steady over the bridge spans and any large structures. Glow jigs and Butterfly jigs work well and if you can manage to find some live bait works as well. Beeliners and White Snapper (Porgy) have been steady in the 120 ft range on frozen squid.

Bull Redfish

Mark Hamilton with a Bull Redfish

two nice Sheepshead

Clay Cauthern with two nice Sheepshead.

Spanish Mackerel are everywhere. Troll Clark Spoons or cast Gotcha Plugs for them. Pompano are biting better along the beaches. Sheepshead are being caught around the jetties with live shrimp and fiddler crabs. The Bull Reds are still being caught with live shrimp and pinfish around the jetties. Speckled Trout have moved onto the flats. Use live shrimp under a cork for best results.

Cobia have been steady this week on both east and west beaches. The Full Pull won right at $37,000 in the Hogs Breath Tournament with a 76lb fish. Spanish have also showed up on the east beach trolling spoons and straw rigs.

Bottom fishing is good for Amberjack, White Snapper, Vermillion Snapper and a few Trigger and a few Groupers.

Surf fishing is improving with nice catches of Pompano, Reds and Whiting. Spanish have been running at the jetties with reds and Sheephead also biting.

On the pier there have been some Cobia, Sheephead and a few Pompano. The Spanish are just showing up there also.

In the bay the Reds and Sheephead are good and a few Trout are mixed in with 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 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.

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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