Friday, May 07, 2010

Panhandle Fishing Report 5-7-10

Report for 05/07/2010 Salt Water

Cobia reports continue to come in although water conditions have deteriorated. Anglers say they are still here, but finding some clear water may be the biggest challenge. Eels, and jigs are the number one and two baits, however several other live baits will work and having them on hand will help when cobia turn their noses up to a jig or eel. Grouper reports are few this week, again mostly due to weather, but are being caught in 100 to 150 feet of water. The Amberjack bite is excellent over any of our high relief bottom structures. Anglers fishing the Crooked Island Sound area report seeing schools of Jack Crevalle. Another angler picked up two Jacks in the fifteen-pound range while trolling for Spanish mackerel around Cape San Blas. Finally, Red Snapper season opens June 1!

Pompano bite continues steady this week. Use pompano jigs tipped with your favorite bait. You can sight cast or use the standard dropper rig with sand fleas or shrimp. Spanish mackerel are plentiful along our beaches and many more were caught this week inside St Joe Bay. Trolling tree rigs or casting Clark Spoons and Gotcha Plugs accounted for the vast majority landed. The Sheepshead are being caught around the jetties and along the beaches with live shrimp and fiddler crabs.

The Cobia are still here but their numbers are fading a little or maybe the weather pushed them offshore a little, 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 . We are seeing more King Mackerel and even some Tarpon on live bait. Butterfly jigs work great for the Jacks, diving plugs for the Kings or free line a live bait. Good schools of bait are starting to gather along the coast. Beeliners and White Snapper (Porgy) have been steady in the 120 ft range on frozen squid. The countdown for the start of Red Snapper season is less than a month (opens June 1st).

Spanish Mackerel are still here also, but the weather pushed them out a little, they should move back in with the water clearing up. Troll Clark Spoons or cast Gotcha Plugs and Spec rigs for them. Same story for Pompano as far as the water clarity, 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. Bull Reds are still being caught with live shrimp and pinfish around the jetties and bridges. Speckled Trout and younger Redfish are moving onto the flats in force with these warmer temps. Use live shrimp under a popping cork for best results.

Of the pier, anglers are catching some Kings , Spanish Mackerel, Sheepshead and Pompano as well as the occasional Cobia. Surf fishing has been a little off with the weather but is getting better yesterday and today with the water clearing up some. You should find some Pompano, Whiting, Ladyfish , Spanish and you may get mauled by a Jack Crevalle cruising the beach looking for schools of bait.

Fishing is great and we have seen no effects from the oil spill!!!

Cobia are still here in very good numbers and are being caught from boats and the pier. One customer caught 2 from his kayak this week near Henderson beach.

Kings are running all along the coast. The boaters are catching them trolling just a few miles offshore on near shore reefs. On the pier, catching a King has been sporadic.

Spanish are all over. You can troll around the jetties and the pass or troll along the sand bar and catch them while looking for cobia. There have also been reports of catching Spanish from the pier and the jetties.

Pompano are along the beaches for the surf fishermen. People on the jetties are catching them regular and some are being caught from the pier.

Reds are good around the bridges and jetties on either of the tide changes.

Amberjack and grouper are being caught about 15 to 20 miles offshore regularly.

Vermillion snapper, white snapper and triggers are being caught in the 5 to 15 mile range offshore.

Wahoo and dolphin are along the edge, rock cliffs and the nipple. A couple of marlin have also been reported this week.


It has been a madhouse at times this week. The weather has been the key as usual, with most fish coming on calmer days. Catching your limit of Pompano has never been easier. Most fish are being caught on live sand fleas or on Pompano jigs. Schools of bull Redfish are on the beach as well, but most are in the slot. Schools of big Jack Crevalle are exploding on any kind of baitfish they can find as they cruise the beach. Live bait will work, but 1oz and 2oz buck tail jigs or poppers will receive the most action. The Spanish mackerel and Bluefish are showing up in increasing numbers, so be prepared to up your mono leader size or go to steel when you find them. Just off the beach the King Mackerel bite has been very good. Troll live cigar minnows on a two hook rig. Also the Stretch 15’s and 20’s in Pink and the 4 and 5 inch Yozuri Crystal Minnows have been very productive.

The most productive fishing has been in the early morning before the wind picks up, or in the late evening when it has subsided. That doesn’t mean that fish aren’t being caught the rest of the day, it means that most fisherman would rather be inside than battling 20+ mph winds out of the East. With that said your best bet is Trout in the early morning and late evening. Top water baits, like the Rapala Skitterwalks, have been very effective during these times. Popping corks rigged with DOA shrimp and GULP! Shrimp have been very effective at catching them too. Live shrimp are also working well for those anglers fishing around docks, the bridge, causeway and other structure.

The fronts keep coming and the surf stays up! While we have had some beautiful spring days here and there it has remained blustery most days. The good news is the fish have moved in close with all the South / Southeast wind we have had. Kings are leading the charge this week with anglers fishing for Cobia trolling Stretch 25’s and 30’s as they sight fish the beach. This Cobia season has been pretty good as far as Cobia seasons go. There have been a lot of 40# to 50# fish caught and few that tipped the scales at 80#. We may see some more fish caught along the beach this weekend, but for the most part the fish will be caught on the near and offshore wrecks.

Reports this week suggest that there are so many Red Snapper that anglers are having trouble getting their baits past them to the Grouper waiting below. Gag, Scamp and Red Grouper are available on natural and manmade reefs in 70’ and beyond. Black Snapper have begun to show up in increasing numbers on the same reefs and wrecks as well as bull Mangos’. Triggerfish, Lane Snappers and Amberjacks are also available in good numbers in 100’ or better. The Amberjacks are especially thick on the manmade reefs for anglers working the deeper structures with jigs. As with last week the Cobia and King Mackerel have become more prevalent over the offshore reefs while anglers bottom fish. Have a couple of spinning rods rigged and ready with a pitch bait or jig for the Cobia. And if anchored up free line a cigar minnow or threadfin for the King Mackerel. Dolphin are showing up in greater numbers as well. Work the weed lines, floatsome or any other object you can find floating. Kings are available just outside the Panhandle passes. They have been knocking down slow trolled live cigar minnows or those same baits free lined over near shore wrecks. With the large amount of bluewater that has showed up this week, we can expect to see an increase of Tuna and Wahoo on the docks. I would also expect to see some billfish flags flying as boats return to the docks as well.

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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