Friday, July 02, 2010

Panhandle Fishing Report 7-1-10

Report for 07/01/2010

Salt Water

State Waters out to 9 miles are open for fishing; while Federal Waters have been closed. The fishing has remained very good inside 9 miles. There are some very nice sized Snapper being found not very far from the beach. They will hit frozen bait readily, but larger live baits seem to get larger Snapper and you might find a Grouper as well. Amberjack are waiting to test your tackle over any of your larger wrecks and bridge spans, the deeper wrecks and spans will hold better sized fish. Plenty of King mackerel around, free line a live bait while drifting, or troll a deep diving plug or duster with a cigar minnow, I’m sure you will get a bite. Beeliners, Triggerfish, White Snapper and Black Snapper can help to fill the fish box. Be sure to look close at any weed lines or floating debris for Mahi Mahi, they can be a nice addition to your day out on the water.

Mangrove Snapper are all over the jetties right now in large numbers. They will hit a live shrimp rigged real light drifting with the current. Spanish mackerel and Bluefish are still here, and you’ll find them following the large schools of Menhaden and other baits. Just look for the birds diving, they’ll give their location away. Troll Mackerel trees or cast Gotcha Plugs and Spec rigs for them. The Bull Reds and Black Drum are still being caught with live shrimp and pinfish around the jetties and bridges, even better baits would be LY’s or Pilchards (lots of which have shown up recently). Trout and Redfish are a good bet at daybreak or dusk in the grassy flats. If throwing a top water wears you out, use shrimp under a popping cork or free line a live minnow. Good numbers of Flounder are being caught, look for a mottled bottom (a mix of grass and sand). Shrimp and Bull Minnows make good baits as well as a Gulp! bait on a jig head. A good way to fish for Flounder is to retrieve them real slow on the bottom.

King mackerel are pretty much daily targets at the pier along with Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish. A good casting spoon, Gotcha plug or bubble rig works well. It is getting more and more likely to see Cobia, they seem to be on their way back away from the spill area. Tarpon are a decent bet, they will be following schools of larger bait, look for their tell tale roll. Shark fishing at night has been producing some nice catches. Fishing in the surf will likely produce the same catches listed above if you can get a bait out there where they are. In a little closer you may catch Pompano, Whiting and the occasional Redfish cruising the beach. There have been a lot of small Sharks getting caught too, so don’t forget the pliers!

For the most part we are oil free. We have had a few days when a few tar balls washed up but they have been able to clean them the same day. Even after the wind early this week we are still looking good.
As for fishing the snapper are as good as I have ever seen them. The kings have also been great in the broken bottom and southeast rocks. Amberjack have been quite good on the inshore landing craft and Miss Louise tug boat.
In the bay, good numbers on reds, ladyfish, blues and trout mostly on the flats around white point and near the Sandestin area.
The jetties have black snapper and a few reds.
On the pier there have been some tarpon, kings, ladyfish and hardtails.
In the surf ladyfish are plentyful, a few hardtails and lots of sharks at night.


We are now into July. Hopefully the weather will stabilize a little this month and offer some fishing opportunities. Area fishermen have been experiencing some of the best fishing in recent memory. We should see good numbers of Jack Crevalle in the 20# range as well as small schools of bull Redfish. The Jacks are hitting best on top water poppers and Rapala Skitterwalks. The Black Tip Shark bite is also heating up. Live Hardtails or cut mullet have been the go to bait. Although a fresh caught Skipjack works well too. The Pompano bite has remained steady with most fish being landed on fresh dead shrimp and live sand fleas when you can find them. On calmer days Kayak fisherman can reach the King Mackerel just at the drop off in 20’ of water. Look for the schools of threadfins and cigar minnows and troll with deep diving hard baits. Try trolling live baits around these baitfish schools as well.

Area anglers can expect to see great Trout fishing around the grass flats from Tiger Point to the grass flats just east of the bridge. Redfish and Flounder are also in the same waters with most of the fish caught on live shrimp under a popping cork. Also try using a ¼ oz jig tipped with a GULP! shrimp or jerk shad under the same popping cork. There have also been plenty of Trout and Redfish landed in East Bay from the Garcon Point bridge up to the power lines crossing the entrance to the East River.

King Mackerel are still the hot bite near shore and continue to bite strong in and around the passes and inshore reefs in 60 to 80 feet of water. Trolling or fly lining live cigar minnows when anchored up has been the top producer. Dolphin continue to show up in increasing numbers especially around anglers fishing for bottom species. Just remember to have a rod ready and rigged with a pitch bait when they do show up. The near shore reefs and wrecks are also producing good numbers of Amberjack, Grouper, Black Snapper, Lane Snapper and Triggerfish. The Grouper are being caught on large pinfish, threadfins or hardtails with their tail clipped to make it easier for the grouper to catch them.

Red Snapper has been the top predator on most reefs and wrecks this week and we should continue to see more of the same this upcoming week. They are hitting jigs, live bait and deep running hard baits trolled over shallow reefs and wrecks. Amberjack are almost on every wreck from 60’ on out with the largest fish being caught in deeper water of 100’ or more. With all the bad weather last month the Grouper have almost been left alone. Look for them on the near shore reefs and wrecks. Fish in the 10# to 15# range will hit pinfish, threadfins and hardtails. You will have to remove the tails from the Hardtails; otherwise they are next to impossible to get to the bottom on a light weight. The amount of debris in the water has also increased this last week. So has the amount of Dolphin and Triple Tail on it. King mackerel are being caught daily around the mouth of the passes and buoy lines on cigar minnows slow trolled or free lined. If you can get out the blue water bite is still smoking hot. Yellow Fin, Black Fin and Wahoo are being caught around most of the deep water oil rigs. Poppers, jigs and slow trolled ballyhoo continue to be the go to baits. The bigger fish are coming off the bridled Bonito or large Blue Runners bump trolled around the rigs.

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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