Before I get into just how great the fishing has been in Panama City Beach…
Let’s review a few situations where a little courtesy can go a long way. For most of us, the first thing to do before starting our adventure on the water is to launch the boat. Now that the weather is warmer and more people are looking to get out on the water, the boat ramps can get quite crowded. That brings up our first situation where proper etiquette should be employed – make sure you have everything ready to go before you get to the ramp or while in line waiting to launch. Crank your motor before leaving home to make sure that it is running before you put in at the ramp. Once there, try to keep your load/unload time to less than five minutes if at all possible. On the water, you will most likely encounter other boaters, so give their vessels some space. There are areas of the bay where boaters drop anchor and party (which is fine) but, if you see an angler and notice he is trying to be quiet, don’t run right up on him or cut him off because he may have spent a lot of time creeping up on fish. The water is a public resource and a little courtesy can ensure that everyone has an enjoyable day.
Now to the fishing… it’s very good right now with several species being caught in respectable numbers. On the flats, the trout and redfish bites have been solid. Redfish have been running close to shore in two feet of water or less and also on the sides of shallow points at transitions between shallow grass and deep sand. Spoons and soft plastics on jig heads have been getting the most bites. The trout have been laid up in grass in 2-6 feet of water, especially around potholes and broken bottom. Topwater lures, suspending plugs and plastic shrimp have all been effective.
In the deeper parts of the bay, the Spanish mackerel are seemingly everywhere! Most anglers are finding success by trolling small shiny or brightly colored lures. I like to locate schools and cast plugs or spoons into the school using light spinning rods. To me, it’s more fun to actually feel the bite than to just grab a rod after the fish is hooked.
In the pass, sheepshead are still being caught around the rocks. A basic Carolina rig with the lightest weight you can use to keep the bait down is the best way to get them to bite. You can use shrimp, small fiddler crabs or blue crabs, but make sure that you let them eat until you feel the weight of the fish as it swims away before you set the hook.