With all of this beautiful weather, clear water and a wide variety of predator fish cruising around, it’s no wonder this is one of the best times to go fishing in Panama City Beach!

The fish have been chewing pretty much non-stop throughout the bays and along the beaches. One of the best bites right now is the redfish, both on the flats and in deeper water around drop offs, points and structure. On the flats, it’s best to target redfish early in the day and during periods of high water when they are most likely feeding near the shoreline. As the tide drops out and the water gets warmer, I’ve been catching a lot of fish in deep potholes and drop offs where the water is cooler. These fish can be chummed up with live pilchards, threadfins or menhaden and, once you get them to bite, you can switch to artificial lures. Either way, be ready for an action packed session. Circle hooks are recommended for live bait to make catch-and-release easier.

Mixed in with the redfish has been a decent number of speckled trout. My redfish gear works just fine for trout except on the deeper structure. Most of the trout have been coming out of two-to-five feet of water over thick patchy grass with some sandy potholes. At this time of the year when the water is hot, live bait can save a slow day but, if you prefer to use artificial baits, then it’s best to target fish at first light with topwaters or suspending plugs. Once the sun gets up a little, you can switch to a jig and move to deeper water to stay on the bite.

The mangrove snapper bite remains strong on shallow-to-medium depth structure throughout the bays. Docks have been especially productive for mangroves as well as flounder and redfish. Chumming with live or dead baits is the key to catching some species since this technique tends to bring fish to the area and turns on their “eat switch.” Once you start to see them approaching the surface or popping baits on the surface, pitch a bait into them and let nature run its course.

On the bay side of the St. Andrew Pass and just outside the pass around buoys, you can easily spot Spanish mackerel feeding on bait balls. Troll any kind of small, shiny or brightly colored lure around the feeding fish to trigger bites or, you can do what I do and pull up to the action and cast small spoons to them on light spinning gear. I find this “run and gun” style of fishing to be far more exciting than dragging a fish to the boat with a big trolling rod. You’ll often see bonita, bluefish, jacks and the occasional shark mixed in with the Spanish mackerel.

As always, if you have questions about what’s biting, how to catch them or want to book a trip, give me a call or shoot me an email. Good luck!

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