Summer is one of my favorite seasons to fish the waters surrounding Panama City Beach because the diversity of the fishery is on full display. Our area is home to a wide range of predator fish, both inshore and nearshore along the beaches.

       Inshore on the flats, good numbers of trout and redfish can be found patrolling the shallows in the early hours of the morning when the temperature is relatively cool and the low light offers these predators a stealthy advantage. This is your best opportunity to experience the thrill of an explosive surface strike when throwing topwater lures.

       As the day heats up, I like to switch my focus to other fish that reside in deeper water where the heat of the day has little effect on how they feed. Mangrove snappers offer plenty of action and are delicious to eat. Other bottom fish to target inshore this month are red snappers, gag groupers and black sea bass – all excellent table fare!

       Strong outgoing tides are still getting the big bull reds fired up as they patrol the surface around bridges, looking for crabs. If the tide is not falling hard, then use your electronics to spot the redfish down deep and drop either a heavy jig or Carolina-rigged live bait down to them. These big fish are catch-and-release only, so be sure to handle them with care and return them to the water healthy.

       Just off the flats and in open water throughout the bay, you can still find decent numbers of Spanish mackerel. While I rarely target them specifically, I do catch quite a few as by-catch when fishing near drop offs and points or when flatlining over deeper structure. Mackerel have incredibly sharp teeth and a light wire leader will definitely increase your success rate.

       Along the beaches, it seems everyone is catching tarpon. Since they are only migrating through our area, you might have to cover significant distances to locate schools. Take your time, try to get in line with their movement, and don’t pressure them too much. Tarpon will scrutinize most offerings; however, they will eat artificial, live and dead baits. If you catch a silver king, don’t remove it from the water. If you want a photo, take it boat side or jump in the water with the fish.

       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. Tight lines!