Temperatures are high and there are plenty of fish to target – sure signs that it’s summertime in Panama City Beach!
Inshore on the flats, trout and redfish can be found patrolling the shallows in the early hours of the morning when the temperature is still cool and low light offers them the advantage of stealth. This is the best time of the day to break out the topwater or surface lures for some exciting action.
As the day heats up, I like to switch my focus to other fish that reside in deeper water where the air temperature has little effect on the way they feed. Mangrove snappers offer plenty of action and make a great meal. Other bottom fish to target inshore this month are red snappers and black sea bass, both of which provide phenomenal table fare.
Strong outgoing tides are still getting the big bull reds fired up around the bridges as they patrol the surface looking for crabs. When the tide is ripping hard, throw big topwaters or flat-lined crabs to waking fish or those blowing up on the surface. 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. Remember that these bull reds 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. I rarely target them specifically, but I do catch quite a few when fishing near drop offs or points and when flatlining over deep structure. Mackerel have incredibly sharp teeth so using a light wire leader when targeting them will definitely increase your success rate.
This has been a great year for tarpon. Although a lot of these fish have already migrated through our waters, there are still enough around to make it worth your while to try to catch one. Since they are only passing through our area, you may have to cover significant distances to locate the tarpon schools. Take your time, try to get in line with their movement and don’t pressure them too much. Tarpon will at least scrutinize most offerings and will eat artificial, live and dead baits. If you catch one, do not remove it from the water – take a photo boat-side or jump in the water for an up close experience.
If you have questions about what's biting, how to catch them or would like to book a trip of your own, then give me a call or shoot me an email. Tight lines!