Sunshine, clear water and good fishing continue to be the trend in our little slice of paradise here in Panama City Beach.
In the shallows, you can expect to have success when targeting speckled trout, redfish, flounder and several other less tasty but equally fun-to-catch species. I like to focus on areas with good changes in depth, bottom composition and tidal flow because they tend to hold fish on a regular basis as well as replenish with new fish as the tide comes and goes. My technique is determined by the water level and the species I’m hoping to catch. For instance, if the water is high and the shoreline is flooded, then I might throw a topwater bait to entice a trout or redfish. On the other hand, if the flats are at low water levels, I might be inclined to pitch soft plastic lures into potholes where a trout or flounder might be laid up. Both techniques are very effective when implemented in the appropriate situation.
Along the beaches, there is a lot of fun to be had chasing and fighting big fish. While on a casual cruise along the sandbars just off the beach, it’s very common to run into a variety of big, fast, angry fish that will do everything in their power to not come to the boat. These include big jack crevalle, bull reds, tarpon, kingfish, sharks, barracuda and even the occasional cobia. Each reacts differently, so it’ a good idea to have a couple of setups rigged and ready for when the opportunity presents itself. It’s already too late to tie something on once you spot a fish, so be sure to prepare ahead of time. I rig at least one rod with a big topwater, another with a big swimbait, and a pitch rod with some type of live bait (crab, eel or other baitfish).
Try to gain an understanding of how fish like to feed. Jack crevalle are very aggressive and get turned on by fast-moving, erratic baits, but tarpon typically prefer a slow and steady retrieve. Other fish go for a twitch-and-pause type of retrieve that simulates a distressed and dying baitfish. Once you learn what triggers a feeding response, you’ll start catching a lot more fish.
Inshore structures are currently holding good numbers of great tasting fish like mangrove snapper, red snapper, grouper and flounder. In addition, there has been a decent number of bull reds to pull on but they are catch and release only. You can either drift over the structure with live baits and jigs or drop an anchor or spot lock your trolling motor and drift baits back to them. Even when fishing in deeper water (30’-40’), you don’t need a lot of lead to get down to the fish. I start out with a small split shot and let the bait slowly sink to the bottom. If the fish are a little slow to bite, you can toss out chunks and try to chum the fish into eating mode.
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!