Here in Panama City Beach, it’s beginning to feel a lot like springtime both on and off the water. Longer days, warmer temperatures and the arrival of masses of bait fish mean migratory fish will be arriving soon and the spring angling season will be off to the races.

       On the flats, there is no shortage of fish. Schools of redfish are present on most flats throughout the bay; however, they have not all been in the mood to participate in my fish catching adventures. Most of my success has come from small groups of fish or laid-up singles. The big schools of flats redfish are far more skittish and require a stealthy approach. Actually, it’s much easier to let those fish come to you instead of trying to spot and then stalk them. Plastic eels and five-inch swimbaits have done very well when presented to relaxed fish.

       In the St. Andrews Pass around the jetties and other deep structures, we’ll soon see sheepshead stacking up in their yearly congregation. I prefer to fish them with light tackle using small crabs – fiddlers or blues – or a live shrimp with a light lead. Getting the bait in front of the fish is much easier around tidal changes when the water is moving more slowly. Once the tide is fully running, I switch gears and pursue something else in slower moving water or change techniques to target other species. You can use similar techniques to catch redfish, black drum and pompano around the inlet this time of the year.

       Birds crashing baitfish out in the middle of the bay and just outside the pass means Spanish mackerel will be showing up in no time along the beaches, near the piers and around inlets. Small, shiny lures with erratic actions and high speed retrieves are sure to get you hooked up to one of these lightning-fast fish. When feeding on the surface, the mackerel are easy to spot as they leap out of the water on their baitfish ambushes. If they are not showing themselves, it’s best to look for bird or baitfish activity and troll around the area until you find the mackerel.

       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!