In addition to the white sandy beaches and emerald green water, Panama City beach also offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities. Whether your angling passion is in the bay, on the flats or out in the gulf, we have you covered.
Early mornings on the flats offer healthy doses of topwater action for speckled trout and redfish. The best time to fish is on morning high tides when marshes and shoreline reed beds are flooded and thick with schools of mullet. Few things compare to running a bait down the edge of marsh grass and seeing those reeds getting plowed over by angry redfish eagerly seeking out your lure. Just as the redfish enters open water, watch for that unmistakable hump of water rolling over the top of its head as it rises from behind your plug and chomps at it repeatedly until finally wolfing it down to the crushers. Now your drag is screaming, your rod is doubled over and the fish is swimming back and forth stirring up water and making a mess of things. What a way to start the morning!
Then you have the speckled trout, a fish I have loved to catch since moving here many decades ago. Although generally smaller and less powerful than the redfish, speckled trout are aggressive and acrobatic and strike like a fish many times larger than they are. Right now, most trout are holding on top of grass in water ranging from 2-7 feet deep – especially near sandy pot-holes and drop offs. Jigs and suspending hard baits work great on trout when they are holding in deeper water but you can catch the big ones running right up along the hill (where the redfish hang out) by using shallow running hard or soft baits.
Along the beaches, surf fishermen have been catching pompano, redfish, whiting and many other gamefish – all from the comfort of a beach chair. The most successful anglers have several rigs in the water at the same time to increase their odds of a hook-up. The most common is a pyramid weight to hold the bottom and a two hook rig baited with shrimp, sand fleas or small crabs. Be sure to adequately space out your rods while you wait on the fish to swim by and find your offering.
Lastly, the bull redfish bite at the bridges has been absolutely on fire over the past several weeks, with the best action coming near the bottom of a falling tide. You can catch these fish most of the time if there’s a little water moving. Figuring out how the fish are behaving determines what I decide to throw at them but, in general, I rely on a handful of lures – either a topwater lure to mimic floating crabs, a jerk bait to mimic eels or a plastic shrimp. I sometimes use rattling baits or heavy jigs but those usually come out on incoming tides when the fish are down deeper and tighter to structure. Success often comes when casting up-current at an angle and allowing the lure to drift naturally with the tide. You can also get a bite by casting just up-current from boils where the fish have been feeding on the surface.