Red minnows are piling up in the bay and lots of fish have been following them (and feasting on them) at every opportunity.  Now is a great time to go fishing in Panama City Beach!

When the bait balls are in open water, it’s common to find bonita, mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, blue runners and blue fish voraciously feeding on them.  You can often see these fish feeding at the surface or simply look for spots where birds are dive bombing the bait balls.  The key to getting a bite is using a lure that’s similar in size and shape to what the fish are eating.  In these situations, the lure’s color does not matter nearly as much as its profile.  The retrieval should be medium to fast with a few quick twitches.

When baitfish schools are being fed on heavily by birds and schooling predators on the surface, you will sometimes find groups of big redfish lurking below – eager to pick up the scraps and any baits that get pushed under the rest of the school.  I usually locate them using my bottom machine, then drop heavy jigs down to them.

On the flats, the speckled trout bite has been good in areas with thick grass and moving water.  Potholes, ditches, bayou mouths and other similar features can hold the bigger fish, but as long as you have good grass and current you will find some trout.  I’ve had good luck on the top of a falling tide while fishing points with plastic shrimp or live baits.  Most of the fish have been between 14-17 inches in length but there are lots of bigger fish to be caught as well.  The large trout tend to cruise in shallower water and love potholes located close to the shoreline, so stealth is key when targeting them.  Getting out early and ahead of the boat traffic when light levels are still low will pay big fish dividends.

The bull redfish bite is still good around the bridges where you can find them eating crabs on the surface during outgoing tides.  You can target them in several ways, but pitching topwater baits to fish blowing up on the surface is one of the most exciting bites you can encounter in the bay.  Throw your plug just a couple of feet up current of the boil and let it float with the tide.  A couple of pops should do the trick so simply “walk” the bait just enough to make a little disturbance.  A slow, steady retrieve that makes a subtle wake is also an effective presentation.  Remember that the big redfish must be released, so be sure to take the time to properly revive them and ensure a healthy fish that will live to fight another day.

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!