Secluded Bounty

Redfish cruise the coastline and military jets streak across the sky as Capt. Justin Leake and Capt. Travis Holeman enjoy a beautiful but challenging day on the Gulf of Mexico off Panama City Beach.

Our hosts head east from the St. Andrews Pass along the pristine, undeveloped coastline of Tyndall Air Force Base. On the way to the redfish zone, they can’t resist stopping above an artificial reef to start a fight with some amberjacks. “Amberjacks are usually active and aggressive,” says Capt. Holeman. “For fun fish, there’s nothing better than a big ‘freight train’ jack.”

The amberjack fishing eventually gets overshadowed by the thrill of watching F-22 Raptor jets fly training missions over the gulf in a “red, white and blue meets emerald green water” display that’s unique to the area.

Later, the anglers target a spot where Justin found schooling redfish a day earlier and hope to cash in on some guaranteed action. But the fish have other ideas due to the many factors that affect their behavior. “The fish don’t always follow our rules,” says Capt. Leake. “We have to be prepared to change our plans based on tide movement, wind direction, moon phase and water temperature.”

Just when it seems the redfish have no intention of cooperating, Holeman and Leake crack the code and experience an epic end to a beautiful day on the water.