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The Jetty Until They're Ready

Experience pays off with a spectacular variety of catches when Capt. Justin Leake hooks back up with Capt. Travis Holeman for a day on the water off Panama City Beach.

What appears to be a perfect day for sight fishing along the beach doesn’t pan out early, so the pair makes an adjustment. “If you start out with a plan, that leads toward failure,” says Capt. Travis. “What you have to do is move a little bit, do a little observation, and then make your plan accordingly.”

Experience tells Justin and Travis that autumn means baitfish are moving through the pass connecting St. Andrews Bay with the Gulf of Mexico, so that’s where the redfish should be.  Maneuvering their baits among the jetty rocks, they soon hook some nice reds – as well as bluefish, sheepshead, grouper, jack crevalle and black drum.

But when dolphins show up, the bite shuts down so Holeman and Leake cruise a few miles to an artificial reef teeming with red snapper. But there’s something much bigger also lurking in the depths below: goliath grouper. “A lot of near shore wrecks and reefs have goliath grouper on them and they can weigh hundreds of pounds,” says Justin. There’ll be no hookups with one of these beasts today, although a goliath does show itself by following Justin’s hooked red snapper toward the surface.

Also, Justin checks out the action at the M. B. Miller Pier, one of the area’s most popular and productive spots for local and visiting anglers.