The combination of time, tides and locations present a challenge for Capt. Justin Leake when he invites Capt. Ed Zyak of D.O.A. Lures onboard for some late summer fishing.
The duo hits the water early in hopes of finding remote nearshore areas where tarpon might be seeking a quiet alternative to the crowded beach. The silver kings are active but, despite trying a multitude of baits, weights and colors, Justin and Ed come up empty.
Not to be outdone, Capt. Leake heads for an offshore reef but pulls back on the throttle when he spots a patch of grass floating on the Gulf of Mexico’s surface. “During late summer in Panama City Beach, you want to keep your eyes open when running out to the reefs,” says Justin. “If you find anything floating, it’s likely to have some fish around it.” That turns out to be the case when Justin and Ed hook into some nice catches of mahi mahi and amberjack.
Next, it’s a short ride to West Bay and a shot at landing bull redfish hanging out near the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway. When it becomes apparent that the tide has already shifted and they’ve missed the late afternoon bite, the duo makes a beeline for the St. Andrews Pass in a last ditch effort to catch some reds before sunset.
Also, Capt. Travis Holeman visits NOAA’s Panama City Beach fisheries laboratory to learn how biologists are investigating the life history and habitat of economically important reef fishes, protected species, and coastal-pelagic sharks.