What happens when picture-perfect conditions occur during the best time of the year to fish the waters of Panama City Beach? For Capt. Justin Leakeand Meredith McCord, it’s an epic day of catching fall pattern redfish that neither will soon forget.
“This might be the best redfish day I’ve ever experienced,” says Justin. “It doesn’t get any better than sight fishing along the beach when the water is crystal clear,” adds Meredith.
It’s a warm, sunny day and the pair heads for Crooked Island where redfish are schooling in the shallows near shore. Beach redfish take on a shiny silver color, a marked contrast with the golden-hued redfish that populate the bays. “You can tell a difference in these fish that live on the beach,” says Justin. “They are long and skinny because they cover a lot of area – they’re like long distance runners.”
Not content to rely on conventional tackle, Meredith insists on breaking out her fly fishing gear. But there’s a problem: having just returned from guiding a charter to Brazil, Meredith forgot to pack her fly box for the trip to Panama City Beach. Fortunately, Capt. Leake has a rusty old fly that will have to do in a pinch.
While Justin positions the boat to give himself some good shots at the school, Meredith hops over the side and heads for the beach to cast from the surf. “It’s just an incredible way to approach fish with stealth and without sound,” she says.
And that rusty old fly? At the end of a world-class angler’s line, it works like magic. "It’s not necessarily about the equipment that you have,” says Meredith. “It’s about presentation and whether you can make whatever is at the end of your line look real and alive.”
Also, we take a look at the family-friendly events that make autumn a truly special time to spend a few days in Panama City Beach.