It’s too rough in the Gulf of Mexico to sight fish for tarpon, so Justin and Meredith make a beeline for the Hathaway Bridge, the east/west link between the cities of Panama City and Panama City Beach. “Most people don’t realize there’s a giant population of bull redfish living under the bridge,” says Justin. “It’s one of the most reliable fisheries we have.”
The bridge crosses over St. Andrew Bay – part of the Intracoastal Waterway – and provides a natural “pinch point” for bait fish as tidal flows move water about. It’s no wonder the big bulls consider bridge spans to be excellent hunting grounds.
While Justin uses a big topwater plug to mimic the blue crabs that redfish are targeting, Meredith opts for her trusty fly rod and a foam crab. When the captain gets all the action, Meredith decides it’s time to make an adjustment. “If everyone around you is getting bite after bite and you’re not, check your bait,” she says.
Later, the pair fishes an offshore reef and brings home a cooler fool of mangrove snapper for a “hook and cook” experience at a local restaurant. Also, we take a look at some of the winter and spring events that give visitors another reason to make Panama City Beach their year-round vacation spot.