From the Keys to Panama City Beach
Chasin’ The Sun’s third season opens with the arrival of Capt. Travis Holeman, who left the Florida Keys ahead of Hurricane Irma but makes the best of a bad situation by hooking up with Panama City Beach guide Capt. Justin Leake.
Holeman, a tournament angler and popular Keys-based guide, approaches his craft as if solving a puzzle. Leake, born and raised on these waters, relies on his local knowledge and never leaves the dock without a plan. With today’s perfect fall conditions, either approach should yield fantastic results.
Capt. Leake explains how mild temperatures and cool water make the fall fishing pattern one of the year’s best. Baitfish migrations and spawning activity draw a wide variety of species to these waters and today, the pair heads to the bridge spanning St. Andrews Bay in search of bull redfish.
Redfish are considered to be the area’s top inshore gamefish because of their versatility. Anglers can find them in shallow water flats in the bays, cruising open water along the beach or hanging out in deep water around bridges and other structure. Spinning reels, fly fishing tackle, live bait or artificial lures – everything’s in play when it comes to the popular redfish!
Our captains’ search for big bulls begins by simply looking for pelicans bombing bait balls near the surface, a sure sign that redfish are in the neighborhood. Forty feet above the bay bottom, Leake and Holeman rig heavy jigs on braided line, then let them fall through the bait balls.
Slowly reeling those treats soon leads to double hookups, broken rods and monster fish!