When a couple of veteran outdoor journalists take their first fishing trip to Panama City Beach, they discover an abundant resource that nearly leaves them at a loss for words.
Paul Rackley of Florida Game & Fish Magazine and Bryan Hendricks of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette spend a couple of days reeling in fish from artificial reefs just a few miles offshore. Host Justin Leake explains how these reefs – deployed with materials ranging from concrete pyramids to decommissioned U. S. Air Force jets – provide excellent habitat and help alleviate fishing pressure by attracting fish to multiple locations.
Local guide Capt. Todd Jones positions his boat above one of the reefs and Rackley witnesses the food chain in action when the cigar minnow he uses for bait attracts a red snapper, which is then swallowed by a goliath grouper!
Meanwhile, Capt. Leake and Hendricks use topwater lures to target aggressive amberjack, then drop anchor above a long line of natural hard bottom and entice red snapper to the surface with chunks of live bait.
Back at the dock, Rackley finally settles on three words to describe the Panama City Beach fishery: “variety, availability, proximity.” With tired arms and a big smile, Hendricks says he was on the verge of using just two – “no more” – but settles on “I’ll be back!” instead.