Inshore fishing report for Pensacola, Navarre, Ft. Walton Beach, Destin
<p>Ok, all you fellow inshore fishermen, the fall migration of big Spanish mackerel has gotten into full swing. These fish are making their way into Choctawhatchee and Pensacola Bays in big numbers now. There's a lot of King's and Spanish on the beaches, also- from Perdido Key to Destin, these fish are eating everything they can catch in order to fatten up for their migration back south. For the Spanish you're going to have the best luck with these tasty pelagic fish by looking for birds. A good set of binoculars are priceless this time of the year. Use your binoculars to find birds diving on a school of bait and I'd bet that there are some nice fish chasing them to the surface. Once you locate the schools of Spanish they're fairly easy to catch on artificial lures. I like to use small half ounce gold and silver casting spoons, you can cast these things a country mile on light spinning outfits. This comes in handy with boat-shy fish plus you can cover a lot of ground, too. Work the spoons as fast as you can and keep it in the water. I don't seem to catch as many fish if the spoon is skipping on the surface and if you work it too slow they'll get a good look at it and figure out it's not a bait fish that they've been chasing and not take the lure. Spanish are plentiful and make good table fare; it's a good time to stock up on some freezer fish for that Thanksgiving fish fry. For the King's; trolling live baits or plugs will get you bites. Stay close to the shipping lane buoy markers at both passes. On an outgoing tide these fish move in to catch anything that is moving out of the bays right now. One of my best baits in the fall is the Ribbon Fish. These things can be caught around the bridges, causeways and deep water docks like the Port of Pensacola. Rig these prehistoric looking things on a three hook wire king leader and troll them out on the beach and around the sea buoys and I'll guarantee you'll have success with big kings.
There are big schools of Lady Fish and Blue Fish on the beaches and around the passes, too. Man, these fish are a lot of fun to catch on light tackle and they're all grown up by this time of the year, too. I use the same spoons for them as I do for the Spanish. And with all this activity on the beach there will be the smaller sharks in the four foot range, like black tips and small bull sharks. These little brutes are fun to catch and can be caught on artificial lures like big top water chugging baits, this is good for practicing your sight fishing skills for the upcoming Bull Red Fish run also. Just cruise a couple of hundred feet off the beach till you start finding schools of Lady Fish, it won't be long before you'll start seeing the sharks. If you can't get the shark to hit the plugs, pitch him big live bait or a chunk of fresh cut Lady Fish and hold on!!
For the inshore fisherman, it's still a little early for the best fishing yet; I've been finding big schools of bait in several places around the bay systems and when you get around the bait the game fish will be close by. This time of the year there's large schools of silver mullet and menhaden in Santa Rosa Sound and in both bays. The Bull Reds that are showing up early are finding their way into the bays and sound to these schools of bait. Keep a close eye out for these schools of bait; you never know what might be lurking underneath one of these schools of bait. I keep a one ounce buck tail jig tied on a rod just for this, when you find a school of bait ease within casting range and work the buck tail through the school. Jig it a foot or so off the bottom for the Red Fish, work it higher in the bait for the other fish that might be feeding on them. If you don't get any bites there, work a big dog walking plug around the school for a few minutes these techniques will catch you some nice fish!
I've caught a few nice Specks on the dog walking top water plugs in the last few weeks; these big Specks are lying around the edges of grass flats in four to six foot of water ambushing schools of silver mullet. It doesn't take but one or two meals of this size bait to fill the belly of a nice Trout. Being at the right place at the right time is very important when there's a ton of bait around like it is right now. The Flounder bite has really picked up lately also. Over the last three weeks every time I've fished for them we caught ten or more on each time. These fish are starting their migration toward the Gulf for their annual spawning run. The males are always the first to start ganging up around the deep structure close to the passes. The male fish will go from ten to eighteen inches in length, it won't be long before the females start showing up and then it's going to get really crazy. The Flounder fishing is going to get better and better over the next four weeks, get you some finger mullet or bull minnows and Carolina rig them with only as much weight as you need to get them close to the bottom and work them around any structure you can find in twenty to thirty foot of water.
The real action for the upcoming six weeks is the Bull Red fishing. I don't know of another place where the fish show up in as big of numbers as they do here along the northwest panhandle of Florida. I've seen schools of Red Fish that had to have ten thousand fish in them. NO JOKE!!! THIS IS A SIGHT TO SEE. These fish are here to spawn, whenever the currents and water temperature gets right the fish spawn so the currents take their eggs into the bays to hatch.
Any fish that weighs twenty five pounds has to eat a lot everyday to stay happy, so you can know that when you find these fish you're not going to have any problem getting them to eat. My favorite lure is SPRO's one and half ounce buck tail jig in the Magic Bus color. I catch more Red Fish on this jig than I do any other ten baits combined. That last sentence is top secret, so don't go and tell everybody you know or there won't be enough jigs to go around!
The fall fishing in Northwest Florida is just too good to try and tell you about in writing. It's something you have to experience firsthand. So give me a call this fall and I'll help you add a few Bull Red fish to your collection of BIG FISH ON LIGHT TACKLE!!!!
The sounds that come with angling are more compelling to me than anything contrived in the greatest symphony hall!
Thanks for reading my reports!
Capt. Eddie Woodall
Nice triple of Pensacola Bull Red Fish
Matt Ledbetter with a sure enough Bull Red Fish!!
About The Author: Captain Eddie Woodall
Company: Full Net Fishing Charters
Area Reporting: Destin to Perdido Key Florida
Bio: From Destin to Perdido Key Florida, this area has some of the best fishing along the Gulf Coast and itís only a short drive from Orange Beach and Gulf Shores Alabama. While cruising from spot to spot in my 24 ft. Blazer Bay Boat you will be riding in comfort and style and with the 250 hp Yamaha four stroke, it won't take long to arrive safely at our next honey hole. Capt. Eddie is sure to provide a trip that will be full of memories that you wonít soon forget. Whatever type of fishing you desire, (inshore, backwater, sight fishing, fly-fishing, near-shore or snapper and amberjack) Capt. Eddie will help you find it. Guided Fishing Trips available from sunny Pensacola, Navarre and Destin Florida, one of the finest fisheries along the gulf coast. We are conveniently located in Navarre just a short drive from Pensacola Beach, Gulf Breeze and Destin Florida.