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Spring 2012 was terrific as always. Sheepshead, redfish, Spanish mackerel, black drum, jack crevalle... plenty of excitement for both fly and spin-fishing clients. Both the Gulf of Mexico and inland waters remained pristine most of the time providing opportunities for outstanding sight-fishing. The highlight of the season was achievement of the Emerald Coast Grand Slam on fly for the first time ever. Congratulations to Kevin Maxey. Here are the photos from the spring 2012 season. Click on any of the images to see the full size photos. For photos from previous seasons, check out these additional galleries: Winter 2012, Fall 2011, Summer 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2011, Fall 2010, Summer 2010, Spring 2010, Winter 2010, Fall 2009,Summer 2009, Spring 2009, Winter 2009, Fall 2008, Summer 2008, Spring 2008, Winter 2008, Fall 2007, Summer 2007, Spring 2007, Winter 2007, Fall 2006, Summer 2006, Spring 2006, Winter 2006, Spring 2005, Summer 2005, Fall 2005. Use the back button on your browser to return to this page.

You just can't beat the annual sheepshead spawning ritual when all the sheepshead in the neighborhood congregate around structure close to Pensacola Pass. The males are usually in the 4# range, and the females are up to 9 and 10 pounds. We're talking about manhole covers! We fish for them with ultra-light spinning tackle and live shrimp. It's a blast. The fish pull hard and taste great. Imagine a 9# bream... Here's Charles Chamblee on March 24 with the first sheepshead of the spring season..a four pound male.
There are those who say sheepshead's teeth look a lot like human teeth. Thanks to Charles, you can make the decision for yourself. Double click on the photo for a closer view.
Kevin Crumlish and Mack with a couple sheepshead making their move to the frying pan on a spectacular March 25
Tim Marsh and family hunted for redfish all morning on March 26, but we couldn't find them. After lunch we dropped the ladies off and almost immediately hit the mother lode just off the beach west of Pensacola Pass. Here's Tim with the first of five landed and released unharmed on ultra-light spinning tackle. Sorry about that Ellen and Dawn...
And another beauty...
The fifth redfish from the same school. After Tim landed this fish the school drifted into deeper water and disappeared. Sure was nice while it lasted.
Debra and Greg Fisher from Nampa, ID, came to town for a couple days fishing March 27 and 28. Turns out March 27 was the day for jack crevalle. Here's Debra with the first jack of the season.
Greg Fisher followed suit with this crevalle landed on spinning tackle and a big "chug bug" topwater plug.
The following day we found the redfish but no jacks. Debra once again landed the first fish...
And Greg was right behind her.
Matt and Heather Kail, Rockford, MI, started off the day March 29 having a ball with the sheepshead in Pensacola Pass. This fish is a 6 pound+ female. How's that for a family photo...
Things got VERY interesting when we pulled out into a choppy Gulf of Mexico and found a big school of jack crevalle cruising just below the surface close to shore. Heather got this fish to strike a top water plug, and then it was time for Matt to try to landed one of the beasts on fly...
We ran to the west to get ahead of the school, killed the motor, and drifted undetected into fly-casting range. The sun and wind were at our backs and the school was swimming a foot below the surface with the sun illuminating their beautiful yellow fins against the blue water. It was a breathtaking sight, and Matt was on the bow locked and loaded with the 10wt Sage RPLXi and a 2/0 white popper custom made by Ben Walters. When the school closed to about 50' Matt made the cast, stripped once, and this fish crushed the fly! After about a half hour battle Matt landed and released the jack unharmed. In a word...spectacular!
Here we have Hobart McWhorter stretching out a fine fly-caught Spanish mackerel on March 30.
Man, what a Spanish! Adam Huber, Alpharetta, GA, on April 2.
Nice job, Jay! Jay Lanier and a perfect slot-sized redfish landed and released April 3 on one of our favorite Santa Rosa Sound flats.
The Klevas and the Pippens were here on an overcast April 4 which made for some difficult sight-fishing. But not THAT difficult as we found schools of big black drum and redfish working the "draw" close to shore. Here's Kyle Kleva with his dad Kevin and the first drum landed on ultra-light spinning tackle and released.
Oh to be a kid again! Check out the excitement on these boys' faces with a fine drum. Kyle Kleva on the left and Will Pippen on the right.
Here they are again with a bull redfish...
Jay Pippen with the biggest redfish on the day on April 4. A good photographer would've taken a second shot to be sure Jay had his eyes open. Oh well.
Dan Skeel, Greenwood, Indiana, on April 5 with the first Pensacola Bay gag grouper of the spring season.
We had bright sunshine on April 6, and the sight-fishing was outstanding for Nicole Hubik and Eric Pampa. Right off the bat we found a nice school of redfish feeding just off the inner sandbar, and Nicole and Eric got a "double".
Eric Pampa with the biggest redfish of the day
And then to our delight a big school of jack crevalle appeared moving westbound looking for something to eat. Nicole's "chug bug" was just what they wanted.
After landing Nicole's fish we ran down the beach ahead of the school and let them come to us. Eric put his plug in front of them and as usual they fought for it. This fish got the braid wrapped around its head, but it had no problem swimming away from the boat when released.
Arlen Reynolds on April 10 with a healthy bull redfish landed and released while fishing with his good friend and partner Jeff Honea.
Kevin Maxey, Tyler, TX, booked April 11 and 12 with the lofty goal of achieving the Emerald Coast Grand Slam on fly. That's a redfish, pompano, and jack crevalle on the same day all on fly. We started off on the inside flats warming up on the big Spanish mackerel. But the slam wasn't to be. Kevin landed a pompano, but the fish flopped overboard before we got the photo. Next we found the jacks, and Kevin managed to snatch the fly out of one's mouth. Late in the day he landed a small redfish that wasn't photo material. He came close to the slam, but as they say "no cigar"..
The next day, April 12, was one for the record books as Kevin achieved the Emerald Coast Grand Slam...the first angler ever known to achieve it around here on fly. Follow this link for the complete story from Capt Baz's May 2012 fishing report in the newsletter of the Fly Fishers of Northwest Florida. http://www.flyfishpensacola.com/FL0512.pdf Scroll down through the newsletter for Capt Baz's report. Kevin's achievement was also the lead "Salt Spray" article in the July/August 2012 issue of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters. Here's Kevin with the first leg... a jack crevalle.
And then the second leg...a Florida pompano.
And the grand finale late-in-the-day redfish landed after a miracle backhanded cast into a 15mph wind. Hearty congratulations to Kevin Maxey for a job well done!
Bruce and Debbie Trumbull were up for a little action on April 13... Bruce on fly and Debbie on ultra-light spinning tackle. Bruce coaxed this nice Spanish mackerel to take a clouser minnow.
And Debbie landed this speckled trout on a sidewinder spoon...and released it unharmed. Always good karma in letting them go... Love that pink hat!
April 14 was a red-letter day for Jay Walters, Auburn, Alabama. Jay landed this impressive red snapper in Pensacola Bay
And followed that up with a badass Pensacola Bay gag grouper.
Jay's fishing partner Walter Gould got himself a pretty nice snapper, too. This fish weighed 8#.
A hard ESE wind blew out the Gulf on April 15 for Greg Catalano, so we took a chance and ran 15 miles up the Intracoastal Waterway to a beautiful stretch of beach where we planned to target shallow-water redfish and trout. We dropped anchor close to shore along a dropoff so Greg could warm up a little before we started poling the beach. It wasn't 10 minutes before the water started exploding a hundred feet from the boat like depth charges were going off. Incredibly it was a school of jack crevalle, and they came straight at and under the boat. Greg put down the 8wt, grabbed the 12wt, and tried a few casts with no luck. We changed to a shrimp pattern, repositioned the boat in front of the school, and Greg got this fish to eat on his first cast! It was sweet revenge for his previous jack encounter last year which didn't go so well...
Sabrina and Paul Houston were here April 16, and Sabrina landed this perfect slot-sized redfish on a live shrimp.
Paul Houston's fish of the day was this fat gag grouper.
Greg Catalano was back on April 17 but this time with his family and friends. Robin Catalano landed this trophy redfish drifting live bait through Pensacola Pass. Check out the four spots...
Greg put down his fly rod for a while and enjoyed landing this redfish on spinning gear...
When Robin landed a second monster redfish she asked Zoe, daughter Sara Kate, and Jackie to join her in the picture. Looking good, ladies.
Long-time client, expert angler, and good friend Ken Hutchison, Nampa, ID, on April 24 with the biggest trout of the year on fly...so far. Hutch got this fish to take a new baitfish pattern tied with EP fibers.
Always looking for the elusive slam Hutch facing the rising sun holding the first leg on April 25...the third pompano landed on fly during the spring season.
We never saw a jack crevalle but finally found a school of redfish late in the day west of Pensacola Pass. Here's Hutch facing the setting sun with the fish-of-the-day redfish. When the fishing gets tough ya gotta just keep on fishing, and things will turn around. Maybe...
Earlier we spent some time over some Pensacola Bay structure and Greg Fisher caught and released this fine red snapper.
April 27 was a breakthrough day for Steve Weaver, Charlotte, NC, shown here with his first redfish on fly. Steve experienced the whole enchilada. We were poling very quietly close to shore and found some big, slot-sized redfish holding on the sand close to the edges of the grass beds you can see in the background. The water was about three feet deep. Steve made a nice cast in front of this fish, let the fly sink, and stripped it as instructed while the fish swam over, investigated it, and then simply ate it. Steve waited until the fish turned its head before setting the hook. It was sight-fishing at its finest.
Mike Youkee from the UK with a monster Spanish mackerel on April 28.
April 29 was a perfect morning for poling one of our favorite flats looking for gator trout and redfish. The photo doesn't do this fish justice, but it's the all-time boat record speckled trout on fly. Weighed 6.1# on the bogagrip. Mike was working the new tan/white EP fiber "suspending baitfish" pattern along the edges of a sand/grass flat when a smaller trout rose up behind the fly. But before the smaller fish could eat it this gator exploded off the grass and annihilated the fly. We didn't even see the big fish sitting there until it made its move... Good job, Mike!
Later that day we found dozens of redfish on another Santa Rosa Sound sand flat but couldn't get them to eat the darn fly. Finally Mike coaxed this fish to eat the same tan/white suspending baitfish fly he'd caught the trout on. Check out the light tan and white color of this redfish...perfectly camouflaged for the sand flats. This was also the day that this stretch of beach became known as "Black Bikini Beach", but that's another story...
The next day it was plenty calm for the Gulf, so we ran west of the pass looking for spot to set up for pompano. As we ran along shore we saw what looked like a "brownish island" a hundred yards off the beach and pulled within casting range to check it out. It was a school of big fish hovering a couple feet below the surface, and they looked like bull reds. Mike piched up the 10wt with sinking line and dropped our best redfish fly (green/white "Go-meaux") right in their midst, but they weren't interested. That was our clue that they were big black drum, so we changed to a shrimp pattern (tan/white Couser). The drum were finicky, but Mike persevered and finally got this fish to eat after about 50 casts. This is his first black drum on fly.
It was a windy, rainy, nasty day on May 2, but Sandy Loveless and Katie Holton were up for it. We fished the structure in Pensacola Bay where Katie landed and released this big red snapper.
Sandy landed this snapper as a thunderstorm was bearing down on us. We called it a day and headed for the barn...
Greg Speer was visiting from Ft Collins, CO, on May 4, and we were back up on our favorite flat looking for big trout. Hard to improve much on this one...Rocketman's biggest trout yet on fly. The fish love that suspending baitfish fly!
Fishing buddies Mark Zizzamia, NYC, and Michael Weinman, Dallas, returned for an action-packed May 5. Here's Mark with a fine redfish landed in Pensacola Pass.
But things really heated up when we found schools of big jack crevalle running the beach. This is top-water big game sight-fishing at its finest. We use St Croix "Tidemaster" 8' MH power, fast action rods and Quantum Cabo 60 spinning reels, 40# PowerPro braid, and Storm 4 3/8" Chug Bugs. Michael Weinman brought the first fish to the boat after making a perfect cast to a fast-moving school.
Mark followed suit with this beauty. He waited for the fish to come under the boat and then made a long cast out in front of the departing school. Just before they reached his plug Mark popped it a couple times, and this fish crushed it. Love it when a plan comes together.
Tom Zavoral and Shereen Crowley snuck away for a little redfishing on May 7. Z put the fly rod away for a little while and drifted a live bait through Pensacola Pass.
Here's Shereen having some quality time with a bottled-nosed friend...
Diana Bowman landed this redfish in Pensacola Pass on May 9 and asked her dad Candido to join her in the photo. Candido was visiting from Colombia.
Each year Capt Baz donates a fly-fishing trip to The Fly-fishers of Northwest Florida's annual auction. This year Russ Shields and Jay Brykczynski bought the trip and had a ball with the Spanish mackerel at the USS Massachusetts. Here's Russ with a fine catch headed for the cooler...and the grill.
Talk about a happy guy... Jay with his first-ever saltwater fish on fly.
Albert Bacque came over from New Orleans with son David for a father/son outing on May 16. They don't get any prettier than this multi-spot redfish landed in Pensacola Pass.
The highlight of the trip was this redfish double
Before heading back we stopped in Pensacola Bay where David landed this 14# red snapper
May 17 was a big day for Devin Roark with his first-ever redfish. Of course May 19 was an even bigger day...his wedding day. Congratulations Devin!
Consulting chemist Dave Gratson was in town on a consulting gig and decided to try saltwater fly-fishing for the first time the afternoon of May 17. We were drifting the USS Massachusetts fishing for Spanish mackerel when a big school of bull redfish rose to the surface chasing baitfish. Just so happened we had a 9wt rigged and ready with a baitfish pattern on a sinking line. It took a few casts for Dave to get the feel of the sink-tip line, but once he got the "hang" of it the redfish were easy prey. Dave's hooked into his first-ever redfish in this shot.
Hail to the victor!
Dave reloaded and landed another trophy red...
And another...
Finally the redfish had enough and drifted down out of sight and away...and Dave was able to focus on the Spanish mackerel.
Jesse Quillen and Spencer Ross were back in town on May 22 ready for some bottom-fishing in Pensacola Bay. Jesse landed this 10# snapper on a piece of cut menhaden.
We moved out to Pensacola Pass, and Spencer boated and released this bull redfish.
The redfish in Pensacola Pass were ready to play on May 24 for Kevin and Joel Howard from Amarillo, TX. Kevin got the first fish to the boat.
Joel was right behind him with a bigger bull redfish. Check out the girth of this fish. These big females are our breed stock, and we take great care to resuscitate them before the release. Once these fish reach 38" they are 8-10 years old, and a 42" fish could be as old as 25-30. We are as gentle as possible and get them back in the water quickly.
Kevin developed a personal relationship with this beauty...
Fast-forward a couple days to May 26. After a trip to deeper water for some red snapper and amberjack fishing, Joel and Kevin finished off the trip with a bull redfish "double". Amazing color difference in these fish...
After dropping off Kevin and Joel on May 26, we picked up the Trumbulls and ran straight back out to the pass for some afternoon redfish action. And the fish were still biting big time! Here's Heather Trumbull and Jake Tessler with Heather's first catch.
Jake put the serious mojo on this brute for biggest fish of the day honors...
The Trumbulls were back on May 28, and we hit Pensacola Pass before heading out for some "deep sea" action. Debbie started the day off right with her biggest redfish to date. This fish is the same redfish Robin Catalano caught on April 17. Scroll back through the pics and check it out.
The Gulf of Mexico glassed off by the time we reached our destination 8 miles to the S, and the amberjacks were hungry. Heather Trumbull landed this "reef donkey" on spinning tackle.
Here's a nice shot of Bruce Trumbull and daughter Heather
Jake Tessler landed this fine gag grouper on stand-up conventional tackle. Check out the size of the grouper's tail. Lots of power there...
The following day we returned to the same area, but this time Dave Marino got after the amberjacks on fly. This totally cool-looking AJ in the 8# range hammered a 2/0 popper and was off to the races.
While Dave was working the popper son Brandon Marino was casting non-stop a 1/2 oz Sidewinder spoon on ultra-light spinning gear. What a treat when this huge false albacore exploded on the spoon! Well done, Brandon!
We stopped in Pensacola Pass on the way back and Brandon boated this trophy redfish. The end of a nice day...
Keith Tate came down from Athens, GA, June 1 to use a gift certificate his mother gave him as a birthday present. Keith landed this Spanish mackerel after a screaming run on an 8wt.

 

 

Mark Day, Jeremy Still, and Harry Brandon from Thrower Electric, Atlanta, had a fine time with the Pensacola Pass redfish on June 2. This is Mark with the biggest fish of the day.

 

 

 

Jeremy Still with his entry in the Thrower Electric fishing rodeo

 

 

Harry Brandon with another bull redfish from Pensacola Pass on June 2.

 

 

Nathan Kerr on June 6 with one of the biggest redfish of the season just before we had to turn tail and run from the approaching thunderstorm.
Nathan's father-in-law General Jack Ramsaur on June 6.
The Gulf seas were 2-4' on June 7 for pilots Tyler Buckley and Daniel Walters, so we drifted Pensacola Pass a few times before heading out. Here's Tyler with an outstanding redfish.
We stopped by the USS Massachusetts and used sabiki rigs to fill the live well with Gulf alewives and then made our way SE to a wreck in about 75' of water. Daniel Walters landed this 16# red snapper while slow-drifting a butterflied menhaden close to the bottom.
Joe Pierce on June 8 with a bad-to-the-bone gag grouper. Lucky fish, though. Grouper season didn't open for 3 more weeks.
Mark Opitz from Wyoming took a break from his fly rod and landed this impressive red snapper in Pensacola Bay on June 11.
Mark's buddy Perry Oaks, Auburn, AL, had the hot hand that day with this Pensacola Bay gag grouper...
AND, his best-ever redfish!
We couldn't get the redfish to cooperate on June 12, so we ran out in the Gulf looking for amberjacks and snappers. Robert Lockwood had a lot of fun with the AJs on light tackle.
Just a great shot of Gary Stephens, Knoxville, TN, on June 18 showing the youngsters on the boat how it's done.
   
   

 

Itís always a great day on the water with Gulf Breeze Guide Service!

Gulf Breeze Guide Service
P.O. Box 251
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32562-0251 (USA)
Tel: 850.934.3292 or 850.261.9035 (cell)
Email:
gbgsfishing@aol.com

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