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Winter 2012 was outstanding! For those willing to risk a little "cold" weather the winter sight-fishing for redfish and especially false albacore was over the top. Imagine gin-clear Gulf of Mexico water close to shore...like 50'...with a 6-8# FA coming in your direction closing fast looking for something to eat! You're on the bow of the skiff anchored in 2' of water with the fish coming right at you. It's Show Time! That's what we live for around here in the wintertime, and not many people know about it. In addition, the winter redfish sight-fishing is outstanding with plenty of fish and zero fishing pressure. Other winter species include red snapper, grouper, black drum, flounder and speckled trout. For non-anglers this is the time of year to stroll for miles along some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and not see another human. Typical highs are in the 50's with lows in the 30's, and there are many days in the 60's and low-70's. Of course there's always a chance of a cold front blowing through, and we work around those days. Accommodation rates are the cheapest of the year. Here are the photos from the winter 2012 season. Click on any of the images to see the full size photos. For photos from previous seasons, check out these additional galleries: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.

We open the winter gallery on a beautiful December 28 with Vic Farkas and a picture-perfect slot-sized redfish taken on the flats of Santa Rosa Sound.
A little later we moved out to the Gulf of Mexico where it was glassy calm, and the false albacore were feeding along the shore. Dennis Farkas landed this "bad little dude" on ultra-light spinning tackle and released it unharmed.
With blue skies and clear water the sight-fishing was outstanding. Dennis landed this trophy redfish on a SPRO bucktail jig.
Brother Vic and another impressive redfish landed in 6-8' of water. As is often the case during the winter months we were the only boat out there.

On December 29 the Gupta family from Gulf Breeze was ready to hunt for bull redfish, but the first thing we found was a school of big black drum. Here's Nick Gupta with the first fish of the day landed and released unharmed.

Nick's brother Nathan Gupta on break from Harvard University with his first catch.
Sunil Gupta landed the biggest drum which we released to fight another day.
With the overcast skies sight-fishing was challenging, but we found another school of fish. This time they were reds, and Sunil landed a beauty.

 

Late in the morning the clouds burned off and the schools of fish were much more obvious. Here are the Guptas with a triple hookup. Double click on the photo, and you'll be able to see the school of fish at 11 o'clock.

 

A nice black drum "double" for the Gupta "boys"...
It was indeed a "Happy New Year!" on January 2 for Capt Baz and Jonas Magnusson as they headed to a lovely stretch of Santa Rosa Island hoping to find false albacore feeding along the shore. Double click the photo for a good look at the winter scene they experienced walking through the sea oats toward the beach.

Now THAT's what I'm talking about! The albies were there indeed, and Jonas nailed (and released) this fish in 1-2' of water. You'll never find more beautiful water anywhere. Of course all the crowds in the background are a problem...

Here's Jonas suited up for winter wade-fishing with the first FA of the day. 3mm neoprene boot-foot chest waders are ideal, and they are very reasonably priced (< $100) at Cabelas.
Woo-Hoo! Capt Baz hooked up and palming the reel as a false albacore strips off backing heading for Cuba. The winter FA weigh between 5 and 8# and run a hundred yards or more in a matter of seconds. Top quality reels with bomb-proof drags are a must.
The targeted species...a fine FA in a foot of gin-clear water
Capt Baz with the first of four false albacore landed Jan 2. Jonas also landed four FA that day...
On January 3 Howell Raines celebrated the new year with some world-class false albacore fishing...
The following day Howell brought Krystyna over for some light-tackle sight-fishing for redfish and black drum. Once again conditions were ideal, and Howell and Krystyna started off the trip with this redfish "double".
Krystyna Raines with her first black drum.
Howell was the proud papa of this beauty...
Late in the day on a cool January 13 we found a school of bull reds crashing bait on the surface in Pensacola Bay, and Mike Lynam, Atlanta, GA, landed the most spectacular redfish of the winter season.
We had gorgeous sight-fishing conditions January 14 for the Linton family from Charlotte, NC. This is Jim Linton with the first fish of the day. Redfish have an incredible range of camouflage colors depending on habitat. Compare the colors of this fish with the one above. Hard to believe they're even the same species...
Another light tan and silver redfish landed and released by Ty Linton on January 14.
Mother and son...Marla and Ty Linton with a redfish "double" on January 14.
The rumor was that a particular nearshore wreck in the Gulf of Mexico was loaded with redfish, and we were en route to check it out when we saw pelicans diving frantically in Pensacola Bay. Sure enough it was a January 15 episode of "the running of the bulls"! Latham Gaines with a fish landed on his fist cast.
Laura Interval on January 15 with another very impressive bull redfish landed on ultra-light tackle. Laura's fingernail polish is the perfect match...
We finally made it out to the wreck, and it was indeed covered up with slot-sized and larger redfish. Our party of four landed 40-50 fish that morning. Here's a nice "double" by Julie Weatherly and Malcolm Yunker. We released all the fish unharmed.
Julie Weatherly with her biggest redfish of the day...
But Malcolm took the biggest fish of the day honors with this beast.
January 29 was another beautiful sight-fishing day for Warren Jerrems of Gulf Breeze, and we found school after school of redfish feeding along the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Warren with another trophy redfish landed and released unharmed
False albacore were working the tidal rip at Pickens Point, and Warren took full advantage of the situation....this time on fly! The fish spit out the sz 6, clear gummy minnow just as we were snapping the photo, and it's hanging from Warren's finger. This was his first FA on fly...
On Feb 2 Russ Shields, Jonas Magnusson, and Capt Baz were just starting a planning meeting to discuss the upcoming FFNWF fly-fishing class when the phone rang. It was Capt Eddie Woodall of Full Net Charters alerting Baz to a giant school of redfish on the surface at Deer Point. Ten minutes later they were in the Mako heading for Deer Point where Russ nailed this fish on his first cast. It's Russ' biggest fish ever on fly. Thanks Capt Eddie! You da man!
February 6 was yet another perfect day for sight-fishing and Drifa Freysdottir landed her first-ever redfish on ultra-light tackle and a SPRO bucktail jig. Photo courtesy of her main squeeze Jonas Magnusson.
The next day Capt Baz and Jonas decided to sight-fish the same stretch of beach but with the fly rods. Jonas took this shot of Baz hooked into a redfish that had been feeding along the outer edge of the inner sandbar.
The redfish ate a "green weenie" fished on an intermediate sinking line. Intermediate sinking lines work well along the beach, as they quickly drop below shore break turbulence allowing for better fly control.
Local cardiologist Jim Williams was ready for some sight-fishing on February 12, and the redfish were cooperative. Jim landed this trophy fish on ultra-light spinning tackle and a SPRO bucktail jig.
Jim was hoping to land his first redfish on fly, so we set up on the inner sandbar with the skiff anchored from the stern in 2' of translucent-green water. We were positioned with the wind at Jim's back when a school of about thirty redfish appeared to the east of us moving in our direction. When the fish came into range Jim dropped the tan/white Clouser minnow in their path, and this redfish grabbed the fly. The fly is a customized Clouser tied by Chris Windram at www.saltwaterflies.com. Double click on the photo for a nice view of ideal wintertime sight-fishing conditions along the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
A little later we found a school of huge black drum around structure in 10' of water. We anchored close enough to watch the fish but not too close to spook them. We tried various jigs and spoons, but could not get them to eat. Finally Jim tossed his jig close to the school, let it sink, and didn't move it. This monster swam over and ate it right off the bottom! You learn something every day...
The Nall brothers from Nixa, MO, brought their dad to town on Feb 24 for some winter fishing. Here's Jeff Nall with the first sheepshead of 2012.
Another shot of Jeff with a healthy redfish from Pensacola Pass.
Ron Nall showed "the boys" how it's done with his first Pensacola redfish and the biggest fish of the day.
Daron Nall with another bull redfish landed while drifting live shrimp through Pensacola Pass.
On February 27 we were sight-fishing with the fly rods for redfish around the docks in Gulf Breeze. As we poled around the end of one dock we saw some large fish swimming around the pilings in relatively deep water...around 6-7'. Assuming they were reds we anchored within range and changed to a larger, heavier version of the original yellow "pompano rocket". Expert caster Sigurbrandur Dagbdartsson from Iceland got a take on his first cast and to our amazement landed this big sheepshead...only the fourth sheepshead on fly in the past 20 years.
"Pretzel" Michaels, "PJ" Goyette, "Duke" Duval, and "Wojo" Wojciechowski were called the "wolfpack" back in high school in New Jersey. Moderately mellowed some 30 years later they like to get together to relive old times and do a little fishing. Here's Wojo with a killer red snapper landed and released unharmed in Pensacola Pass on March 1.
A proud PJ Goyette with a monster redfish...the biggest fish of the day. Of course size is not important to the wolfpack...
Duke Duval with a fine Pensacola Pass redfish. It's always a pleasure-packed day when the wolfpack comes to town.
Steve Nguyen, Albany, GA, was back on March 4 with son Nathan and Physics professor Indra Mukhopadhyay (Dr I). We had a lot of fun with the big redfish in Pensacola Pass before filling the cooler with 22 sheepshead and 30-something Spanish mackerel. Fortunately for Capt Baz, Steve had the fish cleaned and processed later that evening in Panama City...
A proud Nathan Nguyen with a huge redfish landed on light spinning tackle
Another shot of Nathan after he boated and released an 8# red snapper.
Physics professor Dr I was impressed with the myriad forces in play as he landed his first redfish.
Don Joyner, Great Falls, MT, enjoying a break from the Montana late-winter on March 5. Hard to beat a "shirt sleeve" day with big fish when it's still freezing back home.
Another shot of Don with a hard-fighting gag grouper in Pensacola Bay caught and released unharmed. Sunshine...glassy water...not too shabby.
We were poling a sandbar in total fog March 17 when a school of about twenty bull redfish rose to the surface just out of casting range for Bob Kelly and his 8wt. We let the current quietly sweep us into range, and Bob cast his Clouser minnow to the edge of the school and let it sink. This 40"+ fish cut away from the others, followed the fly, and then ate it about 20 feet from the boat. It was a vision Bob will never forget! Forty minutes later Bob landed the fish in bright sunshine and in full view of about a dozen boats. So much for that "secret" spot...
We close the winter gallery on March 18 with a nice shot of Victor Sharp, Birmingham, Alabama, with yet another outstanding Pensacola Bay red snapper. Let the good times roll...

 

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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