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Fall 2013 brought a welcome break from the unusual spring and summer rains. The redfish sight-fishing was outstanding on the sand flats of Santa Rosa Sound, huge Spanish mackerel and good numbers of pompano roamed the grass flats, and tremendous schools of false albacore moved within a few miles of Pensacola Pass. The "Running of the Bulls" started a couple weeks later than usual, but once the big, golden redfish came into Pensacola Bay it was GAME ON through mid-December. A bonus this year was the reopening of red snapper season in October due to the lousy weather during June and July. All-in-all it was a very good season as you will see below. Click on the thumbnails for full-screen photos For photos from previous seasons, check out these additional galleries: Summer 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2013, Fall 2012, Spring 2012, 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.

Dave Warnsman, Bloomington, IN, leads off the fall gallery on September 25 with the results of his first-ever day of saltwater fly-fishing. The ladyfish and bluefish were thick on the Caucas Shoal, and Dave had fun tantalizing them with a little #2 white popper. Here he is ready to release a very respectable ladyfish.
Bluefish were Dave's other popper victims. Our bluefish aren't as big as the ones in the NE, but a 3-4 pounder like this fish puts up a great fight on 6 and 8wt tackle.
Later in the afternoon things got a lot more technical when we poled the inside flats looking for redfish. Landing these fish requires accurate casting and a good feel for stripping the fly. Way to go, Dave! Check out the blue in the fish's tail...

 

 

We were back on the shoal October 8, and Elden Rosenthal, Portland, OR, was throwing the white popper catching ladyfish and bluefish in water stained brown by storm runoff. Elden hooked a bluefish which started dancing on the surface. To our surprise the commotion attracted a school of bull redfish which came to the top around the bluefish. They wouldn't take the popper (or the bluefish) and dropped down out-of-site in the dark water. We knew they had to be in the neighborhood, so Elden grabbed the 10wt which was loaded with intermediate line and a big clouser minnow. A couple casts later he hooked into this beauty...his first redfish on fly.
We left the shoal and headed SE in the glassy-calm water looking for false albacore. We found them in about three miles, and Elden experienced the thrill of landing these "bad little dudes" on an 8wt. The fish were happy to take a #6, clear, gummy minnow.
Elden snapped this "artsy" shot of Capt Baz releasing a 6 pounder...
Helen and Joel Howard came over from Amarillo on October 9 and 10 for some catch-and-release sport fishing. Helen landed this 6 pound-plus Spanish mackerel after enjoying numerous blistering runs on her ultra-light spinning tackle. We prefer Acme "Sidewinder" spoons for the big Spanish and replace the treble hooks with barbless single hooks to give released fish a better chance of survival.
Good thing size is not important... Joel Howard with a fly-caught Spanish mackerel on October 9.
Helen landed this "doormat" flounder while free-drifting live shrimp on October 10. The fish weighed 6 1/2#.
The conditions were perfect that day, so we ran to the Gulf of Mexico looking for false albacore. We found them where they'd been earlier in the week, and Joel landed his first FA on fly. These little tunas are fabulous fighters...all you could ask for on 8wt tackle.
It's Bob Jenkins from Aspen, Colorado, on his birthday October 11! And what a day it was. Bob started things off blind-casting clouser minnows for the giant Spanish mackerel in Santa Rosa Sound.
Then we headed for the Gulf and found the mother load of false albacore three miles south of Pensacola Pass. There were acres of albies and Bob put on a clinic landing fish after fish on his 8wt.
There were so many fish we just killed the engine and had lunch with fish striking all around the boat. Here is a link to a short Youtube video from that epic day of false albacore fishing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZl5dVdH9o8
The day wasn't over by any means, as we'd saved the best for last...sight-fishing for slot-sized redfish on the inside flats. We had clear water, light wind, and the sun at our backs as we poled eastward along the shore, and there were plenty of targets. This is the first of four redfish Bob landed on a #2 tan/white clouser made from EP fibers.
All would not be right in the universe if Jenkins didn't smooch with his first redfish. Got to admit the redfish looks a little freaked out, and who could blame it...
Great shot of Bob with the final fish of the day just before we opened a couple bottles of Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA...the cherry on top of a perfect day.
Two days later the false albacore weren't as plentiful, but there were enough for Virginia's Allen Taylor to catch his first on fly. The trick that day was l-o-n-g strips with a #6 gummy minnow.
Nick Johnson brought his son Sam and son-in-law Andy to town October 13 for some family bonding with the Pensacola Bay red snappers. Because of the extended snapper season these beauties went straight to the cooler.
Good friend David Butler with a cute little redfish...awww...one of two landed on fly and released October 15.
Dennis Farkas put some major mojo on the Pensacola Bay red snappers October 16. Dennis free-lined cut bait over structure to land this fifteen pounder on heavy spinning tackle. The fish ran so hard the bait slipped up the line, and we were able to retrieve it. Dennis dropped the same bait back down and caught the second snapper which weighed thirteen pounds. It's high-octane red snapper fishing in the bay when two snappers fills up the cooler! Dennis' son Derek is on his left, and Derek's buddy Sam is on Dennis' right.
Back at the dock the boys were pleased to hold the fish for the photo...
Business partners Jim Himmelwright and John Boles came down from the Auburn/Opelika area for some fun in the sun on October 28. They were blind-casting with ultra-light tackle for Spanish mackerel when this bull redfish slammed Jim's "sidewinder" spoon. Turned out to be the fish of the day...
A nice shot of John Boles with the targeted species. We slid this Spanish and one other into the cooler, and Peg Leg Pete's fried 'em up for John and Jim at the end of the day. Boneless, skinless Spanish mackerel fillets are terrific either grilled or fried.
A bonus fish for Jim Himmelwright! Every fall pompano feed on the grass flats of Santa Rosa Sound, and we land them on both flies and light-tackle. Since we already had dinner in the cooler Jim got some extra style points by electing to release this fish.
Dave O'Shea, Minot, North Dakota, got a good introduction to Pensacola Bay fishing with a "mixed bag" of species on October 30. First up...red snapper.
Dave's first redfish...
And a Spanish mackerel that just about took the rod out of his hands...
Tom Stucker from Northern California was visiting his daughter on Halloween and decided to try the local fly-fishing. Tom was casting clouser minnows for Spanish mackerel when this pompano ate the fly. We got the picture and released the fish unharmed.
A little later we poled the flats looking for redfish, and Tom nailed (and released) this beauty. The fish ate our favorite EP tan/white clouser.
Gerald McGee from Ft Wayne, Indiana, arrived November 1 expecting the "running of the bulls", but the doggone redfish were late this year. We had to settle for mega red snappers in Pensacola Bay. Not a bad compromise...
Gerald found one confused redfish mixed in with the snappers around some inside structure on November 2.
The following day Jay and Jimmy Wright were sight-fishing with the fly rods for pompano along the edge of the Gulf when we saw some big explosions just outside the outer bar. We ran out there and found bull redfish on top...finally...a week later than usual. Here's Jay with the first "running of the bulls" redfish on November 3.
Jay's dad Jimmy Wright had his hands full on an 8wt with the fish of the day.
The Gulf of Mexico was blown out the next day for Eric and Andy Cobb, so we poled the inside flats looking for slot-sized redfish. Here's a nice shot of Eric who scored major points by landing his first redfish on fly. Eric experienced the whola enchilada by spotting the fish, making the cast, and watching the fish follow and eat the fly...a 1/0 Puglisi baitfish. Congratulations to Eric!
Long time friends Bruce Trumbull and Steve Gaykan found some hot action with the fly rods on November 5. The giant Spanish mackerel were "on fire" that day, and they landed and released numerous fish like the one Bruce is holding in this photo.
Here's Steve with another badass Spanish in the 6# range...
As if the Spanish mackerel weren't enough, that day turned out to be the best-ever for pompano on the inside grass flats. Bruce (pictured here) and Steve landed six while blind-casting clouser minnows for Spanish. It's interesting that the fall pompano in Santa Rosa Sound are not one bit leader shy. We've changed our rigging from 80# mono bite tippet to 26# knottable wire, and it has no effect on the pompano.
Steve with one of the four he landed on a tan/white bucktail clouser minnow. All the pompano were released unharmed.
Jesse Quillen came to town November 8 looking for bull redfish, and we found a few schools a mile SE of Pensacola Pass.
The big redfish finally showed up on the surface in Santa Rosa Sound on November 10, and Jenifer and Steve Cotaya were onboard for the melee. The trip was a "Happy Anniversary" gift from daughter Jaci. How sweet is that... Jenifer's looking good with the first fish of the day.
Steve followed suit time and again with redfish of this quality
Wouldn't you know it... two days later on November 12 the big redfish were nowhere to be found for Nampa, Idaho's Ken Hutchison and Greg Fisher. But there were more Spanish mackerel than we'd seen all fall, and Hutch and Greg had a ball with them. This was the last day in the bay for the Spanish. We got blown out the next day by a cold front, and when we hit the usual grass flats on November 14 the Spanish were gone. We'll see them next spring. The fish Hutch is holding inhaled a new fly tied by Ryan Spillers. It's a "diver" pattern with a conical foam head and rabbit tail. Double click on the photo for a close-up. As you'll see the Spanish LOVE it! Ryan's a custom fly-tyer in Idaho. If you want to try out the "Spillers Diver" contact him at ryanpspillers@gmail.com.

Since the "bulls" weren't available on November 12 Hutch focused on the slot-sized redfish. There were plenty of targets on the flats, and Hutch worked them over with the EP baitfish. Here's a nice shot of his first fish.

And another hooked in the nose...ouch. Good thing for the fish it's a barbless hook...
As mentioned above we got blown out the following day, and when we tried the "Spanish mackerel" flats on November 14 the fish were gone. The wind was howling from the north, and the bay was rough. We were in the 21' Mako, so we decided to make our way across the bay to the Gulf hoping to find the bull reds. We were less than a mile out in the bay when we started seeing diving pelicans and schools of giant redfish on the surface. All those fish from the Gulf finally made their way into the bay, and we were right in the middle of it! The bay was too rough to stand up, but Greg Fisher landed fish after fish on spinning tackle. Here he is with his first...a beauty in full spawning colors.
Hutch had been trying gallantly with his 12wt, but the conditions were too brutal. There were fish breaking the surface as far as we could see, so we decided to run forward for a mile or so to an area out of the main current where we thought it might be calmer. It was, and the fish were there, too. Hutch had his best-ever day landing over a dozen on fly.
Here are the boys from Idaho with their first "bull redfish double"...
Greg never slowed down and ended the day with over twenty bull reds. This a great shot of one of his biggest fish.
Hutch with the "hog of the day" landed later in the day on a big popper. This fish is obviously stuffed with menhaden...check out that belly!
On November 16 Jack Noneman came down from Raleigh, NC, to visit son James who's here in flight school. We found the redfish on top in the bay close to Deadman's Island, and James landed this first fish on a big streamer. Serious spots on this redfish...
Here's Jack with his biggest redfish to date on fly.
Brothers Dave and Mark Walters made their annual "Running of the Bulls" pilgrimage on November 18 and hit the mother lode. It was still cool that morning when we found the fish less than five minutes after leaving the dock. "Here's looking at you, kid..." Dave Walters with the first fish of the day landed on one of son Ben's big streamers...
The water slicked off as we rounded the point heading for Deadman's Island, and to our delight the cove was full of redfish. The birds were diving and fish were crashing the surface everywhere we looked. It was GAME ON, and Dave and Mark caught more fish than we could count. Here's Dave with the first fish on his new Sage BASS II rod...a retirement present. This is a very nice boat rod for big fish... just 7' 11" long and casts a 12wt line like a bullet. The rods cost about 30% less than other Sage rods and have no problem handling the big redfish. Very impressive.
Dave with a larger fish of a slightly different shade. Same rod. Dave's son Ben Walters, owner of Eastern Fly Outfitters, has all the info on these rods for anyone interested. http://easternflyoutfitters.com/
While Dave was landing his fish on fly brother Mark was hammering them on spinning tackle. Here they are with a redfish double.
One of Dave's bigger fish landed on sinking line and a chartreuse/white go-meaux imitation
Mark Walters with another beauty
The following day November 19 we left the big fish alone, shifted gears, and poled the flats sight-fishing for the slot-sized reds. November is a terrific time to work the flats. The water's usually clear, and the fish are plentiful. Plus they tend to be hungry. We had our best success on one stretch of beach where the fish like the EP baitfish. The big fish are fun, but the shallow-water sight fishing is much more technical and challenging. Sure is satisfying when it all comes together as it did for both Dave and Mark.
Mark Walters with his first-ever flats redfish on fly. Mark saw this fish about 60' away, made a nice cast, stripped the fly just right, and watched the redfish charge and suck it down. The fish was around 25"...weighed about 6 pounds. Mark released it unharmed as we do all the flats fish. Congratulations, Mark, and welcome to the club!
November 20 was another glorious day for bull redfish fishing in Pensacola Bay. Blue sky and sunshine just what the big fish love. Mike Shields (pictured here) was on the boat with his dad Russ and their longtime friend Cooper Adams. Mike had a field day landing twenty fish on spinning tackle... That's about 500 pounds of redfish!
Photogenic Cooper Adams with his first redfish of the day on fly
The schools of fish moved close to shore, and we pulled up right in the middle of them. Fish were going berserk chasing menhaden and mullet all around the boat, and Russ Shields dropped his fly right in the middle of it. Didn't take long for this fish to grab the fly, and Russ battled it to the net on a fly rod he made himself. Pretty darn sweet!
Here's Cooper after lunch with his biggest redfish of the day. Hard to imagine it ever getting much better than this...
The next day was overcast, but the fish didn't seem to mind. We ran staright to the same spot, and the fish were already active. Here's Mike Shields with a small but beautiful early-morning redfish. Capt Baz managed to sneak into the photo...
Cooper Adams with another beauty on fly
Father-son double for Russ and Mike Shields
And Russ finished November 21 off with this fine catch with his own go-meaux imitation.
The big redfish were hard to find on December 2, but we finally located a school and JB Shireman, Ft Collins, CO, hooked this fish on ultra-light spinning tackle and let his sons take turns fighting it. That's Sawyer with the fist-pump in the background.
Around lunchtime we gave up on the bull reds, pulled out the 8wt, and hit the flats. We found some fish congregated in a sand depression surrounded by grass, and JB cautiously dropped the fly around the edges hoping to attract a single fish without spooking the others. The plan worked, and JB brought this 4 pounder to the boat.
This ladies and gentlemen is about as fine a redfish as you'll find on the shallow sand and grass flats of Santa Rosa Sound. The fish was about 28" long and weighed ~8 pounds. JB coaxed it to eat the gray/white EP baitfish. Bright sunshine...gin-clear water...not too bad for December. JB's son Sawyer earned his way into the photo by helping net the fish.
Joe Raines, Ft Walton Beach, booked December 3 exclusively for bull redfishing, and the fish cooperated. Joe treated son-in-law Doug Mitchell, cousin Howell Raines, and longtime family friend Alex Whaley to a beautiful day on the water with as many big redfish as they could handle. Here's Joe with one of his biggest fish.
Alex Whaley does most of his fishing offshore but had a ball landing redfish of this quality on ultra-light spinning gear.
What a redfish! Beautiful color, perfect dimensions...this one ought to be on a magazine cover. Pensacola's Seville Quarter owner Doug Mitchell with a picture-perfect bull redfish. Doug's Seville Quarter is a terrific destination for good times in Pensacola. http://www.sevillequarter.com/
Celebrated author Howell Raines with another Pensacola Bay beauty caught on ultra-light tackle and released unharmed. It was amazing how the fish turned out in quantity that day having been so hard to find the day before. Good kharma??
Two days later the bull redfish were once again nowhere to be found, so Jim Epic was forced into landing the biggest red snapper of his life. Jim used spinning tackle and tricked this fish into eating by "free-lining" a small piece of cut menhaden over structure. Nothing fights like a big snapper on spinning gear, and it was all Jim could do to keep the fish out of the wreck and bring it to the boat. Lucky for the fish snapper season was closed...
Ben Blevins put on a fly-fishing clinic December 8 on an Eastern Fly Outfitters trip. Of all the fish Ben caught none was more spectacular than this gorgeous redfish. Eastern Fly Outfitters, Piney Flats, TN, arranges all the details of these trips including transportation, lodging, food, and fishing. For more info contact owner Ben Walters at 423.538.3007 or ben@easternflyoutfitters.com.
Here's a shot of Ben and yet another impressive bull red
Ben's fishing partner Chris Jenkins scored with his first redfish of the day landed on a green/white go-meaux imitation
"Magazine cover" shot of Ben Blevins with a redfish hooked in the upper lip with a Ben Walters custom go-meaux imitation
Retired English professors Merritt Moseley and Michael Gillum, Ashville, NC, picked a perfect, glassy-calm December 11 for their redfish trip. This is Merritt's first redfish... a beauty landed on spinning tackle.
Michael Gillum preferred taking these big fish on fly, and who could blame him... Shown here with his first catch.
This photo of Merritt was too fine to pass up.
Michael in the afterglow of a great catch... He was throwing a 10wt with floating line and a Ben Walters chartreuse/white streamer. The big streamer runs just below the surface, and it's unforgetable watching one of these brutes charge and eat the fly.
Wounded veterans Oleta Webb and Kent Reagan were on the boat December 13 on a "Project Healing Waters" trip sponsored by the Fly Fishers of Northwest Florida. Oleta wrassled this twenty pounder to the boat like a pro.
Kent Reagan with his best-yet redfish landed on fly. Kent is a professional fly-tyer and owner of USMC Fly Guy, LLC. He specializing in flies for the Pensacola local waters. Flies including go-meaux, green weenies, and pompano rockets are available at Gulf Breeze Bait and Tackle, plus he sells them from his website https://www.usmcflyguy.com/
IBMA Banjo Player of the Year (for 5 years) Sammy Shelor proved on December 18 that he's good at more than picking a banjo. Sammy landed two serious black drum that day on ultra-light spinning tackle...the biggest weighed 32 pounds. After the second fish Sammy was ready to move on to another species...
Which he did when we found a school of redfish cruising along the shoreline. Earlier in the day Sammy experienced the rush of false albacore sight-fishing, but the only fish he had on threw the darn hook before we got the photo... If you enjoy bluegrass music (and who doesn't) check out Sammy and the Lonesome River Band at http://lonesomeriverband.com/www/?tag=sammy-shelor
We close out the fall photo gallery with a terrific shot of Jake Walters who brought his dad Jay to town for a father/son outing on December 19. Jake and Jay were hoping to keep one fish that Peg Leg's would prepare for their dinner. Jake took care of that issue by landing this perfect slot-sized redfish early that morning.
With dinner in the box we headed out to the Gulf of Mexico for some sight-fishing, and Jay Walters landed this monster black drum on ultra-light tackle and a SPRO bucktail jig. This is Jay's record catch...biggest fish ever.
   

 

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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