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Winter 2013 arrived with calm, clear Gulf of Mexico waters along the shores of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. For those willing to risk a little cool weather, this is our favorite time of the year for sight-fishing along the edge of the Gulf. Schools of bull redfish and giant black drum feed in the "draw" between the inner and outer sandbars in 4-10' of water, and we take them on flies and ultra-light tackle. It's pristine out there, and on most days we won't see another boat. This tends to be catch-and-release fishing as the fish are mostly too big to keep. For those wanting to take a few fillets home we move inshore and target smaller redfish and trout. Here are the photos from this winter's season. For photos from previous seasons, check out these additional galleries: 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.

Brothers Derek and Spencer Ross started off the winter season with some outstanding sight-fishing along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. The black drum Derek is holding weighed 29# on the bogagrip and took a SPRO bucktail jig. Now THAT's what I'm talking about!
Spencer Ross and the first giant redfish of the season. We found these fish in 8' of clear water and landed them on ultra-light spinning tackle. The St Croix Avid series 7' rods weigh just a little over 4oz, and we use 15# PowerPro braid on Shimano Stradic 2500 or 3000 reels. You've got your hands full to say the least...
A fine bull redfish double for the Ross brothers. Spencer's glad that size really isn't all that important...
Cindy Wheaton is mighty proud of her main squeeze Barkley Gaines for landing this trophy redfish on a chilly December 27.
Of course not to be outdone Cindy landed the redfish of the day a little later...
A few days later on December 30 Dennis Farkas had some fun with the bull reds along the same stretch of beach.
At the end of the trip as we were running back we found a school of redfish crushing baitfish on the surface in Pensacola Bay, and Vic Farkas landed this beauty. Check out the colors of this fish compared to the redfish above landed earlier in the Gulf. Almost looks like a different species.
While Vic was fighting his fish, son Trevor and brother Dennis hooked into a couple more...
Kimberly and Rocky Sleight were "out there" to enjoy a beautiful, warm January 21. Here's Kimmy holding her first-ever black drum. We always let the big black drum go, but this one was a Goldilocks fish...just the right size for the cooler.
Later that night Kimmy and Rocky celebrated the day in fine fashion with pan-seared black drum fillets and a nice chardonnay...
Brothers Barton and Murdoch McMillan had a ball with the big black drum and redfish on a spectacular January 25. The drum Barton is holding weighed 35 pounds...a bona fide monster.
Here's Murdoch with a healthy redfish landed and released unharmed. These big fish are our breed stock, and we take great care handling and releasing them. We always use barbless hooks and get the fish back in the water quickly.

Murdoch enticed this fine black drum to eat a SPRO bucktail jig. After the trip Capt Baz was surprised to receive this very kind and gratifying email from Barton:

Dear Baz: Thanks for a perfect day of fishing. You were an excellent guide - comfortable as an old t shirt, knowledgeable about the area and especially the fish, conversant without being chatty and you gave off a aura of peace that made the stress of the work world just float away! Everywhere you took us we found fish. And, if I were a better fisherman, I would have landed 200 lbs of fish, not just the 100+ lbs we managed to bring in. I look forward to making this trip with you many more times in the future. Again, thanks for a great day!

The following day was another beauty for Jim Williams and John Sims. We poled down the sandbar until we spotted a small school of redfish just outside the bar. Jim hooked the first fish in about four feet of water.
John Sims followed suit a little later...
And then Jim put the major mojo on another one. Short sleeves on January 26...what's not to like!
The wind picked up from the south and the Gulf got choppy, so we came inside and poled a flat hoping to land a redfish for the grill. But it wasn't to be. Jim coaxed this fish to eat a 1/3 oz gold Sidewinder spoon, but it was 28" long...1" outside the slot limit. Bad news for Jim...fabulous news for the redfish.
Fellow guide Melanie Rojko, Breckenridge, CO, with a late-in-the-day speckled trout landed February 1 on a tan/white clouser minnow.
Dave Ernest was happy when son Rick landed the first redfish on February 15.
Of course he was maybe even happier to land one himself a few minutes later.
Either Dave or Rick captured Capt Baz hard at work poling the skiff in 10' of water watching for their next target.
And it turned out to be a school of seriously large black drum holding around a small wreck 300' from shore. Rick Ernest landed this fish on a 1/2 oz "magic bus" bucktail jig.
Part of the thrill is the successful release of these magnificent fish. Nice job, Rick!
It was easy to see the school of about 200 big redfish as we ran east from Pensacola Pass on February 17. The fish were close to the inner sandbar, and we were the only boat out there. So we circled well south of them and pulled into the bar a few hundred yards east of the school. The incoming tide moved us slowly and quietly toward them, and the sun was at our backs illuminating the redfish which were just a foot or two below the surface. It was quite a thrill for Skip Dalton who was standing on the bow of the skiff locked and loaded with the ultra-light St Croiz rod and a SPRO bucktail jig. Skip did a great job hooking fish on the outside edges of the school as we made five drifts and landed five big, beautiful, healthy redfish. It took Skip about 15 minutes to land each fish, and by that time we'd drifted far enough west of the school to crank the motor without spooking them. Then we would run back "upstream" for the next drift. Here's a nice shot of Skip's first fish.
Which he carefully resuscitated and released...
Skip landed his fifth redfish that morning, and then everything came to a screeching halt when a couple boats saw us catching redfish, motored right into the school, and started bombing them with heavy cobia jigs. Of course the fish scattered, and the ballgame was over. But we had already had a dream morning of redfish sight-fishing, so we just packed it in and headed for the dock.
David Weaver, Charlotte, NC, and an impressive black drum on March 5. David and his dad Steve were in town for three days and caught some very nice trout and redfish, but we failed to get the photos because of a camera failure. The best shot was a bull redfish "double" caught late one afternoon drifting live shrimp through Pensacola Pass. Our apologies to Steve and David for the camera mishap.
The camera was working just fine a few days later when Jeff Coen and Chris Gill came to town. Here's Jeff from Hershey, PA, with the first redfish of the day on March 8.
Chris Gill landed this monster drifting a live shrimp through the pass.
Jeff really wanted to land a redfish on fly, so we tied on a green/white "go-meaux" and slowly poled down the edge of the bar. We found a school, Jeff dropped the fly in their midst, and we watched his sinking line carry the fly beneath the fish which were milling around 6' below the surface. The line came tight on the second strip, and the battle was on. After about 15 minutes Jeff brought the redfish to the net....the first bull redfish landed on fly for 2013! You are DA MAN, Jeff!
We had wind and rain for the next three days, and the water became too silty for sight-fishing. But Bill and Monica Smith were willing to blind-cast on March 13, and the fish were in their usual spots. Bill landed this first redfish in the 24# range.
A little later we anchored on a shallow sandbar for lunch, and Monica continued to cast. This fish hammered her jig, and she fought it against the current for 15-20 minutes. When we finally netted it she was whipped and asked Bill to hold it up for the photo. Of course he was more than happy to assist. The fish weighed about 28 pounds...
On March 14 after putting two nice slot-redfish in the cooler Charlie Forrest was up for a little sight-fishing for the "big boys". We were surprised the water had cleared from the previous day allowing us to see a nice school of fish in shallow water. Charlie landed redfish #1 just east of Pensacola Pass.
We moved a little farther east and found another school from which Charlie picked off this beauty.
We finished the day dropping down "butterflied" menhaden over some structure in Pensacola Bay. After landing this 12# red snapper Charlie was ready to head back...
David Clarida treated his dad Bill to a birthday fishing trip on March 19. Here's Dave with the first sheepshead of the season.
A little later we found the big redfish, and Dave landed this whopper.
And then Bill brought his biggest fish of the day to the net. Beautiful fish. Happy Birthday!


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)

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