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Winter 2014 was the coldest in 24 years, but there was some outstanding fishing between the cold snaps. Some of our most exciting sight-fishing occurs during the winter months when the water is beautiful and there is little to no fishing pressure. This is the only time that false albacore in the 6-8# range run the beach in as little as a foot of water. We target them mostly on fly but also on ultra-light spinning tackle. It's also the time of year when the biggest redfish of the year feed along the beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Many of these fish are in the 30# range, and because of the shallow water we can land them on 8wt fly gear without over-stressing the fish. For our clients willing to brave a little cool weather it's some of our very best fishing of the year. Click on the thumbnails for full-screen photos. For photos from previous seasons, check out these additional galleries:Fall 2013, 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.

The false albacore made their annual beach run in late-December to the delight of Chip Horan and his dad Chuck. We found fish up to 8# in water as shallow as a foot and caught them on 8wt tackle and size 6 gummy minnows. It was FA sight-fishing at its best, and a day the Horans won't soon forget. Here's Chip on December 24 with the first fish.
Chuck Horan celebrates after a hard-fought battle with another of these "bad little dudes".
The albies look like black torpedoes streaking toward you in the clear winter water. Your first challenge is getting the fly in front of the fish followed by clearing your flyline and keeping your knuckles away from the reel handle. In deep water the false albacore like to "sound", but in 2' of water there's nowhere for them to go but away with the flyline cutting through the water throwing a foot-high roostertail. Love to hear that flyline sizzle! Chip after having a blast with another of these beauties.

 

 

Dennis Farkas on December 30 with a 33# black drum landed on ultra-light spinning tackle. We found a school of these monsters in 8' of water, and Dennis coaxed this fish to eat a Spro bucktail jig.
Nick Farkas with his first redfish of the day also on ultra-light spinning tackle. In December we find schools of big redfish in 3-8' of water within casting distance of shore. It's big game sight-fishing at its best on St Croix "Avid series" rods that weigh just over 4oz and Shimano Stradic 2500 reels.
Nick with another spectacular redfish in surreal conditions.
Here's Jon Watts with the first winter bull redfish landed on fly December 31. The fish ate a sz 2 tan/white clouser minnow and was off to the races.
Wes Stecker landed the biggest redfish of the day a little later on spinning tackle.
We pulled up on a shallow sandbar and found some fish in 2-3' of water. Jon put the fly in front of an advancing school, and this redfish inhaled it.
January 3 was a challenging windy day for fly casting, but Ramu Nallamala of Huntsville, AL, persevered and landed his first big redfish on fly. Well done, Ramu!
How about a 30# redfish on your first cast?! That's just what happened on January 16 for Glenn Perry. We ran out Pensacola Pass to the east and idled toward shore into water shallow enough for the push pole. Glenn was working some line out, and we were preparing to pole westbound with the sun at our backs. The water was gin-clear, and we saw some shadows 150' to the east of us in the glare of the sun...about 6 of them. We turned the boat to face them and waited. Sure enough they were big redfish moving undisturbed down-current in our direction. When they were about 80' from us Glenn laid out a perfect cast in front of the lead fish. As the clouser minnow sank this picture-perfect fish cruised over and ate it. What a great way to start a crisp January morning!
A little later Glenn landed another monster along the beach...
Then we ran inshore to a shallow sand flat and had a ball with fish of this quality in 2-4' of water. That's a lot of redfish on an 8wt!
Doug Arthur with his first saltwater fish on fly landed and released on a glassy-calm January 20. Fresh water fly-fishing is never quite the same after bull redfish sight-fishing. Sorry to do that to you Doug...
Rob Arthur, Whiting Field flight instructor, with a nice redfish landed in 3' of water on a tan/white clouser minnow.

Doug added one more beauty to the morning's catch

Fellow guide Dave Marino on January 22 with his all-time biggest redfish on fly. Dave's Myrtle Grove Charters is about a 30 minute drive from New Orleans. Check him out: http://www.myrtlegrovecharters.net
It was world-class fly-fishing for Bob Jenkins, Aspen, Colorado, on January 23. We had a good incoming push of water as we poled along the inner sandbar of the Gulf Islands National Seashore looking for big redfish. The morning was crisp with bright sunshine, crystal-clear turquoise water, and a light offshore wind. There was not another person or boat in sight. We spotted a group of 20-30 fish a couple hundred feet in front of us, let the boat drift just short of casting range, and quietly slid the anchor over from the stern leaving the bow casting platform in perfect position. The fish didn't notice us and continued milling around in 5-6' of water. Each time one cruised into range, Bob cast the fly well "upstream", added a mend in the floating line, and let the current carry the fly down and in front of the fish. The tan/white clouser was exactly what they wanted, and we had the thrill of watching fish after fish key on the fly, charge over to it, and suck it down. Spectacular day, perfect setup, hungry fish, and the right fly...in a word priceless.
Here's Bob's largest fish from that little "honey hole"...a 30 pounder. Look closely at the reel. Is it really smoking??
But his biggest fish came late in the day on a sand flat close to Pensacola Pass after switching to his brand spanking new TFO "Mangrove Series" 8wt uplined with a Rio "Redfish" WF9F line. We were staked out in 3' of water and caught a glimpse of a huge fish passing 90' from us in the glare of the setting sun with the wind blowing in and from the right. In an instant Jenkins wheeled and cast a backhanded laser beam into that wind dropping the fly three feet upcurrent from the cruising fish. As the fly sank the current drifted it directly into the face of the redfish, and with no hesitation it opened its mouth and ate it. It was the result of a miracle 90' upwind cast that landed on a dime. At 31# this is Jenkins' all-time record redfish and a moment of perfection in a long fishing career that neither of us will ever forget.
Capt Baz hard at work on that ideal January 23. The sandbar 70' in the background is less than a foot deep, and we were poling the outside edge looking for big redfish. Photo by Bob Jenkins.
Northern Californian Tom Stucker was back in town January 26, and the timing could not have been better. It was another perfect winter day with plenty of sun and a glassy-calm Gulf of Mexico. We found the redfish in the same general area where Jenkins had his field day, but this time they had zero interest in the tan/white clouser. After various failed attempts with alternative offerings we tried an old chartreuse half and half that had been in the fly box for ten years, and BINGO! This fish was a bona fide thirty pounder, Tom's best redfish to date. That's why we hang on to those old flies. You just never know....
Later we moved inside and Tom boated the biggest redfish of the winter season. Double click on the image for a closeup peek at this magnificent fish which we estimated at 32 pounds. We take great care when weighing these big fish by hoisting them in a wet neoprene net and quickly getting them back in the water. The process takes about 15 seconds. Congratulations to Tom for the redfish of a lifetime! Not bad for an 8wt fly rod...
Ashton Whitman, Alpharetta, GA, landed this beauty February 14 on ultra-light spinning tackle. Her dad Brian was happy to hold the fish for her in this great father/daughter Valentine's Day photo. This is what it's all about, folks.
Jesse Quillen and John Brasher were here on February 24, and the bull redfish sight-fishing was red hot. John Brasher shown here with the first fish landed on ultra-light tackle.
And another on a day when we were the only boat in sight. Check out that water!
Jesse woke up from his nap and got into the game with this fat redfish...
Shirt sleeves and bull redfish on February 24... a combination that's hard to beat. John Brasher with his biggest fish of the trip.
The fish moved off the beach, but Jesse found this one at the end of the day in the deeper waters of Pensacola Pass.
It was quite a rush for Jeannette Launer, Portland, OR, on February 27 drifting her fly down-current to a school of unsuspecting bull reds and watching this huge redfish take it. Jeannette strip-set the hook, and the fish took off for Cuba! For the next twenty minutes she received steady, moral support from her good friend Doug Andres as she battled the fish to the boat.
The "Guys from Amarillo" Kevin and Joel Howard were here March 11-13 for what turned out to be a difficult three days of fishing. Conditions were perfect when Kevin landed this fine redfish on the morning of the 11th, but things started to deteriorate by the afternoon as a cold front moved closer.
We got blown out of the Gulf and tried some inside flats later in the day where Joel landed and released this 8# black drum.
After getting rained out on the 12th we once again found some redfish along the shore, but this time we had much cooler conditions and a howling north wind to contend with. Kevin was undeterred and managed to get the fly in front of this trophy redfish.
Federal judge Skip Dalton taking some R&R from the bench on March 14
Jay Wright brought a couple of his buddies down from Birmingham, AL, on March 15 for their last fishing trip before Jay's wedding. The water was stained "iced tea" color after some heavy rains, but we were able to find a few schools of redfish...
Fellow attorney Bernie Brannan with his first bull red.
Sandy and Pam Loveless started off the day March 18 free-drifting live shrimp around shallow structure in Santa Rosa Sound. We don't kill many redfish but slid these two in the cooler for blackening that evening.
Later that morning we dropped off Pam and picked up Jarod Garland for some redfish and sheepshead fishing in Pensacola Pass. But before hitting the pass we poled a shallow sandbar sight-fishing for bull reds, and that's where Sandy became the 4th person to join Capt Baz and two others in the elite club of people who have fallen out of the flats skiff. One moment Sandy was on the deck, and the next he was in the drink. Those darn rogue waves will get you when you least expect it! To Sandy's credit he climbed back aboard, stripped off his wet clothes, stepped into some goretex waders, and continued fishing. His reward was landing this 30 pounder a little later in Pensacola Pass. You're my hero, Sandy!
Jarod Garland was thrilled to land this black drum...
...and was even happier with his first big redfish.
A couple days later on March 20 Katie Holton joined Sandy for some redfish sight-fishing along the edge of the Gulf.
And then once again Jarod got aboard joining Sandy for some afternoon fishing in Pensacola Pass where we found the first sheepshead of the spring season. These two six pounders fed the whole family that evening.
 
 
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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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