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Fall 2015 arrived with cooler temperatures and clear water. It's a wonderful time for fishing along Florida's Emerald Coast. This year we continued having an unusual run of mahi-mahi, Spanish mackerel and pompano became very active on the inside grass beds, and the "running of the bull redfish" came off right on time. The false albacore even showed up every now and then, undependable but thrilling when it happened. Here are the photos from our fall season. Double-click on the thumbnails for full-screen photos. For photos from previous seasons, click on the links to these additional galleries:Summer 2015, Spring 2015, Winter 2015, Fall 2014, Summer 2014, Spring 2014, Winter 2014, :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.

Wade Knight, Tigertown, TX, kicks off the fall 2015 gallery with a very fine mahi-mahi landed September 22 a couple miles from Pensacola Pass. We had a good push of blue water from the SE, and the mahi arrived in big numbers for a short period of time. Sure was fun while it lasted! Must admit Wade's John Deere T shirt had the perfect mahi colors. Excellent choice, Wade.
Wade's fishing buddy Tom Moodie also had a big time with the mahi-mahi. Pretty hard to find them up in Kentucky...



John and Betty Evans had a blast with the big Spanish mackerel on fly September 25. That's a nice fish, John...
...but not quite as nice as Betty's. We blind-cast clouser minnows for these bad-to-the-bone Spanish, and they hit with such velocity that they'll yank the rod out of your hand.
Steve Duecker felt the Spanish Mackerel rush on September 25.
Wounded warrior Kent Reagan on a glassy-calm September 30. Kent's a professional fly-tier specializing in patterns that work locally. You can find his flies at This trip was sponsored by Project Healing Waters and arranged by the Flyfishers of Northwest Florida (FFNWF).
FFNWF President Cliff Newton was aboard to be sure the guide put in a full day...
Bernie Smelstoys in town October 1 with an impressive Pensacola Bay red snapper.
Jake Tessler and Heather Trumbull wanted to find the false albacore on a cool October 2, and we ran all the way to Perdido Key before hitting paydirt. Jake shown here with a 6-7 pounder.
Heather with one of many FAs landed on ultra-light spinning tackle. Nice photobomb, Jake.
There's nothing more enjoyable than spending a day on the water with Hobart McWhorter and Andy Sherrill. October 3 was just such a day, and the indomitable Hobart McWhorter struck first with this 3+ pound ladyfish.
Of course the targeted species were false albacore, and Andy was very pleased to boat one before his old buddy. Don't think he didn't let Hobart know about it either...
The air was expletive-filled as Hobart missed numerous false albacore takes, but he finally brought the biggest FA of the day to the boat. What you're seeing here is a look of extreme satisfaction as Hobart once again accomplished his mission.
October 7 was a fun day for Kent Gilliland starting with the big Spanish mackerel...
...and ending with his first mahi-mahi on fly. Nice job, Kent!
Okay, it's not huge, but it sure is pretty. Terry McCormick with his first-ever mahi on fly October 9.
But the day belonged to the Queen! Alicia McCormick with an 8 1/2 pound Spanish mackerel...biggest of the year. That's a centerfold photo if I ever saw one...
October 11 was Eric Mullis' birthday, and his dad Odell decided to take him fishing. We were catching cigar minnows in the current line on the Caucas Shoal when a school of redfish started crashing bait on the surface. Odell hooked up immediately but got cut off....quickly tied on another jig and landed the first fish. Here's a 20 second video:
My childhood friend Snead Finch was in town just in time for the hot action with the Mullis boys. Looking good, Big Snead! Timing is everything.
Here's the birthday boy Eric Mullis with another beautiful redfish landed before the school disappeared.
But the catch of the day definitely went to Eric with this monster snapper in Pensacola Bay. Happy Birthday, my man. Incredibly snapper season was open, and we released this beauty to the cooler...
Greg Hawley had a big day October 16 starting with some fun with the Spanish mackerel.
We ran out to the shoal and had a school of a hundred redfish a foot below the surface and all to ourselves...a rare treat for October. Greg landed these three beauties before the school drifted out of sight.
A rare spotless redfish. Greg switched to a floating line with a tan/white clouser minnow for this catch. Double click for a nice shot of the release.
The grand finale in the Gulf on a fine October day. We tucked the rods away and enjoyed the beautiful scenery while having lunch.
Greg wasn't quite finished. We stopped again at the Spanish mackerel spot and he landed and released the first fall pompano.
The Gulf was blown out on October 21, so Steve Deeg and I poled some flats in the Intracoastal Waterway east of Portofino. It was very "technical" fishing, the redfish were wary, and we couldn't get them to take the fly. We took a lunch break and were idling out into deeper water when we noticed significant splashing out in the ICW. Incredibly it was a school of brightly-colored redfish crashing bait on the surface. By the time we got there the fish had dropped into deeper water, and Steve put the sinking line to work landing this gorgeous 30" 12-14# fish...
Mike Youkee was in town for a week starting October 30, and we ran straight to the Gulf hoping the big SE blow from the previous week had moved false albacore close to shore. We ran a 10 mile circle without seeing anything. On the way back in we found schools of these "lookdowns" in the neighborhood of the USS Massachusetts. They were eager to eat the gummy minnow, and Mike landed several before we gave up on the Gulf and headed for the inside.
Our next stop was our favorite Spanish mackerel spot where Mike landed this fish on the old-faithful tan/white clouser. This photo provides a nice view of the Spanish mackerel's "sooty-black" dorsal fin. A juvenile king mackerel closely resembles a Spanish but has a clear-gray dorsal...
We moved a little closer to shore hoping for Mike's first pompano on fly and bingo! Love it when a plan comes together.
There were rumors of redfish in the neighborhood of the Port of Pensacola, so we ran over there to check it out. The water had glassed off, and we saw a "river" of nervous water a few hundred yards away. Idling closer we realized it was hundreds of huge jack crevalle cruising along with their dorsal fins and tails breaking the surface of the water. We quickly put a big popper on Mike's 11wt and eased into position. Mike made the cast and started the popper popping, but the jacks wouldn't eat it. They curiously swam all around it but weren't sure what it was. In a semi-panic we switched to this big chartreuse/white streamer, and the jacks crushed it! This first fish weighed 26 pounds and gave Mike all he wanted... Double click for a nice side view.
Of course Mike had to have another go at them resulting in this 24 pounder. But with a pompano and jack crevalle in the "bag" all we needed was a redfish for the Emerald Coast Grand Slam...a feat accomplished only once in 13 years. But it wasn't to be. We looked for them on the surface until dark and never even saw a pelican.
The next day was a different story. We ran east to where Steve Deeg caught his fish the previous week, and Mike landed five redfish of this quality...
Another simply beautiful brightly-colored redfish...
The redfish hunting started in earnest on November 2, but we only found one school of fish. Mike Shields saved the day with this redfish landed on spinning tackle.
It was a whole different story the following day. A giant school of redfish found the millions of menhaden between the Bob Sikes Bridge and the EPA island, and all hell broke loose. We saw 20 pound redfish completely airborne chasing the menhaden. There were just a few boats in the area, and the fish fed constantly for a couple hours. By the time it ended Mike Shields and TJ Carnes had landed over 50 bull redfish...that's over 1000 pounds of redfish! Here's TJ with a "typical" catch...
Mike Shields with one of the biggest redfish of the day. That's a belly chock full of menhaden!
The big redfish didn't feed again on the surface for a week, so we resorted to looking for them in Pensacola Pass. All my good friend Bob Parker wanted on November 5 was for his sons to catch a big redfish, but it was Bob who got all the strikes. Here he is with son David helping him hold fish #1. Double click and son Robert shows up in the photo...
Rob scored the following day when he and his dad landed this bull redfish "double" in Pensacola Pass. This turned out to be Bob's last redfish, as he passed away a few months later. We had many great times over the years, and I will truly miss him. Bob Parker defined the term "class act". RIP my friend.
The "Walters Luck" continued into 2015. For the second year in a row Dave Walters was on the boat The Day the schools of redfish came into the bay from the Gulf. This year Dave had first-time saltwater fly-fisherman Scott Aitken, his son-in-law, with him to experience the melee. When the smoke settled they had landed 12 "doubles" and a dozen more fish each on poppers, streamers, floating lines, sinking lines, whatever they put in the water. It was our all-time best day of bull redfish fishing on fly. Here's Dave on November 10 with the first redfish of the day.
Scott Aitken with his first redfish. Double click for a full view.
Dave and Scott with their first "double". Here's a video of the hot action...
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what the fathometer looks like when there's a school of redfish directly under the boat. Double click and look at the depth on the right side of the fathometer screen. The fish are right down on the bottom below 20'. This is when you need the sinking line to get the fly down there fast!
Scott with another beautiful bright-colored redfish
The following day Daniel Walters joined the group, and once again the fish were actively feeding. Here's Dave Walters with the first fish of the day.
A nice double by Daniel (spinning tackle) and Scott (fly)...
A rare bull redfish "triple". All fish safely revived and released unharmed.
Terrific shot of Daniel Walters and friend on a spectacular November 11. Photo taken by Dave Walters.
Ditto for Scott...
Pam and Sandy Loveless came to town November 12 hoping for some redfish action, and everything worked out as planned. Here's Pam with a bona fide monster...
Sandy's looking pretty darn happy, too. Sunshine, mild temperatures, cooperative redfish... What's not to like.
What a difference a couple days makes! The weather blew in for Edd Hill and Dwaine Mays who were here for 5 days on an Eastern Fly Outfitters trip. We had to cancel one day and cut another short because of wind and rain, but the guys from Tennessee hung in there and caught some nice bull reds on fly. The man behind the mask is Edd Hill on a cold November 15.
Dwaine Mays November 15 with his biggest-ever redfish on fly.
By the end of the week the weather was beautiful, just in time for Bob Jenkins on November 20. The Gulf was flat so we spent a few hours chasing some very elusive redfish in stained water on the Caucas Shoal. Jenkins finally got a decent shot and put the steel to this fish. We tried unsuccessfully for another hour or so, and then decided to declare victory and leave.
On the way back we stopped in the middle of Pensacola Bay to celebrate the spectacular day with a cold beverage. Which we did. It was around 3pm, the water was glassy, and we could see clearly all the way to the Three Mile Bridge. As we drank our Dogfish Head 90 minute IPAs we noticed some boat action a few miles away close to the bridge. Fortified by the IPA we decided to run over there and check it out. To our delight the water erupted with a big school of bull reds just as we got there, and Jenkins proceeded to land five fish of this quality over the next hour or so.
Bob's biggest fish of the day weighed 29 pounds, and he landed it on a TFO "Mangrove Series" 9wt with a green/white go-meaux. Another incredible day on the water with Jenkins.
Things were tough November 24 for Kent Gilliland. We fished hard and finally got "first shot" at some fish that popped up in the middle of the bay. Before the other boats arrived Kent used his hand-made 10wt to put the fly right on the money, and this fish slammed it.
Thanksgiving weekend was out-of-control with a hundred boats in Pensacola Bay all charging around at high speed looking for schools of redfish. When they converged on a school of feeding fish it was dangerous at best. We managed to pull one fish from a school without getting rammed or cut off by the inconsiderate amateur boaters. Here's Jo Pease with that gorgeous redfish with a little help from yours truly. We'll be leaving Thanksgiving weekend to the other boaters from now on...
Jake Tessler and Heather Trumbull were back in town December 1 and caught a perfect, warm, sunny day complete with bull redfish. That's a seriously big fish, Jake.
And the always photogenic Heather in a great photo of a fine catch. Double click for the rest of the story...
Bruce Trumbull, fly rod in hand, put his old System 2 reel to the test with this lovely redfish.
Auburn's Perry Oaks and John Slupecki, Tallahassee, followed suit on December 2 with a double-digit day. Here's Perry with his first redfish.
Talk about a well-fed redfish! John Slupechi with a hog...
And here's "Slupes" with his fish of the day...a monster on fly! Double click for the side view of this impressive redfish.
New England guides Tom Rapone and Rob Morrison came down to see what all the fuss was about. Too bad December 3 was a cold, overcast, end-of-the-season day with few fish. But these guys are professionals and knew the job was dangerous when they took it. Before lunch by the Port of Pensacola a small school of redfish popped up in casting range...which is 100 feet for these guys...and they both landed fish. It was beautiful to watch their double-handed stripping technique and the action on their hand-tied menhaden flies. After that pod of fish disappeared we stayed in the general area for an hour or so until I couldn't stand it anymore. So I suggested we run to the Gulf and head east looking for false albacore. Which we did with no success. We finally anchored 15 miles from the Port just east of the beach pier to have a sandwich, and the cell phone rang. A guide buddy called to say the schools of redfish back at the Port were feeding on top...right where we'd left! Tom, shown here, had the quote of the year regarding my decision to leave the Port: "If it hadn't seemed like a good idea at the time we wouldn't have done it". Truer words were never spoken...
Rob Morrison with his first redfish...
...and another. Photo by Tom Rapone.
We ran back to the Port after lunch. As we arrived the other boats were leaving with the report "they went down about a half hour ago, and we haven't seen them since." Being professionals we stayed in the general area until sunset, and never saw a fish. The ride home was nice, though... Photo by Tom Rapone.
Tom and Robbie were back on the boat December 7, but this time we stayed away from the undependable waters of Pensacola Bay and went to a flat close to Pensacola Pass that I knew held some big fish. It was difficult, technical fishing as suspected but Rob finally got this bruiser to eat the fly. That's a 30 pounder, my man! Great job!
Fellow guide Mel Rojko from Fairplay, Colorado, brought her 88 year old dad Art on the boat December 9. On the way to pick them up I ran a circle around the bay looking for birds. There was another boat out there who said he'd seen some redfish on the surface. So after picking them we made a beeline back to that spot, and sure enough a nice school of fish popped up. It all happened fast, but both Mel and Art were ready. She laid a nice cast into the fish and was immediately hooked up. I flipped a bucktail jig in the general direction of the school, handed the rod to Art, and he came tight to a fish. We landed Mel's redfish, got the photo, and released it while Art held on for dear life.
With Mel's fish out of the way it was a treat to watch Art fight and land his redfish. An 88 year old man moving around an 18' skiff while fighting a 20 pound redfish is inspirational to say the least. Here he is with his trophies...the biggest catch of his life and his loving, caring daughter.
Those fish disappeared as they do, and we headed out to the flat where Rob caught his big redfish a couple days before. We poled as quitely as possible hunting for the school and started seeing fish. Mel had a number of shots and made good casts, but the fish had lockjaw...wouldn't eat. I suggested she try a different stripping make the tan/white clouser more appealing. On the next shot she hooked into this 30 pounder. Her trick was a long, slow strip followed by a couple short, quick strips. Takes a pro to figure that one out... So here she is: Mel Rojko showing off her trophy redfish and her new Nautilus reel. Ought to end up on the Nautilus website. Double click for a full view.
Mel reviving and releasing her fish.
How's that for a black drum on fly! Stephen Miller and his biggest saltwater fish yet on fly landed and released December 10.
Chico Fernandez was on the boat December 19, and we went back to the same spot hoping the black drum were still there. And they were. The water was clear, and we could see them milling around the wreck of an old sailing ship in 10' of water. We tried numerous flies without success, when Chico said "I've been fishing for these guys for over 50 years, and I've always had my best luck on black. You got anything black in your fly box?" So I dug around and found an ancient all-black clouser minnow that I tied 15 years ago. Chico tied it on and landed this 22 pound black drum on his first cast. Goes to show it's always best to listen to the master... Photo by Steve Jordan.
And so that brings us to the close of yet another year, boys and girls. Thanks to all of you for coming, and I hope to see you again next year or sometime down the road.


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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