Fall 2017 was
challenging due to a very active storm season. Three
Tropical Storms or Hurricanes caused problems but we had enough
nice days to keep our clients happy. We had some fabulous action
with the giant Spanish mackerel in September and October,
and the flats sight-fishing
redfish and trout was good all season. The "Running of
the Bulls" started November 1 and lasted
for a month. These are some of the most spectacular redfish you'll
ever see, and everybody likes to
have their photo taken with their "redfish of a lifetime". Check
out these pics of happy anglers from the fall. Double-click the
for full-page photos. For photos from previous seasons follow the
links to these additional galleries: Summer
and Spring 2017, Fall
and Spring 2016 , Fall
2013, Winter 2013, Fall
to return to this page.
Wayte kicks off the fall gallery with a killer Spanish
mackerel on a glassy calm September 29. Mitch was throwing topwater
on light spinning tackle, and the big Spanish were crushing them.
These fish weigh 6-7 pounds, hit like exploding depth charges,
and run off a hundred yards of line in seconds.
Sisney on October 11 with another fine Spanish mackerel landed
on his 8wt and a sz 4 red/white popper.
Good thing he was wearing that stripping guard!
Here's Aaron Davis, October 12, on a Project
Healing Waters trip with his first saltwater fish on fly.
Aaron was blind casting a chartreuse clouser minnow for Spanish
mackerel when this pompano ate the fly. The normally leader-shy
pompano move onto the grass beds
of Santa Rosa
Sound in the fall, and we catch
them on our Spanish mackerel leaders consisting of 80# mono or
wire bite tippet. Go
This fish was a game changer for Aaron. He
had no idea what all the fuss was about until the 7 pound Spanish
hammered his fly and streaked out over a hundred yards
of backing. As the fish exploded away from the boat we could hear
the fly line sizzling through the water throwing a 10" roostertail.
It was quite a thrill for Aaron who had the line burns and bruised
knuckles to prove it!
Kevin Howard on October 13 having a blast as
always. The photo didn't do this fish justice...Spanish mackerel
weighed 6.5 pounds on the bogagrip.
Testerman, Rogersville, TN, with an impressive ladyfish on October
17. Ladyfish like this 3-4 pounder
are here in good numbers during September and October providing
hot topwater action on 6-8wt tackle.
about a 5# flounder on fly! Milum was blind-casting a tan/white
clouser for trout when this doormat ate
it. It's the all-time boat
record flounder on fly, and we carefully extracted the barbless
fly and released the fish unharmed.
Dave Walters was in town October 26, and we
had one of our best-ever days sight-fishing the flats in Santa
Rosa Sound. With glassy water and bright sunshine all the options
were open to us. We began poling the flats on the south side of
the Gulf Breeze peninsula where Dave hooked three and landed two
shallow-water redfish. We had a perfect setup for this fish. The
sun was at our back and the fish was cruising the shallows
in front of us making us invisible. Dave laid the EP baitfish six
feet in front of the fish, and it swam over and ate it without
hesitation. The redfish was over 28"...quite a fish in 2 1/2' of
Nice shot of the release in slightly off-color
We moved to one of our favorite Spanish mackerel
spots, and Dave had a blast with fish of this quality on his 8wt
lunch we headed east and found crystal-clear water halfway to
Navarre Beach. The flats were beautiful in the
afternoon sun, and we poled until the sun got too low to see
fish. There were
plenty of skittish redfish and
trout, and Dave coaxed this one to eat the old faithful EP
baitfish. Check out the colors in this fish's tail!
colors on this late-season speckled trout, too. The smaller trout
move off the flats when the water temperature
drops below 70 degrees, but the bigger fish remain until December.
This fish was right at 20".
and Sandy Loveless were hoping to find some early bull redfish
action on November 1, and they weren't
disappointed. Here's a great shot of Pam and a brilliantly lit-up
redfish...the first of the season. The Running of the
officially underway, and Pam is the official centerfold!
Sandy followed suit a little later with another
And we finished the day with a bull redfish
couple days later we couldn't find the big fish on top, so we
pulled in close to shore to try for "slot sized"
fish. Pam was blind-casting a GULP shrimp along the outside of
a grass bed in 4-5' of water when this monster crushed her bait.
She was using a St Croix Avid Series spinning rod, Shimano Stradic
2500 reel, and 15# PowerPro braid. The fight lasted 30
minutes! That's a lot of redfish on 15# line...
in the afternoon the water glassed off, and Sandy and Pam caught
fish of this quality until their arms
were tired. Another redfish double on a spectacular, sunny November
Here's Sandy with his best fish of the day...
Clay Bush was in town
for the Gulf Coast Arts Festival and squeezed in some time November
6 for a little redfish sight-fishing in Santa Rosa Sound. Here's
artsy tail shot of Clay's first-ever redfish on
What's this? Looks like a Bahamas
bonefish! Famous fly-casting instructor Jonas Magnusson,
Mike Youkee, and I left during the heart of the Running of
the Bulls for a week of bonefishing at Water Cay. Man's gotta do what
a man's gotta do.
November 17 there were forty boats looking for the bull redfish
in Pensacola Bay, so we ran to the Gulf of Mexico and found the
big fish on top a few miles west of Pensacola Pass. We had them
ourselves for a while before some other boats saw us "bowed up"
and joined in the fun. Here's Evan Muskopf, General
Manager for Feather-craft in St Louis, with the first fish of the
day and his first-ever bull redfish on fly.
Calcaterra also from St Louis with his biggest fish of the day
landed on a 4/0 white popper tied by Ben Walters of Eastern Fly
Outfitters. Hard to beat the adrenaline rush of dropping a big
popper into the midst of a hundred surface-feeding bull redfish!
Is life good or what! Evan and Ted with a fine bull redfish
double on a bluebird day along the shores of the Gulf
Islands National Seashore.
It was Saturday, November 18, and there were fifty boats in Pensacola
Bay looking for bull redfish when a nice bunch of fish popped up
in Santa Rosa Sound due N of the
Pegleg Pete's channel. As luck would have it we were just pulling
out of the channel, saw the fish first, and were on them before any
what was going on. Robert Spotswood was ready with the 10wt, made
a beautiful cast with the boat still moving, and immediately hooked
into this picture-perfect redfish...a bona fide hog. What a way to
start the day! That's none other than Hobart McWhorter in the background
Here's looking at you, kid. The masked man is Tom Stucker, Walnut
Creek, CA, with his first bull red on November 21. Double click
for the full photo.
The fish were scarce the following day but we finally found a few
schools later in the afternoon, and Tom boated this beauty. That's
how it is with these big fish. If you have the patience to wait them
out you are many times rewarded with a "redfish of a lifetime"...
and Mark Walters got their annual bull redfish fix on November
27. Conditions were perfect and the fish were active. Here's Mark
with his first fish landed on spinning gear.
was at it again throwing a big popper on his 8' Sage
12wt that's actually designed for bass. It's amazing how nicely
handles these brutes. Double click for a "magazine quality" look
at this magnificent fish.
The next day Mark and Dave decided to forego the bull redfish madness
for the serenity and challenge of the flats.
As usual it was very technical fishing requiring
long casts and delicate presentations to wary fish in a couple feet
of gin-clear water. They'll spook in a heartbeat to any quick movements
in the boat, sound of the pushpole hitting the bottom, shadow of
the fly line, etc. And then of course there's having a fly they're
interested in. It was the EP gray/white baitfish that worked for
Dave. Nice thing about that fly is it lands like a feather and sinks
so slowly it's almost suspended in the water column. When it
all comes together it's
Stewart brought his brother-in-law Larry Schmeder down on December
1 hoping it wasn't too late for the bulls. As it turned out the
of big fish vacated the bay earlier than in prior years, but we
an incredible school milling around on the surface a few miles
west of Pensacola Pass. They were acting much more like it was
a spawning ritual
than a feeding frenzy. We took a short video as we approached the
school. This is a shot of Richard with his biggest-ever redfish
on fly. You'll see him preparing to make the cast in the video.
about an exciting couple minutes! Check it out here.
had no problem casting the 12wt for the first time. Both he and
Richard landed five redfish of this quality before we finally
lost sight of the school. We had them all to ourselves for an hour
or so before calling a couple guide buddies who were struggling
trying to find fish in the bay. How about that glassy water! Not
bad for December. Here's
another short video of Larry's hookup...
Pheabus and his long-time fishing buddy Ed Null were on the boat
on a cool, calm December 15. We ran straight to the Gulf
hoping to find some black drum around a small wreck in 8-10' of
water. The fish were there, and both Gary and Ed landed 25 pounders
spinning tackle. Here's Gary with the first fish.
Ed Null with another impressive black drum landed on light spinning
tackle, 15# PowerPro, and a SPRO bucktail jig.
and Mike Kusch found the black drum again on a spectacular December
29. We had light winds, clear water, plenty of sunshine,
and the fish were right where they were supposed to be. The problem
was getting them to eat. Mike had the 10wt with a sinking line
and a #2 tan/white clouser minnow. Stephanie was throwing a SPRO
jig on light spinning tackle. They ran the fly and jig over
and over through the school with no interest. Then Mike changed
his strip to something he called the "yo yo" and got the first
the day. He lost that fish and immediately hooked another which
he fought for 15 minutes before it came unbuttoned. Still nothing
Steph until Mike instructed her on the yo yo action. During the
next ninety minutes she put on a clinic landing four of these
with each one taking 15-20 minutes. Mike never
got another take. This is Steph Kusch with black drum number 2.
Steph again with drum #3 which weighed close
to thirty pounds...her biggest fish of the day.
Vansant, Birmingham, was up for some big-game sight-fishing with
his 8wt on December 30. We found the black drum again and spent
over an hour trying to get them to eat the fly. No luck. We gave
up on them and poled the Gulf shoreline for another hour
or so looking for redfish. Nada. Finally we checked out a couple
inside flats close to the Gulf and found a few schools of big fish,
but they wouldn't take the usual tan/white clouser minnow. Finally
we switched to the secret fly, and this redfish ate it without
Whew! It's always nice to get the monkey off your back. Way to go,
Bob Jenkins was in town from Colorado for his annual winter trip,
and we found some fish close to the pass where we've caught them
in prior winters. This year the fish were unusually picky, and Jenkins
had his hands full trying to get one to eat. He finally coaxed this
fish to eat a tan/white clouser. This was an old fish who should've
known better. Look at that "beat up" tail...
And that brings the fall gallery and 2017 to
a close. Thanks to everybody for coming this year, and I hope
to see you again in 2018. Remember there's no fishing for bonefish
off the Staniel Cay bridge! Just gotta love the Bahamas...
a great day on the water with Gulf Breeze Guide Service!
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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