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Summer 2017 was challenging as we worked around the turmoil caused by tropical storms Cindy in June and Irma in late-August. It was difficult at times finding clear water for our sight-fishing fly and light-tackle clients, and we resorted to running numerous offshore and bottom-fishing trips. We did have some very exciting days on fly and light-tackle, and these clients are shown below. For photos from previous seasons click on the links to these additional galleries: Winter and Spring 2017, Fall 2016, Summer 2016, Winter and Spring 2016 , Fall 2015, 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.

We begin the summer gallery on June 30 with a 5 pound trout landed by good client and friend Mike Youkee from London. We'd been hammered for a week with the wind and rain from Tropical Storm Cindy. All the inland waters around Gulf Breeze were muddy, so we ran east in Santa Rosa Sound and found clear water halfway to Navarre. We were poling 50' from shore looking for redfish on the shallow sand and grass flats when we saw two really nice trout sitting motionless in a foot of water on a sandbar 150' ahead of us. The water was calm and very shallow on the bar, and we knew the fish would be spooky. Mike was using the EP 1/0 baitfish which lands like a feather. You just have to be careful to not "line" the fish or drop the fly too close. We stopped about 80' out, and Mike started making casts to the side of the fish with each cast getting closer. On the third or fourth cast the fly was close enough to arouse the trout, and they both swam over to investigate. Incredibly the larger of the two decided to eat, and the fight was on. The whole experience was as good as anything you read about, and Mike turned to me and said "That, Baz, is the reason I come all the way over here to fish with you". Well now I know... I'd been wondering about that.
The water was still off-color on July 20, but it was just clear enough for some sight-fishing along the Gulf Breeze flats for Bob Kelly and Cindy Bennett. Bob and Cindy hooked five and landed three speckled trout of this quality on the EP baitfish. Here's Bob with the first fish of the day.
Cindy took over the casting platform and landed another beauty. Check out the "yellow-mouth" (and the perfect hook placement) on this trout. We released both fish unharmed.
July 26 was a multiple species trip for Bryan Miller. First up is this respectable Spanish mackerel. These guys are built for speed and give you all you want on 8wt fly tackle or light spinning gear. This fish weighed about 3 pounds. In late-summer and fall, the monster Spanish are on the flats, and we catch them up to 9 pounds.
We moved over to the Gulf Breeze side of Santa Rosa Sound where Bryan landed and released this trout.
It got quiet on the inside, so we decided to give the Gulf a try. The water was calm and clear... perfect for pompano! Bryan got extra style points by releasing this fish unharmed.
We finished the day chasing false albacore a few miles out in the Gulf. They were feeding on top a half mile east of the #2 Sea Buoy, and Bryan landed numerous fish on a #6 clear gummy minnow. All the FA were in the 4-5 pound range and ran well into the backing. You just can't beat false albacore on 8wt tackle.
Here's a nice shot of Henry Pfitzer on July 28 with a picture-perfect "slot" redfish landed on light spinning tackle and released unharmed. Looking good, Henry!
On August 14 we struck out on jack crevalle, redfish, and trout, but Stephen Miller saved the day with this flounder which found its way into the live well and onto Stephen's grill that evening.
August 17 was a fun day of fishing (and catching)for the Nichols family. We had a busy morning drifting live shrimp over shallow structure where young Nolan landed fish after fish including sheepshead, mangrove snappers, trout, catfish, and black sea bass. We finished the trip sight-fishing for jack crevalle, and Keith landed this killer jack on a big topwater plug. Debbie joined in the photo, and there's Nolan with a "thumbs up" in the background. Looks like a Christmas card to me!
Mike Rothfarb, Atlanta, booked a half day August 19 for his first saltwater fly-fishing experience. He had been working on his casting, including the double-haul, and just wanted to see what the salt is all about. His expectations were low. After some casting instruction we headed straight to the Gulf hoping to find the false albacore. The Gulf was flat, and we found schools of fish exploding on the surface a couple miles out east of the channel markers. As we pulled closer we could see the green backs of the FA streaking through crystal-clear blue water with the bright sun reflecting off their silvery sides. It was mesmerizing. Mike did a fine job casting the #6 clear gummy minnow 50-60' and succeeded in catching fish after fish. It was one of those days with perfect conditions, hungry false albacore, and no other boats.
As if the false albacore weren't magical enough, a half hour into the hot action we noticed an area of "nervous water" fifty yards from the boat. The surface was glassy, and I could see fins and tails in the disturbance. It was a school of big jack crevalle, and they were moving in our direction. We quickly slid the 10wt out of the rack, and Mike began working out some line. The jacks were beautiful beyond description with their bright yellow fins lit-up in the clear, blue water. Casting a 4/0 popper on 10wt tackle is a lot to ask of a novice saltwater fly-angler, but Mike did great! He put the fly out there 40' and didn't decompose when the jacks all came over to investigate. It took a few casts, but once he figured out how to remove slack from the line and make the popper "pop", this gorgeous fish inhaled the fly 20' from the boat. Mike ended the day with bruised knuckles, line burns, and memories that will last a lifetime.
Two days later Stephen Miller and I ran back to that same area hoping the false albacore would be there...but nooooo! They were gone, and we spent two hours covering twenty miles of Gulf of Mexico waters looking for them. We did find schools of giant blue runners about 9 miles out, and Stephen landed fish of this quality on his 8wt.
August 25 was the 33rd wedding anniversary trip for local fishing addicts Jenifer and Steve Cotaya. We found a school of redfish feeding along the beach in the Gulf Islands National Seashore and they "doubled-up" on light spinning tackle and half-ounce SPRO bucktail jigs. How about 30-something years of fishing together to make a marriage special and long-lasting... Congratulations to Jenifer and Steve!
We ran east to Opal Beach on September 2 looking for clean water and redfish, and Mike Petrucci nailed (and released) this beauty on the EP baitfish. We were anchored in a perfect spot, and Mike's fishing partner and Michigan guide Andrew Behrend was up on the casting deck taking shots at the passing redfish when hundreds of mullet started "showering" a couple hundred yards down the beach. It was a school of jacks for sure, and we could see them exploding like depth charges all around the mullet. The normal "fire drill" of controlled panic broke out on the boat as Andrew cranked in and stowed the 8wt, pulled out the 10wt with the big popper, and worked out some line. While he was doing that I pulled in the anchor, grabbed the push pole, climbed up on the platform, and poled us in the direction of the melee. As luck would have it the jacks were moving toward us. It was a small pod of a dozen big fish that looked like black torpedoes pushing wakes in the shallow water.
As the fish approached the boat they broke to the inside trying to get between us and the beach. But the water got too shallow, and they turned directly at us. It was all happening so fast there wasn't time to get "buck fever", and Andrew instinctively backhanded the popper in front of the fish and started stripping. The jacks were nervous from the presence of the boat and the shallow water and passed under the popper without noticing it. I thought Andrew was going to pick up and recast in "Hail Mary" fashion, but he kept stripping the fly closer and closer to the boat. A split second later I saw why as this huge jack crushed the fly 10 feet from the boat! The fish's head literally came up out of the water as it hammered the popper with Andrew looking straight down its throat! A half hour later he brought it to the net, we got the photo, resuscitated the fish, and watched it swim
away. It just does not get any better...anywhere. If you're in Northern Michigan check out Andrew at Boyne Outfitters.
In August and September the big ladyfish were schooled up in the "draw" between the inner and outer sandbars in the Gulf of Mexico east of Pensacola Pass. We caught and released them on clouser minnows, poppers, and various "sliders" using a straight 8' shot of 40# monofilament leader. There were also Spanish mackerel in the mix, and occasionally we had to add a little bit of wire. This is Frank Bainbridge on September 2 with a typical sized ladyfish that readily take the fly and fight hard with lots of aeriel acrobatics. Imagine a 3-4# tarpon...
Andy Anderson from Scotland coaxed this redfish to eat a
tan/white clouser minnow just down the beach from Pickens Point on
September 5. Nice work, Andy!
A couple weeks later Brandon Bertagnole, owner and guide at Park City Outfitters was onboard on a glassy-calm, hot September 18. We had good light and poled the flats east of Gulf Breeze looking for trout and redfish. It was very "technical" fishing in the shallow crystal-clear water, but Brandon connected with this speckled trout right off the bat.
We continued poling down the beach in 2' of water and started seeing lots of redfish. They were mostly singles sitting motionless on the sand spots surrounded by sea grasses. Brandon, a FFF Certified Casting instructor, made beautiful cast after beautiful cast to the fish with little interest in the EP baitfish. We tried clouser minnows, but the "plunk" of the lead eyes was too much for the wary fish. After switching back to the baitfish Brandon spotted this torpedo-sized redfish cruising just below the surface in a foot and a half of water. He laid a perfect cast in front of the fish with the fly landing like feather, let it sink for a count of three, and gave it a long, smooth strip. The redfish swam over nonchalantly, and sucked it down just like it's supposed to do. Very satisfying on a tough day! You'll find Brandon at Park City Outfitters, Park City, Utah.


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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