Fall 2018 began
with clear water, cooling temperatures, and everything
looking good until Hurricane Michael arrived the second week
of October. Even though the storm
missed us by 100 miles the resulting rain and fresh water runoff
affected the habits of our normal fall species. We had some great
days with redfish, jack crevalle, and Spanish mackerel, but the
season as a whole was below par. That said we worked hard when
conditions allowed us to fish, and many clients had outstanding
trips. Check out these photos from the fall season.
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
to return to this page.
started off the day September 28
sight-fishing for redfish on the shallow flats of Santa Rosa
Sound. Mike and Stephanie Kusch, Murfreesboro, TN, were on board.
It was a tough morning with thunderstorms in the area and off-and-on
sun, but Mike coaxed this redfish to eat his tan/white
clouser minnow. Beautiful silvery-tan fish with a nice blue tail...Mike's
first redfish on fly.
in the afternoon we hit the jackpot at the sunken battleship
USS Massachusetts 1.3
miles out from Pensacola Pass. The Gulf of Mexico was glassy-calm,
and as we pulled close to the wreck we could see a school of bull
baitfish on the surface. Stephanie hooked up immediately on light-tackle
as we frantically got out the 10wt for Mike. After a ten minute
fight she brought this fish to the net. What a photo! "A
picture is worth 1000 words"
cast the big popper numerous times into the school with fish
after fish striking at but missing the fly. The surge from the
charging fish would push the fly out of the way just as the fish
It was exciting but maddening until this beauty finally got the hook. Now
THAT's how you spell r-e-l-i-e-f.
shot of Stephanie with another gorgeous redfish. Looks like the
perfect holiday greeting card...Awww.
here's Mike sitting on the poling platform showing off that big
white popper tied by Ben Walters, Eastern Fly Outfitters. The
Sage ONE 10wt and Tibor Riptide were a perfect match for these
Snead Finch from Winston Salem, NC, with a Butcherpen Cove speckled
trout on October 1.
little later when the jacks showed up Snead grabbed the big spinning
rod and made a perfect cast with a 5" topwater
"chug bug". This fish crushed it and was off to the races for about
20 minutes. When the fish was finally whipped Snead got out
of the boat to resuscitate it. Double click for a nice shot of
Crevalle in a couple feet of water.
Yeager was in town October 4, and we headed straight for the
Spanish mackerel feeding grounds. During October the biggest
of the year feed on Santa Rosa Sound grass beds in 5-7'
of water. We blind-cast for them using 8wt tackle and clouser minnows,
other streamers, and poppers. The fish weigh up to 9# (30
inches to the
60# tippet, so we use either 80# mono or 26# seven-strand nylon-coated
wire. It's surprising that usually leader-shy pompano feed on
and we catch them while Spanish mackerel fishing heavy leaders
and all. Here's Brad with the first fish of the day. Pretty darn
Brad with a typical-sized Spanish. This fish is in the 4-5# range.
Imagine an 8 pounder! They are as fast as any fish you'll ever hook
on an 8wt and are more that happy to leave you with line burns and
Anderson from Scotland with the first fish of the day on a cool
October 12 morning. Pretty little redfish on a tan clouser.
warmed up later in the day and we moved to our favorite Spanish
mackerel spot where Andrew landed his first pompano on fly. The
were nowhere to be found...
Spanish mackerel returned in spades the following week on October
15 for the Marsh family. Dawn tied for
fish of the day" with this 6#+ Spanish. Double click for a
close up of the teeth
on this fish. Easy to see why wire or 80# mono leaders are necessary.
Tim Marsh with a 4-5 pounder headed for the cooler. Spanish mackerel
are excellent table fare as long as you take extra care to not
let the meat spoil. If we are keeping them we immediately submerge
the whole fish in ice and keep it there until it's cleaning time.
We skin and de-bone the fillets taking extra care to remove all
the red meat along the lateral line. You're left with four white-meat,
boneless fillets per fish that go right back on the ice until they're
cooked. Highly recommended to eat them either immediately (Pegleg
Pete's will fry, cajun-fry, blacken, or grill them for you) or for
sure that night at home.
Ellen with the other monster Spanish of the day. Tied with her
mom. Nice work, ladies! Check out the girth on that fish.
Waite was back in town the following day for the hot Spanish
mackerel action. Mitch likes to catch these fish on topwater
plugs, and who could blame him. Sounds like a depth charge going
when one of these brutes crushes
a topwater "chug bug"!
Boles and Jim Himmelwright were here for two days starting October
17 hoping for the big Spanish, but the fish were gone. The
rains from Hurricane
Michael the previous week flooded
the rivers feeding into Pensacola Bay. It takes a few days for
this lower-salinity sediment-filled runoff to reach the waters
where we fish, but when
it does the Spanish mackerel depart for the higher salinity in
the Gulf. They will return when the salinity in the inland waters
returns to normal...usually a couple weeks. We decided to run 7
miles offshore and have fun catching and releasing red snappers
on live pinfish.
This is John Boles, and he seems to be giving me a middle-finger
salute... Thank you, John. He was happy, however, when the mahi-mahi
showed up, and he and Jimmy
caught enough for dinner.
Jim Himmelwright on October 17 with another nice red snapper caught
on spinning tackle and released. In addition to catching mahi-mahi
for dinner, Jim and John had a ton of fun with some 6-8# false albacore
that showed up at the wreck.
following day we once again tried one of our favorite Spanish
mackerel spots, and Jimmy caught the fish of the week. What a surprise
to have this monster redfish take his spoon in 5' of water! That's
a lot of redfish on light tackle.
Christie Geernaert, Sebastopol, CA, was here with husband Richard
and friends for what turned out to be a tough week of fishing
water quality was still suffering from Hurricane Michael, and we
had a hard time finding fish. We managed a few Spanish mackerel
like this one Christie landed, but the big Spanish had not returned.
Sorry to say the highlight of their trip were the wonderful restaurants
they enjoyed after brutal days on the water. Doggone tough week to
be a guide...
were three boats/guides that week, and this is the best fish
landed on mine. Sandy Carpenter on October 26 with a very nice
landed at the Ft McRee rock jetty. On outgoing water a counter-clockwise
eddy forms on the
side of the jetty, and the fish sometimes hold
there waiting to ambush baitfish that are being swept out with
the current. We anchored close to shore just south of the jetty,
and Sandy using a full-sinking line worked the fly through
the swirling currents. It was expert-level fly-fishing, and she
handled it beautifully. Her scream when this fish followed and
fly was priceless, and it got even better on the next cast when
the redfish nailed it. Good job, Sandy!
spent the morning of October 29 poling the flats with Steve Deeg
throwing various flies at very spooky redfish. We saw plenty
of fish but couldn't get one interested in the fly. After lunch
we shifted gears and tried the outside edge of one of our favorite
Spanish mackerel grass beds hoping for a wayward Spanish or possibly
a pompano. We anchored on the sand in about 6' of water, and Steve
blind-cast a clouser minnow onto the grass stripping
it back across the edge. Water was clear, and we saw a big
under the boat right on the bottom. After a while we saw another
one, and it sure looked like a big redfish. Steve pulled out the
8wt with full-sinking line, 3' leader, and a heavy tan/white clouser...and
waited. It wasn't long before we saw another big fish easing along
the bottom 20' from the boat, and Steve put the fly out in front
of the fish and let it sink. One strip and this fish inhaled it!
Twenty minutes later he landed this beauty. Was it a fluke, or
were we on to something??
We released his first fish and Steve checked the hook, leader,
etc, and got ready. It wasn't 5 minutes before another big fish came
cruising by and Steve did it again! Incredible! The action stopped
after Steve landed and released that second
fish. It was at the end of the trip anyway, so we pulled up the
anchor and headed for the dock. Last hour of the day; you never
know when the magic is going to
Brian Freeman was on a Project Healing Waters trip October 31 and
landed this fine Spanish mackerel on his 8wt.
annual "Running of the Bulls" started this year on November 3,
and Brian Iwasaki and his grandfather Russ Shields were on the
boat to experience it. Talk about good timing! Every year thousands
of brightly-colored bull redfish move into Pensacola Bay searching
for millions of menhaden that are migrating to the Gulf.
It's quite a sight when the two collide, and the redfish push
the menhaden to the surface crushing them on top. Of course hundreds
of pelicans are diving
into the melee from above creating a bona fide "feeding frenzy".
As you can imagine it's an exciting place to be standing with a
rod in your hand. Everybody wins except the menhaden... Here's
a terrific "magazine-cover quality" shot of Brian with his first
with another impressive redfish. We asked Russ to slide in there
for the family photo.
and Bob Maindelle were visiting from Salado, Texas, on November
5 hoping for lots of Spanish mackerel action, but it wasn't
to be. Most of the Spanish left after the storm, and the only game
in town was redfish. The schools of fish weren't plentiful, but
when we found them the quality was top notch. Rebecca and Bob shown
here with a bull redfish "double". Bob guides in Texas, and you can
find him here.
Rebecca Maindelle looking great with a picture-perfect redfish.
Maindelle in a stylish pose with his second fish. Guides always
know how to hold the fish! Looking good, Bob.
How about that! Good friend Joe Rosenbaum with the last Spanish
mackerel of the year on November 9. Who said all the Spanish were
Mike Youkee in town from London for a week of redfish hunting.
Beautiful fish on a beautiful November 11. Nice work, Mike.
Conditions changed considerably the next couple days with the passing
of a cold front. Crisp, cool air and sunshine always gets the redfish
turned on. That's a white rabbit-strip streamer hanging out of the
redfish's mouth, and look at the belly on that fish!
Playford with the last fly-caught inside flats redfish of the
season. Not a big fish but a very satisfying catch.
buddies Alan Dew and Bryan Miller were on the boat November 29
for a day of light-tackle redfish sight-fishing. We had off-and-on
light, but the fish were big enough to see even in the worst
conditions. Here's Alan with a 7 pounder landed and released
The photo of this redfish doesn't do it justice. The fish weighed
12 pounds on the bogagrip... a heckuva redfish coming from 2' of
water. Bryan did a great job bringing it to the net and releasing
Cantu with the last redfish of the year on December 5. The Gulf
of Mexico was as pretty as it gets, and we poled the beach until
we found a school of about 30 redfish of all sizes. We anchored
skiff just out of range and waited for the fish to come into range.
It took two fly changes, but the chartreuse/white half and half
did the trick.
days later fishing the Rio Frio in Costa Rica
for giant tarpon. In this photo I am trying to get
EP baitfish under those limbs to a spot against the bank where
we'd seen a big fish roll. After about 30 tries I finally landed
fly in the right position for a perfect drift.
All hell broke loose when the hundred pounder ate the fly and became
airborne. Double-click for a nice photo taken by Dave McLeod.
the 12wt to another tarpon before it threw the hook and
took off downstream... Double-click for another look at this
magnificent fish. Photos by Dave McLeod.
to everyone from Costa Rica's "Jungle
Tarpon Reserve". Thanks
for coming to Gulf Breeze to fish with me. Let's drink to health
and happiness in 2019, and let the good times roll!
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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