20 Marlin

Fall 2020 got off to a rough start due to the effects of Hurricane Sally which came ashore Sept 16. Once the water cleared the redfish sight-fishing was outstanding, and clients willing to travel during these COVID times had some terrific days on the water. We missed those who could not come and look forward to having you back on the boat in 2021. Check out these photos from the fall season. Double click on the thumbnails for full-page views. For photos from previous seasons follow the links to these additional galleries:Summer 2020, Winter and Spring 2020, Fall 2019, Summer 2019, Winter and Spring 2019, Fall 2018, Summer 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017, Summer 2017, 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.

Tim English starts off the fall gallery on October 5. Hurricane Sally came ashore two weeks earlier trashing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola Bay, and Santa Rosa Sound. All we could find was "chocolate milk" until we ran up into the Big Lagoon. Miraculously the water there was clear enough for sight-fishing and targets were plentiful. Here's Tim with a deeply-colored redfish that was well camouflaged in the tannin-colored water. We had good sun and plenty of shots at redfish, but the most exciting moment was when a school of big jack crevalle exploded on top a hundred feet away coming right at us. By the time Tim stowed his 8wt and stripped out line on the 10 the fish were literally under the boat. Tim flipped the fly in the water and got a quick take but missed the hookset. An instant later the school spooked, and that was that. What a rush!

October 14 was a red-letter day for Jay and Jimmie Wright. We spent the morning sight-fishing for redfish with Jay on fly and his dad Jimmie throwing a Sidewinder spoon on light spinning tackle. We started out poling very shallow water with Jay throwing an EP "peanut butter" baitfish imitation but quickly changed to a tan/white clouser minnow when we found the fish schooled up in some deeper water around structure. Here's Jay with the first fish of the day. Gotta love that blue tail!

When we have both fly and spin anglers on the boat the fly-caster gets the bow and "first shot", and the spin-angler stands in front of the poling platform taking all the shots that are out of range for the fly.

It didn't take Jimmie long to get in on the action. As soon as Jay landed his redfish Jimmie tossed his spoon into the school and hooked up immediately.

We mash down the barbs on all our redfish flies and artificial baits which helps us release the redfish unharmed.

Jay landed the redfish of the day a little later also on a clouser minnow.

Our redfish fishing got interrupted when the "gansters of the flats" showed up. Jimmie had a big spinning rod ready with a 4 3/4" Storm topwater "Chug Bug", and this jack crevalle crushed it on the second pop. He finally brought it to the net twenty minutes later. It was his first-ever jack crevalle. Let it be known... "Jimmie knows Jack"!


The following day was more challenging with more wind and fewer fish, but Jay persevered...
On October 16 the wind was howling from the NW and all our inside spots were blown out. Will Kopal was in town and really wanted to go, so we took the Mako out in the Gulf west of Pensacola Pass off Johnson Beach. There were schools of ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, and sharks, and Will had fun catching fish on his own flies. Late in the day we ran farther to the west and found schools of false albacore within a couple hundred yards of the beach. Will didn't want to use any of my flies and elected to try a big 3/0 grey/white deceiver he had tied years earlier. The FA were eating juvenile bay anchovies, and to my surprise one of them took a swing at Will's fly. I suggested he try a fast two-hand strip, and it was game on! The albies loved it, and he connected every time I got the boat in the right position for casts into the fast-moving schools. The problem was a rogue dolphin that was taking the FA off the hook. Will brought in two fish heads before the dolphin miscalculated and got hooked. Will's flyline-to-leader nail knot failed as the dolphin disappeared with the barbless hook in its mouth trailing a 9' leader. Good riddance! Will was able to land his first FA and get the photo.
Tim English was back on November 3, and the water was perfect for sight-fishing a favorite flat close to Pensacola Pass. This redfish must have been starving because it charged Tim's clouser minnow from 15' away. Unexpected and wonderful when that happens.
Bruce Trumbull on November 9 with a nice fish caught around the docks between the points. It's technical fishing in there. The area holds plenty of redfish and trout, but stealth, patience, and accurate casting are key. It's not for everybody.
Dave O'Shea came to town November 10 for the annual "Running of the Bulls" redfish action, but for most of the day the fish were AWOL. After a couple hours searching around the bay we decided to have some fun catching and releasing out-of-season Pensacola Bay red snappers.
We finally found some top-water action late in the day, and Dave got his bull red...a beauty in full spawning colors.
I had new client Bo Herrera on the boat on November 16. Bo is an Optometrist from New Mexico who lives on the San Juan River. He told me in advance that he spends most of his time catching trout but felt he could probably cast adequately to have success with our redfish. Of course I was skeptical and even joked to his local friend who arranged the trip that the BS would stop when I watched his first practice cast... Imagine my surprise when this guy could put it out there 90'! Accurately, too. I was in "Guide's Heaven" all morning as we showed those finicky fish between the points who's boss!
Bo hooked five fish including this flats brute, and landed four. I can't publish the other photos without giving away my special little spots. Let me just say the one that got away was bigger than this fish and we were never in water deeper than 2 1/2'.
Bob Jenkins was back on the boat on November 17 and 18. On his first day the Gulf of Mexico finally calmed down enough for us to pole the inner sandbar. Capt Dan Storey had told me there were lots of "stupid" redfish out there, and he was right. We found numerous schools of fish coming down the bar, and they climbed all over each other trying to eat Jenkin's clouser minnow. Here he is with redfish #1.

Jenkins with another multi-spotted beauty! He landed four redfish of this quality before a mullet fisherman clued us in that the false albacore were up on the beach east of the Ranger Station.
We ran down there and found school after school of FA in the 4-6# class feeding on bay anchovies. Here's Bob with an average-sized catch landed on a #6 clear gummy minnow. It was a treat finding albies that were so happy to eat the fly. Nothing technical about it. I was hoping to find them in a foot of water, but all the schools we found were farther out in the draw. There was so much bait we thought the albies might be with us for a couple weeks, but they disappeared for the rest of the year. Downright heartbreaking...
By the next day the Gulf was kicked up with a big SE swell, so Jenkins and I spent the day between the points. Bob hooked two nice redfish and a lovely trout but this is the only fish that made it to the net.
Will Duncan came down from Atlanta on November 23 hoping to catch his first redfish on fly. He was new to saltwater fly-fishing and was concerned about his casting, so we started the day with a short casting session working on his double-haul. Will picked it up nicely, and in no time was casting comfortably 60+ feet. So we took off for the Gulf. What a thrill to come around Pickens Point and find calm, clear water! We started poling with the sun at our backs and immediately started seeing redfish. Will hit paydirt on the first school with his first redfish on fly. Hearty congratulations!

We found fish all morning, and by the end of the trip Will had hooked 5 and landed 4 redfish. This is the best of the bunch.

Here's Will with his last redfish of the day. Check out the bluebird sky... What a day!
Ryan Thomasson on December 1 with the biggest redfish of the season caught 2-3 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico close to the Sea Buoy. What a surprise finding the Running of the Bulls going on all the way out there! There were hundreds of bull redfish crushing bait on the surface when Ryan hooked and fought this fish on his 8wt. By the time we landed, resuscitated, and released this fish all the action was done. We never saw another fish. Timing is everything...
The latest Project Healing Waters trip finally happened for Oleta Webb and Tony Moore on December 8. We had canceled two previous dates because the Gulf was blown out, and that's where the fish were. Finally we caught a nice day with a north wind, plenty of sun, and clear water. It was a cold run out to the observation tower, but once we anchored up just outside the inner bar it was pristine. We picked a spot where a small channel cut through the sandbar to the inside trough... perfect for shots at passing redfish. All we had to do was be patient and wait them out. Tony was up when the first group of fish appeared westbound. This was a group of six big redfish cruising high in the water column, and the lead fish took Tony's chartreuse/white EP baitfish with no hesitation. For a guy who's never landed a big fish on fly Tony did great! After a half hour of fighting the fish into the current Tony finally brought this bona fide bull redfish to the net.
A little later Oleta was up when a large school of redfish came into range. She used long, smooth strips to coax this beauty to eat the fly, and then closed the deal with a nice strip set. Very little happened for the next hour or so while we enjoyed the setting and ate lunch. When the wind picked up we ran into Gilmore Bayou where Tony and Oleta landed a bunch of trout and one adorable little rat red. We could not have asked for a nicer day on the water.
Master Chef Stephen Miller invited Capt Dan Storey to join us on December 10, and Dan put on a casting clinic. There were 2-3 foot rollers breaking on the inner sandbar, and the redfish were up in the breakers. We anchored the skiff a hundred feet outside the break and waited for fish to come into range. Casts had to be accurate, 70-80' in length, and launched from a significantly rocking casting deck. It was a blast! Dan showed us how it's done with this beast of a redfish.
Stephen Miller was back for a second day, and this time brought his son Trent. The water was calmer but the redfish were scarce, so we decided to check out a few winter black drum spots. Bright sunshine and gin-clear water made it possible to find a school of 50-100 drum holding on the bottom. I anchored "up-stream" of the school, and Stephen used a 10wt and full sinking line to drift his chartreuse/white geau-meaux back into their midst. The drum don't see very well, and the trick is to move the fly very little. You just get it to the bottom and let it wiggle. Then use short 2" strips with a pause in between. When the fly rides up in the current you play out more line and let it sink. All the time you are watching the dark shapes down there knowing your fly is about to get eaten. Sometimes you feel a little pressure or a small tug from a short-strike, but you have to have the patience to wait. Eventually a fish will eat the fly, and when you strip set it's like driving the hook into a stump. That's when the big drum ambles off down-current, and the fight is on. Check out this shot of Stephen with the first fish landed...a 28 pound brute.
It took about a half hour to land Stephen's fish, and during that time the school relocated. We found them after a short search and once again positioned ourselves up-current for the perfect cast. This time when Stephen hooked up he handed the rod to young Trent and spent the next half hour talking him through the process of fighting a big fish on fly while his son was hanging on for dear life. It was a wonderful father/son moment, and I tried to stay out of the way unless the rod was about to get broken. Miracle of miracles Trent landed the fish, and you can tell by his smile he way pretty pleased. We landed a third fish before the rain started and called it a day...a very good day!
Here's a nice shot of Eastern Montana rancher Connor Wald with his first-ever redfish on December 13. Connor took to the salt like a duck to water. He has a beautiful casting stroke from throwing streamers at western trout. Nice job, Connor!
Connor's friend and fellow rancher Jill Rigler landed the biggest redfish of the day "fly-lining" a live shrimp on light spinning tackle.
Huntsville's Ramu Nallamala wraps up the fall season with a pretty redfish landed in a couple feet of water on a tough December 14. We were poling some shallow-water structure and spotted this fish on a sandbar a hundred feet away. The fish was slowly moving in our direction, and Ramu made a long, beautiful cast barely over-shooting the target by a foot. The fly passed over the fish and landed right behind it. At first the redfish spooked but immediately spun around to see what made the noise. Ramu stripped the EP minnow, and the fish nailed it. Fun to watch.


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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