20 Marlin
2020 started off just like any other year but then COVID-19 hit and everything came to a halt. Pensacola Beach restaurants, bars, and hotels closed as we tried to control the invading virus. Of course the fishing was still great, but only a few clients took advantage of it. By the time things started opening in May much of the spring migration was over; however, all was not lost. We continued to have pompano and jack crevalle coming down the beach, plus the water temperature had warmed enough for Spanish mackerel and ladyfish to arrive. The inside flats fishing was already in high gear with plenty of sight-fishing for redfish and speckled trout. Check out these photos from the winter and spring seasons. Double click on the thumbnails for full-page views. For photos from previous seasons follow the links to these additional galleries: 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.

2020 started off with a BANG for Sarah Holman and Mark Gleason. In was New Years Day, and we found schools of big redfish in 3' of water along the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Mark coaxed this fish to eat a chartreuse/white EP baitfish. The trip was a gift to Mark from Sarah, and she appears to be pleased with the action.

Happy New Year!

Here's Mark with the redfish of the day also on the chartreuse and white. This fish measured 38" and was all Mark wanted on 8wt tackle.

We had bright sunshine and glassy water for Josh Symes a few days later on January 5. Hard to beat sight-fishing on a beautiful winter day, especially with your sweetheart onboard. Double click for a nice shot of Josh and Mary.

Conditions were perfect on January 8 making it impossible to stay home. Jonas, Capt Dave, and I decided to get into our waders and try them on foot. They each hooked fish on the EP baitfish, but I stuck with Travis Akins' "green weenie" and landed this one. Photo credit goes to Capt Dave who you can find at www.gulfbreezefishing.com.

Dave also took a nice video on the release which you can view here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MriMU2Kev0

A week later and we're in the Bahamas for our annual bonefishing trip. Here's Capt Dave with his first bonefish on fly.
In early February we found 20# class black drum actively feeding along an undiscovered shoreline of Pensacola Bay. This fish took one of Travis' "green weenies". I went back to the same area on foot a few days later and found good numbers of big black drum tailing in 1-2' of water. It was an incredible sight. Those big tails looked like 5 gallon buckets! I landed five fish in the 20-25# range on 8wt tackle using the same fly. Can't wait to scout that area next January to see if the big drum are always there in the winter.
COVID-19 hit us hard in March, and Jay Lanier was the only client willing to chance vacationing here. We found some very nice redfish on the inside flats, but the black drum were gone. Thanks for coming, Jay.
Southwind Marina owner Jim Williams booked a trip on April 5 for his new dockmaster Andrew Cryer. Andrew was a Colorado trout guide before moving here to run the marina. He had never been sight-fishing from the bow of a skiff , and his first target was a school of jack crevalle. Talk about "trial by fire"! We were looking for false albacore ten miles east of Portofino when we found the jacks right up on the beach. Andrew took the 10wt and made some practice casts as I poled toward the fish. It was great to see him double-hauling and putting the big popper 60-70' out there. We got within range and Andrew made a nice cast to the edge of the school and started popping the fly. The fish followed it all the way to the boat but wouldn't eat it. I changed to a 5" floating mullet and this fish crushed it.
We could still see the fish a couple hundred yards down the beach, and I slowly poled in their direction. They were daisy-chaining as we got close...high and happy as they could be. Double click for a better view. The Gulf of Mexico was as pretty as it gets.
Andrew was a little more relaxed the second time around and could enjoy the whole experience even more. Here he is hooked up with jack crevalle #2.

Magazine cover photo of Andrew Cryer with his second jack crevalle.

Anyone looking for short-term boat mooring in the Pensacola area should contact Andrew at Southwind Marina on the Big Lagoon just west of Pensacola Pass. My clients are giving it very good ratings.


Jim Williams couldn't stand it anymore and had to get in the game. The fish had gotten wary and wouldn't take the fly, so Jim grabbed the big spinning rod and dropped a 4 1/2" Storm "chug bug" in their midst.
So what do the guides do when COVID-19 shuts down our business? We go fishing of course. It was April 24 and Capt Dan Storey and I took my skiff and met Capt Dave at The Orient for a 6wt Redfish Shootout. What fun! Dave landed this fish on an EP baitfish...his first redfish on 6wt tackle.
But Dan won the contest by coaxing this fine specimen to eat his own "One Cast Love Affair" gray/white baitfish. Out of a school of 10 redfish the big one ate the fly... How often does THAT happen?? Dave took second place honors, and I sucked the hind teat with the smallest fish of the day. But it was the first redfish of the day, so that's good for something...right?
I had another COVID-19 cancellation on April 29, and the conditions were just too nice to stay home. Jonas was itching to get on the water, so we hopped in the skiff and took off for one of our favorite flats. The plan was to find some well-trained, selective redfish and see if they were interested in a new, killer shrimp imitation from Kevin Doyle of Destination Flies. This 29" fish ate the fly on Jonas' first cast. What a fly! Thanks to Kevin. You can learn more about his creations at https://www.facebook.com/destinationflies/

The redfish sight-fishing ended when the jack crevalle showed up. Jonas had just broken off a nice jack and was tying on another popper when a second school appeared. I snapped the photo from the poling platform. There were 30-40 fish all in the 15-20# range. Water was about 3' deep. I waved as they swam by...

The annual jack crevalle migration starts in March. Thousands of fish arrive in large schools migrating to the west along the beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Some of the schools come into Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound and spend the spring and summer gorging themselves on mullet and menhaden. The jacks grow quickly and become beasts by the time they depart in October. The boat record weighed 40#. They fight every bit as hard as their cousins the giant trevallies, and you don't have to travel 10 times zones to find them.

Bob Jenkins, Woody Creek, CO, braved the cross-country drive and arrived ready to fish on May 1. Jenkins has two Emerald Coast Grand Slams under his belt, and our plan was to add a third. The jack crevalle came relatively easy...for a jack.

Next came the pompano which were more challenging than usual. We had a very nice fish on earlier that wrapped the leader around the darn trim tab and broke off. After a couple more hours Bob nailed (and released) this beauty just before the wind picked up and blew us out of the Gulf. This was the first pompano of the year. Nice work, Jenkins!

We spent the rest of the trip trying for a redfish to complete The Slam. Had some follows but never got one to take the fly. Getting it is harder than you might think. Has happened only three times on my boat in 17 years.

Birmingham's Glenn Perry on May 4 with his first-ever jack crevalle on fly. We were poling the beach looking for redfish and pompano when the big fish showed up. It didn't take Glenn long to stow the 8 and grab the 10wt which was ready to go with the big popper. We've been fishing together for 15 years, and this is the first time the jack crevalle magic happened. Way to go, Glenn! Fun to watch...
The wind picked up, so we decided to come inside and look for redfish. After "blanking" with Jenkins three days earlier I decided to try some different water, and we made the long run to The Orient. What a difference! The flats were loaded with redfish, and they were happy to eat a clouser-esque creation from Karl Elliott. This is the second of 5 redfish Glenn landed and released.

Glenn with another beauty. We caught redfish until we finally lost our light late in the afternoon. One jack crevalle shy of the Grand Slam...

Bob Jenkins was baaack on May 7. There's a good look at our favorite popper tied by Ben Walters, Eastern Fly Outfitters, Johnson City, TN.
Colleen and Wallace West were on the boat on a very difficult May 8. The problem was a 15-20mph WSW wind which made many of our favorite flats unfishable. Late in the trip we found a sheltered stretch of beach in the Big Lagoon and Wallace landed his first-ever redfish on fly. The fish took a lovely little "crawler" he tied himself. Very satisfying.
A few days later conditions were much better for Chuck Banks. Glassy conditions greeted us on the south side of the Gulf Breeze peninsula where Chuck landed the biggest speckled trout of the year. The fish took a 2/0 gray/white EP baitfish pattern in 2' of water.

At the end of the trip Chuck added this pretty little redfish to the day's tally. Nice look at the fly in this photo.

It was a beautiful morning on May 19, and we decided to get wet and go after the redfish on foot. Jack Michalski hooked this fish fifteen minutes after we got in the water. He fought it to the beach, landed it without a net, and released it to fight another day. Well done, Jack! The redfish took an EP Pinfish..

We got back in the boat and poled the shoreline to cover more ground. Jack landed his second redfish a quarter mile or so down the beach.

Red snapper season opened June 11. Every year we put the fly tackle away for a week or so, break out the heavy spinning gear, and put a few good clients on our favorite nearshore reefs. Here is the Himmelwright family (Hanna, Jim, Amy, and Rob) from Auburn, AL, after a fun day on the water with their prize-winning catch on June 13....a twelve pounder they appropriately named "Bartholomew".
More spin-fishing on June 15 with Steve and Patti Heacock on board. Our targets were red snappers, redfish, and false albacore. The FA never showed up, but we had a blast with the redfish and red snappers. Here's Steve with a fine red snapper headed for the cooler.
The Gulf of Mexico was as pretty as it gets when we pulled into shore for some redfish sight-fishing. Patti landed this 24 pounder on a St Croix Avid series AVS70MF spinning rod, Shimano Stradic reel, and 15# PowerPro braid. Twenty four pound redfish on a rod that weighs less that 4.5oz. Hard to beat!
Not to be outdone Steve boated this similar-sized beauty.
Here's a nice shot of Patti with another red snapper headed for the box. The glassy water made for a perfect afternoon of Gulf of Mexico snapper fishing.
On June 14 Tim English and I ran west of Pensacola Pass to "Crane Cove" and had a few fun hours with the ladyfish and bluefish. On the trip back we lucked into a large school of bull redfish close to shore on the Caucas Shoal. There were a couple hundred fish milling around a foot below the surface and incredibly no other boats had seen them. It was too sloppy to pole so I idled upcurrent of the fish, killed the motor, and drifted within casting range. Tim had a 9wt with sinking line and a chartreuse EP baitfish, and the big fish were happy to eat. He landed three fish of this quality before the dirty water from the bay reached us and we lost sight of the school.
The following day after the Heacocks "limited out" on red snappers we found the redfish where they were the day before. Right off the bat Patti and Steve landed this "redfish double" which was quite a feat. They were using the usual light tackle, plus we had plenty of current and 1-2' seas in the mix. Both fish circled the boat multiple times while Steve and Patti scrambled around trying to keep them from getting wrapped up. My job was keeping the boat from washing up on the beach. We got Patti's in the net and kept it in the water until we landed Steve's with the Bogagrip. Got this quick photo and released both fish unharmed. A good photographer would have asked Steve to raise or lower his fish so it's head wasn't hidden...
We were the only boat in the neighborhood, and the fish never spooked. Patti quickly hooked up again and landed this brute.
Steve Heacock with what is known in some circles as called a "hawg"!
The redfish school got closer to the point and disappeared but not before Patti and Steve each landed one more. Here's Patti's last redfish of their vacation. Can't imagine a better finale.
We close out the Spring Gallery with a shot of Will Pippen and a redfish he'll be remembering for a while. Nice job on that fish, Will.


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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