20 Marlin

Summer 2021 got off to a wet start with over 6" of rain from Tropical Storm Claudette falling from June 19 to 21. Many of our favorite inshore flats turned to chocolate milk, and sight-fishing was limited to the Gulf of Mexico and remote areas of the Intracoastal Waterway. The flats started to clear up by August, and then Tropical Storm Fred hit followed in September by Ida. We worked around the dirty water challenges and everybody had a good time, but we sure missed the explosive July/August inshore run of big jack crevalle. We'll be ready for them next year. Here are photos from summer and fall. As always there was plenty of excitement and some outstanding fish were caught...and released. Double click on the thumbnails for full-page views. For photos from previous seasons follow the links to these additional galleries: Winter and Spring 2021 Fall 2020 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.

June 26 was one of those glorious days for sight-fishing along the beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. We found a nice school of redfish off Johnson Beach, and Adam Brewer took care of business. A simple tan/white clouser was the ticket. Nice fish to start off the summer gallery.
We found them one more time before the school crossed a tide line into Tropical Storm Claudette tannin-stained water and disappeared. Was a blast while it lasted...
Tim Reischman and Ken Hutchison were on the boat the following day and we found the redfish in the same general area. Tim got "first fish" honors by landing this fish on his own EP baitfish creation.
Redfish number 2 for Tim on the same fly. Powerful 18 pounder with a tiny little spot. Double click for a nice pic of Tim and his fishing buddy Hutch who was batting .000 at the time.
Not to be denied the intrepid and photogenic Hutch picked off this beauty just before the school disappeared into the dirty water.


Later that afternoon we ran out in the Gulf a few miles looking for false albacore. We found fish on top, but to our surprise they weren't albies...
Goelogists Hunter Phillips and Riley Delong continued fishing through a downpour on August 3. The fish on the inside flats didn't mind the rain at all... How about this killer redfish in 3' of water! Nice work, Hunter!
Matt Neal came down from Birmingham looking for false albacore on a blistering August 14 with the heat index over 100. We found the fish 5 miles out, but man were they finicky. Matt made about 500 casts using every pattern on the boat before this fish finally ate an old-school "hootie". Matt was soaked in sweat, turned to me, and said "let's get outta here". Which we did at high speed. Double click for the full photo.
The heavy rains in June from Tropical Storm Claudette trashed the inland waters and shut down much of the jack crevalle sight-fishing for 10 weeks. Pensacola Bay is always full of big jacks in July and August, but we couldn't see them. Finally, on September 2, the water cleared up enought to give it a try. AJ Hosenfeld was willing to stake out in 3' of water and wait for the chance at a life-changing event. It wasn't long before we started seeing the black backs of big jacks around the boat. Throwing the 12wt with a big popper was new to AJ, and it took multiple near-misses for it all to come together. Hard to maintain your cool with thirty 20-30 pound jacks climbing all over each other trying to eat your fly! After a few "trout sets", AJ strip-set the hook home and came tight to this beast. What a rush! In a word...insane!
We spent the rest of the day poling the flats looking for redfish. Pretty chill after the jack crevalle experience.
The big Spanish mackerel started showing up as the water cleared in September, and it was "game on" for the next couple months. These aren't your standard 1-2# schoolie Spanish. These are badass rogue singles up to 30" long that take out a hundred feet of backing in seconds. They are powerful adversaries with teeth sharp enough to sever 60# mono, and they are happy to yank the fly rod out of your hand and leave you with line burns and bloody knuckles. With wire tippet, a good-quality reel, and bombproof line-to-backing connection you can catch them on 6wt tackle, but I suggest an 8 weight. Best flies are clousers, deerhair-headed streamers, and poppers. Here's Sam Lewis on Sept 9 with the first big Spanish mackerel of the season.
Well how about THAT! We left the Spanish feeding grounds and set up for some multi-tasking: lunch with a side of jack crevalle sight-fishing. I had an apple in my mouth when we spotted an area of "nervous water" moving toward the boat. It was a sheet of glass out there with plenty of glare, but there was no doubt this was a school of big jacks with their fins out of the water. Sam was prepared, laid the popper in front of the school, and after one big strip the fish exploded on his fly. Sam strip-set and this fish was off to the races. After an hour and twenty minute battle that covered over a mile of water Sam brought it to the net. The fish weighed in at 28# missing the boat record by a pound. For sure an adventure neither of us will soon forget.
Megan Nellen with a nice Spanish on September 20
Spanish mackerel aren't the only targets on those grass beds. Scott Hayes on September 26 with his first pompano on fly. We usually sight-fish for pompano along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. Out there the fish are leader shy, and we drop down to 12# fluoro to get the takes. This time of year the 26# wire tippet doesn't slow them down at all. We're usually blind-casting shrimpy-looking clousers, and the pompano are trying to beat the Spanish to the fly. Always a nice surprise.
Who is that masked man? Stephen Miller on September 29 with a killer Spanish that inhaled his chartreuse/white streamer.
Here's Travis Gibson on October 10 with his first redfish on fly. As you can see the water is still a little stained from yet another tropical storm
Very nice Spanish for Travis. Photo is over-exposed but gives a good look at the "sooty-black" dorsal fin that distinguishes Spanish mackerel from juvenile king mackerel.
More bycatch from the Spanish mackerel feeding grounds. Bo Arthur on October 11 with a 3# bluefish.
Joe and Bob Young came down from Oklahoma for some father/son R&R on October 14. It was a beautiful fall day and the fish were cooperative. This is Joe with one of the biggest ladyfish of the year.
Followed by a respectable Spanish mackerel...
Later on we ran a few miles east for some sight-fishing, and Bob caught his best-ever redfish. What a great father/son photo!
The next day Jay and Jimmie Wright were here from Birmingham, and Jay landed this slab-sided Spanish on fly...the biggest of the year. It's a low-resolution photo, but double-click for a good look at the teeth on this beast. This fish was trying hard to bite somebody, and Jay had no interest in holding it. Who could blame him...
We ran east to the Big Sabine and got out of the boat to wade for some of the spookiest redfish in the area. After a few refusals on the usual baitfish patterns Jay switched to an EP "perfect minnow". We saw this fish a hundred feet out moving in our direction. The water was a foot deep as it crossed a sandbar and came into casting range. Jay dropped the fly ten feet in front of the fish directly in its path, and let it sink. The redfish saw the movement ahead and accelerated. Jay gave it one l-o-n-g strip, and the redfish nailed it. I ran back to the boat to grab the camera as Jay fought it to the shore. What a beauty! Jay's first redfish caught wading. A breakthrough experience!
Jeff Nall, Nixa, MO, on October 19 with a nice redfish caught on his classic Winston XDLT and Tibor Everglades. The fish ate an EP tan/white "peanut butter" baitfish.
Steven Clark from Missouri on October 22 with his first Spanish mackerel on fly. Steven caught a bunch of Spanish on both surface streamers and clousers. Speed of the fish blew his mind.
Steven experienced the thrill of sight-fishing for the first time and landed his first redfish on a fathead mullet. Poor guy is ruined for life.

Wow! That water sure looks nice... Oh yeah, we're in the Bahamas! Hutch with the fish-of-the week at Mars Bay Bonefish Lodge, South Andros. A small group of clients and friends took a week in late-October/early-November to check out the lodge. We'll be back! This bonefish was 27-28" long and weighed over 10#.


The Rocket with a typical sized bonefish caught wading the magnificent flats of S Andros
Yours truly with a lousy photo of another big bonefish. This was a tailing fish that took me into the backing three times. Okay, I'm addicted and not ashamed to admit it.
Bo Herrera was back on November 9. We had a light NE wind and plenty of sun. After circumnavigating the bay looking unsuccessfully for schools of bull reds we headed for the Gulf and found calm, relatively clean water east of the pass. No other boats. Bright sunshine. In a word...paradise! We ran to the Observation Tower, jumped the bar to get in close to shore, and started poling. We were set up for pompano but instead found school after school of cownose rays. After poling that whole beach we found the redfish in the "palm tree" area. It was a nice school of a hundred fish cruising along outside the inner bar, and they had no idea we were there. I switched Bo to the grey/white EP baitfish, and he landed this nice fish on his first cast.
As Bo was fighting the first fish the current swept us away from the school, so we never spooked them. For the next couple hours we cautiously eased back into casting range, and Bo would land one of his beautiful 80-90' casts right on target. He ended up catching four redfish and a lovely fall pompano. It's amazing how long a school of redfish will stick around if you take care to not scare them.
Life is good when pompano are snatching the fly away from the redfish

At the end of the day we stopped on the way back to try Matt Wegener's "Fathead Mullet" on a sandy stretch of shallow water close to home. We found a nice redfish, and Bo dropped the fly right on target and let it sink. As he started the long "fleeing baitfish" strips the redfish came over to check it out. Bo kept stripping and the fish followed a couple inches behind the fly. Bo was using a 12' leader and ran out of flyline with the fish directly in front of the boat over a grass bed in a foot and a half of water. I called out "let it drop", and Bo let the fly drop into the grass. The fish went berserk and dove down on the fly jerking its head back and forth trying to dig it out of the grass. The redfish got the fly and Bo landed it...a 30" beauty. Great way to end a fabulous day.


Local fly club member Steve Hofmann had already landed one redfish on November 10 when we poled a large flat with a few grass beds on the edges of deeper sandy pools. From a distance I saw a small school of bigger fish settled on the bottom in one of these pools in 3-4' of water. We eased into casting range with a grass bed hiding us from the fish. The 50' cast needed to reach out across the shallow grass bed with the flyline dropping on the grass and the leader and fly extending out over the deeper pool. Steve made the shot of his life, didn't "line" the fish, and the fly landed softly in the center of the pool. As it sank they all charged it at once, and Steve hooked into the biggest redfish of his life. After a couple long runs into the backing he brought it to the boat.
Long-time light tackle angler Mark Walters with the biggest redfish of the year...a 30 pounder on December 1. Brother Dave throws the fly, and Mark takes the upwind and out-of-range casts with ultra-light tackle. His St Croix "Avid series" rod weighs just 4.3oz. Had his hands full.
First of four redfish on December 6 for local Generac expert Mike Broughton. It was a beautiful December day with glassy conditions and decent sun. Never saw another boat. It's hard to beat the late-fall and winter redfish sight-fishing around here.
The overcast settled in making it hard to see the fish, but they couldn't see us either. We crept quietly along in two feet of water and spotted this fish before it saw us. Mike made a nice cast and used his snappy stripping technique to make the fathead mullet irresistible. Resulted in his best-ever redfish. Way to go, Mike!

And that's it for the 2021 season. Thank you to everyone who once again braved COVID to come fishing this year. Remember every day you spend on the water adds an extra day to your life. I hope to see you next year.

Adios from sunrise at Mars Bay Bonefish Lodge, South Andros...



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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