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
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
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
some outstanding fish were caught...and released. Double
click on the thumbnails for full-page views. For photos from previous
and Spring 2021 Fall
and Spring 2020, Fall
and Spring 2019, Fall
and Spring 2017, Fall
and Spring 2016 , Fall
to return to this page.
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.
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...
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.
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
buddy Hutch who was batting .000 at the time.
to be denied the intrepid and photogenic Hutch picked off this
beauty just before the school disappeared into the dirty water.
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
flats didn't mind the rain at all... How about this killer redfish
in 3' of water! Nice work, Hunter!
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.
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.
heavy rains in June from Tropical Storm Claudette trashed the
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
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
spent the rest of the day poling the flats looking for redfish.
Pretty chill after the jack crevalle experience.
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
knuckles. With wire tippet, a good-quality reel, and bombproof
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
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
big jacks with their fins out of the water. Sam was prepared,
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
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
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
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
pompano are trying to beat the Spanish to the fly. Always a nice
is that masked man? Stephen Miller on September 29 with a killer
Spanish that inhaled his chartreuse/white streamer.
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
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!
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...
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
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
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
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.
Nall, Nixa, MO, on October 19 with a nice redfish caught on his
classic Winston XDLT and Tibor Everglades. The fish
"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
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#.
Rocket with a typical sized bonefish caught wading the magnificent
flats of S Andros
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.
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
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
the grey/white EP baitfish, and he landed this nice fish on his
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.
is good when pompano are snatching the fly away from the redfish
the end of the day we stopped on the way back to try Matt Wegener's "Fathead
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
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
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.
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.
of four redfish on December 6 for local Generac expert Mike Broughton.
It was a beautiful December day with glassy conditions and decent
saw another boat. It's hard to beat the late-fall and winter redfish
sight-fishing around here.
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
cast and used his snappy stripping technique to make the fathead
mullet irresistible. Resulted in his best-ever redfish.
Way to go, Mike!
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
from sunrise at Mars
Bay Bonefish Lodge, South Andros...
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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