20 Marlin
 

Winter 2022 was in a word...OUTSTANDING! There were plenty of cooperative redfish, and the black drum showed up right on schedule. We even had a much too short run of winter false albacore. Winter is our favorite season due to the lack of fishing pressure. There are very few guides, even fewer jet skis, and almost no recreational anglers and pleasure craft. The place is deserted...just the way we like it. Fishing is spectacular for those anglers willing to take a chance on the weather. Cold fronts move through with wind and rain, but the "calm after the storms" is fabulous with Bahamas-clear water, light winds, and plenty of sunshine. Those days are perfect for sight-fishing with highs in the upper 60's and lows around 40. Gulf of Mexico water temperature is in the mid-50's, so be sure to switch to "coldwater" fly lines. We suggest spending a week on the beach hoping for 2-3 days of good fishing weather. We don't go out unless conditions are right, and there are plenty of activities for our clients on the unfishable days. If you have the flexibility, try spending a couple weeks in a Gulf-front hotel during the winter months. Prices are ridiculously cheap, and you'll have the beaches all to yourself. Check out these photos of our winter 2022 clients. Double click on the thumbnails for full-page views. For photos from previous seasons follow the links to these additional galleries: Summer and Fall 2021 , 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.

We open the Winter 2022 gallery on January 11 with Master Chef Stephen Miller and the first false albacore of the year. Late in the day the fish were feeding on a tide line in Pensacola Pass, and this was Stephen's first. The power of these little tunas blew his mind.
Local Generac specialist Mike Broughton was "Gone Fishing" on January 13, and the fish cooperated. This is the first black drum of the season caught sight-fishing over shallow structure. We found a school of a hundred drum milling around a wooden shipwreck, and Mike drifted a chartreuse/white "Go-meaux" over and over into the school before this fish finally ate the fly. There's a lot of current along that beach, and you need minimum 10wt tackle and a full sinking line both to get the fly to the bottom and to fight these beasts to the boat. Nice work, Mike!
There are always winter redfish cruising the inner sandbar, and even with the chop we were able to anchor within casting range and wait for one to come by. Mike picked this fish out of a school using an EP baitfish.
Stephen Miller was back on January 14, and we started the day sight-fishing one of our favorite inshore flats. We were staked out when a group of 20 pounders appeared on a sand spot within casting range of the skiff. Stephen put the EP grey/white baitfish in front of the school and this brute rose up and grabbed it. Stephen strip-set, and we were both ecstatic as the big redfish surged away from the boat. But ecstacy turned to horror when we saw a massive knot of flyline jump up off the deck and click through a couple guides before hanging up in a guide toward the tip of the fly rod. The extra pressure caused the fish to hesitate giving me time to grab the knot of flyline and ever so gently pull the fish back a couple feet toward the boat. I held the line tight while Stephen frantically untangled the knot. When the fish surged again the flyline slipped through the guides, and everything was back to normal. It was a "CF" of the highest magnitude, and we came out on top. A bona fide miracle! Double click for a good shot of this redfish.
After landing that fish we ran to the Gulf where we found clear, calm water and plenty of sunshine. We poled the edge of the inner sandbar and found a nice school of winter reds. Stephen got this one to eat a "green weenie".

 

Black drum were on the agenda, and when the wind died we anchored "upstream" from the area where they had been the prior day. Sure enough the fish were there, and Stephen drifted a tan/white clouser on a full sinking line down-current to them. It's similar to steelhead fishing where you cast across the river, let the fly sink as it drifts downstream, and then strip it through the "swing". The key to catching one of these black drum is getting the fly right in the fish's face. They're not going to run it down. Stephen's a pro at it.
We finished the day with another beauty along the beach. Shirtsleeve weather in January. Gotta love it!
You'll be seeing a lot of photos of Carl Huhnke, Lander, WY. Carl spent six weeks in the area, and we fished most of the good-weather days when I wasn't already booked. We started it off on January 18 with this hog on 8wt tackle. The fish looked like a submarine in 2 1/2' of clear water on an inside flat. Carl coaxed it to eat an EP baitfish.
We moved out to Pensacola Pass and found plenty of fish eager to take the fly. Here's Carl with redfish #2.
Nice close up of the fly on Carl's 3rd redfish of the day. Double click for the full photo.
Jim Wentzel from Colorado armed and ready for action on January 19.
Fish on! Double-click for the photo of Jim's first redfish on fly.
Carl was back on January 24, and conditions were perfect for the black drum. This fish turned out to be the biggest of the season...26 pounds.
We lost our light and pulled into shallow water hoping to find redfish holed up in the pockets around some finger bars. Sure enough the fish were there, and the water was shallow enough that we could see them in the low light. Carl had steady action until it was time to head for the house. Here's his first redfish of the day on an EP baitfish.
Carl's second redfish turned out to be the biggest of the day weighing in at 22#. We never weigh redfish by hanging them from the jaw. Instead we weigh them in the net and subtract the estimated net weight. Hanging a fish this size by the jaw can kill it by tearing the lining around the stomach cavity.
The lights came back on, but we weren't leaving our "honey hole" to go back to the drum. Here's Carl's third redfish, and we hadn't even moved the boat.
Carl's fourth redfish of the afternoon. We killed it that day. What a nice way to spend a January 24...
Carl was back on January 27, but the Gulf of Mexico was dirty from two days of rain. We found clean water in the Big Lagoon, and Carl once again hit paydirt. Here's the first fish of the day. Nice hat!
We found his second fish along the edge of the ICW channel. Deeper water here, and we changed to a clouser minnow to get the take.
Kip Echols came down from N Georgia with his buddy Jason Brooks on January 31. We were staked out on a sandbar watching a distant school of redfish when a jet ski ran right over the top of them, and the school bolted straight at the boat. Kip laid the fly in front of the advancing redfish and let it sink. When they got close he gave it one strip, and this fish crushed it. Only fish of the day. Never dreamed we'd get saved from a skunk by a doggone jet ski!
Long-time friend and expert spin-fisherman Bernie Smelstoys from Boston was on the boat February 8 for my only spin-fishing charter of the winter season, and we had a blast. We poled the shoreline of the Gulf Islands National Seashore both east and west of Pensacola Pass, and Bernie landed 20 redfish on either a silver spoon or SPRO prime bucktail jig. Both lures have single hooks, and we mashed the barbs flat. We never hurt a fish and only took this one photo.
Our winter weather is unpredictable. There are always cold fronts blowing through with wind and rain, but the days between fronts are spectacular. Jennifer Holbrook beat the odds when she booked February 9 and 10 three months in advance. A cold front came through a couple days before, but we had two bluebird days with plenty of sun, light wind, and moderate temperatures. We found the fish February 9 on an inside flat where Jennifer got things going with the EP baitfish.
Nice shot of Jennifer with her second redfish of the day.
The Gulf of Mexico settled down the next day allowing us to pole the shore of the Gulf Islands National Shore. We found a nice school of redfish a few miles east of Pensacola Pass daisy-chaining on the surface with their fins out of the water. The fish were very interested in each other but paid no attention to the EP baitfish. Jennifer switched to a Travis Akins' "green weenie" and caught this fish on her first cast. Thank you once again, Travis.
Check out the water color and clarity in this shot of Jennifer's second fish. Not a bad place to spend a day in February.
We moved back inside and found schools of redfish right where they had been the day before. There were plenty of fish milling around the flat, and we anchored the boat and let them come to us.
Jennifer's fifth and final redfish of the day. Simply spectacular!

Carl Huhnke was eager to get back on the boat as soon as Jennifer left town on February 11. We found the same school of daisy-chaining fish along the edge of the Gulf, and Carl put it on 'em with the "green weenie". Double-click for a good look at the fly

 

Clouds blew in causing us to lose our light, so we moved inside hoping the big redfish would be visible on the shallow sand flats. We anchored up and waited. Sure enough the fish started showing up, and Carl had another "field day" landing five redfish of this quality.
Carl with redfish #4...
And here he is again with the fourteenth and final redfish of his winter vacation. See you next year...
RIP in Peace, Big Mike. Lost my good friend Mike Ingham, owner of Gulf Breeze Marine, to cancer on February 17. Words cannot describe how much he will be missed.
Here's Dave Dawson from Denver enjoying some "wet wading" on March 6. Gotta get a little more sun on those legs, bud. Double-click for a look at the redfish...

Jon Benstead and Kevin Barnes canceled a March bonefishing trip to Acklins Island due to COVID restrictions and instead came to the Emerald Coast. Here's Jon on March 16 with the first redfish of the trip.

 

We did some walking later in the day, and Jon landed this terrific speckled trout on an EP "perfect minnow".
Barney and a nice redfish taken on an EP baitfish. Mid-March inland water temperature is around 65 degrees. It's okay for wet-wading unless you stay in too long or go just a little too deep. Waders keep everything pleasant. It's important to use "cold water" lines during the winter and spring. Tropical lines are too stiff in the colder water.
Jon with an artsy shot of a fat, silvery-tan redfish on March 17. Love that blue tail!
Barney with the biggest redfish of the trip... a 20 pounder on March 17. It wasn't Acklins Island, but it wasn't all bad.
   

 

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)
Email:
gbgsfishing@aol.com

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