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Fall 2008 arrived with warm, clear Gulf of Mexico waters and mild temperatures. There were pompano, redfish, ladyfish, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel along the shore, and near-shore structure was covered up with red, lane, and mangrove snappers. Slot-sized redfish, Spanish mackerel, and trout became active inshore as the bay waters cooled. Schools of spawning bull redfish appeared in late October around the pass and spent the rest of the season feeding on menhaden in Pensacola Bay. The false albacore returned for a fabulous shallow water run that lasted off-and-on through December, and we had good success sight-fishing for slot and larger redfish in November and December along the clear shallows of the gulf. Here are the photos from our best ever fall season. For photos from previous seasons, check out these additional galleries: 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. Click on any of the small images below to see the full size photos. Use the back button on your browser to return to this page.

The false albacore returned for a one week encore performance, and Rhad Hayden of Baton Rouge, LA, was here on September 22 to take full advantage of the situation. These were strong fish in the 7-8 pound range and Rhad had his hands full on a T&T 8 wt with Bauer M3 reel.
Rhad also landed the all-time boat record ladyfish on fly. This fish weighed 4 pounds on the Bogagrip.
Floris van den berg from Holland was having a great time catching ladyfish on gurglers when the first school of jack crevalle since July 4 appeared 200 feet from the boat. The school paused along a current line just long enough for us to snatch the 12 wt out, unclip the anchor, and drift into range. Floris made the cast, and the jacks fought for the big popper.
A few days later Floris landed the first pompano on fly of the fall season. We were poling a shallow flat when this fish appeared nervously along the edge of a dropoff. Floris laid out a perfect cast, stripped the fly expertly, and after following for about ten feet the pompano pounced on it.
This shot of Floris releasing the pompano showcases the outrageously beautiful water conditions typical during the fall.
Later in the day Sept 26 we waded some gulf sandbars sight-fishing for redfish along the shore. Floris coaxed this fish into eating a yellow Clouser minnow.
Here's a shot of Floris as we poled along the beach looking for reds and pompano. Even in these gin-clear conditions the pompano with their mirrored sides can be very difficult to see
We found the false albacore the morning of Septermber 28, but they were very picky. After trying almost everything in the box we tied on an Umpqua Cowen's Albie Anchovy, and Floris hooked a fish on the second cast. When the next fish came on the tenth cast we were satisfied with successfully "matching the hatch."
It all came together on October 2 for Noreen Galaba of Breckenridge, CO, when she stalked a redfish along the edge of the Gulf and dropped the Clouser minnow right on target. In this shot Noreen is fighting the fish in translucent, emerald green, eighty degree October water.
Here's Noreen with the prize...her first redfish on fly.
Later in the day we found ladyfish feeding in six inches of water, and Noreen landed fish after fish on a "Gurgler" invented by her friend Jack Gartside.
Gourmet cook Raad Cawthon and a fine 7 pound red snapper on October 4. October is a terrific month for snapper fishing around near-shore structure close to Pensacola Pass...calm seas, cooler temperatures, lots of fish.
Photographer Karena Cawthon and her first ever fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Karena has visions of Snapper Almondine dancing in her head.
We found the big bluefish on October 8, and Glenn Evans, Tulsa, OK, had a ball catching them on a Gartside Gurgler.
Gordon Kelsay, Glasgow, KY, was visiting with grandson Kameron Oct 9 when the false albacore showed up five miles offshore. Gordon had his hands full with a little Battenkill reel and had to palm the spool to bring this fish to the boat.
Gordon's grandson Kameron Bellamy never had a bluegill fight like these little tunas! Kameron landed them on light spinning tackle and an Acme "Sidewinder" spoon. We replace the treble hooks on these spoons with single hooks and mash the barbs down to effect a quick release.
Case DuPont and a very rare Emperor Snapper caught and released on October 11. This is an Australian reef fish used in the aquarium hobbiest industry. How it made its way into Santa Rosa Sound is anybody's guess. A fish this size would retail for over $200.
For the first time this fall the spawning schools of big redfish hit the surface of the Gulf of Mexico on Oct 25, and Hobart McWhorter, Birmingham, was here to witness the explosive action. This was Hobart's first fish of the day, and he landed it on a 10wt with a bunny strip fly tied by Rob Rogers of Deep South Outfitters.
That afternoon we found the false albacore just outside the outer bar, and Hobart landed numerous fish of this quality on his Sage 8wt and a #6 Cowen's Albie Anchovy.
A big cold front arrived early on Oct 27 with small craft warnings and howling NW winds. Dennis Farkas was undeterred by the conditions, and we pounded our way across Pensacola Bay to the gulf where the water was flat and crystal clear. We were amazed to find the false albacore running the beach for the first time since January.
Ben Lee with a multi-spotted friend landed and released on November 1. Ben pulled this fish out from under a dock in Santa Rosa Sound.
The Chambers family from Illinois took a fishing break on Nov 2 while visiting son Jake who's stationed at Whiting Field. This is Seth Chambers with the biggest slot redfish of the day.
.When we reached the gulf the false albacore were crashing bait all up and down the beach. Jake Chambers brought the first "bad little dude" to the boat.
Here's an excellent shot of Steve Chambers with a false albacore in the 6# range. These little torpedos are built for speed.
A jubilant Seth Chambers after experiencing his first successful battle with a FA.
Fellow captain Jack Stringfellow of Gulf Breeze with his first false albacore on fly. Jack got this fish to eat a Cowen's Albie Anchovy.
It had been a month since we'd landed a pompano when Jay Walters, Opelika, AL, slid this 2-3 pounder into the cooler. The pompano hit a 1/2oz silver "Sidewinder" spoon.
Jay's brother-in-law Matt Samuels got style points for catching this pompano on a topwater "chug bug". We won't mention how it was hooked...
Terry Longest with the fish of the day on November 8. We hooked six, but this was the only grouper brought to the top. It's hard to beat catching legal grouper in Pensacola Bay.
Now THAT's what I'm talking about!! Clayton Hogseth and a 40" redfish landed November 9 on light tackle while sight-fishing along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.
Richard Tatum and Frank Davis were here for the "Running of the Bulls" on November 22. This is Richard with a fish in the thirty pound range.
Frank Davis's catch showcases the fabulous spawning colors of these magnificent fish. Richard and Frank landed over 600 pounds of giant redfish that afternoon.
Red snapper fishing in Pensacola Bay is always outstanding after the season closes on October 31. Robert Payne had his hands full November 24 with this 8 pounder.
Glenn Perry, Birmingham, AL, was in town for a perfect day of sight-fishing on November 26. This slot redfish took a tan/white "Deep Eyed Minnow" from Fly H2O.
Late in the day we found a school of about a hundred reds twenty feet from shore, and they fought for Glenn's fly.
Robert Palmer, Jackson, MS, with his first shallow water false albacore. The FA ran the beach November 28 for the first time in two weeks.

False albacore weren't the only fish feeding along the beach that day. This redfish measured 28 1/2 inches and weighed ten pounds. It hammered the silver "sidewinder" Robert was using for the FA.

Robert's uncle Ron Wood from Texas enjoyed the false albacore sight-fishing on November 28.
December 2 was sunny, cool, and the gulf was flat and clear...perfect fly-fishing conditions for James Miller, Memphis, TN, pictured here with his playmate of the day.
Hobart McWhorter returned on December 19 for another shot at the false albacore, and we found pods of them feeding along the current line at Pickens Point.
Ernest Ladd came over from Mobile to fish with Hobart on December 19 and landed this spectacular fish on ultralight baitcasting tackle.
Here's Hobart with a fat, trophy redfish landed once again on a white bunny-strip fly from Deep South Outfitters, Birmingham. Check out the impressive belly on this fish.


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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