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Spring 2013 was challenging due to unseasonal wind and rain, but the fish were hungry and ready to play. In many of the photos you will notice "iced tea" stained water instead of the usual green, but the fish didn't seem to mind. Actually off-color water can better for sight-fishing as long as it's clear enough to see the fish. If it's hard to see them they can't see us either... This was one of our best springs for redfish and speckled trout both on fly and light-tackle. Scott Guesner landed the all-time boat record 9 pound trout on April 15. The sheepshead spawning ritual occurred right on schedule. We had outstanding amberjack fishing in May, and it was game on when red snapper season opened June 1. Here are the photos from this spring's season. For photos from previous seasons, check out these additional galleries: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.

Colorado's Evan Bottcher on March 22 with a beautiful fly-caught redfish...the first of the spring season. The runoff turned the inland waters to "strong iced tea" making sight-fishing nearly impossible. Evan was blind-casting an EP 1/0 baitfish around some dock pilings when this redfish crushed it. Notice how the dark colors of the fish camouflage it perfectly in the dark water. Nature's cloaking device.
We moved out to the Gulf of Mexico and found water clear enough for sight-fishing. Evan's fishing partner Caitlin Wagner landed her first bull redfish on ultra-light spinning tackle.
We found another school of redfish and tried to position Evan for a good shot with the fly rod, but the fish were moving too fast heading out to deeper water. So Caitlin dropped the Spro bucktail jig in their midst and hooked into another fine specimen. Evan was as pleased as if he'd landed the fish himself!
Evan put his new Go Pro camera into action and snapped this incredible release photo. You've got to be an expert to have the camera lens half in and half out of the water! Double click on the photo for the full- screen view of this terrific shot. Excellent job, Evan.
It was cold and windy on March 25 for Matt Kail, Rockford, MI, and his son Jonah. Many young boys would've been huddled on the floor of the boat trying to stay warm, but not young Noah. He was bound and determined to catch enough sheepshead to take home for dinner, and it wasn't easy. Two hours into the trip we hadn't landed a fish, but the young man was unshaken. Finally, we found some fish and Noah landed sheepshead of this quality until it was time to go home. He filled up the doggone cooler and was one proud and happy little dude!

We received this photo and text message from Matt Kail on July 3: "A cold afternoon in March makes for a good dinner July 3rd. Jonah hasn't stopped telling that will listen that he caught them all."

On March 26 the light was good enough to barely see fish in the off-colored water of the 3-5' sandbars around Pensacola Pass. We picked up some movement and thought we saw a shadow about 50' in front of the boat, and Charlie Forrest dropped the fly 10' in front of the target and let it sink. The intermediate line helped the EP tan/white clouser minnow get to the bottom quickly. The fly must have appeared directly in front of this fish's face, because it inhaled it without hesitation. Great job by Charlie on a seriously big redfish...39-40".
By March 28 the inland waters finally cleared up enough to fish some of our favorite flats, and Jay Lanier had our all-time best day of redfish sight-fishing on fly. There was not a cloud in the sky. By the end of the trip Jay had landed 7 and hooked numerous more. If that wasn't enough he landed the all-time boat record speckled trout on fly which you will see below. Here's Jay's first redfish which he released unharmed...just like all the others.
And another... Check out the blue tail. Also note the slightly off-colored water. It was perfect that morning. The water was clear enough to easily spot the fish but dark enough that they weren't spooky and we could sneak up on them. Heavenly conditions...
The water was calm and quiet, and there were so many redfish that the whole scene was surreal. Jay was attracting the redfish with a fast strip on the EP baitfish and then slowing it down if the fish didn't eat it. This beauty charged after the fly for about 20' almost to the boat. Jay was running out of room so he just stopped the fly 15' from the boat and let it hover there. The fish stopped three inches short of the fly and watched it. Twice Jay barely twitched the fly, and the fish moved up and nipped at it. Each time the fish stopped a little closer to the fly. Finally we watched the fish open it's mouth, flare it's gills, and the fly simply disappeared. It was the coolest take either of us has ever seen, and it happened with the leader almost in the rod tip. As some say "It just don't get no better!"
In the midst of all the redfish action we found a school of mullet milling around on the surface over a sand spot 30' from the boat in about 2 1/2' of water. The mullet literally covered the circle of sand, and beneath them we could see the long, dark silhouette of a huge trout. Jay made a perfect cast not lining the the mullet but unfurling the leader over the sand. The fly landed like a feather in the midst of the mullet and slowly sank beneath them to the bottom a couple feet in front of the trout. One short strip and the trout glided over and ate it. When Jay strip-set the hook the big fish exploded on the surface with a huge head-shake and took off. The photo doesn't do it justice, but the trout weighed 6 1/2 pounds on the bogagrip. It's the all-time boat record on fly surpassing Mile Youkee's 6.1 pounder from last spring. What a day!

The next day Taylor Curry got to watch this fish follow his fly and then nail it...his first redfish on fly. Once you've sight-fished for redfish on fly it's hard to go back to doing it any other way...

Fellow guide Kevin Arculeo, Atlanta, brought a couple of his fishing buddies to town on March 31, and we got into some sheepshead action in Pensacola Pass before moving out into the Gulf to look for redfish. Nice shot of Kevin with a 6 1/2 pounder.
We found the redfish "stacked up" on a nearshore wreck and landed and released about a dozen. This is Keith Henderson with a fish right on the outside limit of the slot.
Keith Guiness with his first redfish which Capt Baz is proud to point out...
And here's Kevin Arculeo again with another beauty. Kevin tried for a while to get a fish to eat a fly, but it wasn't to be. Had to put a live shrimp in front of them this day...
The Marsh family from Iowa was in town April 2, and Dawn Marsh landed this fine redfish right off the bat.
We moved out to a nearshore wreck, and Tim Marsh continued his annual redfish streak by landing numerous fish of this quality...
Chris Kleva and sons Anthony and Tyler found some hot redfish sight-fishing along the shores of the Gulf Islands National Seashore on a spectacular April 6. Here's Chris with the first fish of the day.
A nice shot of Anthony and Tyler Kleva with a redfish "double" on April 6.
Boys will be boys...Tyler Kleva and a flounder tatoo released unharmed.
A cool psychedelic shot of a redfish tail in the morning sunlight. Photo by Chris Kleva.
The New Jersey Wolfpack was baaack on April 7 and Ken Michaels aka: "Pretzel" got on the board early with this nice speckled trout. (released unharmed)
But "Wojo" (Matt Wojciechowski) took top honors with this gator 25" trout also released unharmed.
Speaking of GATOR trout, on April 15 Scott Guesner of Houston, TX, landed the all-time boat record speckled trout while free-lining live shrimp on a grass bed in Santa Rosa Sound. This beautiful female weighed over nine pounds, and Scott garnered many years of good karma by carefully releasing her and all her eggs...
Grant Slack from Singapore was visiting the US for the Masters Golf Tournament and dropped down our way for a couple days of fly-fishing. We finally got some good conditions, and Grant landed this fine trout April 16 in Butcherpen Cove on a bright orange "spec-tackler" deceiver tied by Chris Sandoski.
A cold front finally blew through giving us north winds and blue skies, and Birmingham's Jimmy Wright and Barry Saunders were here April 20 to take full advantage of it. Here they are with a slot-redfish double landed around a dock in Santa Rosa Sound.
We headed out to the Gulf and found perfect conditions for redfish sight-fishing. Here's Jimmy Wright with as pretty a redfish as you'll ever see.
Barry Saunders landed another trophy redfish on a Spro bucktail jig and ultra-light spinning tackle. Both of these fish were in the 25# range.
A few days later the Gulf was too dirty for sight-fishing but Tracy Crowley and Chad Kearbey found the bull redfish in Pensacola Pass. Tracy Crowley on April 24 with a monster.
Tracy and Chad with a bull redfish "double" on April 24.
Tony Rea, Houston, TX, with his first redfish on fly caught and released April 27. Tony coaxed this fish to eat a gray/white EP baitfish.
April 29 was one of the all-time best days of redfish sight-fishing for Greg Speer, Ft Collins, CO. Here's the Rocket Man with his first fish, an over-the-slot beauty taken on an EP baitfish. Double click on the photo for a good look at the fly.
A little later Rocket landed another similar sized redfish in very shallow water.
The classic "Rocket Release". As you can see from the fish's shadow the water was less than 2' deep...hard to beat!
That masked man is the globetrotting surgeon Jonas Magnusson with an outstanding trout caught and released May 7 on one of our favorite flats in Santa Rosa Sound.
Bob Jenkins from Aspen, CO, was here May 10 for a terrific day of sight-fishing. It was slightly overcast making it hard to see the redfish and trout, but they couldn't see us either. Bob figured out which colored EP clouser the fish wanted when it was cloudy and which one to change to when the sun came out. It's the third fishing puzzle Bob has figured out over the past couple years. Very impressive. Here he is with the first redfish of the day.
We were hunting redfish, and this 21" trout was a bonus.
And here's Bob with as fine a shallow-water redfish as you'll ever catch around here. Not bad for 2-3' of water. These fish were on a sand bottom hence the very light tan color. Still has that blue tail though...
Who loves you, Baby?! Double click on the redfish smooch to get a good look at the fly...a tan/white EP clouser minnow tied by Karl Elliott of St Joseph, MO.
Rocky Sleight on May 13 with the only pompano of the spring season caught in the Gulf of Mexico while sight-fishing on fly. We had perfect conditions anchored south of Ft McRee, and numerous pompano came into Rock's range. He had one other take before landing this fish and releasing it unharmed. The pompano took our favorite little yellow pompano fly...the "original pompano rocket". Rocky joins the elite group of fly anglers who have successfully sight-fished for pompano. Hearty congratulations!
We had excellent conditions on May 15 for Mike Youkee From London on his annual spring trip. Started off the day blind-casting for big Spanish mackerel on one of our favorite grass beds. This fish crushed a tan/white clouser minnow.
There's crushed and then there's CRUSHED! The latter is a better description of this jack crevalle's response to the popper Mike dropped in its path. We had moved out to the Gulf of Mexico and were silently poling the beach west of Pensacola Pass looking for pompano when we noticed a large dark mass moving across the point. Hoping it was a school of jacks we put up the pompano rod and got the 10wt ready fly in hand with the flyline coiled on the deck. What a sight when the mass got close enough to see that it was indeed a big school of jacks, and they had no clue we were there. The fish were high and happy milling around with their bright yellow fins glowing in the sunlight. Mike made a nice long cast in front of the school and far enough from the boat that the fish wouldn't sense our presence. Two strips and fifteen fish raced for the popper. Mike instantly hooked up and put as much pressure as possible on the fish trying to land it quickly before the school disappeared down the beach. He landed it in about 10 minutes which is probably a boat record for a jack crevalle on fly...
We fired up the motor and ran down the beach passing well outside of the jacks, circled to get a couple hundred yards in front of them, and started poling in their direction. Sure enough here they came without a care in the world, and Mike worked his magic again landing another jack in the 12-14# range. This time the school dropped into deeper water and disappeared. So we came back inside the pass and were running along the north side of the island when we saw baitfish showering close to shore. We poled in to check it out, and there was another school of jacks chasing mullet in 2' of water. These were much bigger fish, and they were spooky in the shallows. After a few refusals Mike waited until the jacks were moving away from the boat before casting out in front of them. The strategy worked, and this big fish nailed the fly. Forty minutes later and a half mile away we landed it in 40' of water.
Here's another view of the 25# jack with a good view of the fly... a white 3/0 popper made by Ben Walters of Eastern Fly Outfitters. It was "Miller Time", and we celebrated with an ice cold Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. What a day!
Bernie Smelstoys had a ton of fun May 18 with the big red snappers in Pensacola Bay. Bernie was free-lining cut menhaden.
May 21 was another "red letter" day for sight-fishing the sand/grass flats of Santa Rosa Sound, and Glenn and Matt Wegener were there to take full advantage of the situation. Glenn landed the first redfish on a tan/white clouser tied with EP fibers.
Matt stepped up and got this fish to eat one of his own creations tied with EP fibers...
The fish were shying away from the "plop" of the clouser, so Glenn changed to another of Matt's baitfish imitations in a different color and bingo...this big redfish nailed it. Nice for the "old man" to get a good one on his son's specially tied fly. Pretty nice for Matt, too.
Late in the afternoon after the SW wind came up a school of about twenty much larger reds started feeding on the flat, and Matt was on the bow as we tried to pole them down. We never got one of the reds to eat the fly, but this spectacular trout inhaled Matt's fly in two feet of water.
The next day Russ Meigs landed his first redfish on the same flat. Russ had a couple other reds on earlier, but the barbless hook fell out. When this fish took the fly, Russ never let it get on the reel. It was full-tilt hand-to-fin combat, the leader held up, and we got the photo. Good job, Russ!
Bruce Trumbull treated daughter Heather and Jake Tessler to a couple days on the water May 23 and 24. Both Heather and Jake love "big fish" action, so we ran offshore for some bottom fishing. Heather put the heavy mojo on this 18 pound gag grouper which we released unharmed (season closed). Nice of her to ask Bruce to join in the photo...
Jake Tessler is a stonemason and one powerful dude, but he had his hands seriously full with this badass amberjack...and loved every minute of it.
Here's Heather on May 24 looking glamourous as always with the first fish of the day.
Jake was getting a lot of amberjack action on big topwater plugs, so Bruce decided to give it a try on fly. He started blind-casting a big white popper and got some follows and blowups, but the fish were "short-striking" the fly. We switched to a big streamer and got nothing. Next we tied on a 2/0 "pearly popper" from Umpqua and a nice AJ hammered it on the first cast. Bruce is hardcore when it comes to fighting big fish and likes to palm his System 2 reels instead of using the drag. Well you can imagine how tough that was with an amberjack, but after about 15 minutes Bruce just about had it to the boat when a 7' bull shark ate it right in front of us! We felt bad for the AJ but worse about losing the fly. Fortunately we had another, and Bruce immediately hooked into a second fish. It was beautiful to watch him battle this amberjack without using the drag. Amazing really. His knuckles got beaten up a couple times, but this fish made it to the net. Bruce wasn't done yet. Pumped from landing that fish he hooked into a third AJ, but this fish dove like only a big AJ can do and Bruce couldn't stop him. He ran straight down 80', and hung Bruce up in the wreck. We finally had to break the flyline at the nail knot. What an experience!
Here's another shot of Bruce Trumbull with only the second amberjack landed on fly on one of our boats... Way to go, Bruce!
Blanton Stagno brought some of his Birmingham buddies down May 27 for a "happy graduation" fishing trip. Blanton got it all started with this Pensacola Bay red snapper.
The snappers were very accommodating. Here's Daniel Rich with a red snapper in the 10# range. Too bad it was five days before the opening of snapper season...
Hunter Williams had the hot hand that day and landed numerous red snappers of this quality.
Someone mention red snapper season opening?? Dave and Daniel Walters, Johnson City, TN, were in town for opening day June 1 and landed some beauties. Daniel's biggest fish weighed 17 pounds. Magnificent colors on this fish.
Dave Walters with a fish in the 10-12 pound range.
Thought we'd include this great father/son shot of Dave and Daniel. In a word...YUM!
We had a lovely morning for sight-fishing on June 4, and John Travis landed two of the three Emerald Coast Grand Slam species. John checked off the redfish category with this multi-spotted fish caught on the EP gray/white baitfish. A little earlier John landed a surprise pompano, but the fish leaped out of his hands as we were taking the photo...
That afternoon Hank Stackhouse introduced grandson Trey to saltwater fishing. Little Trey's not too sure what to think about this 24" trout caught on a live shrimp and released to the cooler...
It's always a blast when the Lalonde family from Baton Rouge comes to town, and June 5 was no exception. Ted Lalonde got it all started with another 25" speckled trout which met the same fate as the one yesterday. Cooler City...
David Lalonde has been "snake bit" on previous trips when it comes to getting his picture on the website, but not this time. David was free-lining small pieces of cutbait on big spinning tackle in Pensacola Bay when this 16# beast grabbed it and took off for the bottom. David had to "palm" the spool applying additional drag to keep this fish from running into the structure and cutting him off. It was an epic battle, and David came out victorious... Great way to break through to the photo gallery, and it's so nice to land a fish like this when the season's open!
David, Ted, and Hollie Renee at the end of the day with the main ingredients for a Lalonde Family Feast!
Steve Nguyen was casting a small silver spoon for Spanish mackerel June 7 when this bull redfish surprised everybody on the boat...
The Gulf of Mexico was too rough for bottom-fishing, so Steve found this 10 pound red snapper in Pensacola Bay and slid it into the cooler.
Beginning fly-caster Seth Adams was a quick learner on June 12 when the false albacore showed up in large numbers a mile and a half offshore. The fish were eating the tiny, clear minnows lovingly known as "snot bait", and were they ever difficult. Seth learned the "double haul" quickly and was therefore able to get the fly to the fish. We experimented with flies and stripping techniques and found Henry Cowen's Albie Anchove, sz 6, effective with a long 4-5' strip. This was the first fish to take Seth into the backing, and he's a changed man...hooked for life.
The FA were still in the vicinity two days later on June 14 and Dan Willcutt did well on the same fly and stripping technique. Nice, fat, "football" shaped fish...
Seems like the weather always tanks when Feather-craft's Bob Story comes to town, and June 17 was no exception. The Gulf of Mexico was blown out, but we got an early-morning tip from another guide that the albies had moved up into the bay. When we arrived schools of FA were crashing the surface eating bay anchovies that were trapped in a current line. When bay anchovies are the targeted baitfish a #6, clear, gummy minnow is usually the ticket. And that's how it was for Bob who caught them until his wrist was sore... Poor Bob.
Bob with his second false albacore. It was mayhem out there with the albies boiling around the boat and storm clouds all around us. Here's a link to a short youtube video which captures the action... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3Zz7ZJ52ZU

 

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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