Marlin
 
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Spring 2015 arrived with beautiful emerald green waters and mild conditions. The shallow water redfish sight-fishing was outstanding in both the Gulf of Mexico and the inland waters. Schools of jack crevalle arrived right on time in late-March, and the pompano showed up a little later. Poling the inside flats in April and May provided some terrific excitement for our fly-anglers, and when conditions were right we introduced our more experienced anglers to amberjacks on fly...poppers to be exact! As we got into June the red snapper season kicked in, and most of our clients "limited out". Here are the photos from our spring season. Double-click on the thumbnails for full-screen photos. For photos from previous seasons, click on the links to these additional galleries: 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.

Greg Sharp, Little Rock, Arkansas, kicks off the spring gallery on March 22 with a couple outstanding redfish caught on fly while sight-fishing in shallow water along the Gulf Islands National Seashore. In late-winter and early-spring schools of the big fish feed in pockets along the beach in as little as 2' of water. We pole the skiff and sneak up on the schools, drop anchor when we get close, and wait until a fish moves into casting range. The fish can weigh up to 30#, and we use 8 and 9wt tackle.
Greg's second fish was similar in size... 40" and 24-25 pounds. The light tan/silver color of these redfish helps to camouflage them on the sugar-white sandy bottom. They look like submarines in 3' of water but can "disappear" by moving fifty feet out and sitting on the bottom in water that's 8-10' deep. Stealth is the key to getting close enough to land one of these trophies. Fire up the motor, and they're gone...

 

 

Dennis Farkas and Tom Gutierrez were on the boat the following day and got after the redfish with ultra-light spinning tackle. Here's Tom with the first fish of the day.
Dennis Farkas with a 27-28 pound beauty. That's a lot of redfish on a little St Croix 7' "Avid series" AS70MF rod, Shimano Stradic 2500FJ reel, and 15# PowerPro braid!
Dennis and Tom "doubled up" with about 40 pounds of redfish. The big reds are our breeding stock and are all carefully handled and released unharmed.
The Gulf was blown out for Greg Sharp on March 25, so we fished the inland waters. This fine speckled trout hammered Greg's tan/white clouser minnow in the channel leading into one of our local bayous.
Here's a shot of Michael Harris with his first-ever redfish on fly caught on a spectacular March 27. You'd have to go to the Bahamas to find water this pretty...
Michael doing a fine job resuscitating his fish after a hard fight and photo session.
Icelandic surgeon Jonas Magnusson with the first jack crevalle landed on fly since 2013. Jonas finally broke the 2014 jinx on March 31 by coaxing this 16-18 pounder to eat one of Ben Walters' big white poppers. Getting the fly in the right place in front of the jacks is 50% of the battle. The other 50% is getting the hookset when the fish crushes the popper. Then there's the most important 50% that's staying "tight" to the fish at all times after the hookset. And of course there's the 50% that the knots hold and the rod doesn't explode. You get the picture. Our jack crevalle fly-fishing is hardcore... similar to fishing for the giant trevally. It's big-game adrenaline-rush action that's not for the weak-at-heart. Ben Walters sells his custom-tied poppers at Eastern Fly Outfitters, Johnson City, TN.
The Gulf was again too rough on April 3, so we poled some of our favorite flats in Santa Rosa Sound looking for 4-8# "slot-sized" redfish. Imagine our surprise when we found a school of a dozen monster reds along the edge of a sandbar in 5' of water! Steve Lindeman was using his 8wt and got this 25 pound fish to eat an olive/white EP clouser minnow. Goes to show that amazing things can happen on the inside if you know where to look...
Paul Legge was on the boat April 8, and we naturally went back to that same area looking for the big fish. Instead we found schools of perfect-sized redfish of this quality with numerous big trout mixed in.
Jay Lanier and Dave Harding were in town on April 14, and we started off the day trying to sight-fish in the fog. Of course we went back to the same spot and silently poled the flats in a couple feet of water. It was very difficult to see the fish sitting motionless on the sand, but they couldn't see us either. Once they sensed our presence; however, the fish started milling around, and we had a hard time getting one to eat the fly. Jay finally made it happen with the "old faithful" gray/white EP baitfish. Dave took over and made numerous perfect casts with zero results, and the phone rang. It was good friend and fellow guide Capt Eddie Woodall alerting us that he'd found a big school of jack crevalle in the Gulf right up on the beach, and that we might consider heading out there. Which we did...
Dave was on deck with the 10wt rigged and ready with a big white popper, and we headed east of Pensacola Pass looking for Capt Eddie's red Blazer Bay. His client was hooked up and had been for about 15 minutes, so Capt Eddie pointed us in the direction of the school of jacks. We looked hard but couldn't find them, but we did see some unusual reddish-brown color in a section of breaking waves just outside the inner sandbar. There were 3' waves as we got close enough to see that the coloration was a school of redfish. We maneuvered the skiff close to the breakers, and Dave heaved the popper out over the fish and made it dance. It was exactly what the redfish wanted, and they all tried to get to the fly at the same time. This fish took it away from the others, and Dave deftly brought it to the net. Jay took over, and we tried again to get to the fish, but all the commotion caused them to move closer to shore and out of reach. We finally declared victory and left...
On April 16, Lt Cmdr Kris Hemery of the French Navy took a break from his flight instructor duties in Meridian, MS, for a little piscatorial R&R. Kris is a "big fish" guy and had his sights set on jack crevalle, but a nice school of redfish came first. We found the fish where we had found them a couple days earlier...just outside the bar in solid 3' breakers. Kris was using spinning tackle with terrific casting range, so we stopped a safe distance from the breakers and he launched the big topwater plug over the waves and to the fish. This fish immediately crushed the popper, but as Kris was fighting it through the breakers his rod exploded. Accustomed to functioning in panic situations, Kris grabbed the braided line and "handlined" the redfish to the boat.
A little later we found a school of jack crevalle, and Kris accomplished his mission by landing his first jack.
Ellen Marsh kept the family from starving on April 21 by landing this black drum on a live shrimp in Santa Rosa Sound.
After which we headed to the Gulf where husband Tim boated this 20 pound jack crevalle on a topwater plug...
Boston's Bruce Trumbull on April 22 with the first fly-caught false albacore of 2015. The fish were only 3-4 pounds, but each one took Bruce into his backing.
Heather Trumbull with a nice FA caught on spinning tackle as her dad Bruce's fly rod is doubled-over in the background. Way to go, Heathrow!
A couple days later Greg Trumbull landed and released this slot-sized redfish in a rain-stained Santa Rosa Sound. Sight-fishing was impossible, so we resorted to "free-lining" live shrimp over some very productive grass beds.
Greg's fishing buddy Shauna Menard landed and released some beautiful trout in the same general area...
Jim Himmelwright on April 28 with a fine cobia landed on a live pinfish while catch-and-release red snapper fishing on a nearshore reef. We didn't have a cooler large enough to accommodate the fish, so Capt Eddie once again came to the rescue and put the fish on ice for us. Shortly afterwards Jim's fishing partner John Boles brought another similar-sized cobia to the boat, but we lost it at the net. We were going to release it anyway, but it sure would've beem nice to get the photo. Sorry about that, John.
The stained water made its way into the Gulf on April 30, but it was still clear enough to see a huge school of big redfish feeding on the inner sandbar in 2-4' of water. As we poled into range the fish started crashing baitfish on the surface all around the boat. It was like the fall "running of the bulls" for a few minutes, and Tommy Philtgen put the fly right in the middle of the melee. This 26 pounder grabbed the chartreuse/white "half and half" as it was sinking and was off to the races. Tommy's an expert light-tackle angler, but this was his first big redfish on fly...and he fought it like a pro on his 8wt.
Bryce Merrill and Trevor Trumbull, from Colorado, were here May 1 looking for some fun with the fly rods. We caught a perfect day for sight-fishing along the edge of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and both Bryce and Trevor landed and released their first pompano on fly. Here's a cool shot of Bryce after he laid out a nice cast and was getting ready for the strip...
And voilà...a lovely pompano.
This pompano charged in and ate Trevor's redfish fly before the redfish had a chance to react. Sometimes you just have to take what comes your way... Excellent photobomb by Bryce Merrill.
Birmingham dentist George Andrews was on the boat May 2 for the best jack crevalle fly-fishing in two years. The fish weren't interested in the big white popper, so we switched to a large mullet pattern that drove the fish crazy. George shown here with his first jack crevalle on fly...landed and released unharmed.
George definitely "Knows Jack" after his second fish. With a jack crevalle "in the bag" we headed east to a pompano spot hoping for the second leg of the Emerald Coast Grand Slam, but the pompano didn't cooperate. We had a few shots but no takes. Had we landed a pompano we would've moved inside to a redfish flat and tried for the third and final leg of the slam. But it wasn't to be...
The following day the Gulf was blown out, so we poled some inside flats where George landed and released this healthy speckled trout.
Brothers Don and Butch Joyner enjoyed red snapper fishing in Pensacola Bay on May 8. Here's Don with a beauty.
Butch followed suit with another healthy bay snapper.
LOCALTAILS, Jacksonville, FL, owner Rich Cuenta with an unusually spotted redfish landed May 11 on a tan/white clouser minnow and released unharmed in Santa Rosa Sound. Check out Rich's company for good fishing stories and very nice technical outerwear. Here's a link: http://localtails.com/
Glenn Perry on May 12 with a 5 pound speckled trout. We had had a tough day in the Gulf and decided to stop at one inside flat before heading to the boat ramp. The flat was loaded with 4-5" green-backed "sardines", and there were schools of catfish(!), redfish, trout, ladyfish, and sharks feeding on them. It was insane for an hour and a half as the flats totally came alive in a feeding frenzy. We dropped anchor and Glenn landed numerous catfish, countless ladyfish, and 7 trout over 4# before dolphins showed up and everything shut down. The fly of choice was a #2 tan/white clouser minnow with red eyes and copper-colored flash. It was strange that we never landed a redfish, as there were plenty of them swimming around the boat. It was like everything else beat the redfish to Glenn's fly...
"Here's looking at you, kid"! Project Healing Waters sponsored a trip on May 15 for some of our Wounded Warriors. Professional fly-tier Kent Reagan is show here with a ladyfish that ate one of his clouser minnows. Kent sells his flies online at http://store.usmcflyguy.com/. Anyone needing locals flies can pick up "Capt Baz's favorite dozen" from Kent's shop.
Wounded Warrior Oleta Webb with a ladyfish caught on a rod she built and fly she tied. Good job, Oleta!
Mike Youkee, London, was back in May and started off the week by hammering the redfish May 18 in Santa Rosa Sound. As you can see these are big, healthy fish, and they were more than willing to crush Mike's EP baitfish. Mike is a terrific caster who can throw 90' of line in seconds. Plus, he has mastered the "fleeing baitfish" strip which drives the trout and redfish crazy. They have to eat it because it's getting away... It's fun to watch.
Mike again with his second redfish of the day...
These first three redfish were so beautiful we had to include all of them... Of course all fish were released unharmed.
The following day Bob Jenkins, Woody Creek, CO, joined Mike, and we ran out to the Gulf searching for jack crevalle. Jenkins had come close but never landed a jack on fly. He had his 10wt ready to rock 'n roll with new, killer mullet fly from a few weeks before. We ran east of Pensacola Pass and within a mile spotted a big school of jacks moving westbound. The fish were "high and happy"...a good sign that they hadn't been bombarded by 2 oz cobia jigs. We cut the motor a couple hundred yards ahead of the fish, and used the push pole to keep the bow pointed in the direction of the oncoming school. Jenkins got ready with a full cast of line coiled on the deck and the mullet in his hand. SHOWTIME! The school came into casting range, and Bob dropped the mullet perfectly in their path, but to our surprise the fish swam all around the fly totally uninterested. We couldn't believe it, ran ahead of the school, set up as before, and Jenkins made another perfect cast... nada! The third time we switched to the big white popper, and this time Jenkins hit paydirt! They could probably hear him yelling all the way to Colorado!! Check that one off your dance card, dude...
We stopped on the way back at a redfish flat, and Bob added this beauty to the day's tally. What a day!
On May 21 we decided to give the redfish and trout a break and headed back to the Gulf. It was a beautiful morning with a light breeze and a tiny 2" chop. The first stop was a nearshore wreck where Mike blind-casted a big popper hoping to bring an amberjack to the top. He was armed to the teeth with a 12wt rod and big Bauer reel with the drag so tight you could barely pull out line. We knew if Mike hooked a big AJ it would charge straight back into the wreck 78' below. If he couldn't stop it we would most likely lose the fly line. Sure enough, after a few casts amberjacks started coming up to check out the fly. After a few short-strikes this fish crushed the popper and bolted for the bottom. With the engine fired up and the boat backing away from the wreck Mike held on for dear life. His rod was bowed up under the boat, and even with the drag at max the amberjack was taking line. We both expected the rod to explode, but after a few minutes Mike started to make some progress. After about 15 minutes he brought the fish to the net, and we photographed, resuscitated, and released it unharmed. The amberjack set the boat record at 32" to the fork. We estimated the weight at around 20 pounds. Incredible power... You've gotta feel it to believe it!
After the amberjack experience we spent the rest of our time playing with false albacore. These were smaller than usual fish but a lot of fun on an 8wt.
Mike finished out the week on Saturday, May 23, by landing this 6 1/2 pound trout with pleasure boaters and swimmers all around us. A fitting finish to a good week on the water... Double-click for a nice view of the big trout's trademark yellow mouth.
Dave Walters, Johnson City, TN, brought son Mark for a couple days during the opening week of red snapper season. Problem was we had a hard time getting away from the groupers in Pensacola Bay! Here's Dave and friend on May 26.
Same problem for Mark...another gag grouper caught and released. Grouper season didn't open until July 1.
The red snapper fishing was good as always during week 1. Dave and Mark limited out both days and took plenty of snapper fillets back to the Walters Clan in Tennessee.
Of course it wouldn't be right if we didn't do a little redfish sight-fishing before and after chasing the snappers. Here's Mark Walters with a fine specimen...released unharmed. Why kill a redfish when you have the box full of snappers?!
On June 2 we took the skiff back to the same flat that came "alive" three weeks earlier, and Jason Porter had a blast with the redfish and trout. This pompano came out of nowhere and inhaled Jason's tan/white clouser.
Jason landed numerous trout, but we only took the time to photograph this one...a 3-4 pound beauty
Michael Brasher on June 3 with a gorgeous red snapper while fishing with his dad John and Darrell Bobe.
Darrell answered the challenge with another hefty snapper headed for the cooler...
How about a blowfish on fly! Double-click for a closeup of this cool marine creature...Clay Foreman's first saltwater fish on fly landed June 10.
Blake Butler on June 10 with the first big Spanish mackerel of the year landed on ultra-light spinning tackle and an Acme "Sidewinder" spoon. Double click on the photo to check out the teeth on this beast! The big Spanish will be on the grass beds in increasing numbers and sizes through October and into early-November. They will yank the rod out of your hands on the strike, spool you on light tackle, or bloody your knuckles on fly gear. We've caught them over 30" long and up to 9 pounds. They are fabulous gamefish and wonderful table fare.
John Boles saved the day June 15 by landing the red snapper he and his dad John Boles had for dinner that night at the Aegean Breeze restaurant in Gulf Breeze. Whew! Way to go, John!
Ted Calcaterra, St Louis, had never caught a redfish on fly until June 16 when he landed 7! Here's Ted's #1...small but meaningful.
Now that's more like it, Ted. Perfect sized flats redfish...
Ted rounded out the day with a nice, fat speckled trout.
Will Prascher finishes up the spring gallery with his first-ever redfish on fly on a beautiful June 17.
   

 

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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