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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
July 24, 2001
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report

Last week I accepted an invitation to fish offshore aboard the "Miss Loretta", owned by Mr., Aaron Taylor of Taylor Building Supply in East Point. This beautiful fishing machine, a Luhrs 35, had Captain David Giddens at the helm and crew including Mr. Bubba Gander, Mr. Al Melillo and Captain Alex Crawford serving as first mate for the day.

The boiling Florida sun jumped out of the eastern sky as we cleared the granite boulders of the government cut and set the autopilot southwest to our first waypoint 35 miles into the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The fishing plan for the day was to catch up a baitwell full of liveys on sabiki rigs and drop them with electrics on some deep water wrecks in search of quality groupers, snappers and amberjack.

Using #8 sabiki rigs tipped with slivers of fresh squid, we found the live bait cooperative. Big hardtails, cigar minnows, sand perch, LY's and even a couple triggers managed to stretch our little bait outfits. The prudent angler who is a prepared opportunist will insure a good supply of sabikis and 3 ounce dipsey sinkers are on board for a trip on the big pond. Blue Runners can tangle a live bait rig in perfect knots in a New York heart beat. Try cutting the sabiki rig down to a two or three hook outfit and they serve double duty when you simply tie on the second half. Plus, with only a couple hooks, the tangles are minimized and the catching is maximized. You will save a few bucks to put in the gas tank.

The weapons of choice for our piscatorial adventure were 4/0 Penn Electrics, mounted on stout Penn Mariner glass sticks with Aftco rollers. Eighty pound triplefish mono was spooled up and finished with a 5 foot 100 pound leader and a 6/0 Mustad #9174 all around J hook. Some serious terminal stuff, especially when a torpedo AJ wants to extract your arms from their sockets. Shunning the heavy electric, I dropped 10 ounce sinkers with my trusty 20 TLD Shimano and cheated when necessary by cranking with the stick gimbaled in the gunnel rod holder. If you employ this energy saving tactic yourself, be prepared to have your gender questioned in extremely derogatory terms.

The catch for the day was as follows: black and red groupers to 13, red, mangrove and vermilion snapper to 8, AJ's we did not weigh, a few nice triggers and one little flounder sent back to grow up. Bubba Gander really put a hurt on the red snappers and Aaron Taylor pulled up several big black groupers.

This writer was totally spoiled by a nicely appointed cabin with a comfy sofa and 70 degree air conditioning. This fishing vessel is first class and capable of raising marlin, as well as the favorite bottom species. My heart-felt thanks go out to Aaron Taylor again for allowing me the opportunity to fish the "Miss Loretta."

On another fishing front, Captain Robyn Morgan out of Carrabelle reports nice catches of triggers, red groupers, amberjack and cobia on the Franklin reef. Captain Robyn says live pinfish will get eaten. She sends them down on custom Parker rods, with Penn 245 LD's, spooled with 50 Ande, 80 # fluorocarbon and a 4/0 circle hook. A very hard working female Captain, Robyn bills her charter service, "The Softer Side of Fishing." She can be reached at email, seacraft@gtcom.net or website, www.gulfpirate.com

Until next tide, tight lines,

Captain Alex Crawford

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Captain Alex Crawford is a full time guide who has fished the Florida Panhandle offshore for 26 years. He specializes in grouper and snapper trips with light tackle on live bait. Custom trips for companies with multiple boats will be arranged. Inshore trips targeting specific species and custom eco trips are available for birding, gator watching, shelling, picnics and barrier islands. Contact Captain Alex for a fun and productive trip on Florida's Forgotten Coast.

Contact Info:

Topknots Charters
P. O. Box 1029
Carrabelle, FL 32322
Phone: 850-697-8946
Alt. Phone: same
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