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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
December 30, 2003
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report

The Hunt for the Reds of December. Sitting on the quay warming the pines this time of year is not an option. Ya just gotta get in the game. That is exactly what Mr. B.R. and family from Ocala wanted this past week. They booked me for three inshore fishing days in pursuit of the ever elusive reds of December. So we checked the tides and the ambient air temperature for the optimal fish bite and maximum angler comfort. This Captain/writer is happy to report success on both fronts.

It was not a viable fish plan to run offshore due to cold, blowy and bumpy sea conditions. We wanted to target the big bubba Saddam grouper fish. Those you would recognize as the ones that are pulled from their holes. I know, Iíll try to do better.

Sorry for the digression, back now to redfish. B.R. was a total delight to have onboard Topknots for three days. He has fished all over the world and has the ability to relive the experiences with others as an expert teller of stories. It is a total joy to have someone to fish that is such an accomplished angler. He even brought his own favorite graphite stick, a seven footer with a fast action taper. Attached was a silky smooth Diawa twelve pound class spinner. My kind of tackle.

During this transition time in the Apalachicola Bay, the water temperature controls the bite. The trout have moved into the rivers and creeks, but the redfish are still in the Bay. The trick is to find them. It is an inexact science at best. But, when you find them, it is fast action. Redfish will not turn their nose up at a properly presented, large frisky shrimp. Increase your odds by starting the day with a livewell full of hand-picked 20 count shrimps. Always have high quality aerators with fresh batteries for your shrimp buckets. And remember that shrimp will die in fresh water, so wait to dump your buckets into your large onboard livebait well until you are in salt water. A quick taste-test will do. With heavy rains the Apalachicola River introduces huge volumes of fresh water into the estuary.

During this fishing adventure with B.R. and his lovely wife and niece, over fifty reds were brought to the gunwale. The best fish was a fat eight pounder, right at the top of the slot. Bycatch included sheepshead to five and black drum to seven. Sheepshead are so hot right now you donít even have to spit on your bait or hold your mouth just right to catch them.

By far the very best part of this three day fishing adventure was the end of the day obligatory ritual. After I finished filleting the dayís fish on my back deck, we relaxed with our favorite drink to celebrate our successful hunt for the reds of December. Toasts all around to the blaze-orange setting sun, the sheer thrill of the battle with Mr. Red and especially to new-found fishing friends.

Till next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,

Captain Alex Crawford

Proud Member Florida Outdoor Writers Association

Proud Member Florida Guides Association

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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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