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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
September 13, 2004
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


Sitting in my home office hanging over the Apalachicola Bay waiting for the next update of computer models of Ivan, I am reflective of hurricanes past. One class three I recall quite vividly. We were having lunch at the beach hut of a Club Med village in the Turks and Caicos Island. It was raining sideways as we ordered up another round of liquid sunshine drinks and proposed the umpteenth toast to the raw power of Mother Nature. Then a hush fell over the bar as every reveler turned their undivided attention to the staff as they quickly pitched dozens of lawn chairs into the giant swimming pool. Before long we were all issued a paper sack full of sandwiches, apples and candles. A major hurricane was fast approaching and phase one of the standard hurricane plan had been implemented. That night as the 140 knot winds raged, we waited anxiously to see the damage at first light. And no one felt slighted. Everything that could get blown away was. All of the window glass on the windward side was gone. I have never witnessed such total destruction. Not a single palm tree was standing. Water driven by high wind can penetrate anything. It seemed that all of the sugar white beach sand was now in the bottom of the pool with the lawn furniture. The absolute fury of this storm was devastating. As I stood looking out at the beach and ocean, I remember the overbearing feeling of helplessness. But we had survived, mostly because we were on the leeward side of the island and missed the killer surge.

In the meantime, life is great on 98. After Frances, I managed two trips this past week. One inshore trip was another learning experience. A wonderful gentleman knocked on my door and asked if we could go trout fishing. It was his wife’s birthday and this would be her gift. I was curious how this man would handle a spinning outfit, as he had lost an arm in a hay bailing mishap. Further, he was barely ambulatory with a big cast on his foot. He had an encounter with a bulldozer track and almost lost his foot. I felt immediate compassion for this man from Kentucky who wanted to buy a fishing trip for his wife.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Harold built a custom fighting belt to allow him to catch fish one handed. It had a pvc plastic rod holder that gave him the advantage of fighting the fish while cranking with his right hand. He asked if I would simply change the crank handle to make the reel a lefty. Slick deal! The learning experience is that anglers who are physically challenged can participate in their beloved sport and do it with remarkable proficiency. Although he was thoughtful enough to ask me to help Margaret catch several nice trout, he managed his share. Gives a whole new meaning the old expression, “shut up and fish!”

The fish were holding on the outside of Cape Saint George in 10 feet eating our small live pinfish on bottom. The fall trout bite is starting now as it does every year with cooler temperatures and white shrimp flushing into the bay. The fishing will only improve for the next several weeks after Ivan blows past. Autumn inshore trout and red fishing is a celebration on the Forgotten Coast. Are you a spectator or a participant? Put your bones in motion, empower your fishing dreams!

Whew! The caffeine overdose has me spewing rhetoric and feeling up my words again. Four young boys from Ala-dam-bama came to town last Friday just itchin’ to fight big groupers. They brought their own live baits, a first for me. A 150 quart Igloo cooler was loaded with a dozen, dozen live goldfish. I know, freshwater goldfish can’t live in saltwater. Well, guess what, all they need to do is live long enough to make it into Bubba Grouper’s living room. They used a high volume 12 volt pump to keep them alive from LA (lower Alabama) to Apalach. We could be onto something here. Captain Goldfish! Every time these boys dropped a goldfish down, it got hammered. My 40 gallon live bait well was full of nice, dock trapped pinfish and five to seven inch finger mullet. By 10am we had to go to fish box #2, as the lid on the big 150 quart box would not close. The fishing was awesome. All of the recent storms, strong currents, fluctuating barometric pressure etc. has the grouper turned on big time.

Sorry gotta go up the Apalach to Seminole for safe moorings. May have a largemouth bass, crappie and catfish report next week, who knows. One thing is for sure, the finest meteorologists in the land don’t know what Ivan will do. So, join me in a liquid sunshine toast to Mother Nature, she will have her way.

Till next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,

Captain Alex Crawford

www.topknots.com Proud Member Coastal Conservation Association

Proud Member Florida Guides Association

Proud Member Florida Outdoor Writers 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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