Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle
Capt. Alex Crawford
January 8, 2005
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report
BEST-EVER REDFISH TRIP
On a trip between Christmas and New Years, we experienced the most successful redfish trip in my 26 years of fishing the Forgotten Coast. And this takes into consideration several spectacular redfish days with my old friend Captain Fred Morrow who is widely acknowledged as a world-renowned redfish guide out of the mouth of the Saint Johns River in Jacksonville, FL. I fully realize that this claim is saying a lot, but just read on!
The tide was not right and the current less than a mill pond in summer, but we began looking for flounder and sheepshead on the SGI bridge. With no live shrimp available, we had only some, less than totally fresh/IQF, too big 12 count shrimps as our go-to baits. At the beginning of the day’s trip, I certainly was not feeling like the ultimate prepared opportunist angler. We caught a few short sheepshead, no flounder and not the first black drum to start the adventure. I was starting to sweat and that means excuses about high winds, bumpy seas and incorrect tide conditions. Or, we begin moving from spot to spot in our ongoing effort to hunt down and catch finny critters. After a couple hours of no quality fish, the suggestion was cast out for discussion that we move to the Government Cut and try for reds. I protested this idea vehemently, explaining that the Cut would be like bumper cars with many boats trying to get anchored in fast current. Generally, I refuse to “stand in the river,” elbow to elbow with dozens of anglers trying to catch that one keeper, stocked fish. But, since my remaining numbers were minimal and it was getting late in the day, I finally agreed. Worst case scenario I told myself; once our anchor line became hopelessly tangled by other well-meaning boat Captains or we broke off a nice bull red to someone’s too close anchor line, I could always say I told you so.
We arrived at the Cut on a raging incoming, running at least seven. Boats were as thick as cold molasses and I noticed a couple trying to get a hook, but none in my favorite hole. So, at the speed of double triggers, we set up on the hole with close to 150 feet of rode quivering in the current. We deployed the big Danforth hook to bite in the sandy bottom at a depth of 26 feet. The granite boulders were a long cast away. Before I hitched the anchor line on the bow cleat, she rocketed a big shrimp toward the rocks with 3 ounces of lead on a 12 pound spinner. As I cautioned about granite rocks extending way out from the jetty, she expertly performed the Bill Dance, over-the-shoulder hook set maneuver and was connected solidly to a drag screamer fish. In a flash, the fish had her way behind the boat using the current to advantage. As the line melted off the spool, a fleeting concern struck me about the anchor line of the vessel parked behind us. But the girl finally put a few wraps back on the little spinner and got the bulldog coming up against the current. The fish broke the surface and wallowed momentarily, as bull reds always do. Then the drag lit up again and the battle joined anew. After what seemed like forever, I hung over the motor with the long handle dip net and slid it under the big fish. At once, I had the hook out, a quick weight on the hand-held scale and back in the Cut, swimming away and thanked for the memory.
The next seven consecutive casts produced a redfish, unbelievable. In the next hour and a half we caught 34 redfish, a few in the slot and only two short fish. Two slot fish went into the box. To say the reds were stacked like cord wood-understatement. They were in the pre-spawn pattern and ready to go offshore. The first fish was the biggest, registering 19 pounds on my trusty boat scale. Sometimes the fishing gods allow you an incredible day and this was it!!
Till next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,
Captain Alex Crawford
Proud member Florida Outdoor Writers Association
Proud member Florida Guides Association
Proud member Coastal Conservation Association
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