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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
May 16, 2005
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report

PULL ON THE TRIGGERS-- SPECTACULAR OFFSHORE ACTION RIGHT NOW

Yesterday on an offshore soiree we decided that triggers would be the top target on our agenda. So, we ran out southwest about 12 miles to a huge reef covered with coral and limestone rock, perfect habitat for the succulent-eating gray trigger fish. When we arrived on our numbers, the oceanís surface was teeming with hardtail jacks, spadefish and lesser AJs. We put several slot rudderfish in the big Igloo box. They eat.

The first matter of business was to capture a few jacks for the live bait well. With all the jacks on the reef, Kings and cobia had to be close around. But wait, our mission is to pull on the triggers. We anchored on the best show we could find. The scope was full of fish from top to bottom. Spades and jacks were as thick as cold molasses.

On 15 pound class spinners were rigged with small #1 live bait hooks (small, tough trigger mouths). Since the current was barely running, we scaled down to 4 ounce sinkers on 20 pound fluorocarbon leaders. Our baits of choice were small live shrimp and a new, revolutionary product called Fishbites. Fishbites are a synthetic, fabric-like product that comes in flavors like crab, shrimp and squid. It can be cut into appropriate sizes depending on your quarry from triggers to giant amberjacks. We cut small strips with floppy tails to entice the gray triggers.

Gray triggers are interesting critters. They dwell on natural hard bottom and have evolved for their habitat. Their skin is tougher than leather to handle razor-sharp corals. Trigger teeth are formidable and must be respected. Carving triggers for dinner requires a unique technique. A filet knife will not penetrate trigger hide, so I fillet them from the inside out. Make an incision at the tail and work your electric fillet knife along the backbone to the gill plate. Then, cut off the fillet and skin it and cut off the rib cage. The end result is a pork chop shaped fillet that is almost heaven when fried in canola or peanut oil. A light dusting of flour is all that is necessary. Bon Apettite!

The trick with triggers is to set the hook aggressively before you feel the finesse bite. Seriously, when your bait hits the bottom, set the hook hard several times. Triggers are one of the most professional of all of the bait stealers. The best of the others are snappers and sheepshead. Itís all about the canine incisors that occlude together like our teeth.

Spring triggers are huge. The fish average about 3 pounds and yield fantastic eating. The fish are numerous, easy to find and ready-eaters, all of the best criteria.

May the sun shine bright upon your face and your fishing lines always be tight,

Captain Alex Crawford

www.topknots.com (850) 653-1325

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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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