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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
August 8, 2005
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report

FRIGATE BIRDS OFF THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE

Yes, you read it correctly. After hurricane dennis (refuse to honor his name with a capital d) blew his mighty fury onto the fabulous Forgotten Coast, I sighted several frigate birds flying inshore and offshore. This is an uncommon thing because frigates normally live in more tropical latitudes like south Florida and the Caribbean. Frigates will follow marlin and big mahis and it is always a great sign when chasing big water pelagics. It is remarkable that these giant ocean birds got blown inshore by the storm. Maybe they’ll hang around and help us find fish. One very interesting fact about frigates is that they can’t swim. You’ll need that birding factoid when you go on ecomillionaire. Took a small measure of poetic license with spelling; sometimes ya just gotta say what the hey.

It would be classic understatement to say the fishing has been a mixed bag after the hurricane. Strange reports tell some tall tales about catches attributed to the surge and currents. Keeper gag grouper have been caught in bay waters. Yellowtail snapper are feeding on offshore coral reefs. Pinfish have been really hard to find with all the fresh water in the sounds, bays and inlets. And the normal red tides of summer have not developed, a very good thing. The bottle-nose porpoises or is it porpi are happy after last year’s disaster.

Captain Robyn Morgan, fishing out of Scipio Creek Marina, reports outstanding catches of snapper and grouper north and south of S tower, about 30 miles southeast of the Cut. Large schools of Spanish macks will chomp your 00 silver Clark’s spoon trolled across the leading edge of the fish at around 10 knots. Mahis are still around well-formed sargasso weed lines. Try pulling a chartreuse jig on the clean water side of the rip. King mackerel have been hard to pattern in dirty green water. Try slow trolling a big hardtail on your downrigger over live, natural bottom. Look for good current and do some chumming with pogies and oil. Yeah I know, the sharks will come to the chum, but sharks serve an important purpose. They keep anglers at the ready and provide good practice for big kings and cobia.

The offshore opportunities are improving, but safety first. Always have a safety plan for afternoon storm cells. Check the radar and respect how quickly seas and straight-line winds can put you and your crew at risk. Sometimes it is safer to run a ways offshore to escape electricity and water spouts. Two important words: EPIRBS and highly buoyant life vests. When was the last time you pulled your life jackets out and inspected them for serviceability? Clean off the mildew and check the snap connections for corrosion. Be the prepared opportunist Captain and a safety fanatic. Your friends and loved ones will respect the culture of safety that you create onboard your vessel.

Till next tide,

Captain Alex

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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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