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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
April 8, 2006
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report



This past week the weather finally settled down, as the spring pattern emerges. Two families from Atlanta were here on the Forgotten Coast staying in the Plantation on SGI. Part of their spring break celebration was a fishing trip for dads and sons offshore. We found the best day and took the party of eight into the northern Gulf in search of eating fishes. Captain Robyn Morgan joined me with her big Parker.

During the morning we had no current at all and, consequently, no real bite either. But finally, with considerable patience, the water started moving after lunch and the fish began to feed. I was relieved to finally catch quality fish that day. When we have dads and sons fishing, it reminds me of my trips with my father and how excited I was to be able to join the adults on the big pond. Expectations run high, especially for eight year olds. At one point I watched two young boys fighting a good fish that had their rod bowed to the water. They were helping each other and pumping like crazy, while trying to assimilate 3 different sets of adult instructions simultaneously. The result was that their fighting technique was perfect except for one minor detail; in their excitement and haste to see the big fish, they forgot to reel. They pumped on the fish, but forgot they had to turn the reel handle. Oh, to be young again in the spring of St. George!!!

We were fishing in 70 feet of water on reefs south of the Government Cut with cigar minnows, grunts and squid. The daily bag for dinner included a whole bucket full of tasty margates, vermilions, some fat grey snappers and a couple 8 pound black grouper, along with the requisite red snappers that would live to fight again.

The red snapper fishing season for us recreational types opens in state of Florida waters on Saturday April 15th, followed one week later in federal waters. One change this year regards vermilion snapper (beeliners). The new minimum size is 11 inches total length, 10 per person per day, NOT included within the snapper aggregate bag limit. These little snappers are plentiful in the Gulf and wonderful on the dinner table. Down in Destin the head boats really hammer these tasty critters.

Another change to note is red grouper. This is really ironic because the feds are at it again. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has announced recently that the system they have used and continue to use to determine the recreational catch is “flawed science.” So, at a time that they have finally admitted the numbers are flawed, they have announced another proposed rule regarding the recreational grouper fishery. This proposed rule intends to further regulate the Fishery Management Plan for Reef Fish in the Gulf. If approved, this rule would establish a bag limit for red grouper of one fish per person per day, plus prohibit the Captain and crew from taking any grouper i.e. zero bag limit. Excuse me for a moment while I recover from a stroke and coronary. Ronald Regan once was quoted as saying something like, the scariest thing in this world is federal government bureaucrats telling you that they are from the government and are here to help us. Is there anyone else out there that sees the irony in this?

Forgive me for getting on my preachy soap box, but I can’t help myself. Again, I have broken my dad’s rule, never talk politics, sex or religion in public. Please don’t send emails.

Pardon the digression, now back to the Atlanta boys fishing. What we all learned again this fine day was that fish eat when they want to eat, not when you and I want them to eat. Rewards come to those who wait patiently!

Till next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,

Captain Alex Crawford

www.topknots.com (850) 697-8946

Proud member Florida Guides Association

Proud member Coastal Conservation 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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