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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
April 13, 2007
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report

REGULATIONS AND SEASON CHANGES—

IMPORTANT INFO YOU NEED TO KNOW

Spring has sprung and that means fishing seasons are reopening for species like red snappers and others. Firstly, let’s get a current handle on the groupers regs. As we speak, the bag limit for gag groupers is five(5) fish per person per day at least 22 inches total length. Included in the five fish bag, you can possess one red grouper per angler per day. Total length must be 20 inches. A new change for groupers is that we can no longer keep the Captain and/or mates limit. Basically, the National Marine Fisheries Service continues to have allegiance to the commercial interests and are attempting to legislate charter fishing guides out of business. SAD!!! This Captain will continue to fight this good fight. Ultimately, what is true and fair will persevere. Gotta get off my soap box before I go totally ballistic. God, please grant me the ability to accept the things in this crazy life that I cannot change.

Red snapper season reopens in State of Florida waters (nine nautical miles out) on April 15th. Federal waters reopen on April 21st. With all of the recent media coverage of the red snapper issue, you can bet every red snapper angler will be in the Gulf for opening days. It is harder to find snappers in state waters because of water depth, but there are some shallow areas that hold fish in the warmer spring water. Also, the bag limit changes on May 2nd to only two(2) fish per person per day. You may keep four (4) red snappers per angler per day from the opening day of the season until May 2nd.(12 days) I have tried to comprehend the wisdom of all of these changes and have to admit I have given up. It is another dose of federally administered rocket science.

Depending upon where you are located in the Gulf, the water temps are in the mid seventies right now. The bait schools have returned in mass, especially cigar minnows. And the snake kings are shadowing the bait like always. Find the bait and kings are easy to catch right now. One of the best ways to catch king mackerel is to troll large plugs in a cigar minnow pattern. Try a Rapala CD 18 in a green or blue and white mackerel pattern. On the bite, punch the numbers into your GPS or deploy a bright orange marker buoy, turn around and drift fish the area thoroughly. Snake kings are a real blast on “bass” tackle for catch and release. Start your search for bait and kings around K tower south of Carrabelle in about 60 feet of water.

If live bait is your game, catching cigar minnows is the ticket for big red snappers. Cigars like to hang around navigation markers and the Air Force towers. The easiest way to catch an ample supply of these super baits is by using high quality sabiki rigs. The ones that have the shiny feathers in a size number 8 will work well. Try a 20 pound class spinner with an 8 ounce weight tied at the bottom. If you hook up multiple hard tails that all go different directions, you’ll need the backbone of a bigger rod to handle them. Live, frisky cigar minnows will catch snappers when nothing else will. They make outstanding chunk baits for chumming as well.

The weather has been getting much warmer since last week’s cold spell. Get out there on the big pond and catch yourself a snapper dinner. Better hurry, before the FED declares the species extinct.

Till next tide tight lines and solid hookups,

Captain Alex Crawford

(850) 697-8946

www.topknots.com fishing out of Apalachicola, FL

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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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