Spring Reef Action
Capt. Alex Crawford
April 29, 2008
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report
REEF SPECIES SWARMING ON OLD SHRIMPBOAT WRECKS
The Forgotten Coast is blessed with a plethora of old shrimp boat wrecks. Many of these fishing hotspots are located in less than 100 feet of water making them accessible to the dedicated recreational angler. In Spring when the water warms, these old wrecks become fish central for all manner of reef critters including trigger fish, groupers, kingfish, Spanish and all of the snapper species.
Early spring anglers will find many great options while wreck fishing. These spots have not seen much fishing pressure during the past 5 months of winter. Depending on your target species, now is time to get on the big pond and enjoy the mild spring weather and have loads of fun pumpin' and windin' on your favorite reef fish.
During summer months these old wrecks get tons of pressure. This reduces the number of fish available to you. However, by the end of May, new fish show up to entice your fishing fantasies. One highly sought after species is the beautiful mahi mahi. As the summer weather pattern begins, dolphin fish move closer inshore. Many times we find them after prolonged periods of south winds pushed into shallower water along with large mats of sargassum weed. The first report of mahi mahi became public knowledge this week. As a side note, the first reports also came in for tarpon. A local guide put a pair of 100 plus pounders up on his gunwales. Patience is the game for tarpon and I admit I don't have it. I'd much rather motor out into the Gulf and anchor on one of the dozens of wrecks that are relatively close in. Plus reef fish are the best when fried golden brown. Tarpon are great fun to catch, but they are not suited for the hot oil fryer.
One trick of wreck fishing is to motor around the wreck you want to fish and pay close attention to your bottom machine. Over time folks have deployed their own reef material around wrecks, as their own private reef numbers. These small artificial reefs can be super productive for the savvy angler that knows they exist and has the lat/lons to locate them consistently. The Angela is a good example of a well-known wreck that offers these little artificial reefs around it. Idle slowly in figure eights around and punch in your new waypoints as you go.
This past weekend we were able to get out one day with minimal winds out of the south and east. The better than average catch included Spanish, snappers, groupers and one wayward slot redfish When we came out of the Government Cut, we were greeted by huge flocks of birds working bait just south of the jetties. Also working the bait, mostly pogies, were small pods of bottle nose dolphins and giant schools of Spanish Mackerel. If you are proficient with your cast net, baitwells full of pogies can be had when conditions are right. Early in the mornings is best time for pogies on the surface. Don't forget to rig you leaders with a short trace of light wire for toothy critters. Fresh, never frozen Spanish fillets are great eats. The largest, strongest fish are the early ones that are here right now. Come and get ya some!
So, what's not to like. Gorgeous spring weather on the Forgotten Coast along with a decent shot at tarpon, tasty fried Spanish mackerel and an assortment of reef fish just waiting on shallow wrecks. I know I keep saying it over and over but, Spring is a spectacular time here on the Forgotten Coast. After the long winter, it is really refreshing to get your nose full of salt and a sunburn on your face. Add a few fish to the equation and you've created a real adventure, not just a boat ride in the sunshine. Have fun, catch ‘em up!
Till next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,
Captain Alex Crawford
Carrabelle Fishing Forecast:
Red snapper season is almost here. Are you ready? Pompano are starting to show and the bigger run is not far away.
More Fishing Reports: