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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
April 29, 2004
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


For almost six long months, the red snapper slappers have waited patiently for the opening of the recreational season. Now that it is finally here, two things are apparent. The fish are still out there and the spring bite is better than ever. It’s a wonderment!

A few days ago we took two boats out in the Gulf for a photo shoot. The purpose was to find a couple red snappers for a magazine article and photograph two young models catching them from a brand new, very sexy boat line. After I anchored up on the fish, we tethered the other boast to a stern cleat. What started out to be a brief trip to take pictures, ended up being a full day of pumping and winding on beefy snappers and groupers. The owners of the boat dealership and magazine were having too much fun to leave, until the fish box was nearly full. At one point the models were asleep on the bow, obviously bored with all of the fishy stuff. This Captain turned observer was given the job of making sure the bikinis did not fall overboard. Tough duty, but somebody…………….

Small, spring run pogies are really thick now and they make terrific snapper baits. You can cast net all you want by watching the pelicans diving and sneaking up on the small rain drops on the surface for the perfect cast. These are ideal size baits for trout and wreck-fishing snappers.

Pinfish are starting to show up in the Apalachicola Bay with the water temp around 70. Again, these small live baits are ideal for trout and snappers. Another excellent snapper bait that is readily available now is blue crabs. The commercial crabbers have deployed all of their traps now, as the crabbing has really picked up in the last week. Cut your crabs into quarters and remove the claws. These baits are irresistible to big, sow snappers.

Try another readily available bait for snappers. Ladyfish are literally everywhere right now and can be caught with small pieces of fresh dead shrimp on stick in your thumbnail sharp wire hooks. Ladyfish are oily and, when cut into chunks, make fabulous snapper baits. Redfish love them as well. A large quantity of precut ladyfish chunks, fresh on ice and out of the sun, will get your snappers teased up off your favorite sunken shrimp boat. The obvious bonus is the money you save on frozen bait that can be better used for cold beer. Not to mention the fun of catching all of those high jumper, Olympic ladyfish on steroids.

Big blacktip sharks have taken up summer residence in the West Pass. If you are into the pure thrill of string music, soak your ladyfish baits on the bottom of the pass with serious wire and wait. Sharky’s machine will inhale your ladyfish and head for Cuba, post haste! Fifty pound class gear will enable you to minimize the pain. If you even think about blacktip steaks on the grill and stick you high dollar Aftco gaff into sharky, he will immediately take your gaff away from you. This will cause you to sit down and cry, while drinking a cold beer to ease the pain. Been there down that, got the T shirt many moons ago.

Till next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,

Captain Alex Crawford


Proud Member Florida Outdoor Writers Association

Proud Member Florida Guides Association

Proud Member Coastal Conservation 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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