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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
May 31, 2004
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


Fishing offshore of the Forgotten Coast of Florida is the ultimate in high fun on the high seas. July voyages out on the cobalt blue sea give angling aficionados a chance at a personal best record fish. And you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the blissful tranquility of Mother Ocean. Whatís not to like?

Fishermen can choose their favorite target species now. They are all here, call it a target-rich environment. The sea is alive with game fish like wahoo, mahis, tuna and the man in the blue suit, Mr. Blue Marlin. It is that special time of year to break out the fifty pound class Internationals and run way far south in search of that piscatorial memory that will never die.

Preparation is the key to success. Your pretrip checklist will include proper drag settings, new line, fluoro leaders, razor, hand-sharpened hooks and a positive mental attitude. Knowing you will catch your dream fish is more than half the battle, just visualize it. Your vessel will be safe and ship-shape. All the weather models will be identical, so you feel good to go. Sleep will come hard the night before, because your excitement level will be fully cranked. As you run south at first light, the dawn of the new day will show itself off the port bow in perfect brilliance. The warmth of the east sun and the smell of the brine will invigorate you will anticipation of the day ahead. It is always a great day to be alive!

All crew members are standing watch for weeds, tightly formed sargassum that is full of life. Trolling on these fish magnets is the offshore drill. My favorite analogy is hours of boredom, followed by nanoseconds of complete pandemonium. But everyone has their well-defined job description. The team catches the fish, not just the rod man. The wheel man keeps the boat in the right position depending on where the fish runs. The wire man is accomplished at his job and works in unison with the gaff man. The rod man is the quarterback, barking instructions to his team. The result is that everyone feels the satisfaction of participating in the teamís success. And the photo ops, cold beverages and dinner party celebration of the outstanding catch is shared by all.

Trolling on weedlines is more hunting than fishing. All hands are on constant vigil for all things fishy. Terns and gulls working close to the surface, frigate birds over billfish or bull dolphin, schools of bait under attack by predators, porpoises chasing flying fish, free-jumpers getting some air, all very positive signs for the ultimate prepared opportunist angler. Always have a live bait ready to present to a target that will disappear in an Apalachicola heart beat (for the unenlightened, that would be the speed of cold molasses.) Big blue runners are my favorite, simply because they are frisky, filet mignon to all species, especially oceanic pelagics.

Some of the very best lures and dead baits to pull on weeds will include quality horse ballyhoo on a blue and white Islander, a Stretch 30 in hot pink and a big cedar plug in the mahi pattern. Send baits down on your downriggers to probe the depths under the weeds. Explore different depths. Be obsessive about watching the rods and, on the hookup, implement your teamís catch plan. Donít forget babes, brewskis and Buffet! Wishing you fair winds and following seas!

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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