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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
June 6, 2004
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


This week’s full moon has the mangrove snappers in a summer feeding frenzy. On the Forgotten Coast of northwest Florida we are fortunate to have a healthy gray snapper fishery. These are not the barely legal fish that are so popular in other areas of the state. Our mangos live on offshore wrecks and average four pounds, with double digit fish quite common. Three offshore trips this week produced limits of quality fish each day, including some nice red snappers.

Summer wreck fishing is loads of fun with fast action and screaming drags. Visualize having your own private aquarium of teased-up snappers behind your boat. Presenting your bait to individual target fish on the surface is a pure rush. Watching the fish eat your offering and hearing that wonderful string music—it’s all good. What’s not to like! Those were the exact words of one of my way pumped customers this week. He discovered a whole new meaning to fishing/catching. His blood was running so fast at one point, I asked him if he had any cardio issues. When I asked him to take a brief blow and sit for a moment, I noticed he was unable to keep his hands from quivering from all the excitement.

The drill was simple. First, we anchored on top of one of my favorite deep water wrecks and began chunk baiting with cut plugs of cigar minnows. Cigars are expensive, but they absolutely work. It takes a few minutes to tease the fish to the surface and the fun begins. You can watch the mangroves cruising behind the boat in the clear water eating chunk baits at will.

On twenty pound class spinners with light fluorocarbon leaders, we free-lined cigar plugs to the waiting fish. We buried small, stout 3/0 live bait hooks into the chunks to trick the fish. It is necessary to allow your bait to fall naturally with the other chunk baits. Big snappers are smart and leader shy, so small, 100 pound swivels work best.

Have a long handle dip net accessible at the stern for larger fish. A word of caution when handling big mangroves based on experience, watch out for their formidable teeth and gill plates. They are called snappers for a good reason. Without proper respect, they will inflict severe pain on your body parts. On my boat one of the cardinal safety rules is never allow snappers to flop around on the cockpit deck out of control.

Did I mention that red snappers will come up with the mangroves. Large, fresh cigar minnows sent back on flat lines will entice chunky red snappers. And you never know when a King or cobia will swim up for a bite. The largest sow snappers are solitary swimmers and will eat your flat line baits. This week we put several in the box that tipped the scale in the high teens. Quality fish!

Another benefit to summer chunking on wrecks is you may be attacked by a school of mahis. This happened to us one day this week and it was pandemonium as usual. My customers were thrilled catching these beautiful high jumpers. The peanut/chicken dolphinfish are terrific chargrilled. Always have a few sticks rigged and ready to pitch-bait the mahis if they show.

Till next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,

Captain Alex Crawford

www.topknots.com 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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