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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
June 26, 2004
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


Out of Apalach on the Forgotten Coast, i.e. Redneck Riviera, the fishing is as hot as the ambient air temperature. How hot is that exactly you ask, well read on.

Inshore, you can catch yourself a trout dinner if you get up early. Go to the far western end of Bird Island with some energetic shrimp and trout will eat them on an incoming tide. Fish the trough that runs parallel to the beach on the bay side. There is plenty of room to fish this area, so donít crowd your fellow anglers in the next boat. And please donít heave your anchor overboard with a big, noisy splash. Trout are not fond of this technique and will evacuate the area.

Fish your shrimps on a float for the trouts. Try not to horse them on the hookup, as they have paper mouths. Have your quality dipnet at the ready for that five pound beauty. Quality fish feed in the trough here. Be patient, relax and you will be rewarded. And donít worry if you pull a hook or two, it is still called fishing, not catching. If you caught every fish that bit your hook, the sporting challenge would be lost. This is sport fishing, right? It does not always have to be fillet and release, right?

Another winner technique here is bottom fishing with ultra-light outfits for flounders. Eight pound class stuff is plenty. The trick is simple. Use small, lively shrimp or small pinfish. Live bait catches more and bigger fish. Tie a small barrel swivel on a 15 pound fluorocarbon leader with a #1 live bait hook. Sharper your hook until it is sharp enough to stick in your thumb nail. Use a light slip sinker to reach bottom in current. When you observe your line moving slowly, count to ten and set the hook aggressively. Flounder are famous for ďwalkingĒ with a live bait while they eat it. They will follow your bait up to the boat. Go slowly, be patient. There are four pounders here and they are delectable when fried. If the lady fish attack you, move to new water, east or west.

Be thoughtful and courteous to other fishermen. The cardinal rule is you are too close if you can read the registration numbers on a fellow anglerís boat. Guides donít stock fish around their boats, so spread out.

Offshore, the operative word is snappers. And beaucoups of them. This summer has been the very best that I can remember for gray snappers. The offshore wrecks are literally infested with them. If you have the skill to anchor over a wreck, you will catch fish. Chum and chunk baiting is the key to success. Sardines and cigar minnows will bring the fish to the surface. The bigger mangroves are extremely leader shy. Forget wire leaders, light fluorocarbon will catch fish. Sure, they bite through the leader sometimes, but you canít catch them if you donít hook them up. So, sacrifice some hooks and your reward will be really nice mangos.

Kings may swim into your chum, especially if you are using pogy oil. Keep an outfit rigged and ready with a wire leader. They canít resist a live pogy or pinfish.

Nuisance sharks will also move into your chum and sound your snappers temporarily. Not to worry, keep chunking and your snappers will swim back up from the wreck. They may be mixed in and feeding with giant spade fish. They are fun to catch on light tackle, but they donít eat well. The sight casting part of the sport is exciting for my customers.

Till next tide, solid hookups and tight lines,

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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