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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
October 21, 2004
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


For most on the beautiful Gulf coast, life is returning to a relative state of normalcy. Gone are the bad storms, Frances, Charley, Ivan and Jean are fading memories and in their place the spectacular weather and fishing of autumn. If one were to be forced to pick only one place and time, there would be no better choice than to be on the fantastic Forgotten Coast. Oh, to be young again in the fall of Saint George Island!

These extraordinary fall days pull us outdoors and onto the water to soak in the Indian summer sun and to feel the crisp, humidity-free air. So put your body in motion, what’s keeping you? The fish are literally going crazy and, if you listen carefully, they are calling out your name. The popular T- shirt catch phrase comes to mind, “SHUT UP AND FISH!”

The Forgotten Coast forecast is 10/10, ten thousand foot ceiling and ten mile visibility, or simply blue bird, gin clear. If this time of the fishing year does not turn you on, you don’t have a pulse. All of your favorite species are hard on the bite. Trout and reds inshore, snappers and groupers offshore, take you pick. They are all hungry, fattening-up for cold winter waters.

As we speak, it is possible to catch and release 100 plus trout in a day of fishing. In the Apalachicola Bay you will see large groups of boats anchored and fishing in close quarters. They are catching nice spotted seatrout. The bay is awash in white shrimp and the fish are crowding the buffet table. Try the area just north of the bridge that connects East Point to Apalach. Take live shrimp or pinfish. Or, cast net a few hundred silver-dollar size pogies. For you artificial connoisseurs, try a 3/8 ounce jig in your confidence color or your favorite top-water trout lure. You will be rewarded for your patience and persistence.

Out on the deep blue, kingfish are eating everything that swims and some that don’t like frozen cigar minnows. Find natural, live bottom and you will find smoker kings chomping mullet on their way south for winter. Slow-troll a large, live mullet over your favorite reef now and make sure your drag washers are right. Sky rocket, speed-burner kings will steal 100 yards of line as fast as double triggers. This is fantastic fun for everyone. Yesterday, one of my customers hooked up and landed a 16 pound king while trolling for Spanish. This is not a remarkable feat, except he did it with his eight-pound spinning outfit on a little gold spoon. He fought the fish with uncommon expertise, not cranking on a hot drag, reeling down and pumping way high to gain line and presenting an exhausted fish at the surface for an easy gaff. What a thrill these kings!

Red snappers go out of season on October 31, but catch and release is great fun during the winter. Circle hooks should be used to facilitate a healthy release. The recreational season reopens in federal waters on April 21, 2005. No live bait, no problem. Snappers will scarf artificial jigs and flies. It does not always have to be about the meat. My fellow anglers—would it not be a good thing if the fishery was as healthy for future generations of your grandchildren, as it is today?

Groupers will inhale every live pinfish that you drop right now. The fish will be moving shallower over the next few months. That means small recreational boats can target them. This past weeks’ trips produced some short gags and red groupers, but many riders. (riders get to go for the ride to the hill) Fried grouper fillets, say no more!

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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