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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
March 25, 2005
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


Yesterday, the annual light switch was turned on. I drove into downtown Apalach on a honey-do and there were no parking places to be found anywhere. The spring break visitors are here in force and when the winds blow, power shopping is the sport of choice. In fact, my best friend has acquired a black belt in shopping; her motto is ya gotta spend money to save money. Life is funny when you have a lot of money and life’s a joke when you’re broke. Most of us have been there done that and understand.

In between low pressure systems we got two trips accomplished, one inshore and one in the Gulf. My annual early spring friends from Indiana, the Bickel family showed up at the dock looking to acquire some piscatorial delights for the traditional dinner celebration. So much rain has been flushed into the estuary, the fish have dispersed to comfortable salinity zone and the challenge was to find them. The usual dependable patterns were washed out with the waters that resembled chocolate milk.

We went into a hunting mode and found the dinner party entrée in the West pass and on the south end of the old Saint George Island Bridge. The winds have been blowing a gale from the west and finding a leeward fishing hole is the challenge. Commanding the fish to eat is next.

The surf water temps are up to mid sixties and the spring fishing bonanza is imminent. Over the years a good friend has developed a way to measure when the spring bite has begun. He reckons if the bikinis are in the water, it is warm enough for the fish to be here and on the bite, generally in the upper sixties. The bikinis are normally on skinny physiques with little insulation, so the theory is that if they can handle the cold, so can the fish I guess. Then again, maybe he is not on the beach for fishing, just acting as official lifeguard and observer.

The other day I was privileged to have Vaughn and Vicky Clark from South Carolina join me for an offshore adventure. These folks are skilled anglers and just plain good people. They drove all the way from S.C. to use an offshore auction certificate they won at a CCA auction. The Coastal Conservation Association operates a dozen state chapters from Maine to Texas. The regional chapters are class organizations that donate volunteer time to help conserve our fishery resources. They are very capable stewards of our collective waters and my charter fishing service is proud to donate to a most noble cause.

Although it was bumpy in the Gulf, they we determined to wet some lines. With a full moon and east wind, we struggled to put much of a dent in the grouper stocks, but the exchange of fish stories was well worth the investment of time and fuel. May join a sailfish excursion to Costa Rica next winter.

The bottom line of this report is to say keep the faith. The spring bite is not here, but will be very soon. I have already received reports of pompano and cobia out west from Orange Beach, AL and eastward.

Till next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,

Captain Alex Crawford


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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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