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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
October 22, 2005
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


I heard it said quite appropriately the other day, “the charm of fishing is that, it is the pursuit of what is elusive, but attainable; a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” The hope is what drives us.

Getting offshore comfortably in between pressure systems is the key. Flexible schedules are a must. The fish are on the bite in less than 100 feet of water on natural coral and limestone reefs. Capturing live bait offshore will always produce better results. Right now the cigar minnows have all gone south with the Kings hot on their tails. But not to worry mon, there are plenty of first class grouper baits offshore for the savvy angler who is armed with sabiki rigs tipped with small squid tentacles. Squirrelfish, lizardfish, grunts and an assortment of reef dwellers make for nonstop grouper grabbin’.

This is the right time to break out the heavy gear and hammer the drags down to the terminator mode. Fifty pound class tackle or larger is the right tool to pull up that huge copper belly grouper. The biggest fish of the year are available now to the hardy fisherman who lives for the bragging rights and knows how to dress warmly.

Some grouper pros go to oversize electric reels in winter to handle giants that can rock you up in an instant. One hundred pound leaders and huge circle hooks are the choice of many grouper diggers. One successful technique is comparable to pulling a monster amberjack away from the steel snags on a deep-water wreck. The drag is turned down as tightly as possible, the broom-handle stick is secured in a rod holder and, when the rod bends to the water, the Captain instantly throttles forward to pull the big fish away from his rocky home. The maneuver does not work every time, but the odds are increased that the angler will have a fighting chance with the fish out of the razor-sharp rocks. Another tip is to tell the angler to get off the electric reel button quickly when the fish pulls the rod down hard. When the electric is running in reverse, pulled hooks often result. When one gains some advantage, pouring on the electric power will put bragging-size riders in the big fish box. Also, using a high quality, sharp hand-gaff will improve your odds of pulling giants over the gunwale.

So, get yourself a thrill—go toe-to-toe with a giant grouper. Have some fishing fun on the Forgotten Coast.

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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