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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
February 14, 2006
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


The ambient air temperatures are on a roller coaster ride now. Every winter we experience big swings of temperature based on low pressure systems sent down on the jet streams. One day we see frozen twenties and the next we sweat, working in sunshine and seventies. The winds blow out of the north at gale force offshore and turn light and variable out of the south when high pressure moves in behind the gusty lows. It is sometimes impossible to keep the thermostat dialed to a comfortable setting.

The accomplished offshore angler understands these ups and downs and knows there are two primary keys to dealing with the elements and catching some winter fish. Forgive me for being redundant, but dressing loosely in layers is mandatory to stay comfortable. The first rule of the outdoors: you can’t put it on, if you don’t have it with you. Outdoor enthusiasts learn this lesson early. I learned it in a duck blind one raw January day on the outer banks of NC. Luckily, I was young and the lesson was never to be forgotten. This lesson also applies to food.

The second primary key to winter fishing success is simple—have a flexible fishing schedule. Most of my customers are passionate fishermen, who are sometimes hell bent on catching fish in tough conditions. My job is catch fish and have fun doing it, so I just will not go out when the conditions are miserable. We reschedule the trip to a better day or I just refund their security deposit and we say Mother Nature will have her way. Catch fish—have fun!!

The target species offshore right now are groupers, sea bass, triggerfish and snappers. And natural hard-bottom reefs in 60 feet of water are prime locations, most within 10 miles of the passes. If you can sabiki up some squirrelfish, you may be rewarded with a big gag or red grouper. After all the hoopla and law suits, the grouper bag is 5 fish, only one can be a red grouper. Good squid and cigar minnows are ideal bottom baits.

The first reports of the spring cobia migration should be imminent. We will hear this news from Panama City or Destin sometime in March. The pompano will be moving into the Forgotten Coast barrier islands when the inshore surface temps approach 70 degrees. Recent inshore reports tell of good catches of reds and whiting outside of Saint Vincent Island.

Till next tide,

Captain Alex Crawford

Proud member Florida Outdoor Writers Association

www.topknots.com (850) 697-8946

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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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