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Panhandle Fishing Forecasts

JANUARY Fishing Forecast


Jan-01 


The holidays are over and a new year has begun. Just because we are in the middle of winter doesn’t mean we have nothing to catch out there! We have an entire season of possibilities. Trout, reds, flounder, sheepshead, and black drum can all be caught in the bay. Along the coast and just off the piers, winter bonita are cruising just off the shore line and sand bars in the early mornings. Surf, pier, and jetty fishing produce pompano, whiting, redfish, and sheepshead. On the bottom, fisherman can catch amberjack, scamp, red grouper, triggerfish, and vermillion snapper. 

Read more: JANUARY Fishing Forecast

FEBRUARY Fishing Forecast


 

Feb2015-01

February is definitely our coldest month of the year, but the days can be very nice and the fishing can be really hot!! In the bay, you’ll find trout, redfish, black drum, flounder, white trout and some of the best sheepshead fishing of the year. Along the coast and off the piers, you’ll find winter bonita cruising just off the shore line and sand bars in the early mornings. Surf, pier and jetty fishing will produce some pompano, whiting, redfish and sheepshead. Bottom fisherman will enjoy catching amberjack, scamp, red grouper, triggerfish and vermillion snapper.

Read more: FEBRUARY Fishing Forecast

MARCH Fishing Forecast


March-01-CobiaCan you say Cobia! March is the unofficial start to the new fishing year! March brings a variety of new species to the mix as the weather is warming, but the one that really gets fisherman fired up is cobia! 

You will also see the first king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle of the year. Many of the early kings will be very good sized, over 40lbs. Over the last few years, the kings have shown up in great quantities. The piers have had 40 or 50 a day caught when the weather is right late in the month. 

Spanish will also invade the inshore areas, pompano numbers go up, and spring breakers fill the beaches. 

Read more: MARCH Fishing Forecast

APRIL Fishing Forecast


April 01 RealinscriptsThe weather is warming even more. Cobia tournaments are in full swing, including the month long Harbor Docks tournament and a two or three day tournaments held each weekend at different locations. 

Cobia should be here in good numbers. Kings will be available almost any day you want to go after the middle of the month. 

Make sure to bring plenty of sweat shirts, wind breakers and sweat pants for the early April mornings. Many days will start off in the 40’s and warm into the 70’s. Layers are the ticket to staying comfortable all day on the water. You’ll also need a good supply of sunscreen!

Read more: APRIL Fishing Forecast

MAY Fishing Forecast

May-14-dolphin-lr


May is when fishing for pelagic species really kicks off. King mackerel are in good numbers and steady fishing. Wahoo and dolphin push much closer in. Weed lines form offshore in the 10 to 80 mile range. What we call rips (big temperature breaks) form offshore in the 20 to 80 mile range as we transition from Spring weather to summer weather. 

The weather in May is flat out awesome. We are normally past the severe weather fronts of Spring. Spring breakers have headed back to school and the time period between the first of the month and Memorial Day is a perfect time to be in town. The crowds are light, seas are normally calm with light winds, and we have bright sunny skies.

Along with the influx of pelagic species there are a variety of other fish to catch. In the bay, trout and reds invade the flats. Bottom fishing for amberjack, red grouper, scamp, vermillion snapper and triggerfish is very good. Farther offshore, the blue and white marlin start to show up, and swordfish are biting along with yellowfin and black fin tuna!! It’s time to try your luck with some of the year’s best fishing!!

Read more: MAY Fishing Forecast

JUNE Fishing Forecast

 


June-01

June is the start of red snapper season! Snapper season should always open June 1 in federal waters. In some years, it opens in late May for state waters. Check the regulations on our web site for exact dates.

Tarpon will be cruising the beach. Wahoo, dolphin, tuna and marlin will be biting offshore.

Kings and chicken dolphin will inhabit near shore reefs and wrecks. A few cobia will hang around all summer on near shore reefs, wrecks and FADs. (Note: A FAD is a fish aggregation device, a man-made object used to attract ocean going pelagic fish such as marlin, tuna and mahi-mahi. They usually consist of buoys or floats tethered to the ocean floor with concrete blocks.) Backcountry fishing will produce trout and reds will be active on the flats and deepwater docks.

Read more: JUNE Fishing Forecast

July Forecast

Pier
This is one of the best months for pier fishermen. Bonita will be caught on bubble and straw rigs along with Spanish mackerel and a few blue runners. Those targeting Spanish will be throwing a #1 Clark spoon two to three feet behind a one ounce sinker. The big draw at the pier this month will be the kings. The die-hards will be there one hour before sunrise catching live baits, then rigging them on a stinger rig for the kings.

Bottom Fishing
Red Snapper will still be open until the 14th in state waters They can be caught over a variety of bottom structures using live pinfish, cigar minnows, herring and frozen sardines, cigar minnows and squid. Black and Gag Grouper open on the 1st. Large live pinfish, squirrel fish and grunts make great baits. Grouper opens July 1st.  Most grouper will be caught from natural live bottom areas. Amberjack is closed.

Trolling
Those trolling for kings will find that the bite will usually be much deeper this month than others. The more successful fishermen will be using downriggers with their baits fished around the 40 foot range in 60 to 80 feet of water. In such depths the darker color duster skirts seem to produce better. July also brings those wonderful weed patches that hold all of our mahi-mahi (dolphin). If you run across one of these weed clumps pull to the upwind side and kill the motors. Start chumming with small pieces of squid or cut minnows. Once the feeding frenzy has begun simply hide a small 1/0 hook into pieces of bait. Remember to keep one fished hooked by the boat and in the water at all times to keep the school near.

Offshore
Blue marlin, white marlin, Wahoo, swordfish and dolphin can all be caught offshore this month. Fish the areas around the Point or the Squiggles for the pelagics. It is a little further, but if you have the fuel capacity to take you there, the Desoto Canyon is another excellent spot to troll - or set-up for a night drift and a chance to catch some swordfish. Offshore bottom fishing should also be good this month in 200+ feet of water. Keep a flat-line out for Mr. Wahoo when he comes by.

Bay
Flounder fishermen should have good luck fishing ¼ ounce jig-heads with root beer or white colored grub tail bodies throughout the bay. The back bayous and creeks will be holding good numbers of flounder. Trout fishermen will have their best luck fishing alewives, finger mullet and live shrimp along the deep edges of the grass flats. Redfish will be caught in these same areas. Good numbers of small black tip sharks will be seen around the camel back and Spanish shanty areas as well. Anchor-up and start a chum slick and the black-tips should show up.


 

August Forecast

Surf
The king mackerel bite will be hot this month. Near shore, you will see a lot of boats trolling for them around the whistle buoy, which is approximately 4 miles out of the St. Andrews Pass. This area holds a lot of bait, thus draws the kings. Be prepared for anything while fishing this area. Every year some very large wahoo and a few sailfish are hooked by people either trolling or flat lining baits for kings. Bottom fishing near shore will be slow, as the areas have been hit hard all summer. You will be best off traveling down the coast a bit then heading off a few miles, where there are a lot of natural bottom areas. Mahi-mahi dolphin will be caught near shore around weed patches.


Pier
Pier fishing should be pretty good this month. Most of the action will come from king mackerel and Spanish mackerel. If you visit the pier at night, you will see some of our hard-core shark fishermen out there all night. If you haven't seen these guys fight a large shark from the pier, it is well worth the trip out there.


Bottom Fishing
Red Snapper will still be open until the 10th.  They can be caught over a variety of bottom structures using live pinfish, cigar minnows, herring and frozen sardines, cigar minnows and squid.  Black and Gag Grouper open on the 1st.  Large live pinfish, squirrel fish and grunts make great baits.  Most grouper will be caught from natural live bottom areas.  Amberjack is closed.


Offshore
Blue marlin, white marlin, wahoo, swordfish and dolphin should all be caught offshore this month. Fish the areas around the Point or the Squiggles for the pelagics. It is a little further, but if you have the fuel capacity to take you there, the Desoto Canyon is another excellent spot to troll - or set-up for a night drift and a chance to catch some swordfish. Offshore bottom fishing should also be good this month in 200+ feet of water. Keep a flat-line out for Mr. Wahoo when he comes by.


Bay
If you are fishing for trout up in the bays, you will want to be out there right at daybreak and fish a top-water plug over the flats. This technique will usually work good for the first couple hours in the morning and then just prior to sunset. During the day, you will be best off fishing live bait such as LY's or shrimp either under a popping cork or fished right on the bottom on a jig-head. Redfish can be caught in the same manner in the same areas you are finding the trout. Mangrove snapper will be around most bay structure and can be caught on light tackle and small live shrimp. Spanish mackerel will be available, but they will be spread out throughout the bay. Flounder will be caught throughout the bay as well. Live bull minnows or plastic grubs fished in the sandy holes of the bay should produce a bite.

September Forecast

SURF
The king mackerel will be the hottest bite near shore this month. Troll lipped plugs or cigar minnow/duster combos for best results. Find the bait clusters and you will find the kings. Mahi-Mahi dolphin will still be in the area around weed lines and patches. Usually September is the last month you will find them in our inshore waters, as they will migrate to warmer waters for the winter. Usually in September we see the red snapper bite turn on a bit as well.

OFFSHORE
The water temps offshore should still be warm enough this month to still hold plenty of Wahoo, Dolphin, marlin (white & blue) and swordfish. The offshore bottom fishing generally picks up this month as well.

BAY
September is typically a very good month to be fishing in the bays. The water is starting to cool off just a bit and you can generally catch nicer fish throughout the day. Live shrimp and finger mullet or small pinfish should be great bait for both the trout and redfish. Spanish mackerel will still be caught in the bay this month, but if you want them, this will likely be the last month of the year you can find them in our waters, as they will begin to migrate out of our area. Speaking of migrating, towards the middle to the end of the month the flounder will begin their fall migration out of the bay and into the gulf to spawn for the winter. This is an excellent time to target them around most sandy areas of the bay using a live bull minnow or plastic grub for bait.

October Forecast

The big bull redfish will be running in full swing on the beaches this month. Most anglers will be using live bull minnows or small pinfish. Try using a basic Carolina rig but instead of an egg sinker use a pyramid type, which will allow the weight to stay put. Attach live bait to a 3/0 Owner mutu-light circle hook with no more than 30 pound leader. Putting your rod into a sand spike will allow you to fish multiple rods at once. Cooling gulf water combined with the warmer water pushing out of the bays this month bring spanish mackerel to the jetties in huge schools. Try using bubble and straw rigs early into the morning and switch to Gotcha plugs as the day warms up. Most experienced spanish mackerel fishermen will fish a #1 Clark spoon with 3 feet of 50 pound mono behind a 2 ounce casting weight. By letting the spoon fall to the bottom after the cast and rapidly retrieving it back you will catch more than you can eat.October brings a wide variety of species into the piers. Spanish will be caught all day long on bubble and straw rig and Gotcha plugs. Kings will show strong runs early mornings and late afternoons, try fishing live baits caught on the pier pilings with stinger rigs. Flounder will be caught using heavy grubs and live bull minnows fished right along the base of the pilings. The first of the pompano and whiting will also start to show towards the end of the month.The fall run of large wahoo will be here in good numbers in the middle of the month. Try trolling large Yo-Zuri bonita lures in purple or black and orange. Many locals also like pulling locally made Marlin Man heavy head panhandler lures because they have found that they can troll these at a bit faster pace (up to 13 knots) and cover more water this way. Whichever bait you use, be sure to check your drags frequently as the initial strike will be a rod bending, drag- screaming affair.Trout fishermen are finding some nice gator-size fish working the flats hard in the early morning hours. Try throwing floating Mirro-lure plugs for the first few hours of daylight. Big bull reds will be caught around the pass using cut bait and large topwater plugs. On an outgoing tide try the areas just off the points of both jetties. Flounder will also start the migration towards the mouth of the pass to move offshore where they will spawn. Try fishing 1/4 ounce jigheads with root beer colored jig bodies around deepwater point and the kiddie pool.

November Forecast

Coming soon.

December Forecast

The big bull redfish will be running in full swing on the beaches this month. Most anglers will be using live bull minnows or small pinfish. Try using a basic Carolina rig but instead of an egg sinker use a pyramid type, which will allow the weight to stay put. Attach live bait to a 3/0 Owner mutu-light circle hook with no more than 30 pound leader. Putting your rod into a sand spike will allow you to fish multiple rods at once.

Cooling gulf water combined with the warmer water pushing out of the bays this month bring spanish mackerel to the jetties in huge schools. Try using bubble and straw rigs early into the morning and switch to Gotcha plugs as the day warms up. Most experienced spanish mackerel fishermen will fish a #1 Clark spoon with 3 feet of 50 pound mono behind a 2 ounce casting weight. By letting the spoon fall to the bottom after the cast and rapidly retrieving it back you will catch more than you can eat.

October brings a wide variety of species into the piers. Spanish will be caught all day long on bubble and straw rig and Gotcha plugs. Kings will show strong runs early mornings and late afternoons, try fishing live baits caught on the pier pilings with stinger rigs. Flounder will be caught using heavy grubs and live bull minnows fished right along the base of the pilings.

The first of the pompano and whiting will also start to show towards the end of the month.The fall run of large wahoo will be here in good numbers in the middle of the month. Try trolling large Yo-Zuri bonita lures in purple or black and orange. Many locals also like pulling locally made Marlin Man heavy head panhandler lures because they have found that they can troll these at a bit faster pace (up to 13 knots) and cover more water this way. Whichever bait you use, be sure to check your drags frequently as the initial strike will be a rod bending, drag- screaming affair.

Trout fishermen are finding some nice gator-size fish working the flats hard in the early morning hours. Try throwing floating Mirro-lure plugs for the first few hours of daylight.

Big bull reds will be caught around the pass using cut bait and large topwater plugs. On an outgoing tide try the areas just off the points of both jetties. Flounder will also start the migration towards the mouth of the pass to move offshore where they will spawn. Try fishing 1/4 ounce jigheads with root beer colored jig bodies around deepwater point and the kiddie pool.