Pensacola Bay Provides

Last week’s charters started with a couple early morning solo scouting missions in Pensacola Bay.

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On both trips I found what I was looking for.

Next on tap was 3 days with my crew from the Mid West. Our 3 day journey began with an evening hunting Bull Reds at 3MB. We worked hard through a slow bite & managed to land 3 nice fish with 5 other battles that ended in big smiles & worn out anglers.

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The next evening it was all about the fly rods. Another slow bite resulted in miles of searching to finally find the fish.

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The evening ended with a triple of Reds all on the fly & yes that silly look on my face is the look of a sleep deprived, but very happy guide.

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The next morning arrived quick & we were blessed with perfect conditions. The goal for the day was what I refer to this time of year as the Pensacola Bay “Vann Slam”. Big Trout, Big Redfish & Big Red Snapper.

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On the way to our first spot I explained the plan of attack to the guys & that we would have about an hour before we would need to move to deeper water. I also explained that it might be difficult to leave the spot I was about to introduce them to, but to achieve our goal it would be imperative.

On arrival at our first stop we were greeted with trout busting bait & tailing reds. On all 3 guys first cast we were hooked up with solid fish on top water! Exactly what I had dreamed of during my 2 hours of brief sleep just a short while ago.

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Luckily I had anticipated this happening & gave Carl my back up net at the launch. Because, as you can see in the next 2 photos I had my hands & net full of exactly what we came for. Over 50″ of spot & dots!

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After landing & taking some pictures of our first go round, I told the guys “well… it might be hard to top that.”

After an action packed hour of feeding fish One Knockers it was off to deeper water. On our way I gave my normal pep talk to try to ready my guys for the battle they were about to engage in. It can be difficult to prepare people for just how determined & powerful these Bay Red Snapper are. It didn’t take long for them to all be drenched in sweat with rods in their lap needing to be re rigged. I could tell by the look on their faces it was time for another pep talk, change in strategy & some strong encouragement.

It worked!

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They were amazed at the fight from these spunky little pink fish. I kept telling them, “don’t worry there are much bigger ones & I have a plan.”

Carl just couldn’t stay away from the sharks & they kept him busy for about 45 minutes while the others worked on the target species.

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Finally we got Carl in the game & he was stoked!

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After repositioning & another pep talk I had the guys all jacked up. Like most people, nothing I said could’ve prepared them for their next battle.

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Not one but two stud kayak Bay Snappers! A perfect way to achieve our goal for the day & complete the Pensacola Bay “Vann Slam!”

The fishing inshore & offshore has been outstanding this year. With just 4 1/2 weeks of Red Snapper season left & all but one weekend spoken for, now is the time to call & book a trip.

Winter Fishing is Heating Up

B Barton with a dandy 3MB Bull. Photo credit Jameson Redding

B Barton with a dandy 3MB Bull. Photo credit   Jameson Redding

Even with the back & forth weather we’ve been experiencing here in NW Florida, a few things have remained consistent. Most of our water is in the mid to upper 40’s & the fish are locked into their winter patterns. That being said, the fishing has been very good.

The Bulls are congregated around deep water structure & in the pass, as well as cruising in the surf. Our last trip to 3MB yeilded close to 20 fish by 4 anglers ranging from just over slot up to nearly 39″. Every fish was very healthy & sporting their beautiful golden winter coat.

1/4" shorter & this one would've came home for dinner

1/2″ shorter & this one would’ve came home for dinner

All of my fish this evening were caught jigging with the PowerTeam Lures 4.5″ Grub in Silk Chartreuse. The majority of the other fish were caught on a number of different soft plastics & a few came on live white trout on the bottom. We did see a handful of fish on top, but they didn’t pop until we were on our way back in.

Beautiful fish, funny face. Photo credit Brandon Barton

Beautiful fish, funny face. Photo credit Brandon  Barton

The Trout are in most of the mud bottom bayous, creeks with deep water, deep holes in the marsh, & up river from any of the bays. The fish are holding in water depths of 6-20+’ depending on the area. If you find the mullet, especially finger mullet you are likely to find the Trout. Every fish I cleaned from my last trip had a finger mullet in it’s belly.

Good morning

Good morning

The key to winter Spec fishing in our area is a deep & slow presentation. Sinking & suspending twitchbaits as well as soft plastics on appropriate sized jig heads are my lures of choice. Remember if it’s cold outside & you think you are fishing slow, then fish even slower.

Beautful Winter Spec

Beautful Winter Spec

Also the last 2 Sundays on my Duck hunts on the beach I saw slot reds as well as sheephead in schools on the flats. If you find grass & take your time, you will find both. Small baits/lures & a very stealthy approach are crucial.

         Get out there & enjoy some of this Hot Winter action!